Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Hacked to bits: Macabre Monday

A couple of weeks ago after posting a piece with a skull in the design an astute observer suggested I add it to the Macabre Monday challenge over at Haunted Design House.

Since then I've been watching the Haunted House and thinking of things creepy ... ahm ... trying to think of things creepy.

Last week's challenge, Dastardly Divas, was awesome with a whole lot of great submissions and fantastic design team pieces. But I failed. Because I couldn't think myself into a dastardly or even creepy piece. My mind was filled with sexy, sultry, risque. And, the much maligned cute.

Although I am an unapologetic lover of pink and Hello Kitty and all things "Awwww" I do not believe I'm exactly cute. Well, I am cute (if I say so myself). My art, I mean, it's not cute.

Unless apparently I'm aiming for Not Cute. Then it's freaking adorable. Dripping with sweetness and pinkness and Safe For Children-Ness.

So I wasn't immediately jumping with anticipation at this week's Macabre Monday challenge: Hacked to bits.

Until I found The Octopode Factory's Queen Elizabeth I on a Queens collage sheet. And my thoughts filled with "Off with their heads!"

Which, despite being less saccharine than Holly Hobbie does obviously remain more cute than macabre, but give me a break: I've only recently discovered that I'm not a diva, but am very likely a princess. It's enough to scar anyone for life.

I need a beer so I can burp. Do princesses burp? No? How about divas? Take a swig or two and let me know, then dig around in your own brain for Hacked to bits Haunted Design House creative inspiration!

Monday, March 28, 2011

And so it begins *insert applause*: Grungy Monday

Visit StudioL3
I'm sure all of you remember our Lovely Linda at Studio L3 promising us that something wonderful was already in the works to replace the Compendium Challenges which ended March 13, 2011.

And here we are at ... dah dah DUM ... Grungy Monday! Whistle! Cheer! Clap! Another excellent challenge series focusing on our friend Tim Holtz!

Of course, I'll admit that best of all for me is that Linda asked Terry and I to be her first ever Grungy Monday guest designers!

Color me tickled freakin' PINK people! Or, as you can see, blue. Tickled blue and purple and pearly perfect. With a feather even.

This first ever Grungy Monday challenge is a fun one focused on Tim's 2008 12 Tags of Christmas Day 10. This also fits another first: The first time I've participated in any way in the 12 Tags techniques! Shhh. Don't tell.

Alright, so I've reworked Tim's fun reindeer tag with some of his Stamper's Anonymous wings, new colors and a "Fly" theme rather than Ho Ho Ho (actually I reworked it three times and this is the one that I finally liked).

His inspiration and beautiful techniques on this piece are wonderful! I love Step 22, add perfect pearls to a pool of water, the most.

Why is this? Because it's like playing with a puddle of mercury minus the possibility of a trip to the emergency room! Honestly after you finish this step come back here and try to tell me it wasn't fun as hell glooping your brush around in the pearly goodness that always returns to itself.

Plus, those wings! Isn't that a supremely cool-looking set of wings? I know you're going to create your very own embossed grunge papery bit, so I don't need to emote so much.

In fact, take only a second or two more here with me (I'm about to provide a Products Used list with links where available), then get out of here and start creating your own non-Christmas version of Tim's tag!

Products Used:
Stamp: Tim Holtz Stampers Anonymous (wings); Close to my Heart Delightful Alphabet (FLY){product retired}.
Ink: Distress Ink reinker chipped sapphire; Distress Ink broken china and embossing; Color Box Black.
Additives: Perfect Pearls Forever Blue; Perfect Pearls Forever Violet; unknown brand black embossing powder.
Embellishment: Vintage paper strip 1950s California middle school music book; JoAnn Craft Essentials alpha brads {product retired}; Close to my Heart Mini-Medley in pewter; Feather from some sad featherless bird.
Various: Tim Holtz flourish mask; Mini misters (for pearlized mist and water pool).

p.s. have you ever wished you could stalk Tim Holtz? Well, he's nothing if not accomodating: You can see what he's up to by clicking here and visiting his blog!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

All about him: A Drunken Stampers Challenge

It's All About Him at Drunken Stampers this week, and you absolutely must see the inspiration pieces!

This piece is fine, in fact I quite like it as does My Guy for whom I created it (he requested a bookmark and chose the Tim Holtz lion stamp).

But, trust me, it's humdrum compared to the creations of the Drunken Stampers' team!

I can't wait for you to see the cool techniques and amazing altered bits from Linda, Spike and Tash!

While you head over to the Drunken Stampers and to your own All About Him creative space, I'll be peeking at my calendar which clearly shows today is Saturday ... despite all day yesterday me thinking that today would be Friday.

Which means that in addition to forgetting to write this post yesterday ... I've probably missed some other deadlines that need to be handled.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Frosted Petunias Artful Bag challenge: March

Surely our neighbors blushed a few months back after I discovered that one of my ferrets had "removed" two rhinestones from a handbag of mine. After all, I'm told that ladies shouldn't use that kind of language, especially at top volume.

Yes, of course: Ferrets speak very little Angry Lady With A Rhinestone-less Bag, but at least it made me feel better ... our two carpet sharks thought it all great fun.

Anyhow, what to do with this now virtually useless small handbag? A bitty thing with embroidered flowers missing their glittery rhinestone centers? I know, lots of things, but I'd liked it so much just as it was that I couldn't find my way out of the "It's Ruined!" cycle.

Until yesterday afternoon, out of the blue, it came to me! The March Artful Bag Challenge! Whew! I really didn't want to art up any of my other bags and the local thrift stores have apparently been picked clean by savvy shoppers: While all this time the perfect bag was tucked away in the "It's Ruined!" drawer!

Why didn't I look there in the first place? I have no idea.

OK, so the bag is decorated with a grunge board frame and Holtz stamp "Not all who wander are lost." The frame is coated in Distress Ink and stickles and the wander phrase is embossed with gold.

The flower is cut from an aluminum can, covered in alcohol inks and centered with a vintage pocket watch face, idea-ology flower with jade embossing and a hitch fastener in case I want to add a charm later.

The clockwork is dressed up with alcohol ink, otherwise it's pretty much as is because some of the clockwork bits are functional (well, they move if you spin the correct part).

Can you believe a friend of mine gave me an entire box of old watch parts that she'd bought at an auction? Can you believe I'm not still squealing with delight?

I stopped just long enough to create this fun Artful Bag! Oh, and to ask you a question.

How, on this slickery sort of fabric would you attach something heavy such as, say, the guts from a pocket watch? I tried hot glue and, I'll admit it, Super Glue.

Round one with the hot glue is holding all of the other embellishments more or less permanently, but the watch just popped right off. A second round of hot glue, handled more quickly, managed to maintain the attachment longer and melt some of the fabric, but that's all.

The Super Glue? It's trying super hard ... but it's beginning to let go, too.

What should I do to make the bond permanent?

I'll try some other adhesive options while you toddle off to create your very own Artful Bag before the end of March!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Twisted fairy tales: A Drunken Stampers Challenge

Considering how nasty most fairy tales already are, it's hard to imagine making them twisted.

But, that's just what we're asking you to do this week at Drunken Stampers -- create your own piece featuring a twisted fairy tale.

My design took on a Red Riding Hood focus with an image I adore: One of several skeleton sketches found on a collage sheet at Jack & Cat Curio (take a minute and visit Jack & Cat ... their art is beautiful and unique).

Hopefully they won't see this tongue-in-cheek piece and wonder why they share their cool images!

My cheesy little card is dorky as hell, but I like it: The image, as mentioned, is awesome so that helps. But I also like the burnt edges I added along with the embossed background (can you see the basket weave?), the distress crackle flower and the Microsoft Publisher art text.

Maybe I still should have gone with one of my other ideas, though: Cinderella sets booby traps for the sisters, The Bremen Town Musicians start an animal revolt or ... you see, these are mean. That's not good. Funny is good.

Do you ever feel like you're trying to talk yourself into appreciating your own art ... kind of like I am right now?

Give us a look at your own twisted fairy tale before midnight Friday, March 25!

UPDATE: I'm adding this piece to the challenge at Haunted Design House! After seeing their challenge on, I think, Friday, I had wondered ... hmm ... I'd like to participate in this one, so fun, but do I have a skull? Maybe a Cricut cut? A digistamp? Had not commenter Susan (see below) pointed out that this very card here includes a skull, I likely never would have realized! This is all proof that being too close to something creates beholder blindness ... or that I'm just not all that smart.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A St. Patrick's Day message and prizes

Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone!

I'm thrilled to see that you've dropped by to toast, prost and cheers the day away!

In honor of this special day, you who leave a comment, erm, toast on this post before Friday, March 26 will be entered to win a six pack of Guinness can flats! Yay!

What do you mean you don't know what I'm talking about? Didn't you see my post about the Bigz die and tattered flower magnet thing?

Ah well. We're all too busy to catch every last thing, aren't we?

Basically, the deal is that an aluminum drink can is good to cut down and use as a product to die cut ... except it's too small to cover an entire Bigz die surface so the whole die image doesn't cut. But then! Bring in the Guinness cans (or any of the alcohol-filled beverages in a taller-than-average aluminum can).

These respectfully-emptied cans cut down to fit nicely on the die with a bit remaining to use for whatever a crafter wishes.

Luckily they also fit well inside of a six by nine inch Duck brand bubble wrap envelope! Because that means prizes of aluminum for you!

Plus, don't forget my promise to prior followers: If you're in that group, leave a toast and win in the random choosing, I'll throw in a few extra sheets of Guinness aluminum!

And, here's a real challenge for you: If you leave a toast with an Irish poem, saying or wish that I've never heard before ... I won't enter you in the random drawing ... you'll automatically receive a package of aluminum flats!

OK ... I've got one to help you before I sign off for the day ...

Here's to a temperance supper,
With water in glasses tall,
And coffee and tea to end with --
And me not there at all!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Design Elements: The last Studio L3 Compendium Challenge

When Linda started the Studio L3 Compendium journey the week of June 14, 2010, it was truly an adventure for me.

Up to that point I'd only heard whispers of Tim Holtz: I'd never seen the Compendium, nor tried Distress inks, embossing powders, crackle or stickles. I'd never played with alcohol inks or Perfect Pearls.

I know. My life was one of depression and deprivation before Tim Holtz. My Guy also lost his job about the same time the Challenges began, so despite the delight of Holtzy goodness to dive into ... well, it's been a long few months.

Anyhow, here's the reason the crappy unemployed topic is important to this post: First, if I could manage to squeeze in a tub, tube or sheet of this or that every month without creating any debt or living on dry noodle packs, you can, too. Second, you'll find that some products are favorites and others ... hey, we're all different and you might not ever want to buy this or that again, but I promise you'll be glad you tried each one.

Finally, the Holtz products are easily the highest-quality paper craft and altered art products I've used. There's no expert here, granted, but here there are two people (My Guy and me) who have, throughout our lives, worked with essentially every imaginable hobby and craft. We recognize crap, is all I'm saying.

OK. I'm finished advertising for Holtz and Ranger. Thanks for listening. Let's move on to the art!

Today's project shows off some of the first techniques we were challenged to use: In fact that water stamp tree on the right, it was one my first ever Compendium technique attempts! Then there's the crackle-painted block of red, the color wash bit on the top left and a whole lot of embossed, inked and painted bits.

Throw on a grunge flower with vintage paper, a brass button turned funky with alcohol ink metallic stuff, a token and an ornate frame with what My Guy likes to call the Children of the Corn faces. What of the silver wire spring thing, you ask?

I hate using wire for "stitching" because it's complicated and I'm lazy and impatient. Still, I tried with a bit and you can see the result. I gave up after one two-inch section, but had a bunch of wire remaining that I'd already cut off of the spool.

So, I wound it up, threaded it through a hole on the ornate plate and a punched hole in a rosette that is behind the grungy flower!

I guess it's the Spring forward twist? Or, perhaps more importantly, the Spring out of the Compendium and into whatever Linda has promised is in store for us in the future!

Thanks to everyone who has participated in the challenges, and to our amazing muse and hostess, Linda: We're a rowdy bunch and hard to keep in line!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Faux wood: A Drunken Stampers Challenge

WWDSD? Create his or her own, of course! Wood, that is! Faux wood!

Are you suddenly imagining a bunch of Hillbillies ... concrete swimming pool ... Beverly Hills ... ... now you know how much time I spend tracking back 'round to the point in my own brain.

Anyhow, reel in your own wandering thoughts and join us for the faux wood challenge at Drunken Stampers!

My own awesome wood-like surface is courtesy an Alterations Texture Fade folder on, believe it or not, yellow card stock.

That's right ... my own tree has a yellow interior ... and about five layers of just-darker-than-the-previous, brown-toned distress inks. Neat, huh?

Mother Nature is very inspiring!

She even brought me the idea of the falling leaf cut from a metal beverage can, glopped with citrus alcohol ink and dangling from a wee bit of Twinery twine!

Yes sir! Our Mother Nature, she's a creative and amazing woman!

Show us what your own faux wood looks like before midnight Friday, March 18. After that Mother Nature will be too busy with tulips and daffodils to give us any help!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Hall of doors: The Altered Alice

Welcome to my submission for The Altered Alice Chapter 2 challenge: Hall of doors!

This is an appropriate challenge for all of you crafters out there: After all, what is art, but a search for something bigger or smaller, lighter or darker, stranger or ... normal-er.

Despite not being able to finish that previous sentence with the flourish it deserves, it's true that we're all opening and closing doors to find ourselves and the odd, tardy rabbit within.

So, it was with pleasure that I began this project by spray painting an Altoid tin in my not well-ventilated craft room. Oh well, bye bye to six more brain cells ...

Burning through IQ didn't keep this project from turning out nearly the way it appeared in my mind: In fact, aside from the slightly cartoony feel of the interior contents, I'm very, very happy with this creation.

It's no small wonder: Which of us doesn't love this sort of thing? A gloss white enamel base covered in various colors and densities of alcohol inks, rock candy distress stickles, color wash and archival ink stamping.

Add some ribbon, a fragment, hitch fastener doorknob, key, shrink-plastic rabbit, tiny Fimo cupcake ... and *insert magic wand sound here* ... art! Yay!

Maybe I should try to rid myself of more brain cells. I seem to benefit from the loss.

While I'm busy killing off unnecessary thoughts of work and clean dishes, spend a little time over at The Altered Alice. They've got amazing inspirational design team art and until March 25 to finish up your own crafty door!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Pork fried rice: Not a paper project

Hi everybody! We haven't seen anything but paper and metal and gluey projects around here lately, but that doesn't mean I haven't been randomly splitting my time in other parts of the house!

I only haven't been photographing or writing about the experience. Shame on me. I know. But it's exhausting sometimes, don't you think?

Today however I promised myself to take you on my journey of leftover cooking Asian style!

OK, so a couple of tips to begin: The vegetables in this recipe should be fresh, aside from the frozen peas, but can include whatever earthy bits you prefer. Cauliflower, broccoli, artichoke hearts or corn or whatever you have sitting in the fridge will be fine.

For the rice or pork, it's definitely about the leftovers. Do not use cooked-the-same-day rice or pork: It'll be too moist (unless you prefer sort of mushy, gooey fried rice ... as some people do ... in that case ... go wild with the same day stuff).

Don't be afraid either to go with a meat-less fried rice. I don't know about skipping the eggs for a nearly vegan dish, but we've made this with leftover pork, chicken and beef or no meat at all: Yum every time (OK, except the time I overdid the oyster sauce ... couldn't spit that out fast enough).

For the cooking pan I can recommend that you use either a very large stainless steel, high-sided skillet (often referred to as a chicken fryer) or a 12-inch cast iron skillet.

Actually this brings me to a topic I've meant to toss out before: If you wish you had high quality, low-cost, non-bird-killing, non-stick skillets look no further than the Lodge cast iron aisle at any big box store full of random stuff.

If you've never used these before, they'll require some patience. But, read the care instructions, stick with them (was that a pun?), and you'll soon begin to talk about your cast iron pans in the same gasping way that some women talk about Orlando Bloom.

... Orlando ... Bloom ...

Whew. Sorry. Lost track of things for a minute there ... back to, where was I?

Ah, yes, the cast iron. Get one or if you have one, use it.

Alright. Honestly I'm finished! Enjoy this recipe, if you're so inclined, and let me know if you have any improvements to suggest!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Dimensional collage fragments: A Studio L3 Compendium Challenge

Here we are at the second-to-the-last Studio L3 Compendium Challenge and I'm still finding a way to submit my creation at nearly the last minute.

Sort of makes sense, I guess: After all, what kind of challenge would it be if I weren't sliding through the gap, hands waving, calling out to my Compendium friends "Wait for me! Wait for me!"

It's especially comical since I finished this piece three days ago. I only forgot to write this post, add the photo and link at Studio L3.

If it weren't for My Guy asking me something about the piece I made ... I probably wouldn't remember until the middle of next week.

Luckily, My Guy is just nosey enough to be useful so you get to see my fragment plaque!

By the way, this project also brought to my attention another little tool in our house after My Guy quite kindly drilled the two "hanging" holes for me: His drill press.

This means that I've decided that the drill press which doesn't belong to me, sitting next to the miter saw that does belong to me, is probably going to be "allocated" by the CuddlyBunny Craft Machine.

Soon My Guy won't have to worry about how much space is available in the garage nor how clean it is ... because everything out there will be mine.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Sponsored colors: A Drunken Stampers Challenge

Happy weekend everyone!

It's sure been great getting here as we Drunken Stampers are sponsored this week by the good folks at DRS Designs!

The DRS images I chose, clover sprig and Old Irish Blessing, worked perfectly with this week's DS challenge: Use coral, teal and purple.

In fact, I ended up so happy with this card that it's already been shoved into an envelope and mailed off to a friend!

This is normal operation for me which means my house is full of stuff I only half like (or stuff I really like, but is too thick or delicate to just shove in envelope and hand to the mailman). The stuff I'm most excited about usually gets shipped off right away ... another reason I try to take photos of everything. I've actually created things, been so pleased that I get them mailed off right away, then a week later can't even remember what the hell I made. I hate that.

But I love these DRS stamps! Most that I've seen are simple and clean which means they're usable for everything from quick handwritten letter art, coloring or even heat embossing (you know I'm a stickler about heat embossing ... the best stamped images for embossing have to be immaculate).

Anyhow, make your very own piece for our challenge this week (just make sure this week's challenge piece is brand new, and not entered in any other challenge), and you might win a DRS Designs gift certificate!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Stylish blog award from beautiful Meggymay

Thank you to Meggymay at Meggy's Way! Thank you for naming me a Stylish Blogger!

What a kind and wonderful surprise!

And I get to do two things that go along with this award: Name my own recently-discovered Stylish Blogger Award winners and talk a bit about myself!

So, let's see who comes to my mind for a Stylish Blog Award (who I discovered in the past year ... so that'll have to do for "recent"):

Terry's Work in Progress: A great place to find art and friendship, Terry will love meeting you and will endeavor to make you feel at home!

Netty's Craftings: Go here to learn about new techniques and challenges and to enjoy the company of someone who definitely doesn't take herself or her art too seriously.

Studio L3: Our Linda is so often happy, carefree, positive, fun and inspirational, you'll think you've found your very own Art Angel of Everlasting Joy!

This little place: Zoechaos might consider her corner of blog land 'little,' but visitors here unquestionably experience something big: Big creativity, big fun and big fluffy kitties!

I Been Thinkin' ... Bout Inkin': It's hard to meet Lori and not discover new art avenues; it's impossible to visit her and not giggle at her fun posts!

OK, I'm supposed to name seven winners, but I happen to know that the other two bloggers who I thought of including for recognition ... have already been recognized ... this week! I know, I know, Netty was a winner, too, but give me a break you picky people. This is supposed to be for fun!

So, moving along we've got the dreaded exciting list of seven things about me:

1. I keep my hair always-in-a-ponytail long or no-care-needed short. Everything between sucks.

2. The profile photo on my blog is me. When I was seven.

3. I always carry a tin of Altoids. Always. Sometimes in multiple flavors to please whoever wants one.

4. My half-assed skills include knitting, wood working, paper crafting, jewelry making, sewing, painting, cooking and gardening. I have mastered nothing in my life, and I have no plans to do so.

5. I've lived with My Guy for six years ... he probably thinks it's been 600.

6. Our house is falling apart, is in a terrible region for jobs and has a tiny, annoying kitchen: But we can see the California Sierras from our 4 x 8-foot windows which line our South-facing wall. This makes me forgive all of our home's faults.

7. I've learned to eat them in certain dishes, but will forever know that tomatoes taste like dirt.

Whew. Folks! If you made it all the way down here ... you deserve an award!