Thursday, June 30, 2011

From the bone pile: Haunted Design House

Please don't run out to the nearest field searching for the bones of nature's weakest: This challenge is all about the remnants of your artistry.

Or, as the good people at Haunted Design House's Macabre Monday like to describe it: From the Bone Pile, Use only Scraps from your Stash.

Sponsored this week by Scrap Your Scraps the challenge is to use your scraps! Aside from a card base and main image, if you desire, everything needs to be scraptastic!

My creation is built on a base of brand new stock, but everything else is from the Too Good To Throw Away crates.

The skull and raven girl are leftovers from an Octopode Edgar Allan Poe digital collage sheet I used for another project.

Then we have the shiny red holographic-type frame back, the copper frame and the Asian-style cage: All of these are cut from scraps, too!

I really like this silly card, and the raven girl standing above a skull in a cage. Surely there's some sort of poetic justice in there somewhere, don't you think?

OK, I can hear your mocking laughter from way out here in Nevada, so let's see what you can put together with a handful of scraps!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Fruity cocktails: A Drunken Stampers challenge

Whether your choice is a raspberry or a lemon, an orange or a strawberry, add a little tequila, or a bit of rum, perhaps vodka, some ice, a shimmy, a shake and you're prepared to enjoy summer and the current Drunken Stampers Challenge!

Any challenge that asks you to mix up a Fruity Cocktail is special, and this one has an extra bonus: It's a Summer of 2011 Challenge!

This means that you have until September 2 to create a card or a plaque or scrapbook page that uses the Fruity Cocktail theme!

Yup, you got it folks, the Drunken Stampers are taking a two-month vacation! How else would we have time to enjoy the cocktails we've been working so hard to produce?

As you can see from my card this KennyK bathing beauty has already started her summer vacation cocktail fest: Considering her obvious confusion though she should probably stick to virgin margaritas.

Fortunately, you're completely ready for a 50-proof-plus blender treat, as well as whichever sort of woohoo on the beach you prefer!

See you in September everyone!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Put me in a Burton movie: The Burtonesque Dolls challenge

Whether or not this is truly a creative take on a theme I don't know: But I had to use this digi stamp!

The theme for this piece is the Put me in a Burton movie challenge at The Burtonesque Dolls. And the stamp, Edward, is one of Lily Chilvers' newest releases at Octopode!

He's standing in what I hope is an Burtony Alice in Wonderland scene complete with a ginormous mushroom found at The Graphics Fairy.

The background turned out so beautifully with awesome texture and shine that I can't wait to try it again in a range of colors: It's a chunk of orange core'dinations embossed with the Cuttlebug Floral Fantasy folder put through a Vagabond.

The embossed stock was then sanded and inked with spiced marmalade distress ink. Finally, the entire surface was heat embossed with clear sparkle powder.

I'm betting this is going to be a stellar technique for the winter holidays!

Let's not worry about that yet, though, since we're only now sneaking up on the 27th of June and the deadline for The Burtonesque Dolls' current challenge.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Menacing mermaids: Haunted Design House

The best thing for me about Macabre Monday at Haunted Design House, aside from seeing all of the gorgeous, fun design team art, is that I'm becoming very familiar with my short comings.

Or another short coming I should say. There's never been a doubt that my temper is short, physically I'm short, too, but now I also know I'm short on creepy, crawly, scary skills.

Luckily I am not at all short on the ability to decide I'm perfectly happy with my creations despite completely missing the challenge mark.

So, here's my Menacing Mermaid, designed for this week's Macabre Monday at Haunted Design House.

She's from a dingbat set I found a few years ago: Perhaps If you go looking for it be warned that the entire "set" is fun ... but definitely inappropriate for ... well, look, our friendly mermaid here isn't the only risque image in the set. Okay? OK.

Back to my version: We've done some coloring with colored pencils and darker colored lines with Sharpies. She's mounted on a Die Cuts With a View Rock Star stack design and a bit of bubbly-looking paper that came from where I do not recall.

What I do remember is that you've got until Sunday, June 26 at 5 p.m. central to create your very own Menacing Mermaid!

Good luck my friendly sirens of the sandy sea!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

To the woods my friends (with possibly creepy bug photo)!

After being away for only two nights it's amazing how much stuff has to be caught up.

Adding the post-camping duties of outdoor stuff storage and cleanup means an even longer week, but it's all worthwhile.

Just look at that lovely lake, surrounded by mountains and cool breezes and tall, bird-filled trees!

As if that's not enough there's the fun of seeing little girls discover new bugs and hearing friends' stories of past camping trips and munching warm, gooey marshmallow, chocolate, graham cracker desserts.

Nearly any cocktail, beer or glass of wine tastes better when it's sipped near a campfire, too, as do fruits, hot dogs and left-overs from the prior week.

Maybe you'll even find a swarm of strange prehistoric-looking insects at your camp site, busily mating and dying and digging into the ground to lay their eggs.

So, book your trip now friends. For an afternoon with a loved one and a picnic basket or a large group and a collection of coolers filled with treats for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Don't worry about the dirt or the insects or the heat. Don't even think about those things.

Because by the time it's all finished and you're back home shaking pine needles out of your shorts you'll already be planning the next journey to commune with nature.

A bonus project: Celebrate Mad Hatter Day with a Mad Tea Party, Altered Alice Style!

Sticky and dirty after a weekend camping trip, I'm quickly swinging through to show you this bonus project for the Altered Alice Mad Tea Party.

This month we're sponsored by The Artistic Stamper, who are giving away an amazing prize for the Altered Alice challenge. They also gave each of us on the design and guest design teams a stamp to use in our projects: The Mabel Lucie Attwell Mad Hatter stamp.

After finishing my main project, I just couldn't help to keep playing with this awesome stamp that is so deliciously detailed and perfectly cut! It needed to be used as an un-colored image with a monochromatic design.

It embosses perfectly and is, as you can see here, the ideal size for a small, mailable invitation or greeting card!

I think I really will be forced to host a Mad Hatter party just so there's an excuse to send this card to everyone we know ... of course it'll be this time next year since the October Hatter day is already filled for us this year.

Sheesh ... already scheduled months in advance. Things really are mad 'round here.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Inspiration photo: A Drunken Stampers challenge

It's time for an inspiration photo challenge at the Drunken Stampers!

Our photo, an inviting patio scene from a Pottery Barn catalog, can be viewed at the Drunken Stampers blog.

The photo muse concept is always tough for me. Often my art in this type of challenge ends up being a less attractive version of the muse piece.

This time I forced myself to not use trees or umbrellas or pitchers of brightly-colored drinks in my piece, since those are things pulled straight from the photo.

Which means I had no choice but to use an Octopode: Flutterby butterfly! I know, break my heart, woe is me and all that fakery: I had to use a character from one of my very favorite in the world places Octopode!

Our Flutterby friend is great for this challenge because she's clearly a summertime beauty, and so is our inspiration photo. She's colored in muted tones of magenta and teal and tangerine with a lovely svelt figure in butter yellow.

The card base is green for our inspiration photo trees, beige for our inspiration bamboos and white for our inspiration cushions.

... um, what do you mean I'm making this stuff up as I go? You think my card isn't anything like the inspiration piece? Well, stand about a foot away from your computer, squint your eyes and take a second look.

See! My card is exactly like the inspiration photo!

Now it's your turn. Stand a few inches away from your craft desk, squeeze your eyes nearly closed and create your very own Drunken Stampers inspiration photo challenge piece before midnight Friday, June 24.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Use orange!: A Drunken Stampers challenge

Wow, it's been a long few days, and weeks really, for everyone on the Drunken Stampers team!

So, welcome to my tardy Drunken Stampers post, which I feel relieved to say is not the only late Drunken Stampers post (I do win the prize for the very latest post, though).

Congratulate me everyone.

OK, this week we're pushing you to feel the zest of summer fruit, the bumpy texture of a sporting ball, the joy of all that comes with orange. You know, like the fruit, the basketball and the color?

I'm tired, alright. Funny and snarky dive straight out the window when I'm tired.So does sticking to the point. And that's seriously bad since my ability to maintain continuity is poor even when I'm well rested.

Anyhow, Drunken Stampers challenge number 71: Orange!

Check out my little ATC with the orange balloon! Do you love it? It's courtesy a wee bit of InkyAntics' honeycomb paper pad!

I mounted that on a background of distress ink, color wash spots, rock candy distress stickles and that tape stuff of which I suddently forget the name.

The balloon is strung with a few lengths of twine which are attached to a wee woven basket.

Now our little balloon is ready to float above homes and parks and playgrounds where it'll surely pass you while you're creating your very own color challenge piece!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Winners of inspiration, support and a blog candy thank you!

Twenty one wonderful readers left me a note on this post explaining what inspires them when his or her muse seems to be in hiding!

And now, from those comments My Guy has randomly chosen the winners (yelled the numbers 17 and 13 from his office).

The first prize of a single Octopode collage sheet goes to: 

  • Sandy Ang said...Not here for the candy but just to share my thoughts on your question. when I'm not inspired, I take a break. try to look at the world around with fresh eyes. anything from mismatched shoes to graffiti posters

Thanks for your comment Sandy! We could all benefit from using "fresh eyes" now and then (even when we're not talking about art)!

Finally, the Grand Prize of five Octopode collage sheets goes to:

  • The Craft Cupboard Under the Stairs said...What inspires me? You do! And many of the other talented artists that share their techniques, talent and selves on their blogs and in their posts. Everyone I've "met" has been so supportive and positive. But, when I'm in that "hole" I encourage myself to start with just the simple basics - reall routine stuff that doesn't require thought - cut out the tag, distress the edge, color a piece of ribbon.....sometimes, the bits start talking to me and I'm off and running.

Now our friend at Craft Cupboard Under the Stairs had previously commented on my muse-less post from May 17. So Craft Cupboard receives the grand prize, plus an additional VIP prize in the form of an additional collage sheet! Yay!

And we all win when reading Craft Cupboard's comment: Because it's brilliant to start again with the basics to get your muse back into shape!

Thanks again to everyone who commented, and who shares his or her ideas on their own blogs, forums and Web sites: I hope we see each other 'round the blog-o-sphere for a long time to come!

Week 2: Celebrate Mad Hatter Day with a Mad Tea Party, Altered Alice Style!

Let's start this post with a paragraph about our sponsor for this month's The Altered Alice: The Artistic Stamper. 

The Artistic Stamper is generously offering offering a £15 pound voucher for The Artistic Stamper stamps! They have a WONDERFUL online store that offers free worldwide shipping on orders more than £35 and they carry loads of my favorite brands. The Artistic Stamper Creative Team Blog offers amazing inspiration and interesting challenges, so be sure to visit! Jennie has kindly provided our design team with the Mabel Lucie Attwell Mad Hatter Stamp for our projects this month!

This stamp is absolutely ideal for our team since our challenge this month also focuses on what we, and you, are bringing to our Mad Tea Party!

Check out The Altered Alice week 2 post here to see what each of the design team, and guest design team members brought to the party!

In addition to a garden of flamingos in week one, I've also brought my Altered Alice art along for week two!

I enjoyed creating this piece from the black embossed Mad Hatter stamp on vintage book page to the mushrooms and tree tops on vintage music pages.

Each of the individual tree top "blobs" is a swirl of multiple layers of Cray-Pas in yellows and greens which were then melted with a heat gun. This caused the oil pastels to blend and bleed together and then harden after cooling. 

The same technique was used to create the mushrooms that are a combination of yellow, orange and red, along with a bit of blue grey for outlining purposes.

The embossed stamp is colored with pencils and, in my opinion, has a fantastic appearance in person: The glossy embossing literally and figuratively pops on the page while the colored pencil fill in is transparent, allowing text to show here and there.

The only thing that could have made me happier with this piece is if I'd been able to use an Alice in Wonderland book page.

Which also would have made me sad actually. Because that would mean someone was so mean to an Alice book that it became damaged enough to use for altered art.

So I guess this all means I could not, in fact, be happier with this piece.

Now don't be shy fellow artists, grab your hat and your umbrella bird and drop in at the Altered Alice tea party: We're impatiently waiting to see how this theme comes together for you!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Inspiration, support and a blog candy thank you

Holy cow friends! I was feeling a total loss of inspiration through the middle of May!

Then, after mentioning my frustration in a blog post, all of you dropped by with supportive, empathy-filled messages!

I still have to admit that art is a matter of waiting for Ms. Muse to reappear, but it sure is helpful in the world of art blogging to know that you understand and commiserate and, best of all, can forgive me the occasional disappearance.

This time 'round, as in the past, all of you made my disappearing inspiration situation less stressful. You helped to bring me back to a creative state of being!

And since I find myself so often inspired by the wonderful creatures at Lily Chilvers' Octopode Factory, I'm going to show my appreciation to you by offering a couple of Octopode blog candies!

This blog candy is designed as a sort of First Prize and Grand Prize situation. The Grand Prize winner will receive five Octopode Collage sheets, and the first prize winner will receive a single collage sheet!

OK. To be entered into the drawing leave a comment on this post before noon June 9 telling me what most inspires you when you're not feeling "It." If you're an anonymous reader, make sure you leave an e-mail address where I can contact you if you win.

Also, everyone who reads this blog knows that I always treat my prior friends and followers to a VIP pass. In this case, the VIP goes to everyone who left encouraging comments on my May 17, 2011 post. VIP friends who leave a post here will receive an extra collage sheet, if they're one of the randomly chosen winners.

Tell your friends and followers that I'd like to know what inspires them, too: If I receive more than 50 comments I'll add a third Octopode prize!

Winners will be chosen randomly from comments received before noon June 9, 2011 (PST) and announced on June 10, 2011!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Celebrate Mad Hatter Day with a Mad Tea Party, Altered Alice Style!

Two Mad Hatter Days are celebrated every year at The Altered Alice: One is on the 10th of June and the other is the 6th of October.

This glorious twice-a-year celebration is the single positive result of the differences in U.S. vs. U.K. date abbreviations: In the U.S. we comically choose to order date references month first, while our smarter U.K. friends begin with the day.

‘Tis the Mad Hatter, you see, leading us all with his hat tag: “In this Style 10/6” or This style of hat for 10 schillings and 6 pence, or half a guinea in the 1800s when Alice took her amazing journey. 

Luckily no one knows why a raven is like a writing desk and no one can agree regarding the best way to abbreviate a given date; we get to celebrate two times a year! Two times!

Our generous sponsor this month is The Artistic Stamper, and they are offering a £15 pound voucher for The Artistic Stamper stamps!

They have a WONDERFUL online store that offers free worldwide shipping on orders more than £35 and they carry loads of my favorite brands. The Artistic Stamper Creative Team Blog offers amazing inspiration and interesting challenges, so be sure to visit!

 Jennie at The Artistic Stamper has kindly provided our design team with the Mabel Lucie Attwell Mad Hatter Stamp for our projects this month. It will be interesting to see how everyone applies their own style and vision to the same image!
So, what in the world is the challenge this month? Isn’t it quite obvious?

Create a project to celebrate the Mad Hatter, and to bring something to our Mad Tea Party!

Take a look at the design team's contributions to the party! Hats and tea cakes and wee cups and more!

What will you bring to our Mad Tea Party? Find something fun to show and tell when you link your project that celebrates the Mad Hatter!You have until Friday, June 24 at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (GMT -4:00) and we'll announce the winner of the £15 voucher for The Artistic Stamper stamps on Sunday, June 26!

Happy Mad Hatter Day from The Altered Alice!

First homework attempt: Composition for Collage

A few weeks ago Linda at StudioL3 mentioned Claudine Hellmuth's Composition for Collage class at Big Picture Classes.

Since I love Linda's art and trust her opinion, and because I really, really need some instruction, I'm taking the class.

The first week of class focuses on asymmetrical composition: Whew, holy crap, was I pleased to hear something I recognized.

Unfortunately the second half of that admission is that I recognized asymmetrical as something I haven't thought of (remembered) since I was roughly 14 years old.

And that was awhile ... OK, it's been more than 25 years ago that I learned about asymmetrical composition at O'Leary Junior High School.

Since that was the same period of time in which yours truly had to perform an "oral speech" in civics class, I'm pretty much thinking that asymmetry was probably buried beneath the terror of a speech about economics.

Anyhow, back to the subject: Composition for Collage homework assignment for week 1, asymmetry.

The background is black card stock, glimmer chalk, mod podge, crystal fine glitter, color wash, watercolor overcoat, and dimensional pearls.

Our characters are Octopode's Mad Hatter and flamingo. The sentiment, You take the Cake, is from a now-defunct stamp company.

So, what do you think? Did I manage to create the arrangement correctly?

I'm not sure if I nailed the assignment, but I really like this creation that is so glittery and shiny in person, you almost need to view it with sunglasses!

Woohoo! Shiny!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Monsters take over!: The Burtonesque Dolls challenge

Click photo for larger view!
Since I'm always complaining about my lack of time it's completely appropriate that I should take part in another challenge!

How else would I maintain my chronic tardiness and time-management troubles?

This newest piece is designed for The Burtonesque Dolls challenge site. The site is a funky and cool place to visit, and is frequently home to interesting challenges ... which, of course, I've only this week found time, and inspiration, to join.

The current challenge is Monsters have take over the Factory: Willy Wonka's chocolate factory!

One version or another of Willy Wonka is viewed in our house about every other week, so I really, really wanted to participate this time 'round. I didn't come up with a good idea though until I saw the Toe Tag digistamp from Burtonesque Dolls' sponsor for the week: Strange Skin digis!

A Wonky Bar infused with Fresh Corpse Toe Jam! A full foot of flavor!
Now! With 10% More Jam!

This digistamp also struck me as ideal for a design including a photo of a friends' little girl all dressed up for Halloween. It will be the perfect "journal block" to describe a two-year-old, Trick-or-Treating zombie, don't you agree?

OK, back to the Wonky Bar: To keep things completely realistic I purchased a bar of Ghirardelli dark chocolate with raspberry filling to slide into my Wonky Bar wrapper.

Because a toe-jam-infused candy bar would ooze with red gloop ... would it not? Probably not. But there aren't too many chocolate bars out there filled with green-, yellow- or pus-colored goo.

Hungry for a sugary-treat now?

Yeah, before you head to the nearest toilet to hurl lunch, take a moment with that sickening feeling and let it help you on the way to your very own Burtonesque Dolls creation!

You've got until June 13 to participate in this challenge!

Birthday cards with Sparkle Creations: A Drunken Stampers Challenge

Drunken Stampers have two great big birthdays this month! Challenge blog founders Peg and Spike celebrate another year of happiness and crafty sharing this month! Woohoo! Happy Birthday ladies!

Our little group of tipsy artists at Drunken Stampers has another surprise for you this week, too! Sponsor Sparkle Creations is giving away two rubber stamps to the week's winner!

I know you have a birthday card that needs creating! So, pull it together and give us a peek!

You might soon be the owner of two brand new, high-quality, adorable Sparkle Creations rubber stamps!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Frosted Petunias Artful Bag Challenge: June

My creation for this month's Frosted Petunias Artful Bag Challenge is truly a light bulb above my head creation.

Package to finished Artful Bag Challenge piece for June took about 20 minutes of project time.

Here's how it all began: About a week ago, after My Guy finished munching package of giant Smartie candies, I spied the wrapper still laying on his desk.

As an aside I have to mention that it would still be laying on his desk if I hadn't absconded with the thing.

His trait of a desk covered in everything, including dust bunnies bothers me, but I have learned one thing: When you have a man who keeps everything on his desk ... you have a wealth of old packages and wrappers anytime you need them for art projects.

Anyhow, the Smartie wrapper drew my attention with its bright colors and carnival-like design.

All that Ou! and Ah! was translated in my mind into this rhinestone fringe-embellished, draw-string pouch! I know that a cute Flapper in 1923 would have loved this pouch!

Or, maybe we should say that if I was a cute Flapper in 1923 I'd love this silly, simple, colorful pouch!

While you zoom off to create your own Artful Bag for June I think I'll try to make a real version of this little pouch.

Cross your fingers for me because while I'm not too bad with a tape glider ... I am half-assed at best with a sewing machine.