Saturday, July 23, 2011

Red Chair Thoughts

Finally! I hit my weight loss goal of 40lbs! It took me a year and a half utilizing the Weight Watchers program - but I did it.

I'm more aware of some odd things... my watch, once snug on my wrist, hangs down 1/2" away from the wrist. Last week I noticed the feeling of the seatbelt in my car against my collar bone. I can feel my butt bone on a wooden chair. I feel light and breezy when I walk. When I clasp my hands together - there's room between my fingers. I'm looking forward to the day when my current weight is normal - not the result of an event.

Losing weight has been a focus of mine for 18 months. I had my weight loss planned out to the week. I was going to reach goal the first week in January 2011. However, since last September I lost my job of 25 years, my Mother of 59 years, my Aunt of 50 years and I had Melanoma removed from my arm.

My "Aha" moment ... what I eat is one of the only things I have complete control over.

Whether or not I lost the weight - it would still be 18 months later. I'm glad I made it a priority NOW. I'm glad I'll be going into my 60's (mid-life for me) without the extra baggage and health risks.

I'm blessed and thankful for my family, friends and a progam that always supported me.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Once In A Lifetime Opportunity

About four years ago I agreed to be mobilized from Atlanta to the Gulf of Mississippi to support a disaster housing project related to the Katrina Disaster that devastated the Coast. I had never been to Mississippi before. Katrina was still a vivid memory when I arrived and it's Citizens were reeling from loss of life, jobs, homes and possessions. Over the three years I worked on the project I watched as people began to deal with their losses. I learned more about the people of Mississippi at garage sales and flea markets than I could have at a town meeting. People were open and sharing about their experiences - reliving the disaster and relating to the articles that they were, at that moment, ready to let go of and move on. I loved, and miss, the people on the Gulf Coast.

Setting up a project office in a town short on roof space and developing a project from the ground up was a tremendous challenge. I created this memory box as a parting gift for the dedicated project manager who left the project a year and a half after getting it up and operating (her picture is in the upper left hand corner).

Supplies: 16" square Memory Box purchased from Michaels (sanded) /hinged on the side, closes with magnets. Photo "firsts", paper, glue, found and flea market items.

The 1/2" scale guy in a bathing suit in front of the oyster shell in the corner cracks me up!

At the bottom of the box is a slat of siding. Underneath that hangs a vintage, metal, Kodak canister. Glued on top of the canister lid is a picture of Hurricane Katrina with 1/8" people twirling around. The lid comes off and inside are various project photos.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Backing Up to Regroup

My wonderful husband has been very patient while I've immersed myself in metal. I've put my self-imposed Metal Medley (from Bonnie's Best Art Tools) challenge aside for a little bit.
I needed to make time to help him plan our trip in September to Germany and Italy.

OK - Did That.

NOW - on to making a travel journal utilizing a reversible (brown/black) leather purse that belonged to my grandmother. I'm going to cut out the center and sides and arrange it (this is going to take some serious "car" time) so I can insert and remove travel journals as well as create a place to store a couple of colored pencils and an eraser.

I'll keep you posted.

PS: Some of my inspirations come to me while I'm in the car - hence "Car" time. I don't listen to the radio because the ideas don't come if they have to be heard over noise. That's all I'm gonna say about that - just thought I'd share ;)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

C&W Design and Technical Challenges

You can see why I posted these design and technical notes separate from the finished project.

Design: I knew I wanted to put legs on the ATC can - that's it - I wasn't sure where I was going from there.
Design thoughts: The legs had to have flat feet. Then tall legs or short legs? From there it was a crap shoot (so to speak). Sometime during the design process - putting things on and taking them off, the purpose (or story) of the ATC tin came to mind and it developed from there.

Technical: The whole assemblage started with the legs, developing as it progressed. I had to keep in mind the process of attachments. Meaning, if I attached the legs to the can as soon as I had finished drawing on them - would they be in the way of any other design elements I decided to attach?

- Flax Seeds are beautiful shades of brown. I didn't realize how pretty they were until I found them in the grocery store while looking for ginger. Now I have a bag of seeds I need to find a project for.
- A Needle Tool is an indispensable tool in mixed media.
- For A Good Time play with Copic Markers in their air sprayer. Side Note: Impressive Ideas in Roswell, GA has the best price on Copic Markers.- Old sticks of Hot Glue found at garage sales are not worth the money - even free. The strings will drive you to drink.
- Peat Moss is messy but a good cover. The dirt is useful too.
- Don't neglect the inside of the ATC Tin. Use a metal file to remove any metal burs created by cutting or drilling into the tin. Cover the screws on the inside top and bottom of the tin with thin card board covered with paper. Use a piece of grey or silver duct tape to cover the ends of the wire holding the hands in place (too bulky to cover with card board).

- Patience is required if you're going to use resin. If your project is on a fast track - choose another option.
- Mixed Media - know when to stop. This is a hard one for me.

On the mark, get set, go!Legs (I started from the bottom up): ** I had two pair to choose from (dolls I bought at a thrift store for $2). I was going with the tall ones at first and with a whole different look - but decided on the short tubby ones because they had more of a whimsical look to them and better toes. They also had a substantial flange on the top that could be used to attach them to the can.
** I wanted to Zentangle roots on the legs but discovered the black fine line Copic, Prismacolor and even fine Sharpie markers bled a little on the plastic. I probably could have avoided this had I sprayed a fixative on the vinyl rubber legs first. However, the color Copic Markers worked like a charm. So I drew my design on with a pencil and filled in with the markers. Using the Copic Sprayer, the toes were decorated and the excessively bright flesh color was toned down by spraying on Copic Markers in greens and browns. What a hoot - here's where I needed to practice restraint!
** The legs were filled with old lead fishing sinkers. The weights allow for the tin to remain standing with the lid open.
** After the slot in the tin was cut out and the tin was decorated with paint and tree bark the legs were attached by making holes in the bottom of the can and inserting screws from the inside of the can into the flange of the legs.
** It took some time to decide how to position the legs...side by side, straight forward - or angled with an attitude. I chose attitude.

ATC Tin:** Hmmmm - I thought about attaching paper, paper with words, verses, poems, etc. - but that's not me.
** I remembered that I had a gallon sized bag of tree bark (no thicker than 2-3 sheets of paper) in my stash. Someone at a yard sale noticed I was interested in it and gave it to me, fairly certain no one else would be interested ;) Although the tree bark was pliable enough to be put on in one piece I decided it was more visually appealing to be glued on in pieces. It was glued on using Ultimate Glue, sprayed with Copic Markers to enhance the depth and a fixative to set the colors.
** The verse was handwritten on paper, cut to size, sprayed with Copic Markers and held in place with double sided tape.
** The slot in the back was cut using a dremel - but I think a very sharp exacto knife (and extreme care) would also work. After tree bark was put on the tin the opening was covered using a metal frame.
** Most of the Peat Moss was glued using a glue gun.

Hands:** Again I had two pair to choose from. The tubby hands were too comical. The thinner, longer, hands had more delicate fingers but the arms were too long so I cut them down.
** I wanted the arms to look like they were part of the tree/tin so the tops of the arms were cut away leaving the hands intact.
** How to attach them to the tin so they wouldn't come loose was the challenge. As I cut the arm down I left enough on each side to fold over, attached with eyelets, creating a back. Both arms were also attached with long eyelets. Note: I get my long eyelets from Bonnie's Best Art Tools - they're metal, not aluminum and never split.** The hands were sprayed as the legs were. Two holes were made in the body and the hands were attached using 16 gauge wire. Writing on top of wet sprayed Copic Markers with Copic Markers gives a unique look. The color moves out to the sides - fun.
** Twigs were cut to fit inside the arms. Peat Moss and associated dirt were used to cover exposed areas.
** The bird sits in a seed pod I found on vacation a gazillion years ago.

* The circle around the face is a, vintage projector lens ring (without a lens). It was broken off and, due to age, was a little fragile. A notch was made in the back to assist in attaching it to the bottom of the tea strainer.
** I made several impressions of a face stamp (sorry no name on the stamp) on a piece of plain white paper then copied it on beige card stock, reducing the size.
** The images were colored using colored pencils - I used the best one for the head. NOTE: I realized after the Ice Resin was poured that the colors should have been more vivid to show thru the resin.
** The face was sandwiched between two pieces of clear packing tape to prevent the ICE Resin from soaking into the paper and then inserted in the back of the frame. ICE Resin was poured over the face.
** This is the first time I've used ICE Resin. I chose ICE Resin because I thought it would "dome" giving the face some dimension - it didn't - but maybe I needed to add a second pouring after the first had dried. As I used it, I'm not sure it's really any different from Easy Cast. Easy Cast you can get just about anywhere, using coupons. I found ICE Resin by chance at Hobby Lobby for $11.99 for a 30ml dispenser. But then I haven't used resin enough to be an experienced judge.
** I accidentally touched the face before it had set up - therefore Peat Moss and Flax Seeds were used to enhance her face ;)
** After attaching the Tea Strainer to the head a circle of Tree Bark was cut to cover the card board and a vintage flower spray was glued on around the neck.
TEA STRAINER:CAP with holes:** A nest was made of 12g wire and attached to the head with 24g wire.
** 30g wire was used to thread in and out of the holes, adding glass seed beads and glass leaf shaped beads as I went along.
** The sides were notched to fit over the rim of the head frame. Two square bolts were glued on top of the frame, just inside the cap, with E6000 glue to give the cap a better foundation when glued.

Bottom of Strainer: ** A hole was drilled (although a punch could be used) in the top of the ATC Tin and the top of the bottom of the tea strainer.
** A bolt was inserted from the inside of the ATC lid up thru the top of the Tea Strainer and held in place with a nut.
** The notched frame was put against the bolt, on top of the nut and another nut added on top of the frame - then glued with E6000 glue.
** Flax seeds were glued one by one around the bottom of the strainer using Ultimate Glue.

All body parts, with the exception of the head and hat - were sprayed with a fixative.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Pack Up Your Cares and Woes...

Metal Medley Challenge #5

Cares and Woes (C&W for short) is 12" tall and is for the person who jots things down on scraps of paper. For those of us that don't journal this is a place to drop notes, thoughts and concerns. There's a slot in the back of the body for the scraps of paper. The lid hinges open so the scraps can be retrieved and the cares and woes set free.

Medley Supplies: ATC Tin, Metal Frame, Eyelets
Supplies from my Stash: Doll parts/Hands and Flat Feet, Vintage Projector Lens Holder (no lens), Tea Strainer, Tree Bark, Peat Moss, Flax Seeds, Twigs, Seed Pod, Beads, 30g and 18g Wire, Birds, Vintage Flowers, Ice Resin, Copic Markers, Rubber Stamp,Colored Pencils, Lead Sinkers, Nuts and Bolts, Tool - lots of tools.

Verse: Change your thoughts and you change the world.

The top of her arms were cut away. Twigs and moss were put in place to give the appearance that her arms were a part of her body/tree.

Often, when I see someones work I wonder how they got "that stuck to that"?

There were some design and technical challenges with C&W that I'll cover in the next post. I took some pictures of the process and what parts looked like before they were covered up. Of course if you have any questions shoot me an email.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

We Interupt This Broadcast...

Metal Medley challenge #5 has created a firestorm of possibilities - I thought I had the basics pulled from my stash . . .

- but me, myself and/or I had ideas floating to surface as we woke up this morning.

We're thinking of adding green beads, ice resin, tree bark, copic markers - aw geeze! this is going to take a day or two - pardon me while I get my straight jacket ready ;)

I know what you're thinking, been there, seen that. Come back you may be surprised (I'm sure we will).

Happy Saturday!!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

While I'm on a "Roll" - Pun Intended

I recently started using the Scor-Tape. I like it a lot. What I don't like is that I have to have two hands free to use it (just a reason to build something).

Desire: Design a box that would hold all of the various size rolls of Scor Tape I use that would let them roll freely and be cut at the box.
a. Use the plastic foil tape holder used by stained glass makers. I have one and the tape rolls out of the holder every time you pull it (granted it's an older holder).
b. Use a 5" round can, cut a slit in the side for the tape to roll out. The sharpness of the cut in the tin would cut the tape - but then the tape would have a tendency to slide back in the can. Plus I'd want it to stand up on the table and I'd have to put feet on it so it wouldn't roll (and I didn't have one in my stash).
c. Use a 5" sq box in the same manner as the can. Build an interior structure that would allow the rolls to roll separately and freely - attach a used tin foil cutter to the outside to tear the tape. I had a box but didn't feel like messing with it. Item "d" gave me the opportunity to cut FOAM CORE.

I CHOSE d: Repurpose a clear acrylic utensil holder (I already had one in my stash). Empty a round Vigro bread crumb box that's the same dimension as the interior of the tape rolls, cut it down to the width of one of the sections in the holder. Cut foam core for the sides for the bread crumb box to sit on and holds the tapes above the bottom of the holder. Cut foam core sections so the various sizes remain apart. Attach a used tin foil cutter to the front.

This is a picture of the cutter just placed on the holder to see if it would work. I discovered that the tape would tear easier if the rolls were rolling accross the cutter coming up from the bottom vs rolling out from the top down accross the cutter. The cutter has since been cut to size and attached to the holder.

The other sections of the holder will house my two larger rolls of paper hinge tape that come with their own boxes and cutters.

Metal Medley #4

I knew right away what I was going to use the title plates for. Many years ago I made a foam core cabinet for melmine dessert trays I found at a garage sale (when I was young - they used these trays in our cafeteria - so I know they're vintage). I glued wooden beads to the front of the trays, glued a bead in the hole for decoration and used the trays to hold miscellaneous doo dads.

It's been my intention for awhile to get more "stuff" out of my way on the paper table (where the "love of my craft life" lives - my Genesis paper trimmer). So I designed this cabinet and made it out of repurposed, laminated, black foam core. I worked for an engineering firm and frequently rescued presentations from being discarded - a design of the Florida Turnpike is on the underside pieces of this cabinet. Black laminated foam core is my favorite to work with. It's more dense, cuts easier and sharper.

The new cabinet is 30" wide x 7" high x 5 1/2" deep. It holds the dessert trays, thin plastic trays I place small items on when I'm working on a project and paper trays I made out of 8"x6" thin chip board - covered with decorative paper and assembled with eyelets.
Supples from Medley: Name plates and eyelets
Supplies from my stash
: Foam core, chip board, decorative paper.

Foam Core design note: I use a Rabbet Cutter on the ends that need to be glued together for corners. It provides a great neat, sharp, join forming perfect 90 degree corners.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Something Old - Something New

While I'm working on Metal Medley challenge item #4 I thought I'd share a pin I made and the story behind it (sorry - but everything I do has a story).
My Dad was 17 when he enlisted in the Navy (he lied about his age). During WWII he was in the gun turret on board an escort ship when it was hit. He was wounded, patched up and went back for duty. This second ship was hit and again he was wounded - but this time he was in and out of hospitals for a year trying to get a crushed ankle mended.

I remember the day my sister Jean and I were in his basement hobby room in Florida (he used to facet stones and make jewelry before his hands began to shake). He opened the bottom drawer of his table and took out two military boxes - each containing a Purple Heart pin. He said to me "here take these and do something with them - they're not doing any good sitting in the bottom of my drawer". His attitude was one of the pins not being important. I later found out that he had had them gold plated. Hmmmmm - did I mention my Dad is a fraud ;) I had never seen a Purple Heart up close and was honored that he gave them to me.

I used to wear business suits and my focus at that time was beading and making jewelry. I disassembled the Purple Heart and sewed it to the foundation. Unobtrusive embellishments were glued on and beading was added (approx size 2" top to tip of heart x 2 1/4" wide). The Purple Heart can be extracted from the foundation and reassembled to it's original state without any damage or change (it sits, not glued, in the wire/chain cradle).

The reactions at that time to my wearing this pin were interesting. From "it's wonderful - I've never seen a Purple Heart up close" to "how do you feel wearing a Purple Heart you didn't earn". Honestly, I was proud to wear my Father's pin - it gave me an opportunity to talk about it and tell folks his experiences during the War. I wouldn't wear it now - there are a lot more current day examples of the wounded with Purple Hearts that I think this Country is well aware of what a Purple Heart looks like and what it represents. This pin is going in my Dad's memory box along side a picture of him in his Cracker Jacks (I wore them when I was in the Navy too).

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Even though I don't write down appointments or many other dates that I need to remember - I love calendars. There are so many design opportunities with calendars.

Soooo - Surprise! Item #2 of my self imposed Medley challenge was a 7 1/2" x 5" calendar.

My thought was that with the stand being able to fold flat - it would fit in a small manila envelope and could be sent as a Christmas Card.

Jan through Jun flipped around to show Jul through Dec.

Supplies from the Medley: Six round paper clips, 4 metal corners, a large hinge and 4 eyelets.

Supplies from my Stash: 2 sheets of 12 x 12 thin ply chip board, 3 sheets of Graphic 45 paper for the calendar pages, 6 sheets of 8 1/2 x 11 plain white card stock for the calendar months; 3 sheets black card stock, double sided tape, distress inks and a black Copic marker.

Items of interest:
Stand: Each side of the stand is two pieces of chip board cut at the same time and glued together. I inserted the hinge between the two pieces, subsequently gluing it in place in at the same time. After I glued the paper on the front and back fo the stand I set eyelets in the hinge for stability. Yes, this was overkill - but I got it in my mind that hiding the hinges would help the stand fold flat and I couldn't let it go until I'd done it. I later muted the colors of the paper on the stand with distress inks and spraying Copic marker E34.

Calendar Months: There are 3 two-sided sheets of Graphic 45 paper cut to size for the months. When Jun is done - you flip the stack around and Jul begins. The months were created in excel (every other day was lightly highlighted) and printed on white card stock. They were backed with black card stock before adhering to the background paper. Every other month shows the back of the Graphic 45 paper - so pictures were cut out of the scraps and glued on for accents.

Monthly Tabs: Any number of items could have been used to designate the months - but I wanted to see what I could use from the Metal Medley so I used the round paper clips. Two pieces of scrap paper, glued only at the very top, were inserted in the paper clip, glued in place and cut around the clip. Strips of blank paper, distressed on the edges, were stamped with the months and glued across the paper circles, under the clips. Because the paper circle inserts were only glued at the very top the bottom could be slipped over the background card - leaving a small area available to be glued to front and back of the calendar page, keeping the tab in place.

That's it. That's all the fun I had.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Faux Wire Wrapped Necklace

OK - I'm posting finished item #3 in front of finished item #2 of the Metal Medley challenge (in case you missed the previous blog - it's my own challenge)this is easier to photograph. I'll post #2 tomorrow.

Supplies from the Medley: 4 diamond shaped and 4 triangle shaped paper clips, 3 picture hangers, 7 eyelets and 1 square brass frame.

Supplies from my stash: Black elastic

There you have it. I bent the ends of the clips to make loops - fastened eyelets to the centers of the triangle clips and wa la!

It's super light, sturdy and looks great on. I was pleasantly surprised.

I had to stop myself from hanging bead(s) from the eyelet in the center of the square brass frame. The possible variations of this are endless.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Off With Their Heads!

I got a Metal Medley kit that Bonnie's Best Tools had just posted on their web site as a challenge to myself to use all the metal pieces. I separated all the pieces into a tray I had handy (the ATC tin and box of small bits aren't shown here). Many of my Mother's sayings come to mind but suffice it to say - I think I may of bitten off more than I feel like chewing at one time ;)

The first things that caught my eye as I spread the pieces out were the metal frames and heart shaped clips. So that's what I started with...

1st completed: Queen of Hearts - Off With Their Heads! A pin.

Supplies from kit: 3 heart shaped clips, brushed metal frame, 1 eyelet, 2 heart brads.
Supplies from my stash: Yelling Lady Stamp from Las Vegas Stamps, 3 springs from broken pens, watch face, rhinestones, vintage rose plastic beads, jump rings, Graphic 45 Hallowe'en in Wonderland paper, colored pencils, metal doo dad for crown, E6000 glue and a pin.

This piece started from the bottom up. I think it would be more effective without the skirt (which dangles from the neck). But once I got towards the end there was no turning back.

I won 4 LARK BOOKS !!

I like to stay on top of what Lark Crafts is doing. Their website, in addition to their books, has a lot of useful information and fabulous projects. Their 500 and Master Series books are simply incredible.

Visiting their site a few weeks ago I came across their offer to win their new "FOCUS" book series. All I had to do was post a comment on one of a list of blogs and they would pick a winner at random from all those that posted. I posted a comment on a blog I thought was outstanding. It's something I would have done anyway.

I have never won anything in my life (aside from the time when I was a kid and I submitted Loretta's name in a department store drawing and she won a turkey). Within a few days of posting I got an email from Nicole McConville, Senior Editor, notifying me that I won the set of four FOCUS Series books. Saying I was excited doesn't cover it.

The books came last week. Book 1: FOCUS Love, Book 2: FOCUS: Passages, Book 3: FOCUS: Found Faces (my favorite), and Book 4: FOCUS: Letters (Nicole also included the inspiring book "Craft Hope").

I'm not a book reviewer. But I have to give it a shot - these books are beautiful, high quality publications. They're books you'll keep coming back to and seeing something new every time. I'm pretty good about seeing something in objects others don't see. But I was totally surprised and delighted at what others had captured. These books are a fasinating look into our world and inspiring to artists.

On to the "Bonus"...Having crafted all of my life I've sort of "been there - done that". However, this book had me pulling out stash I haven't been through in a while - what a delight. There are over 30 projects in this book using a variety of beginner to intermediate craft techniques. The premise is giving back -whether it's in your neighborhood, community or across the world. This was indeed icing on a huge FREE cake.


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Storage - Love, love, storage.

I've been stuck lately - hence the delay in posting.

Hoping straightening up my studio would get me creating again I began by making a storage unit for my variety of miscellaneous pens that weren't organized.

My current pencil/pen storage units sit out on my work table and are made of three cut up heavy card board tubes (I used a dremel saw to cut them). The tubes were left over from a large roll of copy paper generally used to copy house/engineering plans.
I built these in sections so they would interlock and I could take out one section at a time when I just wanted pencils or copic markers or my black line pens. You get the idea.

Well...I didn't have a cardboard tube left to cut up and I remember having a talk with me, myself and I pointing out the obvious - that I had enough "stuff" and needed to think outside of the box to come up with something I could use on-hand materials for.

So, having been sufficiently scolded, I cut up three 12x12 chipboard inserts in 4" strips (the chipboard came with scrapbook paper), folded the strips into 2" interlocking squares, attached a bottom and covered with Graphic 45 Cirque paper. You'll notice the unit is made so it can be interlocked with others.

I was surprised at how much it held.

This was the "after" party.