Thursday, December 29, 2011

Help Me Pick a Sewing Machine

Hello....? Is this thing on???  I know I've been absent, as my computer has a virus (and will hopefully be soon doctored up by the local school that fixes such things).  I have missed you all dearly and hope you have had a wonderful Christmas season.  I will certainly be posting as soon. as I am able but in the meantime I need your help!  

I am on the hunt.  The hunt for a sewing machine.

The details:  I don't want to spend more than $200 if possible.  I am a COMPLETE beginner.  I hope to be able to make garments (stop laughing!), maybe some light home decor (no upholstery - but maybe some light curtains someday?), as well as misc. craft sewing projects.  No quilting or embroidery at the moment.  I don't even know what other preferences I could possibly have.

Here's a link to a sewing machine that I found on Amazon that is decently priced and has lots of good reviews.  Tell me what you think!!

I'd love your input, so please throw some comments my way!!!
And I'll be back soon to share all types of fun things with you.
I really can't wait; I didn't realize how much I missed blogging.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Spirited Art

Sometimes I really enjoy taking an art class with a group. 
It can be a great opportunity to strengthen bonds and refresh some skills. 
This past Thursday I went out with the ladies of my church to Spirited Art of Knoxville and had a blast!!

What a fun wall, this is what you see upon walking into Spirited Art

This is their calendar of events, it takes up the whole wall.  Each day has it's own painting, if you are interested in that day's work, anyone can reserve a spot and sign up to paint.  Up at the top (third from right) is the 15th of December where it says "Private Party" - that's us!

This is where the fun happens!!

Everyone at my table working diligently on their masterpieces

Starting to get into it!
(Having premixed paint is more convenient, but I love mixing my own colors!)
It was hard to remember my sweet tea on the left - yum!
And the paint water on the right - yuck!

My finished work of art - click here to check out what it is supposed to look like (Scroll down to "Holiday", and we did the "NOEL" painting, the 5th image in the second row).  I was a rebel and decided to freehand my image - everyone else had carbon-traced their "NOEL" image.

A close-up of the ornament

A close-up of my peppermint candies - everyone else of course had painted candy canes, why must I be difficult! lol!

A close-up of smiling baby Jesus with the Star shining on Him :-)

Me and my finished painting!  (Their aprons are super cute - they say "i can draw a stick person"!)

The whole group! (I'm on the bottom row, 2nd from left)
Don't you LOVE that giant paint chip circle on the wall!?

This was so much fun, I really had a great time.  Spirited Art has locations in Knoxville, TN; Huntsville, AL, Little Rock, AR, and Richmond VA.  If you're near any of these, you should definitely check them out! 

Hope you enjoyed, and I hope you get an opportunity to take a class like this.  As long as you can hold a paintbrush, you can be an artist!  So as Spirited Art says, "Uncork your creatvity, but don't drink the paint water!" ;-)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

How to Use Flocking Powder

This post is on behalf of a reader who requested I look into using flocking.  Flocking (powder), also just 'flock', is made up of tiny fibers that can be poured onto adhesive for a decorative effect.  Any time you are looking for your project to have a 'fuzzy' or 'fluffy' appearance, you may consider using flocking.  Some ideas include using it for animal fur, clouds, lettering, and more.  The two most popular brands that carry flocking powder are Stampendous and Martha Stewart.  The flocking I used for this post is a no-name brand that I found in little trio packs at Michael's.

If you have worked with flocking before, you know the main problem: it can be messy.  Similar to embossing powder, it has a tendency to cling where you don't want it to stick.  So today I set out to attempt to build a better mousetrap, and make the process better.

I started out with different types of adhesive.

This photo shows all the adhesive I used:
Elmers Paper Craft Glue Gel, Elmers Fabric & Paper Glue, glue gun,
Glossy Accents, Elmers CraftBond Photo-Stiks, and Herma Dotto Adhesive Runner.

I also wanted to see if time had any effect on the project, so I cut up 12 squares, 2 squares per color.

My process:

Place the adhesive on the square. 
Pour the flocking over the adhesive, being sure to cover thoroughly.
With one square, I immediately dumped off the excess flocking back into the container.

With the other square, I left the flocking on for an hour, then removed the excess flocking.

Here is the KEY: once you rid your project of the excess, spray lightly with office dusting spray, aka "air-in-a-can" into a garbage can.  Make sure you do not blast your project, as this will cause the flocking to come away from the adhesive.  This step is the key to reducing the mess!  Here is the before and after of spraying the air-in-a-can:


Notes on adhesives:
The Elmers Paper Craft Glue Gel (purple) deflated, Elmers Fabric & Paper Glue (red) did not seem to adhere well, the glue gun (green) did not adhere well and it also left a glue string.  The Glossy Accents (yellow) seemed to adhere the best and did not deflate as much as the purple.  The Photo-Stik (blue) did well for flat covering, as did the adhesive runner (pink); however, the adhesive runner has dotted adhesive so the dots can be seen through the flocking.




Notes on time:
The hour difference of removing the excess powder did not seem to have an effect.  However, the next day when I touched my sample pieces, the flocking seemed to stay put and not flake off versus if I had just touched it previously.  I think it is a good idea to let your flocked project sit overnight or at least a couple hours before doing anything else with it (especially touching it).  Some on the web recommend leaving the flocking part as the last part of your project.

Other notes:
Be sure to 'mix' or 'fluff' your flocking before use.  If you haven't used your flocking in awhile, it will settle and pack together.  just use a toothpick or similar object to stir it up.  The blue flocking on the left shows what it looks like after it has been stirred, and the pink flocking on the left shows what it looks like when you first take off the lid.


Round Two of Experimentation:

I found a video on YouTube describing use of a Cuttlebug (or Sizzix Texture Boutique) to press down the flocking into the paper surface to set it so that it would not flake off.

This looked really awesome, and she obviously had a positive result.
My results were not quite the same:

I'm thinking my error may be a couple different things.
(Or perhaps even all of these things caused a bad result in my test)
1. I used smaller die cuts; maybe this technique works better with a larger piece.
2. I used Aleene's Tacky Spray, she used Elmer's Craft Bond Spray.  Maybe the brand's formulas are different, or maybe I sprayed too much of it?  Will need to continue testing.
3. Maybe I did not use enough flocking.  Her video shows a decently thick layer, and I'm wondering if I just didn't have enough.


Round Three of Experimentation:

Now to see how it will stamp.  I used a cute little caterpillar stamp so I could make it fuzzy.  Stamping with VersaMark Ink.  I followed the same process as before.  I think it came out great!

Hope you found this post useful; I had fun testing different techniques for this post. 
If you have any tips or tricks on using flocking powder, please share them!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Tim Holtz 12 Days of Christmas Tags - Day 12

Well everyone, join me in a hug and a sob that Tim Holtz' 12 Days of Christmas Tags are over.  On the other hand I'm relieved because this has been so intense; creating a project that takes anywhere from 1 1/2 hours to over 3 hours EVERY DAY - but I made it!  I learned SO MUCH doing this, I really feel as if my 'craft room' as been turned into a 'studio'.  Please check out all the other tags, as well as Tim's of course, as I'm sure you will be so inspired.  Some tags I liked more than others, some were easier to create, and some were really difficult.  Some techniques I couldn't do, and some I couldn't even fake. 

I'm glad I did it, and I had lots of fun too with Tim's business manager Mario on Twitter (@mariojrossi) for his Behind the Scenes (BTS) tweeing of the #12tags.  I even won a prize from commenting on Tim's blog - a $25 gift certificate to Inspiration Emporium!  Then I also won another prize - Tim's brand new 2012CHA stamps - randomly selected from Ted Cutts (of Stampers Anonymous fame), just for following him on Twitter (@tedcutts)!  Also, I now realized that I have 100 followers, so I am forever grateful (and need to think of something special to do!?)
Needless to say, I'm ecstatic :-D

The final tag:

Close-up of bottom:

Close-up of top:

Bonus close-up of 'all is calm' detail:

Bonus close-up of W I S H:

Bonus close-up of floral rose:

I really hope y'all had just as much fun as I did with the 12 Days of Christmas Tags that Tim Holtz has created.  I might create some of the other tags that Tim's friends created on the days that they were visiting, or some of his own bonus tags.  Do you have a favorite tag?? I've got a couple, I think I will have to share those again as a recap with you.  Or I might take a really long nap.

Mimic Monday - A Retro Merry Christmas

Hey y'all welcome back from the weekend, hope it was fun!  This week's Mimic Monday is going to be a little bit different.  Instead of doing my best to copy my inspiration piece, I took the main elements from it and changed it ever so slightly.  Check it out!

My original inspiration image can be found here, and the gallery it comes from can be found here.  created by the talented Lisa Crenshaw Young (aka Myprinces-Peaches on

Here's my inspiration image:

Classic red and green with a fun polka dot embossed print and snowflake detail.

Here's what I came up with:

A quick close-up of the embossed backgrounds and retro Stickle-fied snowflake:

I haven't done an A2 size card in awhile, and thought this would be a good time to do it.  I started out with a deep blue, almost black background and embossed it in the Sizzix Texture Boutique with the Tiny Bubbles folder as I don't have the polka dot print.  I cut 4 papers and embossed them the same.  I stamped Merry Christmas from a Hero Arts set and layered papers behind, then popped up with foam tape.  Some retro looking snowflakes decorated with Firefly and Thistle Stickles and gems were also popped up on foam tape to finish.

Hope you liked today's 'half' mimic, sometimes you just love your inspiration but want to make it your own too.  Also a note that the last Tim Holtz Tag will be posted within 20 minutes or so, be sure to check all 12 tags out - they were a blast to create!!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Tim Holtz 12 Days of Christmas Tags - Day 11

We're nearing a close with Tim Holtz' 12 Days of Christmas Tags with Day 11.  This tag gave me a run for my money.  I found Tim's exact image online, however it had a watermark.  I spent about 15 minutes removing it (as I'm only using this for personal use and not selling someone's image), then realized it was only an inch by an inch and enlarging without purchasing the original would lead to the dreaded pixel look. 

Then I found another image that looked pretty similar, so decided to use that instead.  Hint: use the term 'retro Santa' not 'vintage Santa'.  Retro is 30s, 40s, 50s Santas, while vintage will usually get you Victorian era Santas (think of the Santa on Coca Cola cans).  Then of course I ran out of Photo Black (my stupid printer has Black, Photo Black, Cyan, Yellow, and Magenta - so annoying).  So I only used half the image that printed out clearly. 

Then when inking around the Santa, I got red fingerprints on his beard and cuffs, so I decided to paint his beard, eyebrows, cuffs, hat cuff and waist cuff with white Inkssentials Enamel Accents.  Then the other parts looked weird, so I colored his gloves with White Opal Liquid Pearls, his belt with Ruby Red Liquid Pearls, and his belt buckle Goldenrod Stickles.  I also learned that blending inks on glossy cardstock is not as easy as on regular paper (although it was my first time doing it; maybe I just need more practice). 

One last note: be light on the Enamel Accents.  This stuff spreads really easily (the white lines by Santa's face used to be separated, but merged about 5 minutes after painting).  Also keep a pin handy to pop any bubbles that may form.

Well enough of my tag trauma drama (say that 3x fast!), here's Day 11's tag:

Close-up of bottom:

Close-up of top (check out that gloss!)

Bonus close-up of Santa (a cute and happy Santa if I do say so myself!):

I hope you enjoyed today's tag, if you have any questions about my methods (of madness) vs. Tim's, don't hesitate to leave me a comment and let me know.  Enjoy your day everyone!!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Tim Holtz 12 Days of Christmas Tags - Day 10

So here's day 10 of Tim Holtz' 12 Days of Christmas!  I was really disappointed that I could not participate in the main technique, as I don't have any fragments.  I also don't have any clear packaging tape so I couldn't even fake this one that well - and I don't even have any Santa images! 

To be really honest, I didn't spend the time I should have on this tag.  I rushed through it, skipped steps and had to come back, all because I want this to officially be posted on Saturday before Midnight my time (EST).  Oh well, I will try to spend more time on tomorrow's.

Close-up of bottom:

Close-up of top: 

I feel kind of guilty for not providing you guys with my best.  I hung out all day with my friends out in the country, and I'm sorry that this admittedly is not my best work (even though I still spent about an hour and a half on it).  Hope you guys still enjoy!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Tim Holtz 12 Days of Christmas Tags - Day 9

Another installment of Tim Holtz' 12 Days of Christmas Tags...made it 3/4 of the way!  Not to start off on a sour note, but this is probably my least favorite tag.  I didn't have a background that had a solid enough background to pull off the double embossing technique effectively (I have next to no background stamps for some reason).  I don't really like my candlestick that much, and I'm otherwise just not that thrilled about the whole bit.  But hey, I love all the others, so I think that's fair, eh?  Well enough blathering, here's some pics:

Close-up of bottom:

Close-up of top:

So what about you, is there a tag in the series thus far that you don't really care for?
Be honest, I promise I won't tell Tim! hehe ;-)

Hero Arts Card Sets + Sketch Challenge

Today I've got an entry for the Hero Arts Card Set/Sketch Challenge (including pocket cards).
I chose to do a pocket card based on Shari Carroll's video.
(Also entering in Wee Memories as their challenge is anything goes).

The flower and sentiment are from Hero Arts set CL443.  This was my first pocket card; they are fun and surprisingly easy to make!  I will definitely be making more in the future.

Have you made any pocket cards?
Here's hoping you receive one - with a lovely gift card inside! ;-D

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Tim Holtz 12 Days of Christmas Tags - Day 8

After a tag like today's, I'm almost glad Tim Holtz' 12 Days of Christmas Tags are almost over.  Before you FREAK OUT on me, I only say that because this tag took like 3 hours.  I had a lot of fun, but it was very challenging.  First the piccies and then why it was so difficult for me:

Close-up of bottom:

Close-up of top:

Bonus close-up of gears: 

Bonus close-up of LOVE ticket and raided pieces from hubby's toolbox: 

Bonus close-up of those handsome devils in top hats: 

My main issue with copying Tim Holtz' style is that I don't own many of his stamps, papers, pieces from his Idea-ology line, or really anything of his other than Distress Inks.  As you can imagine, this makes it quite hard when mimicking.  Pretty much everything on my card today is a mimic.

The tag itself is pretty similar, as I mentioned I have the Seasonal Distress Inks (Evergreen Bough, Festive Berries, and Iced Spruce) with Walnut Stain on the edges so this part wasn't hard.  The white images on the left side have been white embossed and on the left stamped in Jet Black Archival Ink from Ranger (all images from a 7Gypsies set called Steampunk). 

The J-O-Y, tickets, gears, and filmstrip were all cut with my Pazzles; I tried to get as close as possible.  J-O-Y has Glossy Accents on top.  The hand stamp on one ticket is from that 7Gypsies set, and the other "LOVE" is from a Tim Holtz set.  One has red pen lines that I used a ruler for and did myself, the other has Festive Berries inked on the sides.  The gears were painted with Folk Art Acrylics in Metallic Pure Gold, Metallic Antique Copper, and Metallic Gunmetal Gray; and then sanded lightly.  The film strip has plastic cut and adhered behind it. 

The 'men in top hats' image was found on Google, I printed it out and added Vintage Photo Distress Ink, little leaves I made and Xmas Red Stickles.  The ribbons have been custom inked using Festive Berries and Vintage Photo Distress Inks.  Like I said, I don't have any Idea-ology pieces, so I raided hubby's tool box and found a drill bit to use in place of the pen nib, and an eye-hook terminal to use in place of the mini lightbulb.

So what do you think?  Do you like this tag?
Was this tag easy for you or difficult?