ScrapHappy March

Today I’m joining Kate at Tall Tales from Chiconia for her monthly scrap-happy blog post. The idea is to make something pretty using leftover scraps. Several bloggers post once a month showcasing a project using scraps of material leftover from quilting or other projects. I’ve been welcomed to post using paper scraps.

I’ve wanted to create cards using scraps for a while now. I think it’s fun and challenging creating with items you have on hand.

This first card incorporates some of my smallest paper scraps from a line by Graphic 45. Each square is approximately one inch (three centimeters), laid out in a three by four grid. I allowed space between the squares so I could score even lines for a bit of texture. I might try using my sewing machine on future cards as well.

My next card combines a variety of scraps from two paper lines. The colors worked well together. I fashioned it after some of the strip quilting I’ve seen in a variety of blogs. Call me crazy, but assembling these strips had great appeal. I’ll definitely do this again.

You may have seen the following card in my Valentine’s Day card post. I’m including it here, since it also uses scraps.

I used the lining from an envelope I received last year. It was too pretty to throw away, so I kept it knowing I could put it to use.

I made this last card using a sheet of scrapbooking paper left over from a project a year or two ago. I used one of my new dies to punch the word “thanks” out of the blue portion of the paper, then used adhesive dots to make it three-dimensional.

Have you made something entirely out of scraps lately? Please share your link in the comments section, below.

From Kate’s blog:

“ScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps of anything – no new materials. It can be a quilt block, pincushion, bag or hat, socks or a sculpture. Anything made of scraps is eligible. If your scrap collection is out of control and you’d like to turn them into something beautiful instead of leaving them to collect dust in the cupboard, why not join us on the 15th of each month? You can email Kate at the address on her  Contact Me page. You can also contact Gun via her blog to join. We welcome new members. You don’t have to worry about making a long-term commitment or even join in every month, just let either of us know a day or so in advance if you’re new and you’ll have something to show, so we can add your link. Regular contributors will receive an email reminder three days before the event.”

Scrappy, Happy Valentines

Making and sending Valentines reminds me of my school days. The adult version of Valentine’s Day is a massive industry promoting over-priced roses, chocolates (though I wouldn’t say no) and other consumer goods. It’s more fun looking back fondly on a certain Valentine’s Day in grade 3.

Millbrae Elementary School, 1968

Millbrae Elementary School, Grade 3, 1968 I’m the only redhead in the class

Our teacher walked us into the cafeteria toward the end of the school day where we sat facing each other. She stood at the head of the row and handed out Valentines down the line from our fellow classmates. She called each name, and one by one passed the cards down the line. What fun! In those days, boys and girls gave everyone a Valentine. It was about sharing and caring, not romantic love. I adored that tradition.

I’ve had such a good time making Valentine’s Day cards this year as I reminiscence about that day in school so many years ago. Isn’t it funny what stays with you?

Valentines

Pretty pink paper from The Island

My card making goes something like this. I head to my favorite local paper store (The Island’s Creative Escape) and start crafting in my head. I plan and discard ideas, until inspiration strikes. Then I make my purchases and head home. Once home I start with the plan in my head, but quickly tire of the idea and move off into different directions.

Now that I have a handy-dandy, low-tech, die-cutting gadget called a Big Shot, I wanted to try some heart-shaped dies.

Sizzix Big Shot

Sizzix Big Shot die cutting machine

Lawn Fawn heart dies

Assorted Lawn Fawn heart dies

I bought two sets of heart dies, straight out of the box. They’re designed by a company called Lawn Fawn. The shipment had just arrived in the store but they let me grab a set before they put them out for display. They’re sold in a packet with three sizes. The ruffled edge is larger and meant to nest with the stitched-styled heart.

DIY Valentine's Day cards

Playing around with techniques including folder embossing, powder embossing, die cuts, and stick-on gems.

I came home with pink paper and the heart-shaped dies and proceeded to make all sorts of mistakes. I used the rubber stamp upside down. I double stamped an image rendering it useless, then I used the rubber stamp upside down (again), which made me utter, as I might have in grade 3: Oh brother! At this rate, no one would get a Valentine.

Eventually I hit my stride and started having fun. After initially using the supplies from The Island, I pulled out my red, pink and white scraps and punched a bunch of hearts. My friend Mary Ann gave me several paper sample booklets years ago, and I continue to put them to use. I tore out the samples in my preferred colors and die cut even more hearts.

I saved this beautiful, floral lining from a Papyrus greeting card last year. It was just the right size for the flip-it card. I’m not sure why I get such pleasure out of using scraps but I do.

envelope lining reused in card

Envelope lining reused in card

Here’s one more. I cut small strips from some of my tiniest scraps, then arranged them like a strip quilt. I’ve since used this technique on a few other cards. I’ll share them in a future post.

In addition to making cards for friends, I put together simple card-making kits for my Little Free Library.

Valentine's Day Card kit

I made the sign using scraps and a vintage playing card

A couple of weeks earlier, my sister Sharon gave me a packet of cellophane envelopes that she no longer wanted. They’re the perfect size for the card kits and they seal. Serendipity!

Card making kits for Valentine's Day

A dozen card kits, offered in our Little Free Library

I used the left-over paper and stickers to make a dozen card kits. It was fun watching them disappear one by one.  Someone else is enjoying card-making, too. A week or so later when I had a bit of spare time I put together another dozen kits. It was a terrific way to use my scraps, and fun to think of someone crafting their own Valentine from one of the kits. I’ll definitely offer them again next year.

Wishing you and your inner child a Happy Valentine’s Day.

 

Halloween Cards: Chlorophyll Prints From My Garden (Part 2)

This is part 2 of my recent post about crafting from my garden.

I’m crafting Halloween cards from my garden this year using chlorophyll prints. Before harvesting the last of the pumpkin vines,  I made chlorophyll prints from the pumpkin’s leaves.

Pumpkin leaves have a rich, green, texture and that color and texture transferred beautifully on white card stock. I used my recently acquired Big Shot tool to make the impressions/prints. You can see the other card style in my recent post: Halloween Cards: Crafting from my Garden.  I blogged about my first attempts with chlorophyll prints in a post: Experimenting with Chlorophyll Prints.

I found inspiration on Dawn’s blog late last year. You can have a look at her beautiful card creations at Petals. Paper. Simple Thymes.

For this set of cards, I used the pumpkin leaf impression on the cover. I added a stamped pumpkin image and a few green leaves along with the stem.  Inside the card I used the chlorophyll print from the Nepeta once again, along with a pine-needle imprint for the small pumpkin.

I used craft envelopes for the smaller cards, adding a spider web detail to the flap. A few years ago, Tim Holtz came out with a stencil called Shatter. It makes the perfect spiderweb, don’t you think?

Blue ink worked well on the black envelopes, whereas silver ink showed better on the craft paper. Our post office is selling Disney Villain postage stamps this time of year. They’re the perfect finishing touch. Disneyland may call itself the “happiest place on earth”, but many of the movies I watched as a child scared me to my core.

But hey, it’s Halloween. Hopefully my cards don’t send a chill down anyone’s spine.

Note: I wrote this post a few weeks ago, but waited to share it in October. Since writing this light-hearted post, if feels like the wheels have come off the proverbial bus. I’m trying to regain some perspective. November is just around the corner. I hope it brings cooler weather and cleansing rains.

Northern California Fire Update:

Sonoma was the hardest hit county in this month’s wildfires with some 6,800 homes lost. Another 569 homes in Napa County were destroyed. The two wine country counties each lost at least 5 percent of their housing stock, according to estimates.

Santa Rosa, Sonoma County’s largest city, lost entire neighborhoods, including the suburb of Coffey Park and mobile home parks. The fires also left a path of destruction in Fountaingrove, a neighborhood known for its expensive homes.

Overall, the Northern California wildfires burned more than 245,000 acres, destroyed an estimated 8,700 structures and killed at least 42 people, according to Cal Fire. As of Wednesday, at least 16 people were still listed as missing in Santa Rosa. – Source CNBC

 

 

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Experimenting with Chlorophyll Prints

Transferring the image of a leaf to paper has been around for years. It’s only recently though, that I learned of a technique using a Big Shot, one of those crafting tools I’ve put off buying for years.

Sizzix Big Shot

Sizzix Big Shot

Dawn, who blogs at Petals. Paper. Simple Thymes created these beautiful cards using the technique. Dawn’s post and her stunning cards were the impetus I needed. I bought a Big Shot so I could give the technique a try. I’m sharing the Big Shot tool with my sister, Sharon, who makes all of her own cards. We bought some fun dies for her to use for her holiday cards this year.

As Dawn says, this is a wonderful opportunity to combine two loves: gardening and paper crafts.

According to Wiki:

Chlorophyll (also chlorophyl) is any of several closely related green pigments found in cyanobacteria and the chloroplasts of algae and plants.[1] Its name is derived from the Greek words chloros (“green”) and  phyllon, (“leaf”).[2] Chlorophyll is essential in photosynthesis, allowing plants to absorb energy from light. – Wikipedia

The technique is simple. You sandwich a leaf or petal between a folded piece of paper, run it through the Big Shot, and the green pigment created by the chlorophyll transfers to the paper.  As Pauline King would say, I’m at the messy stage of this process. I’ve yet to make a single card, but not from lack of trying.

I gathered several scraps of paper from my stash to get started, including an old file folder, card stock, old-fashioned typewriter paper and vellum.

File folder leaf print

Paper: File Folder * Verdict: so-so

chlorophyll prints watercolor paper

Paper: Watercolor * Verdict: Nice most of the time but not for all plant material

velum paper chorophyll print

Paper: Velum * Verdict: It looks like a Rorschach Test

I quickly learned that all paper is not created equal. In the end it was a scrap of watercolor paper that worked the best. It absorbed some of the natural moisture and showed off the texture of the plant material to good effect.

My collection of leaves were a mixed bag as well. Some were so wet and juicy, that they produced images that were half leaf imprint, half splat. My prints are definitely not ready for prime time, but I am having fun.

I’m still trying to get a good imprint from my coleus leaves. They’re a beautiful mix of red and green and sometimes purple. They’re also heart-shaped. If I can manage to get the impressions just right without the extra moisture they’ll look terrific on a card.

My favorite imprints so far are the fern and the Nepeta.

This imprint is from my lacy fern, a plant I’ve carted around with me for nearly thirty years. It went from a small, seventy-nine cent plant on my nightstand, to owning a corner of our garden. I love it.

Chlorophyll transfer fern and sweet pea

Chlorophyll transfer of fern and sweet pea petal to watercolor paper

The Nepeta or cat nip also transferred well, and comically, retained some of its potency. Mouse the Cat hopped up on the desk and enjoyed the scent.

Nepeta catmint transfer print

Mouse Approved

Nepeta (cat mint) transfer

Nepeta (cat mint) transfer

I’ll keep experimenting and hope to eventually have some bona fide cards to share. I tossed the small samples, but gathered the rest of them into a sample booklet, held together with baker’s twine and a few strips of Washi tape.

Chlorophyll Samples

Chlorophyll Sample Booklet

Have you been working away at a technique for a while with mixed results? Let us know in the comments below.

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Lonely Crochet Hooks and a Gorgeous Tool Roll

I started teaching myself how to crochet earlier in the year as a way to relax. I follow quite a few crafty bloggers, and several of them excel at crochet. Was I missing out on all that fun? These clever crocheters seem to pick it up and put it down as casually as a grocery list. I’ll even venture to guess that a few of  you have a hook dancing in your lap as you read this.

I learned to sew at the age of six and our mom taught us the basics of knitting a few years later, but crocheting wasn’t part of her repertoire. I learned how to make a chain, and my skill set ended there.

It’s been slow going, but crocheting is as relaxing as I knew it would be, after I mastered a few knots.  The book-learning bores me to tears, but once I get the hang of a stitch, my shoulders drop and the soothing rhythm I craved takes over.

During a comment conversation on Tall Tales From Chiconia, I offered to send Kate a couple of large crochet hooks in a size she couldn’t find at home. Kate graciously offered to make me something in return.  I know she’s pleased to have a pair of plastic crochet hooks in sizes N and Q, but I’m over the moon at what she offered in return: this gorgeous, handcrafted tool roll in all my favorite colors!

 

 

As I cast my eyes on this lovely thing, I keep reminding myself that it’s a tool roll, not a museum for lonely crochet hooks.  The heat will pass, our busy kitten will mellow and I will sign up for a class to further my skills so that I can continue with this relaxing craft, turning out something I don’t mind bringing out into the light of day.

That said, and in the spirit of Jan’s garden post, here are the meager beginnings of what I hope to call craft one day.

 

 

Thank you once again, Kate, for this beautiful, thoughtful gift.

cat with yarn and crochet

Lindy likes my new hobby

cat in lap with crochet

Mouse is fine with the hobby, as long as he still fits in my lap.

Tessa in hands

Tessa insists that she’s my new hobby

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Honoring the Gift: Three Wise Men Get a Bit of TLC

Making something from scratch has its rewards. We all like new and shiny things. Honoring the past, though, also has its rewards. I love the challenge of bringing something back to its former self, especially when it has history and meaning.

wisemen-starting-point

Three Wise Men, Originally crafted by Laura’s Aunt and Mother

My friend Laura grew up with these treasures: three wise men, lovingly crafted from the remnants of home-made holiday dresses. Laura’s aunt and mother followed a craft idea of the day. Each of the wise men started with a brown glass beer bottle. The head is a silk Christmas ball, popular in the sixties and the crown is the top half of a Styrofoam coffee cup. Sequins and felt are used for the eyes, with jewelry findings decorating each crown. I think they’re charming

These wise men are in remarkably good shape after nearly fifty years in and out of storage. But as with any well-loved object, they needed a bit of TLC.

Here’s what Laura has to say about these family heirlooms:

wise-men-displayed-at-lauras

My restored wise men on display in my home. I particularly love their sparkly new eyes which stand out better than the originals.

My Mother, Donnetta, and her sister Anita created the wise men when I was about six years old. I remember watching them work, knowing  the wise men must be precious because of the way my Mom handled them. I wasn’t allowed to touch them. They made two sets, one for each house. I looked forward to their appearance each year for the holidays. I was in awe.

After years of hosting many homey family Christmases, my Mother passed away in 1997.  The Christmas decorations remained with my Father until he  passed in 2012. At that point my sister and I divided up the decorations and I was lucky enough to get the three wise men. They were in rough physical shape (which I never noticed until then) and I was in rough emotional shape. I packed them away for a few years until I was able to open the Christmas box. Wonderful memories spilled out.

It was then that I found out a lot more about the wise men, and their history became even more meaningful for me. Nana (Mom and Anita’s Mother) had a box of notions and buttons for collecting miscellaneous strays and broken bits for future use. My Aunt became a professional seamstress and added a fabric scraps and bric-a-brac box. Unfortunately, I did not inherit the crafty gene.

Finding a picture of the three girl cousins was my first clue. Anita made velvet Christmas dresses one year for me and my sister Karen and for her daughter Claudia. Mine was the purple velvet dress. She saved the scraps of the three dresses, eventually using them for the wise men. Bric-a-brac remnants from her various sewing projects became the trim, broken jewelry the jewels on the crowns, and out-of-fashion hatpins that my Nana wore in her younger days adorned the tops of the crowns. They created these treasures from family belongings! I loved them even more.

When I began to examine them closely I laughed out loud. They made the wise men out of  beer bottles! Who knew? I soon found the magazine article they’d saved detailing the project with a Styrofoam cup as the base of the crown and a plain ornament as the head. Now I was laughing for several reasons: something I’d considered so valuable turned out to be made from common materials; the materials were from memorable family possessions.  My family didn’t drink a drop of alcohol, so I could only imagine the scene as my Mom and Aunt asked their friends to save some beer bottles.

I wanted these precious wise men restored to their former glory. I asked my dear friend Alys if she would take on the project because I

wise-men-in-box

My beautifully restored wise men in their custom storage box, Capes are held down to prevent wrinkles, and cushioning supports their delicate neck. Hat pins are up off the packing and protected.

know she enjoys this type of creativity. I knew she would return them to their original form as closely as possible.

Am I ever so grateful to Alys! I have no idea what “fray check” is, and the repaired hole in the purple cape is done so well I never would have noticed it. I couldn’t have begun to do the level of restoration that Alys did.

On the day she returned them to me they arrived in a beautiful, custom box. She box is the perfect size and it has a magnetic closure. She thoughtfully added cushioning to protect the crowns and the capes are held down to stay unwrinkled.  This way they’ll last in good condition for many more years. What a wonderful surprise.

Alys, I can’t tell you what it means to my heart to have them back to full glory and displayed in my home again at Christmas time. I know that my Mom and Aunt are smiling about it too. Thank you from the bottom of my heart and my warm-Christmas-memory soul!!!!

I wanted to honor the original design as closely as I could, using modern-day materials but keeping the original design in place.

wise-men-materials

Materials used

Blue Wise Man:

I trimmed the fraying edges of the velvet, then added fray check along the new, clean edge. I added a strip of blue, see-through ribbon along the front of the bottle to prevent further fraying. It worked out fairly well.

Purple Wise Man:

The gold trim and the corner of the cape were badly damaged. I found a close match for the original trim and replaced it along the cape’s edge. To avoid disturbing the neckline, I kept a half-inch of the original trim, then added the new trim below. I patched the hole using a swatch from inside the crown, matching the nap of the velvet as best I could. It looks shiny in the photo, but in person it’s far more subtle.

Red Wise Man:

The third wise man needed eye surgery and a few replacement jewels along the front bodice, but he was otherwise in good shape.

red-wise-men-starting-point

Missing an eye and a few sequins, but otherwise in good shape

After steaming out a few of the storage wrinkles, I added new hat pins to each of the crowns. I found these beautiful pins last summer when I was traveling in Edmonton, Canada. My friend Kelly works for Urban Scrapbook, and writes a regular blog feature called Kelly’s Korner. We popped into the store and there they were on the counter. Serendipity!

urban-scrapbook-wise-men-pins

I found these pre-made at Urban Scrapbook in Edmonton, Canada. They’re perfect!

wise-men-crowns

Updated crowns

three-wise-men-refurbished

Three Wise Men Refurbished, Posing in My Garden of Course

A Crafty October So Far

You should see my desk. It looks like a Whirling Dervish came through. I’ve hauled out paper and pens, circle cutters and glue, rubber stamps, ink pads and ribbon. It’s been a crafty October so far.

Crafting and a tidy work space do not go hand-in-hand. Unfortunately I do not have a dedicated craft space so I make do. I’m crafting using the corner of my desk, a small pop up table and my in box. Since Mike is out of the country for ten days, I called squatters rights on his side of our shared desk as well.  After repeatedly misplacing, then later unearthing my reading glasses, I’ve added “granny chain” to my shopping list. In the midst of all this chaos I’m having a blast.

Earlier this month, I took a class with my sister at The Island Creative Escapes. During the four-hour class, we learned a variety of mixed-media techniques while creating a “Haunted Pumpkin Patch”. You know me and pumpkins.

halloween-mixed-media

“Haunted Pumpkin Patch” mixed media class by Richele Christensen

Designer and blogger, Richele Christensen, lead the class. She’s a project manager and designer for Tim Holtz. All of the products are available through an assortment of Tim Holtz products. They provided a kit for all of the attendees, and then we shared a basket of inks and other tools.

halloween-mixed-media-tim-holtz-richele-christensen-001

Mixed media detail (top half)

halloween-mixed-media-tim-holtz-richele-christensen-002

Mixed media detail (bottom half)

We came home with a cute mixed media canvas and a variety of ideas along with a leftover sheet of rub-on decals and a packets of paper ephemera. Those leftovers were my starting point for a rainy day afternoon of card-making. Yes…it rained!

When our boys were young, I hosted a Halloween party every year for the neighborhood children. It went on for nearly a decade. So in addition to the leftover ephemera pack from class, I have Halloween-themed rubber stamps, materials from a teacher’s supply store, and an assortment of paper from the make-and-take crafts.

Decorated pumpkins: Halloween 2008

Decorated pumpkins: Halloween 2008

I used these over-sized shapes for the inside of the tri-fold cards:

cards-with-large-shapes

Leftover Halloween shapes from the teachers supply store, scored, cut and placed on the inside of a tri-fold card

This is what the cards look like when closed:

tri-fold halloween cards

Tri-fold cards: Black card stock, spider web Washi tape, Tim Holtz vintage cat ephemera

I had fun making my own envelopes.

halloween-card-envelopes-from-template

Leftover bat shapes and assorted paper get a new life as envelopes for some of the cards

I like the way the scrap of lace looks over the purple paper. I had just enough for one card.

purple-and-lace-halloween-card

This scrap of black lace was a bow on our class supply kit. I wrapped it around a scrap of purple paper, added a dangling spider charm and attached it to a black card. Scraps of the same paper decorate the envelope. The ghost is inside.

There is something to be said for loosening up on a practice card or two. I often have a hard time getting started, then an equally challenging time stopping. Who wants to fold laundry when a role of Washi tape is calling your name?

I moved from idea to idea, using the supplies and tools that I have on hand. At last I was in the zone.

Check out some of these beautiful creations:

Dawn at Petals. Paper. Simple Thyme

Kelly at Kelly’s Korner

Pauline at The Contented Crafter