"Art is my vehicle through life; may we share the ride together." Ron Wickersham

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Retreat (Part 2) - The Book

Every year since the retreat started 12 years ago, we have created a book according to that retreat's theme. At first Jeri (the organizer and leader) designed and created the book and made kits for everyone to recreate it. After several years, due to her health issues, she started assigning pages to a few members for a collaborative book. The past three years, we are now creating our own book, still keeping to the retreat theme. Everyone brings way more supplies than they need and there's a whole lot of sharing going on!

As soon as the "Viva Mexico" theme was announced I knew I wanted to make a book within a box, using one side for a Day of the Dead shrine/altar.  I found the perfect box at the Target $ Spot - it's about 6" square and was painted pink on top and white on the bottom. I repainted the bottom turquoise and covered the inside with floral paper. I painted the lips of the box with black and white squares and pink, orange and white paint dots. For the outer sides I embossed Ten Seconds black metal in a Cuttlebug border folder and glued on multi-colored flower jewels.   (Sorry, didn't get a photo of this.)

The front of the box has a metal heart which I bought in Mexico when we were there last Christmas, layered over a saffron-colored doily. The rolled rose is a metal diecut. The border is a gold Dresden trim from probably 15 years ago and I glued on red sequins. (After uploading the photo I noticed that one is missing so will need to fix that!)  I painted 4 wooden balls white with black polka dots for feet.

 Here is the box opened without the book which goes in the right side.  

And here's the book in place. Originally I was going to use a ring binder mechanism attached inside the box for the book but it was much easier to work on by making it completely separate. It just lifts in and out.

Here is a closeup of the shrine. I painted the inside of the box black and used a heavy turquoise glitter paper and Tim Holtz edge die for the top of the shrine. Turquoise corrugated paper is on the sides.  I had made my friend and I Day of the Dead aprons for the retreat and cut out some of the images from the fabric for the center of the shrine. They are layered on chipboard and popped up.  The large flowers also came from Mexico as well as some of the little trinkets in front of the shrine.  The"rug" at the base is actually a woven belt I'd saved from when we lived in Albuquerque (over 20 years ago!).  This was fun to decorate as I used lots of old rick rack and mismatched jewels.

Now on to the book.  I used watercolor paper for the pages, 6" x 12" folded over a "hidden spine." Once these were decorated, they are very sturdy pages.  On the cover I stitched a square of colorful striped fabric and a heart-shaped printout. I added Stickles over the sticker letters and glued on three fabric flowers.  The spine is sticky-back canvas painted orange and then painted hot pink through a diamond stencil. I made the "bead" string with a cut-up straw and plastic beads between.

 First spread is a generic Mexico page. I used a map for the background on the right page and a napkin for the left page. The rick rack is very old! Most of the items added to the page are from the "share" table at retreat - the flag, fiber, candy wrapper, little rug, flowers cut from soda can metal, doily, stamped cactus.

Second spread showcases the arts of Mexico. The background pages are painted. Most of the images were printed from the Internet. The yellow cut-paper banner and library card were shared by others and the red striped "rug" in lower left of left page is actually a piece from yet another belt of mine from Albuquerque! I cut it up and shared with everyone so now it's gone...

The third spread might be my favorite. It's theme is "fiesta." I hand-cut all the strips of tissue paper to make the "piñata-like" background.  The circular patterns were cut from the packaging of some of the decorations we used.  The paper banner (papel picado) is stamped and diecut from a Stamping Up set which I borrowed from one of the gals. 

This spread is dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe.  The left page has a colorful floral paper for a background with a doily and image layered over it. I added tons of micro beads around the image. I made the flowers by punching the Tim Holtz floral punch through several layers of tissue paper and securing the layers with a tiny brad. When fluffed up they look like the giant tissue paper flowers all over Mexico.

The right page is in honor of Mexican milagros. I used just cross charms.  The fabric ruffle is from the next page.

I love this spread too. This is dedicated to Frida Kahlo. On the left page is a postcard on a tip-in which opens to reveal another postcard on the back. I also made the tip-in into a pocket to hold more photos and a tag with information about Frida. The bottle caps were given to each of us by one of our members.

The background of the right page is a photocopy of a bright textile. The tin frame is a sample I made for an art lesson I taught my youngest daughter's 3rd grade class (1995). I saved it all these years and it is perfect for this page!

Here is the tip-in opened to reveal the page underneath. I added many photos of Frida and made a pocket from an orange doily to hold a larger black and white photo printed on a book page.  The ruffle is added to the bottom.

Here are the tags which go in the tip-in pocket. The image on the right is a photo of a painting that was on display in the Austin airport one time I was there. I love it!

This is the back of the tags.

Last but not least is the Day of the Dead spread.  The background on the left page is a piece of fabric and lace cut from a child's dress that was shared.  The skulls are from cupcake picks. The black diecut  skeletons, playing card and skull bauble were all shared items too.  

The right page is another tip-in. It's a printout from the Internet layered with a skull diecut and orange pompom trim on edge.

The back of the tip-in has information about Day of the Dead.

The right page has a strip of fabric under the miniature papel picado (which I also brought back from Mexico).  I stamped the shrine on painted watercolor paper and cut out the center to reveal Catrina.  It's decorated with a flower, skull, Stickles and jewels. The pocket was a glassine envelope filled with shared goodies and I added several playing cards with DOD images. 

For the back cover, I added dark purple card stock, purple rick rack and a large jeweled sticker which I got at the Mercado.

I've spent the last week sorting through all the goodies I came home with and trying to use them in my book before putting everything away.  I managed to use almost everything!  

I love how my box and book came out and it will be a great souvenir of another fun retreat!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Retreat - Viva Mexico!

As I mentioned in my last post, this year's retreat's theme was "Viva Mexico." As always, we decorated the conference room/classroom with all things Mexico.

Part of wall decor and "Mercado" - the pole on left held a giant piñata;
I brought the papel picado back from Mexico at Christmas.

The "Mercado" - everyone brought 20 whatevers for each of us and we "shopped"
for our goodies.
Before the retreat, we each made 3 art pieces which were our "money" for shopping. They were all placed in a bag and we each picked out three.  I received these: a beautifully-colored balloon trio 4x4; an adorable little cactus; and a lovely Lady of Guadalupe Altoid tin lid "shrine."  Unfortunately, I totally forgot to take photos of the three pieces I made!

Four ladies were assigned brief topics to share with us. One was on the foods of Mexico, one on five interesting Mexican artists, one on cacti and one on The Day of the Dead.  Below is the wonderful display that was made for the DOD. We learned a lot and it also brightened up our room!

On Thursday we always have some "Make 'n Takes" to do, shared by several attendees.

Jeri helped us make these vintage tin shrines with images, German glass glitter and beads.  I shared making ceramic tiles decoupaged with napkins.

We made these darling cactus gatefold cards after Joyce's cacti presentation.

Card closed
Card open

Kris showed us how to make tassels with beads, felt balls and a skein of embroidery floss.

And, last but not least, Jeri gave everyone a configuration box to do whatever we wished.  I decided to make mine for our 2016 Christmas memories in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.  I added photos as well as some of the little goodies from the Mercado.

The entire box was painted turquoise and orange and then the front and back covers decoupaged with paper.  I love the decoration on the front of the box - I used a colorful straw, some fibers and a doily, all goodies shared by participants.

Front cover


Right side close-up

Whew! You can see we were very busy at our retreat! Tomorrow I will share the 
book I created on Friday.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Catch Up

Can you believe it's been over two weeks since I've posted here? It's amazing how time flies when you're having fun!

So what have I been doing? Yearly doctor appointments, mammogram, bone density test and a pre-cancerous spot on my nose removed. We also made a last-minute trip to Austin for the 4th of July, brought 5-year-old Carl home with us for a few days before heading to Albuquerque for the 5th birthday weekend extravaganza for Drew.  

Neighborhood July 4th Parade

Carl is excited to be going to Dallas with us

My four boys enjoying donuts for birthday breakfast

Drew's volcano cake for his Moana-themed party

A tired 5-year-old after his party

Two days after returning, I went on my online group's annual 5-day retreat. Luckily this is held every year practically in my backyard in Grapevine, but many gals travel from all over the country to attend. We had a blast (more on this later).

Here's a "catch-up" of the past three weeks' planner spreads.

Watercolor background, metallic sticker borders, collage sheet half-circles for dates.

Various star stamps on white background; washi tape dividers; labels with number stickers for days.

Background stamped with foam stamp and paints; days are printer-generated.

Hope to get back on schedule now!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Making Stamps

Do you ever need a stamp for a one-time use and don't want to spend time looking for one the right size or spend money on one? Make your own!

This is an easy, peasy way to make some fun stamps. All you need is "fun foam" which you can get in any craft store, usually in the kids section. I had the thinner kind, so I glued two pieces together to give more depth. But there is a thicker kind which would probably work better. You will also need scissors, cardboard (optional) and hot glue.

Cut out a shape that you want (in the upper left corner below, it is barely visible, but I cut a saguaro cactus). You can also just cut geometric shapes for a random pattern. I also dripped hot glue directly onto the foam to make a "stringy" pattern. This would work better with a large hot glue gun but I was using a mini and the strings are a bit too thin.

See my stamps below. I mounted them onto corrugated cardboard pieces to make them easier to stamp with. I tried several white glues which did not work so use hot glue for sticking foam to foam.

And here are my test stampings using paint. The top cactus was the first impression; the one below is a second impression.  To stamp I first brayered acrylic paint directly onto a craft mat and tapped the stamp into the paint, then stamped onto paper (see cactus).  With this method it was hard to get the right amount of paint on the stamp. I found it was better to brayer the paint directly onto the stamp so as not to get too much paint.  I think these would work with stamping ink as well, but I haven't tested them yet.

As I mentioned, the string pattern is very thin and delicate. It doesn't pick up much paint or stamp a clear impression.

This was a fun exercise and I have some neat stamps for backgrounds. The cactus I need for an upcoming retreat with a Mexican theme!

Monday, June 26, 2017

And one more (Life Documented)

June Week 3

I so liked the layout I did several weeks ago using blocks of colors that I did it again for this past week.  I doodled the frames in black and white and then added doodled scallops. 
I like the white space for a change!

This week was a quiet one and I was able to get together with a friend for shopping. She bought yards and yards of fabric and wants me to sew valances for her kitchen and breakfast room. 

I also bought fleece to make a tied blanket for my grandson, Drew, who is turning 5 next month. I had made one for his 2-year-old brother for his birthday and he keeps asking me where his is, so...  I used fabric with construction vehicles as he just loves anything construction-related. It turned out cute and I think he will love it!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Another week (Life Documented) and a tag

Another week finished in my planner. 

This was a quiet week - after several busy ones - and I used a few odds and ends for the right page. The flower "tip-in" is a scrap leftover from my play with  alcohol inks for the recent tag swap. On the back I added a vintage photo of my hometown, Stowe, which I'd picked up on my trip. The colorful tag at the top is a Dyan Reaveley sample from a stamp catalog. I just loved the colors and quote but don't have the stamps.

 For the calendar page on the left, I used Jane Davenport Mermaid Markers and the days are written on my handmade label stickers.

This weekend I received my tag from the swap. It's very large - 3.5" x 7.5" - and the "polished stone" alcohol ink strips are woven together. The Day of the Dead skull is die cut from silver paper and will be perfect to add to my book for my annual retreat in July which has a Mexican theme. Thanks Jan!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Life Documented 2017 - June Week 1

Here is the first ten days of June in my Traveler's Notebook planner. I used both pages to include the last 3 days of the preceding week.  The dividers and scallops are cut from some very old shaving cream marbled paper that I was about to throw away. The remainder is mostly stamps and images cut from brochures or magazines.

I am hosting a June tag swap using alcohol ink techniques.  We make one tag and swap with our partner. This is the one I sent off. 

I used glossy paper and dripped the alcohol inks all over instead of the usual punching with a felt blending tool. I also dripped alcohol in the middle of the puddles which made them fan out more and created some great texture. I doodled with black and white pen and then stamped the three words. The tag is mounted on a large black tag and machine-stitched. I'm looking forward to receiving mine.