Sunday, December 4, 2011

Happy Holidays Christmas mini album

 For a different approach to saving memories for Christmas 2011, I went for a contemporary/romantic design using Tim Holtz's wonderful technique of using an embossing folder in my Sizzix on recycled plastic packaging to givce it an icy look on the cover.  In addition I used his flower die cut to make the flower petals.  They are so much fun to make, so cost effective and the designs are unlimited.  I dabbed them with Ranger Distress inks. 
. As usual, I added a variety of photo mats, journaling spots, pockets and tags.
Throughout this chipboard album I included special accents, die cuts, fragments, and embellishments, including an ornament which opens into a photo mat, a gift which opens to photo mats and an envelop folder holder which offers five additional photo mats.
For some of the embellishments I made a chimney and a small bird and used the Tim Holtz die cuts of deer and tree which I purchased from Vintage Prims on Etsy.  The pr- made embellishments are from this years line from K and Company.
Tools and techniques were inspired by Tim Holtz, K and Company, Recollections, Martha Stewart, Perfect Pearls, Ranger Distress Inks and more. Embellishments include handmade flowers, handmade mulberry papers and tags, ribbons, chipboard elements, aux Swarvski crystals, Prima bling and embossed rubber stampings. Word sentiments add another facet to the album. This chipboard album measures 5 inches by 6 inches and the pages are bound by two metal rings accented with ribbons and handspun yarns. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Christmas Tag Frenzy!

Now that I think I've finished making Christmas mini albums - (although one should never say never, right?) I've caught the Christmas tag frenzy from folks like Kard Crazy and Vintage Prims.  Here's an example of the ones I'm working on.  I'm trying to duplicate a few, but most of them will be one of a kind because of the added words, and other embellishments such as handmade paper, copper tape, die cuts and fragments.
I'm used the excuse today that I couldn't start the real baking until I the Chex Mix finishes baking.  And the excuse was so I could work on tags - shame on me!  But in addition to the ones I've made for mini albums, I  created a few more even as I was baking the the pumpkin roll, pumpkin pie and other goodies for Thanksgiving - tomorrow - hurray!!!
I used some Tim Holtz die cuts of the tree and deer, as well as his flags edge make die, Tim Holtz letters, musical paper,  and used Ranger Distress inks for most of the backgrounds, along with some other odds and ends from my stash and then tied them off with either pretty ribbon or my handpsun, hand dyed silk and wool yarns.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Deer in the Forest Chritsmas Mini Album inspired by Tim Holtz

I decided to really go all out with the Tim Holtz treatment on my fifth mini album. I used a number of Tim Holtz techniques, embossing folders,  edge die cuts, Ranger Distress inks, Perfect Pearls and thanks to VintagePrims on ETSY, some of the deer and tree die cuts.  I don't own the dies yet, but she does and makes items others can purchase!  I was so thrilled to try a variety if ways to make them my own with embossing powders and pgiment inks. This album turned out to be another blend of contemporary with traditional aspects using some of the K and Company embellishments. 
I think this mini album is a great way to capture those moments and magical in the 12 pages which offers plenty of photo mats, journaling spots, and tags.
Cover includes Tim Hotlz die cuts ofpine trees and a deer, as well as a Tim Holtz metal card holder stating 2011.  There are special accents, Tim Holtz mini fragments of Santa and a snowman, and cool options for photos which include an ornament which opens into a photo mat, a gift which opens to triple photo mats, and a pullout envelope folder which offers five photo mats. In addition to Tim's product line, I used Recollections, Martha Stewart, K and Company and open stock papers form A.C. Moore and Michael's. Embellishments include handmade flowers, handmade papers and tags, faux Swarvski crystals, Prima bling. Word sentiments add another facet to the album. It's always a final step for me and one that;'s lots of fun and sometimes a challenge! This chipboard album measures 5 inches by 8 inches and the pages are bound by two metal rings accented with ribbons and handspun yarns. I think this particular album harkens back to my New England heritage more than any of  the others I've made so far.
This album is up on ETSY for sale. I hope that whoever purchases it or gives it as a gift sees it as a way to start a new tradition or continue an old one with a mini album the family will pass down from generation to generation. 
I only have one more to post for sale and the rest will be gifts for my family but I'll do blog posts on those as well because is one turns out so differently. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Missing the sea and New England

At this time of year, I can't help but to reflect back to New England.  Back to New Hampshire and walks on North Hampton or Rocky Beach with Boar's Head in view. I borrowed this photo from the Queen of Arts blog, a fellow altered arts creator and lover of North Hampton.
While fall in South Carolina lasts longer and is balmier, it's the grey November skies I'm more familiar with as they're punctuated by the stark branches already bereft of leaves.  It's a time of withdrawal, a time to return to the inner landscape of memories, hopes, dreams.  A time to step out of the hustle and bustle, the playful summer days, to turn our thoughts to deeper meanings found in the quite in- between spaces, the duende moments and the themes of our lives.  As a New Englander, I enjoy this aspect of life, the quieting down to allow the deeper thoughts and resonances to rise to the surface and add a powerful and profound coloration to our lives.  As the vibrancy of summer and then the fall colors fades, it allows us to break free from the clutter and noise of the world to those very still places where our true soul leanings lie.
The countryside and coastline of New England on those brusque November days, bittersweet, a tad lonely, slightly melancholy are a type of prerequisite for New Englanders as they prepare for the harsher clime of a northern winter.  But beyond such a sense, within it, is a rich enchantment, a call on less frivolous powers within us, a summons to our resourcefulness and creativity in dealing with whatever may come, a Nor' Easter, weeks of isolation, a solemn but valuable aspect of life many people are afraid of, but which I feel makes me live even more vibrantly, more fully alive on a day to day basis than the more carefree, fun and social aspects of summer.
I welcome this time. This liminal time, a very portal to remind me of what's valuable and too often forgotten when things move at a hectic pace. A step aside reveals how temporary and surface pleasures don't last as long as those rich and vital stores of meaning only revealed when we dig deeper.
Layers of meaning and numinosity are found in the quiet gray places. The fire in a hearth burns more brightly against such a contrast, the pleasure of small things: a cup of hot cocoa, someone hands warming ours, a light in a window... all offer warmth, closeness and connection with the subtle, simple, yet crucial times which enrich our lives. A few brief words spoken on a windy day on the seashore, our breath visible in the cold shimmery gray light, are deepened in meaning, when heard away from the clatter and pace of civilization's demands. 
This is when I love the  ocean best.  In the fall,  in one of those halfway places, those transitional times when a certain kind of subtle magic ripens and adds depth and dimensions to our lives.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Christmas Angel Mini Album

Chrismtas Angel Mini AlbumI couldn't think of a  way to save those magical Christmas memories than in this lovely vintage styled Christmas angel mini album. As I like to do, I love to include many photo mats, journaling spots, and tags to save photos and record memories, traditions and family enjoyment of the 2011 holiday season.
Throughout this 14 page album I tired some new special accents including acetate photo holders and pockets.
I used open stock Christmas and regular papers in addition to papers from my stash and I also used some handmade papers, embossed papers, gold accented papers  from the Once Upon a Time collection. The cover angel comes from the new K and Company Christmas embellishments/tags. I made the letters om a piece of copper carstock using Tim Holtz Vintage Market die cut alphabet and made the large flower using his Sizzix flower die.  The other two flowers were made with some of the flower paks I found in the dollar baskets at Michael's.  I just layered, added Sitckles and added a pearl or a faux gem for the centers. I added some Prima blign and went on to the inner pages. 
Tools and techniques were inspired by Tim Holtz, 7 Gypsies, Recollections, Martha Stewart, Perfect Pearls, Ranger Distress Inks and more. Embellishments include handmade flowers, handmade papers and tags, faux Swarvski crystals, Prima bling. Word sentiments add another facet to the album. 
This  album measures 5 inches by 8 inches and includes 16 pages,  bound by two metal rings accented with ribbons and handspun yarns. 
Four of the pages are half size pages. One of them is an envelope page into which the mini tree fold out photo flap is stores and the other is a photo mat I repurposed form some packaging. And then there is the green page above which features and acetate photo holder.
K and company papers form the small paper pak were used, in addition to their tags for this year.
They weren't quite as vintage as some of the other collections and a vintage look which wasn't quite so Victorian as some of the other popular collections this year.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Joy Christmas mini album

The more I make Christmas mini albums , the larger they get and the more techniques I try.  Of course I often refer to Tim Holtz 12 Tags of Christmas series going as far back as 2008.  He outlines every step of the techniques he uses on his tags in his blogs and even has a 30 something page pamphlet you can print out for some of the more recent years.  My second treasure trove of ideas are the You Tube videos of other altered paper arts crafts folks who also give lots of info and come up with some amazing concepts about fold out and accordion pages, waterfall photo spots, journaling spots.  I'm still learning like crazy and may be at the moderate range of trying some of these.  They can get complicated but are so beautiful and offer more space for those treasured memories.
So my newest album, The Joy Christmas mini album offers 14 chipboard pages which feature many photo mats, tags and journaling cards in addition to pockets, fold out photo mats, library card holders, and a present which opens into a photo mat.  There is also mini scrapbook, which adds further record keeping. I used open stock Christmas papers that I found at Michaels and A.C. Moore this time since I was focusing on reds, greens and blues.  In addition I made some of the photo mats from the mini paper pak from K and Company's Christmas paper pak of this year.  They are the perfect size. My chipboard embellishments and some of the papers came from the Once Upon a Time line, items form the dollar baskets at Michaels' from years past, 7 Gypsies journaling tags. The entire book is accented lavishly and embellished with Prima pearls, faux Swavorski crystal, chipboard accents, handmade papers and handmade flowers. This photo album is a 6 1/2 X 5 1/2 inch mini album and is bound by two metal rings accented with ribbons and handspun yarns.And of course, I used my Sizzix Tim Holtz edge dies to make the edges more interesting and then repurposed the cut off pieces.  And to finish off some of the pages, I added color to the edges with Ranger Distress Inks in green, red and black. The gorgeous matte copper cardstock I found at a wholesale paper supply house in Raleigh a couple of years ago for use in my book printing business, Shadow Archer Press. But they may be available this time of year at local office supply stores like Staples and Office Max.
On the cover I used some K and company chipboard elements, copper cardstock numbers cut with my Tim Holtz Sizzix Vintage Market alphabet die (I love making my own letters and numbers), a handmade flower, Prima bling, vintage Christmas postage stamps and large chipboard letters for Joy.  These letters I layered and layered with paint and pigment to get a more vintage look.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Yule Christmas Mini Album

For this Yule Christmas Album I tried to combine a offers a unique flair mixing vintage elements and traditional Christmas themes with touches of contemporary styling.
Since my mom was from Britain, Yule was a term we used often around Christmas time so I used the traditional green, red and gold colors, added the tans and brown for that vintage effect and added a mixture of accents which  include chipboard, metallic embellishments, vintage Christmas stamps, faux gem bling,ribbons, and more. I also chose to use papers that were not Crhrstmas but were more historically flavored form both the Baroque and Medieval eras.  One of the paper paks I used was the Once Upon a Time pak which has a medieval theme. a regular vintage one I've had for three or four years, the recent small Christsmas small paperpak for the photo mats and even a beautifully gold embossed page from the Mariposa butterfly pak - all  from K and Company. Throughout the ten pages, there are lots of photo mats, tags, pockets and journaling spots so you can record your family's Christmas for future generations. The cover is accented with a handmade flower accented with sparkles and a metallic ornament I found a few years ago in addition to two foam glitter Christmas trees a couple of foam snowflakes and typewriter key numbers 25.
I'll try and include some photos of the tags too, because they can't be seen once they are stuffed into pockets or folds.  I used a variety of techniques on these too, including some mini artworks using Tim Holtz fragments. 
I had fun playing with my Tim Holtz edge die cuts and both Sizzix and Tim Holtz embossing folders.  And as I love to do, I accent my embossed pages with Ranger Distress inks and Perfect Pearls.  Album measures 8 1./2 by 6 inches and includes ten chipboard pages, bound with three metal rings adorned with ribbons and handpsun yarns.  Although I'm tempted to keep this one - I decided to put it up for sale on ETSY!  Four more books to come -so stay tuned!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Christmas mini albums 2011

It seems I can't stop making mini albums1  so now that Halloween is over, I turned my attention to Christmas.  This will be the first time making Christmas albums but once again, I have a stash of items from making Christmas cards for many years.
The first one I tried was a Christmas Memories album perfect for capturing those magical holiday moments. I decidewd to make one that would be appriate for the entire family.  The five chipboard pages are combined to feature layouts for both young children, older children, adults and even extended family.  Each page has either a photo mate or journaling square or tag and the snowman book on the last to second page is the perfect place to write up memories and gift lists, whatever suits a family.
There are handmade papers and flowers, chipboard and metallic embellishments sprinkled within the album along with faux Swarvski crystal bling, pockets, tags, and photo mats.

I used my Tim Holtz edge die cuts and a number of different K & Co. paper paks and embellishments, as well as vintage stamps.
I hope that these albums will be keepsakes with writings and personal touches, be handed down from generation to generation!
I've made six of these approximately 6 x 5 inches to 6 x8 inch albums so far.  Four of them will end up on Etsy and I've made one each for my granddaughters including the one which will be born within the next two weeks!

Friday, October 28, 2011

More Halloween mini photo albums

Here's the second installment of my Halloween mini album frenzy.  What a great time I had inspired by all the artisans and scrappy crafters on Etsy and You Tube.  I learned some new techniques and enjoyed reviving some old ones from my cut and paste layout days on  The Howling, a Gothic magazine I published in the late 1990's and early 2000's!
Of course once again, I used techniques learned form Tim Holtz and altered artists and used materials from Holtz, 7 Gypsies, K and Company, Martha Stewart as well as vintage items from my Halloween stash (you can't take the goth out of this woman, even if she does enjoy steampunk now).  Since these mini photo albums are meant for young- to pre-teen Halloween Trick or Treaters I didn't pull out all the heavy gothic, but tried to make them more fun and whimsical.  We all have to break out of our regular zones from time to time and I guess having a new granddaughter on the way and a nine year old granddaughter, that helps.  (although she will be a gothic fairy for Halloween - I can't wait to make her album!) 
I start out cutting my pages from cereal boxes.  To cover the pages I sometimes emboss colored heavy card stock with Sizzix or Tim Holtz embossing folders and texture fades using my handy dandy Sizzix die cut machine. I love that thing.  I use it all the time. And glue them onto the cereal box pages. o
Next step involves gleing on adding scrapbook papers in Halloween colors to each page and I always use Golden matte gel as the glue because it sticks and stays - a little messy because I use my fingers but it is the best adhesive for paper and embellishments in my eyes.  Once both sides of the cereal pages are covered I cut the whole sandwich with Tim Holtz edge die to create beautiful interesting edges.
For my photo mats, I sometimes I use the background cards from the packing of scrapbook embellishments s because they are just the right size. Or I use heavy card stock for photo mats or more cereal box pieces.
I often make my own tags now using heavy cardstock in parchment or tan colors, just tracing one tag and cutting them out and then adding the hole with a hole punch or gromet punch.
  I love distressing the edges with Ranger inks in Distress colors to make the pages look more finished and vintage. And then the fun starts with embellishments!
I make an insert lots of photo mats and tags for journaling so parents can go back to previous Halloweens or add photos of more than one family member.  I love adding lots of photos and writing in my journals for posterity - wondering how my  grandchildren will view these when they're grown up and hopefully share their stories and memories with their own children.

For the last album I tried a different approach and made a vertical album which will stand up as it's own display with the pages and photos being changed from time to time.
This was fun but I had to remember to flip the back pages upside down - took me a few tries to pull that off, I'll tell you!  Good for the brain though and it's always fun to try a new technique.  I did make a steampunk vertical album for my friend Cindy last year around the topic of The Orient Express but had already forgotten how to pull off a vertical album.  Now I have it down, I need to make a few more.
I was also lucky to find older goodies at Big Lots and other odd places.  As much as I love to use the new lines of my favorite altered arts designers - I also like to include items that aren't currently popular. And after Halloween I will stock up on as many half price items as I can to combine with next year's new designs.
I have already sold the Boo album from the last post so perhaps I'll make a few more on Sat., not sure.  I'm eager to make some baby girl and baby boy albums after making the baby girl one for my soon to be granddaughter!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Halloween mini albums frenzy

When one of my friends asked if I was going to post Halloween mini albums for sale on Etsy, I hadn't thought about it since I'm caught up in the baby girl mode waiting for my second granddaughter to arrive.  But Halloween is my favorite time of year so thanks to Elizabeth I went into my usual obsessive mode of creating and made four books in less than a week.  I love to see a variety of styles and colors, was always that way with weaving scarves and shawls, making beeswax collage etc.
But this had to beat them all in productivity.  And I only spent $3.59 cents.  I already had enough supplies form collecting Halloween items for years in my stash. 
I was very fortunate and kind of went into the zone watching British TV shows, favorite movies (Firefly, "9", The Englishmen Who Went Up a Hill and Came Down a Mountain) and cluttered up my living room with scrappy goodies until one could not sit or walk, except for my narrow place on the couch. 
Since I've been making these for a few years now, I have a system of  steps.  First I apply all the background pages to chipboard or cereal box cardboard, often cut with Tim Holtz edge dies. Then I add photo mats, next come the embellishments, then the words and scripts. Ribbons and bling with jewel spots are next followed by rubber stamping, flowers, metal pieces, Tim Holtz additions.  I love using  embossing cards (Bingo and Spirals), die cuts, Perfect Pearls  and other accent techniques. The last thing I do is make the tags.  It's like dessert after a large dinner of baked potato, veggies and yummy steak!
Of course I love using all my favorite designers, including 7 Gypsies, K and Company, Graphic 45, Reflections.  But even more fun was looking through my vintage pieces.  I've been collecting these for years and I love adding them to my distressed look.  I'm not a cutesy kind of gal.  As a goth from way back, a VOG (very old goth) I  like an edge to my work and even though these are meant as children's albums, I hope they have enough dark touches to appeal to all those moms out there who really get into Halloween.  I also like to add the New England flavor.  We're known for our dark sides what with The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and authors like Nathanial Hawthorne and the nearby town of Salem, Mass., the witch capital of the U.S.  We were brought up on the macabre even in school and ghost stories and witches tales were common folklore. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Upstate Steampunk Extravaganza 2011

Gypsey Teague, organizer extraordinaire
David Merrit: The Art of Absinthe
As one of the best steampunk only cons in the southeast, I must applaud Gypsey Teague and Marla for another well orchestrated event.  Steampunks from all over the southeast were greeted by the new sign made by Gypsey as we descended upon the Garden Hilton in Anderson, SC on Sept. 30, Oct. 1 and 2 for an event filled with 16 quality panels, 2 Victorian tea ceremonies, an absinthe pouring, 3 indie films, musical acts IFB and Valentine Wolfe , 6 authors (Gypsey Teague, Winfield Strock, Tonia Brown, K.G. McAbee, J. M. Lee and myself,) numerous artists, a silent auction, gaming, a plethora of steampunk contraptions, A Victorian bathing excursion and that adventurous spirit of steampunk.
There are so many high points, it will be hard to list them all but I was especially impressed by the variety and high standards of the panels from academic to hands on construction or experimentation.

Shane McElveen, Gail Gray, Curtis Hart
Morlowe Miles and Tina Zukaitis of Rogue Fire
I can only speak to the panels I attended which were a sort of cross section of this growing subculture. I can't decided which was the best.  The Alterity of the Gypsies in and its Contribution to Steampunk Identity by Lynn Childress proved to be a fascinating was unfolding of insights by this Oxford scholar and professor. As she delved into the poem The Scholar Gypsey by Matthew Arnold and  and The Golden Compass by Philip Pulman in a brilliant discussion of how once we leave the safe path to explore other cultures we cross over into a liminal zone where we no longer find ourselves in a transitional doorway.  Her lecture offered revelations like a magical box or the golden compass itself, paced yet powerful manner explaining how such a path influences those who explore the various avenues of steampunk. A deep and profound lecture offering a call to personal  authenticity.
Christine and J.T. Thorpe, Cyndra Woods
And now for something completely different: The Art of Absinthe lecture, pour and tasting by David Merritt where fun was had by all.  David is an extremely charming speaker who can explain as well as pour, while at the same time offering a history. He gave us all the opportunity to learn and sample the various methods of imbibing the Green Fairy such as the bohemian method as well as the traditional techniques for attaining a louche offering first hand tastings and interesting stories gathered in his travels and experiences.
One not to miss was J.T. Thorpe fascinating Steampunk Influences form France  which took us into steam technology and machinery of the late 1800's and early 1900's. It was a shame only ladies were in attendance and highly interested.  The men really missed out.
I was very fortunate to have a standing room turnout for my presentation, The Psychology of Steampunk, which was great fun to address, thanks to the participation of the attendees. It was my first time ever using Power Point and I found it to be a valuable and fairly user friendly tool (blowing up all my previous assumptions). I was thrilled to see the crew of the airship Serpah in attendance and enjoyed the participation of Dr. Gus Dayafter in the discussions which could have gone on for much longer if we'd had the time.Thanks to all who attended. And if anyone did not receive a survey to fill out, please email me or leave a comment and I'll get one to you.

Karen White, artist
Gypsey also had the great insight to start a new feature of the panel this year - Independent Films.  She showcased Aurora, an Australian production, Nickel Children, a film directed by Kevin Eslinger and Browncoats Redemption. Gypsey  announced that next year we will have a full indie film festival with a $100.00 to the best film of the con.

Steampunk tech by Dave Lee of Hatton cross

Jet pack wings by Dave Lee
As with events such as this, part of the overall pleasure is seeing old friends and making new but it's so much more fun with steampunk because your friends always look different.  It was great to spend quality time with my dear friend, Cyndra Woods, watch Ben's performance, have more time than normal with Tina and Morlowe of Rogue Fire and Savage of Savage Emporium and enjoy the company of new friends. Everywhere I looked, the level of creativity was so high, I spent a great deal of my free time taking pictures of the amazing steampunk gear, technology and costumes. Including this awesome jet pack with wings made by Dave  Lee of Hatton Cross.
The vendors were a creative and varied bunch and it was fun to see new artisans breaking out their wares.
I also had a good time during my stint at the author's table while promoting my upcoming steampunk novel, Orchidelerium, since I was joined by Tonia Brown, author of Railroad and Wilhemina Thomas, who presented a panel on gentleman's steampunk gear and clothing earlier during the day. 

The silent auction brought in $196.00 and the Mr. and Mrs. Steampunk contest gathered 330 plus cans for the Clemson Community Care food pantry!   

Monday, September 26, 2011

Upstate Streampunk Extravaganza Prep

I'm taking a break form writing Dragon Con Reports to get ready for Upstate Steampunk Extravaganza 2011. All Steam Ahead!  AS with last year, it's crazy getting ready, updating my presentation, trying to do Powerpoint for The Psychology of Steampunk panel  for Saturday morning at 10:00), getting swag and samples of my steampunk novel, Orchidelirium, ready  for my stint at the author's table at 2:00 pm on Saturday, getting together items for the silent auction to benefit the Clemson Food Bank, not to mention garments and accessories and packing.  But this year, I'll mostly be playing instead of vending . I've been a hermit a good bit this past year, working on the novel so I'm looking forward to seeing old friends, meeting new friends, taking my survey for next year and taking photographs! Maybe there will even be some dancing at the ball.
It's been fun making swag: chapbooks with sketches of the characters and part of the first chapter of my steampunk novel, promo cards, greeting cards, bookmarkers and small handmade booklets. I only wish I'd had a dirigible stamp to add to the cover art since as it stands it's hard to tell the book is a steampunk novel. But then, there's always something else that could have been done.
By this point before a con, I'm giddy with excitement and frazzled with things still unfinished and unpacked.  I need to add finishing touches to the Powerpoint and figure out what to bring as far as steampunk gear. It's like getting ready to attend a grown up type of Disney World with all sorts of creative wonders awaiting us.  There's no predicting what other steampunkers will come up with and the sights are always astounding and inspirational - plus its been a long time since we've had a meet up and I've had a chance to talk to everyone.  Now I'll have the time. I know other people have been working hard all year, especially if they're merchants and Gypsey and Marla have put in untold hours of planning, emailing, and organizing.  
So come on out and see me at the author's table, chat a bit, pick a piece of free swag and have a great time with upstate steampunk.

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