Tuesday, April 29, 2014

mayday! MAY DAY!

this week at shopping our stash we're celebrating the arrival of ♥MAY♥ after a particularly long, cold, winter with a burst of color and enthusiasm! let me give you the official brief:

May 1st is May Day. 
Use something inspired by the May Pole -- can be ribbon, something twisted, rainbow colors, or just something very tall and skinny -- LOTS of options!

there are also a few photos of may poles over at the SOS blog to get you thinking. this is my favorite...

 ...and i think you can see it inspired my card pretty literally:

(tapes... ok, there are LOTS and i know i won't hit them all, but i'll give it a go: my mind's eye, october afternoon, bazzill, hambly, teresa collins, heidi swapp, love my tapes, freckled fawn, recollections, oriental trading and... ok i THINK that's about it, but if there's one you really love, just ask me and i'll try to figure out whence it came, ok? patterned paper: prima; white glossy cardstock: paper accents; ink: colorbox + stewart superior; adhesives: staples brand gluetape runner, 3m foam tape, sewing machine)

of course, on the card, that's not ribbon, it's tape! i don't know about you, but lately i tend to grab for washi or deco tape in situations that previously would have called for ribbon. don't get me wrong, i still LOVE ribbon; but in a situation where texture isn't terribly important, i find that tape is just sooooooooo much easier to work with. i mean heck, for one thing, it's got it's own adhesive built right in, which is really very helpful! 

i tried to duplicate the color and exuberance of the ribbons on the pole by covering a panel of scrap cardstock with tape. to make sure that none of my selections would try to peel themselves off in future* i wrapped the ends of each tape around the back of the panel, and then i stitched the panel to my 6x6" card. i've got a diecut star raised on a layer of foam tape, and had planned to add a big "WOOHOO"** in black foam thickers, but despite trying a few fonts and a lot of different positionings, it just didn't look awesome; so i moved the sentiment inside the card, instead.

speaking of moving, i heartily recommend you hop over to SOS where there is loads more may day goodness to impress and inspire you! ciao, darlings! 

*because let's face it, not ALL tapes are created equal, and some stick a whoooooole lot better than others, don't they?
**this is a high school graduation card for our nephew andrew, of whom we are very fond and very proud! ♥♥♥

Saturday, April 26, 2014

swapping heads? sign me up!

that's the fun and funky challenge at collage obsession this week. it's a branch of collage i always enjoy seeing, but somehow have never really attempted, so i was keen to have a go. here's what i made:

i have to tell you this was *HARDER* than i thought! turns out, it's actually not all that difficult (with a little trial and error) to find images of inter-species heads that mesh pretty well with the body you've selected. the problem is logistics; at least, it is if you also want to use the background any of your characters are in. which i did, obviously, since it had that awesome circus poster! keeping the background means that heads not only have to be "compatible", but also, the new head has to be big enough to completely cover the old one. so my first idea of having this boy with the wagon turn into a slim-necked giraffe just didn't work at all. sadly, i didn't think to photograph the illustration before making the collage (i never do, alas!) but here's a similar shot of the same kid from the title page:

the thing i liked most about him-- that he was turning his head to check out the poster-- was the thing that thwarted the giraffe plan. which, as it turns out, was kind of cool, because i had to keep looking, so not only did i find an utterly awesome elephant; he actually had a be-parka-ed eskimo child* on his shoulders, giving me a SECOND HEAD to swap out, hooray! then i decided that the white space in the foreground would be a great place for a gator-dog. ok yeah, the clown-mallard is the sign i was starting to get just a little bit silly. in my defense: it's not every day you serendipitously happen to find a clown and a mallard who are exactly the right scale for a head-swap! how could i resist? the title of the story, "who wants to run away?" was originally at the top of the page, but the eski-duck's egg covered most of it, so i moved it down to the bottom. i patched in some nondescript trees in the distance so that there were no elements extending up and out of the scene.

so here we have one of those weeks where the assignment was totally fun from start to finish, i learned a lot of cool new stuff, AND i really like my finished piece. pretty much the collage trifecta right there!!! :)

check out the comments of the "swapping heads" post at collage obsession for links to the other readers' awesome and whimsical creations!

*they were all in a very badly damaged little golden picture dictionary, under "E" (hence the easter egg!) luckily the part of the page i wanted only had a few little stains on it and no big rips! :)

Friday, April 25, 2014

all bundled up!

don't worry, it's still SPRING out there in the northern hemisphere!!! we're not piling on extra clothing at ♥JINGLE BELLES♥ this fortnight, instead, we're adding lots of layers to our holiday cards! so bring on your matted shapes, extra embellies, lots of overstamping because we want to see cards with three or more layers of... well... something! here's my card:

(patterned paper: mambi, my mind's eye; journaling cards: webster's pages (which i shaped into an oval) and making memories (which i trimmed down a bit); plain white copier paper and cardstock: staples; floral: petaloo; "merry" chipboard: my mind's eye; deco scissors (!): michaels; adhesives: staples brand gluetape runner, 3m foam tape, sewing machine)

i know what you're thinking. you're thinking, "hey lauren, this is actually pretty restrained for you! in fact, i bet this will actually fit into an ordinary envelope with a little bit of coaxing!" and you're right, i played it pretty low key this time and went with lots of flat paper mats to prove a point: you can make an eight layer card and still mail it!!! so there's no excuse not to give this a try, right? and heck, if you want to pile on lots of lovely lumpy bumpy things* you can always send that card along with a wrapped package that you are posting, or just hand it to your lovely recipient in person!

helping my design process this week was the current sweet stop sketch, which is rather fab, i think you'll agree?

speaking of all things "rather fab" miss stephanie has a very lovely card to show you, why not join her at ♥JINGLE BELLES♥ to check it out?

*stay tuned for my card next week, i have a feeling it might be a bit of a record-setter, lol, to make up for being all sensible this week! :)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

ice cream makes me happy...

...and vice versa. for example, just recently, i made these two very happy ice cream treats for my friends carlos and isabel. i used this fab pattern set from the needlenoodles etsy shop, with lion brand vanna's choice yarn in delicious ice cream colors.

these were super-fun to make and hopefully will be equally fun to play with, but i'll let you know what the birthday kids have to say on that point! ♥

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

SOS148: happy earth day

good morning and happy earth day 2014 to you! at shopping our stash we're celebrating by making projects which contain re-cycled or up-cycled elements, and we'd love for you to join in! here's what i made:

recycled: sheet music; prima and kay-and-co packaging; red marbled paper; soda can used to make metal wings, heart swirl and crown; pearl swirls: recollections; red fabric paper: kate's paperie; ink: colorbox; adhesives: staples brand gluetape runner, 3m foam tape, sewing machine

i'm proud to say that almost all of my card is made from re-purposed elements! the red heart is marbled paper from a brochure; the cream colored papers (ranging from biggest to smallest) are: sheet music; the packet from some prima flowers; and the backer from k and co rub-ons; and the metal parts of my die cut heart and wings are made from a flattened out soda can*-- the wings are the natural inside color of the can, the swirly heart has been stamped with black permanent ink, and the crown has been scribbled on with a gold paint pen.

the above came together so easily that i decided to work on a second idea that i've been thinking about... and saving containers... for a while. a little backstory here: one of my favorite guilty pleasures is to stir a spoonful of "suisse mocha" international coffee into my freshly brewed cup of coffee in the morning. and probaby the only container that routinely gets saved more than international coffee is the dreaded altoids tin, am i right? but there's a reason for that, they're the perfect size for small embellishments, which i coincidentally notice are increasingly coming in NON-re-sealable packets. (what's up with that?) i'm usually pretty lazy about things like this, but the other day i got some new deco tapes and had a brainwave:

ok, so yeah, it's not exactly earth-shatteringly original, but this was definitely one of the smoothest and quickest altering projects i've ever done; no paint, no mess, no hassle; just tape + containers. if you really want to get fancy, you can cut the tape with scissors and smooth the ends down really neatly so they don't show. easy peasy! within about an hour i had a whole stack of neat little homes for my goodies:

and now head on over to SOS for more awesome earthday goodness! ♥

*if you read this blog regularly, you've already seen this trick; but believe it or not, i don't think i've ever used it for anything but xmas card reindeer, so it was fun to branch out! if you don't know what i'm talking about, there's a step-by-step explanation of how to diecut soda cans on this post! :)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

cupcakes, anyone?

it's no secret that three of my favorite things in life are cupcakes, fancy giftwrap, and using up paper scraps. so i have to say that this was a pretty good week, since i managed to combine all of these things into what might just be my favorite kids' gift bag ever!

you can see that i've used pretty much ALL scraps for this, but (hopefully) in a way that makes that a virtue and not just a necessity. my favorite part is the "chocolate cake" element of the cupcakes, which is made up entirely of strips... not even neatly trimmed strips, either, just whatever size they were, i lined them up and glued them on. 

i should back-track a little bit and say that this is totally basic paper-piecing, just on a slightly bigger scale than when we do it with rubber stamps. to start out, either draw or download a line drawing of a cupcake, sized to fit your project. glue your "cake strips" to a scrap of cardstock slightly bigger than you'd like the finished product to be. then find three slightly bigger scraps, which look nice together; these are going to be your icing layers. cut apart (or copy and print multiples) the drawing and use the different sections as your templates. i usually do this by stapling the master copy to a couple of layers of patterned paper, so that i only have to cut each shape ONCE... because i'm lazy like that, lol! :)

this is the perfect time to embellish: machine (or faux) stitching, rub-ons, sequin sprinkles, inked or distressed edges, whatever you like, bring it on!

next is is assembly. i happen to ♥LOVE♥ dimension, so i raised each successive cupcake layer from the one below with a few pieces of foam tape. so the cake portion is flat, the largest icing is up on one layer of tape, the medium icing is on two, the small icing is on three, and yes... the cherry is on FOUR layers of 1/16" foam tape! i realize it doesn't make a huge difference in the photographs, but in real life, it makes the the whole thing stand out!

the finished cakes, which in this case are not quite 8x8" would make awesome birthday cards; but you could do these pretty much ANY size. small ones for a birthday banner, would be cool, i think. i made mine this size so they could be the centerpieces of birthday bags for my young friends carlos and isabel.

they happen to have their birthdays in the same month, (and often receive their presents from us on the same day) so i will sometimes use one idea to make a "two-fer" like i did here. to make the cakes into decorative 8x11" panels i only needed to trace some chipboard alphas to personalize each bag with the kids' names. i used up the rest of the colorful scraps by making a circle-punched scalloped border; tacking the circles to the back of the panel and then stitching around the perimeter with the sewing machine for extra security.

i like to anchor the elements to each other pretty securely, but only ever attach the panels to the bags with 4 or 5 small pieces of foam tape. this way the whole panel can be easily removed and become a sign for the birthday kids' bedroom doors! can't wait to see these guys next weekend and give them their presents! ♥♥♥

Friday, April 18, 2014

trash to treasure

there are two kinds of people in the world: people who save pretty magazine pictures, pieces of wrapping paper, and cool graphics; and people who call up the show "hoarders" to turn in the people who are saving the magazines, giftwrap and other ephemera. guess which one i am??!?!?! ok, yeah, you already know, i'm a "treasure saver". i like to think i have my habit under control by virtue of the fact that i do actually USE the stuff i save. and not just when we ♥JINGLE BELLES♥ are celebrating earth day by making cards that feature re-used, re-cycled or up-cycled items; although we are, and we'd love for you to join us! here's this week's card:

(santa and sleigh cut from an old clothing catalog; patterned paper: making memories, october afternoon, my mind's eye; journal card sentiment (trimmed down to fit): echo park; adhesive: staples brand gluetape runner, 3m foam tape, sewing machine)

can you guess what my "trash" is here? i'm kind of slightly hoping you can't, but of course i'm going to show you, anyway:

yep, the santa's sleigh was from the cover of a j peterman clothing catalog from a december or two ago. i just thought it was too lovely to toss away with the rest of the recycling, and i was right!

want to see some more fabulous trash-to-treasure holiday cards? check out stephanie's card and also the earth day readers' gallery at ♥JINGLE BELLES♥!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

collage obsession: GLOW

still totally love doing the collage obsession challenge. it's especially exciting when i get to play during the week; which doesn't happen all that often so i savor the times like these!

this week the inspiration word is "glow". this time i really i had nooooooo idea what i was going to make when i sat down. i'm not even entirely sure *NOW* to tell the truth! i basically just combined a bunch of ingredients that were glowing... (CAT scan of a brain from nat'l geographic; funky fractal from an old calendar; diamonds; super-bright birdie* etc) ...in a way that is either admirably abstract or just totally weird, lol; i guess it depends if you like it or not. i think i do, actually. nice. :)

check out the other readers' take on "glow" at collage obsession!

*the ship? yeah, i don't know either. it was in one of the books i looked through when i was gathering images, and i liked it; plus it was mostly the same colors as the brain. also, i just finished the strangest (in a good way...mostly...) book i've ever read-- "S" by doug dorst and jj abrams--and i have the feeling it's gonna be sailing around my subconscious for a while! 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

SOS147: taxman!

good morning, and happy "tax day" to you, if that is not a contradiction in terms? assuming your return is already signed, sealed and delivered to our lovely darlings at the IRS* you've got a bit of extra crafting time now, eh?** so we at shopping our stash have a timely assignment for ya: make a card with numerals on it! as it happens, my youngest niece, madeline, has a bit of a milestone birthday coming up next month; she will be ♥10♥!***

(patterned paper: pink paislee, girls paperie, my mind's eye, october afternoon, prima; diecut banner shapes: october afternoon; glossy white cardstock: paper accents; brads: making memories, america crafts, joann essentials; ink: colorbox; adhesives: staples brand gluetape runner, 3m foam tape, sewing machine)

i printed the outline of a BIG numeral ten using wordprocessing software (i *think* the font is embolded times new roman, but i scrolled through a few till i found one i liked!) then i stapled the print out to a piece of patterned paper, cut it out, et voila! instant custom "TEN"! my cupcake was made in a similar manner, though for that i used a little cupcake-shaped mini keychain album, scaling it down a tiny bit to fit better on my card. then i glued everything together and did LOTS of machine stitching before calling it a night.

and now may i remind you that a trip over to SOS to see what the gang has been up to is always guaranteed to delight and inspire?! so off you go, darlings! ♥

*nope, for once i'm actually not being sarcastic, i have the feeling like that'd be a pretty hard job, especially at this time of year!
**not to be a nag, but if your taxes aren't done, possibly blog-surfing is *NOT* what you should doing right now??!
***holy wow, where did THAT decade go??!?!?

Saturday, April 12, 2014

collage gone wild

this week's collage obsession challenge is freestyle, which means we can make... and link up... anything we want. so i did!

i've said before that i think my collages, more than anything else i make, are the most likely to just go off on a tangent. admittedly, i have a very low-tangent threshold, generally, lol; and an increasingly willingness to just let that sort of thing happen.* it turns out, my subconscious often has ideas that are waaaaaay more interesting than the part of my brain that likes to PLAN THINGS. when it comes to collages-- especially art-journal-based ones-- i don't necessarily need to come up with an amazing finished product, i'm just having fun playing around.

in this case, i was already thinking about india, and i got out a file full of colorful, saturated graphics i thought would be perfect. the cardboard piece (which is actually part of a box from an old parcheesi set, that i think was used as a backer to a set of vintage papers i bought a while ago) seemed like the perfect backing on which to build my collage. how exactly the whole thing morphed into a pretty much monochromatic, rather geometric design, is the big mystery. but i think i kinda like it! :)

check out the comments on this post at collage obsession to see what other readers did with this fun open-ended assignment! ♥

*at the moment we're planning multiple decor projects at home, which involve finding specific (functional!) furniture pieces, light fixtures and window coverings that will all fit their assigned spots, not cost a million dollars, and MATCH EACH OTHER. i think this is a big part of why "freeform" art is especially appealing to me right now! :) :) :)

Friday, April 11, 2014

joy to the *EARTH*

each year at *JINGLE BELLES* we designate the fortnight that spans earth day to make cards that re-use, re-cycle, up-cycle or otherwise make use of scraps, packaging and even... well... trash, if possible! and every year we've been blown away by the brilliant combination of environmental consciousness and clever crafting this challenge produces in our readers, so OF COURSE we're gonna do it again this year!

i was mulling around a few different ideas, when the lovely miss amy happened to mention a series of cards i made a couple of years ago, which had as their centerpiece some lovely metal reindeer diecut from flattened soda cans*. HOW could i have forgotten something as cool as that??! yeah, i don't know either, but as soon as she reminded me, of course i knew exactly what i wanted to do this week! so i did:

(recycled metal reindeer made from a flattened out soda can adhered to scrap cardstock and die-cut in my cuttlebug using a tim holtz/sizzix die; patterned paper: hambly, sei, basic grey, october afternoon, and a bit of packaging from some pink paislee journal cards; metal snowflake of unknown origin hotglued to a brad holding together a felt snowflake, plus a couple of silk flowers, all from michaels; adhesives: staples brand gluetape runner, 3m foam tape, sewing machine) 

having re-visited the tutorial, i realized i also quite liked the "formula" i used on those cards-- basically showcasing the deer in a fancy label shape over some pretty layered border strips-- so i somewhat CASE-d myself this time, too! i'm not sure that's ever happened before, but heck, why not? :)

be sure to check out stephanie's card at *JINGLE BELLES* then start looking through your stash... and your trash... and get crafty with us!!!

*when i first discovered this technique, i photographed all the steps for a little tutorial, which can be found right here, if you're interested. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

SOS146: pieces of april

this week at shopping our stash we are paper piecing, which i happen to love. i sort of only realized when i read the challenge that i haven't done it in a while, so it's really nice to have an excuse! i know the "normal" way is to stamp an image multiple times, but sometimes i don't have exactly the right stamp, or it's the wrong size; so i often use clip art, instead. and that's what i did this time. i printed out a few copies of this very fun camera image, divided it into layers and then cut the various bits out of coordinating paper scraps:

(line drawing of a camera clip art via google image search; patterned paper (mostly scraps): crate paper. my mind's eye, echo park, fancy pants, glitz design, melissa frances; glossy white cardstock: paper accents; foam thickers + large brad: american crafts; small metal brads: oriental trading co; ink: colorbox; adhesives: staples brand gluetape runner, 3m foam tape)

i don't have very many rules in life, but one of them is: never cut out JUST ONE of ANYTHING, lol! especially when stapling a few layers together means you can get a lot more result for the same amount of work. plus it gives you a few choices as to which patterned papers you want to use where. in this case i did three layers of each "camera part" and actually wound up with three adorable cameras. want to see the "extras"?

for my finished card, i used seize the sketch #17 which is pretty fabulous, as you can see:

speaking of fabulous, be sure check out the other DT projects at SOS... they are bound to make you excited about making your own paper-pieced card with us this week! ♥

Saturday, April 5, 2014

collage obsession: silhouette

is it still a collage if you've only glued two pieces of paper together? that's the kind of question this week's collage obsession challenge-- which is to use a silhouette-- is making me ask. because, for the first time ever, my collage only has two layers. on the other hand, i did spend quite a long time selecting just the right two pieces; in this case a buddha shape traced and cut onto a river-reflected sunset and a very backlit new york city skyline. so to answer my own question, i'd have to say this IS a collage. now that that's settled, want to see it? cool! here ya go:

if you want to see lots of other awesome silhouette collages, check out the gallery at collage obsession, it's definitely worth the trip.

Friday, April 4, 2014

old santa claus

we're still celebrating all things vintage-- or at least, vintage in style-- at ♥JINGLE BELLES♥ and of course we'd still love for you to come along and play. yeah, i know, it's the first week of april and those of us who live in snow-bedecked places are only just starting to believe that we're going to have a season besides winter! it seems crazy to be making christmas cards already, doesn't it? but with not-so-fond memories of the years in which i effectively MISSED first two weeks of december because i was eating, sleeping, and breathing the mass-production of holiday cards, i can honestly say that committing to one-card-a-week is by far the best present i have ever given myself! here's what i made this week:

(vintage: sheet music, doily; vintage-style santa: october afternoon holiday style miscellany; patterned paper: dcwv; twine: doodlebug; adhesives: staples brand gluetape runner, 3m foam tape, xyron, sewing machine)

one of the simplest cards i think i've ever made, because seriously, the ingredients do ALL the work. i've got a piece of vintage sheet music, half a doily, a little bit of twine, and a new-but-vintage looking santa... whom i've trimmed right to his outline in order to see more of the background. of course the crucial point is knowing how to arrange the bits, which i did, thanks to the current cardabilities sketch (#96):

and now you are cordially invited over to ♥JINGLE BELLES♥ to see miss stephanie's lovely card and check out the AMAZING vintage gallery. you can thank me later, darlings! ♥

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

SOS145: friend or faux?

your enjoyment of this week's challenge at shopping our stash is probably going to depend on how "techniquey" (yes, that is too a word!) you are. if you subscribe to the technique junkie newsletter and love cruising the tutorial boards at SCS, then you are going to think you've died and gone to heaven! because this week we want to see cards and projects that feature "faux" something... whether that be faux woodgrain, faux silk, faux postage, faux patina... well, you get the idea. if you're not a person who enjoys those sorts of endeavors, may i remind you that faux stitching only requires a pen!!! :)

i'm sure you've heard me refer to myself as a "technique-free zone" and i stand by that description. when it comes to papercrafting, i'm really more into the paper than anything else. also, i confess, i am not super-great at following written instructions; though nowadays most tutorials seem to have step-by-step photos, and of course youtube has at least one video of how to do absolutely ANYTHING! however, i genuinely believe that a big part of the point of participating in challenges is to try things i would not otherwise have attempted. so i did a little surfing, and a little reading, and i found this cool tutorial and decided to give faux embossed leather a shot. it turned out to be pretty easy, plus it impressed lovely husband jeff no end. score! 

(patterned paper: basic grey, pink paislee; glitter tag: papaya art; ivy leaf: prima; gem: recollections; lace and seambinding from my stash; faux embossed leather created using: cuttlebug diecutting machine; tim holtz/sizzix embossing folder; ranger distress and archival inks plus blending tool; psx clear embossing powder; adhesives: staples brand gluetape runner, 3m foam tape, gluedots, sewing machine)

i selected this rich brown shade, and started leafing through my stash of vintage illustrations, thinking i'd be making a "guy card" for my uncle ron's upcoming birthday. but somehow, the card took on a life of its own, and decided to become a rather flowery, somewhat frilly, totally glittery "just because" card for my friend diane who has a big event coming up in her life. i'm always a bit bemused by the mysterious way these things seem to happen, but i usually roll with it, just to see where i'll end up. 

my gorgeous faux leather went from being the central element/focus of the card to a sort of "very special guest star" role, so here's another shot that shows it a little closer up:

now i highly recommend a visit to see the amazing work of my SOS cohorts, because i happen to know that none of them are "technique-free zones" and all of them have outdone themselves creating for you this week!