Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Secret Santa

To celebrate Christmas, our Stampers of England (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/EnglandStampers/) had a Secret Santa Swap. Names were drawn and each Secret Santa set out to put together gifts, which were posted to arrive before Christmas.

As those of you who follow this blog know, I adore making altered art, especially altered tea, chocolate and biscuit tins. So you know that my secret sister would be received something altered!

The first thing I made was an altered letter or napkin holder by using a Creative Imaginations product. I decided to use an Elzybell reindeer image that I had previously water colored. I also had made little Shrinky-Dink embellishments, and I thought my 'love' tag would work perfectly with these two reindeer preparing to tuck into a Christmas pudding.

I had some festive napkins, which I put into the holder, and then sent this to my Secret Sister Caroline, along with some other bits and pieces of goodies.

As I started the altered tins late, I didn't know if I'd be able to make her one in time for it to arrive before Christmas. In the end, I was just in the Saint Nick of time! Hah! I used some of my favorite Creative Imaginations winter papers and embellishments to make this tin.

Altered Christmas Tins

I've had a tradition over the last number of years to make gifts for the teachers at my son's schools. The altered tins that I have been making seem to be a hit, especially when they are stuffed with candy, cookies and biscuits!

Now that my son is a teenager, his classmates don't seem to be as likely to give Christmas gifts to their teachers. Giving Christmas gifts to teachers was always a tradition when he was younger in his private schools in Houston. Even at the British School in Abu Dhabi, where we were for the last two years, holiday and end-of-year gifts were presented to teachers. However, I was amazed this Christmas that Branduff was the only one in his new school (near London) bearing gifts.

My feeling is that teens, with their raging hormones, can be even more difficult (and moody) to teach, and teachers definitely deserve something special and sweet for their hours of dedication to our young men and women.

Not only that, I really love making altered tins! What am I going to do next year if I don't have teachers for which to make altered tins?

Dear son seemed a little embarrassed to be the only one in class hauling in gifts. Granted, the teachers were over the moon!

Will this be the last group of tins that I make, I dare ask? Hopefully I will find some victims next year to receive my art pieces.

However, best have a look now . . . just in case!

The tins feature an assortment of papers, from Melissa Frances nostalgic Christmas packets, BoBunny's Christmas HoHoHo papers and embellishments, and Creative Imaginations Winter paper. I even used a page from my Mary Engelbreit desktop calendar for one of the images on a tin.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Branduff & Sophie

I bought this Elzybells stamp because it makes me think of my son Branduff and our "dear" little Border Collie Sophie! I thought it would make a nice greeting for family.
I used a combination of water colours and Pearl-Ex to paint the image. Also, I revisited the world of Shrinky Dinks to make the little plastic labels. I had to stick my head into the oven so many times fussing with the Shrinky Dinks that I was "sunburnt" by the time I finished!

Mouse in the House

I just love the way this Elzybells stamp of a mischievous mouse in a Christmas cracker turned out! I found the strand of miniature fairy lights last year, and I thought this was the perfect project to use them.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Reindeer Wishes

Here is a the cutest reindeer stamp from Elzybells, featuring hubby and wife reindeer preparing to enjoy their Christmas pud! The image has been painted with water colours. There are four slightly different variations to the design that I've included. Happy crafting and Happy Holidays!

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Elzybells Christmas Cards

I've only recently purchased some of Elzybells whimsical and fun rubber stamps. I was first introduced to this stamp line by Karen, a Scottish friend who was in my crafting group in Abu Dhabi.

Once we moved to England, I didn't forget Elzybells! I looked up the Elzybells site and HAD to purchase some of the stamps for my very own! I love that I can purchase these stamps as unmounted, as almost all of my rubber stamps are off their wooden mounts (a great space saver!).

I've been very busy making Christmas cards lately, and Elzybells have taken centre stage in my card designs. You can see that I used this same watercoloured image in a previous blog creation.

The Elzybells stamps are quite open, which means that they can easily be coloured. I used watercolours on the image of Christmas singers, and I followed the sketch challenge on the Elzybells blog site:

Thank you for stopping by to have a look at my creations!
Kathy the teawife

Thursday, 13 November 2008

The Merry Singers

In my quest to make more Christmas cards, I used this Elzybells' stamp of carolers, which I recently purchased. Elzybells' stamps are very open, making them perfect candidates for water colouring. I spent more than an hour one day using my Stampin' Up water colours on the image. Today I finished the card by using this Basic Grey paper from last winter. My stamping friend Diane gave me the paper pack, and I've been holding onto it for just the right project.

I tried both whisper white cardstock and watercolour paper for the image, which was stamped in black pigment ink and embossed with fine detail powder. The above card is with watercolour paper. The watery paint is absorbed more easily and creates a more subtle and sophisticated final image. Corrections can more easily be made by adding water or rubbing off stray colour.
The card stock created a slightly more slicker and vibrant look, and the water moved faster. Below is a sample of the image stamped on cardstock.

I am really pleased with results. Although the Basic Grey paper is not exactly traditional Christmas stock, I think it does something special to bring out the wonder of this Elzybell's image. This will be one of the cards going to some of my stamping friends.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Hidden Messages

Challenge Three of the One Stop Craft Challenge Blogspot is
Hidden Messages

This was a tough one for me, and I probably sat at my craft table looking at images, turning paper upside down, thinking about frames and cut outs, and basically driving myself crazy for hours! In the end, I decided upon a tag that flips over to reveal a message.

The focal point of the card is this handsome Santa stamp (Inkadinkado), which has been stamped on glossy paper, embossed and colored with markers. A stamping friend (Beckie) sent me fluffy white yarn, which I used to embellish santa's hat and pom-pom. The Santa Claus postage stamp is also Inkadinkado. The funky Ho Ho Ho ribbon comes from BoBunny.

When the tag is flipped over, the message revealed says "merry wishes, 'tis the season, season's greetings, Merry Christmas" (Lots of Thoughts stamp set from Stampin' Up!).

It was quite a joy to have been randomly selected last week as the winner of Challenge Two from One Stop Craft Challenge!! I was excited all the way down to my tootsies!

This is so much fun for me to have a new goal each week. Thank you for popping by to have a look at my artwork.

This is another example of the same card, with the Stampin' Up! sentiment on the front and other messages on the back of the tag.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Choir of Snowmen

I've always loved this Flaky Friends stamp set from Stampin' Up. I thought they looked like a choir of snowmen -- wouldn't you like them to come caroling round your door at Christmastime?!

The background of the card is created with a Cuttlebug musical embossing folder. This particular embossed image is striking, but it is even more so when using a dark purple cardstock with metallic dusky pink and silver inks as an accent.

To tie in the choir of snowmen with the musical background, I found the perfect sentiment stamp from another Stampin' Up set, Peace to the World.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Can't Stop Altering!

Ahhhhhh . . . Altering tins and boxes . . . my most favorite art form! As I told a friend (tongue-in-cheek) the other day: "I'll alter anything that stands still long enough. I'll alter you if you're not careful!" She looked worried!

I have to say that "altering" is my favorite art form of all. The very first "art contest" that I won was back in fourth grade. We were decoupaging planks of wood, which the teacher picked up cheap from the local lumber yard. We all brought used greeting card fronts to stick onto the wood. I was sick the day they started the project. All my classmates had first pick on the pieces of wood -- which were smooth and perfect. I came back, and I was handed this wood with huge worm holes and imperfections! Try to tell a fourth-grader that distressed is good! But my teacher Ms. Wolverton did her best, and in the end, I had faith in her and took the worm-eaten wood. Guess what? She was right. The piece was amazing (especially designed by a fourth grader!), and it looked nothing like the other pieces. All the teachers in the school voted on their favorite decoupaged artwork, and I won! The moral of the story? Trash is good? Different is good? Teachers are always right? Art is always subjective?
At the end of last school year, I created a number of altered boxes as teachers' gifts. Son Branduff stuffed the boxes with candies and goodies. After the teachers empty the contents, these tins and boxes are reusable -- they can by refilled with just about anything from sweets to junk!
My favorite of this round of altered boxes is the cowboy box, shown above. Pieces of paper were stuck down with Royal Decoupage Finish/Glue. After it dried thoroughly -- which was accomplished quickly here in the desert! -- I then began adding "age" to the piece. I used a combination of Tim Holtz Distress Inks and Moon Shadow Mists. Then I adhered cowboy stickers from K&Co., and I distressed them, too. I finalized the piece by brushing on thick coats of the Royal Decoupage; I especially drowned the stickers in the glue, to ensure they became like a bit of plastic when dry.

The class boxes are bolder and brighter, and I used some BoBunny stickers on these two boxes.

You can use any medium -- a chocolate or tea tin, wood or cardboard boxes, clipboards, or whatever is at hand. I'm currently working on a wooden tray, which I am adorning with floral paper and embellishments. I'll post that when finished, too.
Branduff has a number of male teachers, and I have to ensure that I have enough "masculine" altered pieces. He and I joined forces to make the clipboard below, using stickers from BoBunny, and diving into the toolbox for things like nuts, bolts, washers and wire.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

SU Wonderful You

When I first saw the Wonderful You stamp set from Stampin' Up!, I knew I had to have it! However, I already owned so many floral stamps that I decided to give the set a pass. However, the set burned a hole in my head, every time I flicked through the pages of the Stampin' Up! catalog. OK . . . you guessed it . . . I finally gave into my weaknesses!

I love the results, too! I used a variation of the template I made last week, using a 5.5 inch square of patterned paper from Die Cuts With a View Luxury stack.

In addition, I scrounged around in my embellishment basket, looking for the best bits and pieces to decorate the cards. I think sometimes we forget the embellishments that we have kicking around in our bottom craft drawer.

This wide open flower from the SU set could be colored in countless ways. In two of the cards, I simply used the solid flower in this two-step stamp set and a dye ink pad. For three of the cards, I used alcohol ink to color the flower. A bit of blending solution enables shading when using alcohol inks. The edges of the paper were painted with the alcohol ink, too.

Most of these became birthday cards; I never seem to have one when I need it!

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Altered Tins

Altering objects and turning them into art is one of the easiest and most gratifying processes in paper crafting. You can make your altered art as sophisticated and detailed as you'd like, or you can simply slap on patterned paper and embellishments.

The beauty of tins is that many of them are free. Most of my tins have held tea or chocolate. I have collected so many of them that they were multiplying like rabbits! I decided it was time to alter some of them to work on my tin overpopulation.

The process is what we would have called decoupage in the old days. To make the attached tins, I have glued the paper down with the Art Institute's Art Glitter Glue or a thin layer of Royal Coat Decoupage Finish. The latter decoupage finish is the product that I use to cover tin and seal all the paper and elements. I usually like to go thick with the final finish.

Once the tins are finished, they are the perfect for end-of-year teacher gifts. Simply fill them with chocolate and candy. Teachers find plenty of uses for these tins when they are empty of sweets, too!

I made quite a few of these last year, too. My son Branduff has about 18 teachers, incredibly, so it was quite a challenge to make sure we got all his favorites. These few tins are just the beginning. I plan to keep making more before school lets out for the summer. Since we live in the desert, the decoupage glue dries in about 10 minutes if I put the tin outside! Hah!

Some of the paper used come from BoBunny, Junkitz, and SEI.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Paper Swap Challenge

I recently hosted a Patterned Paper Swap Mingle on one of the yahoo stamping groups, to which I belong. I am paper mad . . . I collect and, daresay, hoard paper. I thought it would be therapeutic to try to use some of the pieces for a change! One of the best ways was to share some of my prized paper with others. The assignment was to take your most loved 12 by 12 pieces of paper or cardstock, cut the piece into four squares, and share those quarters with other ladies in the mingle. In the end, we received five 6 by 6 inch squares of paper from five of our friends from around the world.

It was incredibly interesting to see a bit of people's artistic style and personalities in the paper they choose and covet.

After the paper was distributed, the next step was to use some of these 6 by 6 squares and create. The green lady of luxury (see the entry below featuring the Dolly Mama Domestically Challenged Stamp and Kay Foley Stamp) featured one of the pieces of paper.

However, my friend Cheryl (and owner of the aforementioned yahoo stamping group) sent me this uber-lovely floral majestic paper! I just love it, and it seemed the perfect vehicle for featuring a couple of hearts from my new Cuttlebug die with embossing folders. I just love this card!

I'm back to the same spot I was because I don't think I can give away this card, just as I found it hard to give away some of my paper! As a result, this card is now happily sitting in my inspiration box for others to see.

Friday, 7 March 2008

Paper-Crafting Baskets

My creative friend, Nancy, came to one of our Tuesday craft gatherings with the cutest basket, which was made using strips of cardstock. She had been trolling the internet and came across this basket tutorial created by Laura Canale who has the "wish you were here" blogspot. You can see her basket tutorial here:

I must admit, when I first saw the basket, I thought that it was much too fiddly and detailed for my crafting enjoyment. However, there was something about a challenge hanging out there in the front of me. I felt compelled to tackle this project. And I thought these little baskets would be ideal stuffed with candies to give to some of my son's teachers for Easter. (I say "some," because there is no way I will make 16 baskets; he has that many teachers!)

As of today, I have made four baskets; I only have pictures of three because one is really sad looking. It was a basket that another crafty friend of mine had given up and discarded. By the time I tried to recreate it, the tiny strips of paper were bent and no longer pulled easily through the weave of the basket.

However, I am proud of the three success stories. As you can see from the results, I like the idea of using double-sided patterned cardstock, in lieu of solid colors.

Was the project hard or easy? Hmmmmmmm . . . the first one was definitely a challenge. I hadn't printed out Laura's instructions, so I was darting to and from my computer desk and crafting table. Also, I was using a combination of adhesive and Tacky Glue with so-so results.

By the time I made the second basket, crafty Nancy suggested that I use Art Glitter's glue. I figured there can't be that much difference between Aleene's Tacky Glue and Art Glitter's Designer Adhesive. They both dry clear and permanent, but the Art Glitter glue dries in seconds! You can easily glue the paper and move on to the next piece without having to wait or have the glued pieces slip.

The hardest part of the basket are the tiny strips that you weave at the beginning. Once you get past those, the basket is fairly simple and satisfying.

The baskets are really sweet and pretty, but I don't think I can make anymore! My neck hurts from working over these baskets during the week.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Chocolate Bar Sliders

It's been yonks since my last posting, and I'm thrilled to be back! Between traveling to visit family over the holidays and nursing a nasty back injury, I have found my time creating and in front of the computer severely limited.

However, now I am home, and I've been attending to my back, and I'm slowly coming back alive!

With Valentine's Day and two birthdays this week, I decided to make some chocolate bar sliders. These are simple, even for the mathematically challenged non-engineer types!

The first chocolate bar slider is a Valentine's Day card for my husband, Niall. The papers are from BoBunny.

To make a slider card, you need to measure your cardstock to cover the chocolate bar. I've used Lindt European chocolate . . . yummy! I cut my cardstock to 6 1/2 by 8 inches. But your size will be determined by your chocolate bar. Score the paper so that it folds nicely over the chocolate bar. You may need four scores if your chocolate bar is thick. You can also fold by hand. Use adhesive to adhere the flap.

Below, is a photo of thank you slider using Stampin' Up! Ginormous Flowers. What an amazing stamp set. It provides so much potential to decorate cards, boxes, sliders, and other altered pieces. The brads are from Creative Imaginations and the paper is from Junkitz.

What makes these "slider" cards is a pulley system created with a piece of ribbon, which allows the recipient to pull up the chocolate bar. To make the pulley system, punch two matching holes at the top of your chocolate bar cover. Wrap the ribbon around the chocolate bar and slide it inside the cover. String the ribbon through both holes and tie a knot at the end of the ribbon. You'll discover that you now can pull out the chocolate treat with the ribbon! Now decorate the cover as you wish!

This final chocolate slider is for an upcoming birthday, and it again features Stampin' Up! Ginormous Flowers, brads from Creative Imaginations, and paper from Junkitz.