A few cards for a couple challenges

ImageFirst off, more Christmas cards!!!  (Thanks, Spike, I’m still on a roll.)  I’ve gotten a little collection started and I’m having so much fun.  Addicted to CAS (i.e. clean and simple) is doing a Holiday challenge this week, so what better excuse to add to my collection?  http://addictedtocas.blogspot.com.au/2013/08/atcas-challenge-20.html

I made these out of the same handy-dandy tree template I used in this previous card creation: https://craftymadre.com/2013/08/20/easy-peasy-christmas-cards-inspired-by-spike/ (Hence, the earlier credit given to Spike.)  I used our Bingo ink daubers (my wife is a REAL Bingo fan) to fill in the whole inside of the trees.  I like that it’s not a solid green with the little bit of variation in saturation that the dauber created.  Actually, I picked the colors (green, aqua, and orange) for a challenge that I missed by a couple hours, but I still think they look nice together.  The “Peace” is a stamp I did with orange marker and the aqua button is from the Paper Pumpkin kit I got recently (talked about in the above  post).  It’s hard to tell, but I secured it with glitter glue.

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I started off with the trees being just the green but thought they were missing something.  I wanted to keep it simple, so I grabbed a wire screw cap from my box of doo-dads and used it to stamp little circles on the trees for ornaments.  The first one I used an orange marker for ink but it was too light, I thought, so I used a dark green stamp pad for the second one.  And then I just left it alone (see, I’m getting better at this “clean and simple” thing).

And then there are these:

The Drunken Stampers challenge for the week is a Person: Party Planner (http://drunkenstampers.wordpress.com/2013/08/24/person-party-planner-drunken-stampers-challenge-138/)  The challenge is to design cards for any kind of party.  On Friday, two of my favorite front office staff are leaving for school and part time positions.  We’re having a little “onward and upward” party for them- it’s not going away because they’ll still be with the agency but they won’t be with us as much (which is very sad- great staff are hard to come by).  So, I made these cards:Image

I actually cut apart the card my dad gave me for Valentine’s Day a couple years ago (yeah, I still have it) for the banner, arrows, and swirly punches.  The yellow striped banner is from the aforementioned Paper Pumpkin kit (I’m getting a lot of mileage out of this thing) and the stamps are from a bunch of random collections.  I made the little arrow and attached it with a brad as a little suggestion of the many possible directions life could take them.  On the inside, I used a couple more stamps and then made my own out of another eraser (the pseudo Chevron/Charlie Brown-reminiscent zig zag).  I was thinking of an abstract way to suggest upward movement (or maybe I just had Peanuts on my brain).  Image

I don’t think I’m ever going to stop loving carving these eraser stamps!

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I made a stamp!

I’ve been seeing so many people making their own stamps lately and have been dying to try… so here goes!  I don’t have any fancy carving tools and am not quite willing to invest in them yet.  I also saw a warning on a blog not to waste time with the cheap ones (http://thegiftshed.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/wednesday-wip-26/).  I tried potato stamps recently with my VBC kids, and Dawn gave me the last bit of encouragement I needed with the beautiful eraser stamps she posted yesterday (http://girlunwinding.wordpress.com/2013/08/06/t-tuesday-and-some-art/).

I saw Aaron at Imperfect Impulses make a stamp out of foam using a die cutter (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoIiFTjDYzs&list=UUjU04ybwhaF0OyvQp-4Y1Eg).  Have I mentioned how much I love his YouTube tutorials?  Be sure to check out his blog, too: http://imperfectimpulses.wordpress.com/.  I don’t have a die cutter but I do have an X-acto knife and I’m not afraid to use it.  🙂

I also happened to have saved the spool from my weed whacker last time I changed it (have I mentioned I save everything?) and it seemed like the perfect size for a stamp.  I traced it onto a piece of foam and got to stamp cutting.  I figured I’d start with a sun, because it’s a pretty versatile image to have and seemed easy enough.  On the other side of the spool, I used the scraps from the sun to make a couple little flying birds.  And Ta da!

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A recent tutorial from The Frugal Crafter showed me some neat ways to use markers to stamp different colors at once and then color them in.  She used chalk for color, which I don’t have, but colored pencils worked well.  (http://thefrugalcrafter.wordpress.com/2013/08/06/old-office-labels-and-osa-challenge-235/)

I used my new creations on an art journal page.  I used to do art journaling pretty regularly but haven’t in so long.  I broke out an old journal and decided to use it for experimenting, the way I’ve been using index cards for the past couple months.  And here it is:

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I’m going to submit it to the Artists in Blogland “Color this Quote” Challenge: http://artistsinblogland.blogspot.com/2013/08/color-this-quote-august-challenge.html  

“Seize the Day” seemed like a pretty perfect quote for my jumping into stamp making.  I’ve been thinking about it for a while and there’s no time like the present to start.  I used my stamp press to lay out the words and branches and the “S” is from a new sheet of letters stamps I got from The Stampsmith (http://www.stampsmith.net/).  I watercolored around the stamps for a little background.  Of course, as soon as I finished it, I realized that I spelled “seize” wrong.  What happened to “‘i’ before ‘e’ except after ‘c'”?  Oh well, that’s what my Photostamper app is for.

I’m also going to submit this to Our Creative Corner’s “Words, Words, Words” challenge.  It seems kind of strangely appropriate, given my spelling mistake.  Ha!  http://ourcreativecorner6.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/words-words-words.html

All in all, I’m pretty excited about my new handmade stamp and even more excited to have started art journaling again.

Knack- My New Favorite Place!

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A pop-up store I went to last year has opened up permanently and I’m SO EXCITED.  The pop-up store was all arts and crafts made from upcycled materials.  I got a bunch of holiday gifts there last year.  The new space is like the pop-up store on steroids.  It was founded by two upcycle artists in the area who are so creative and talented that it makes me crazy!  Not only does it have great finished upcycled crafts to buy, but they have tons of upcycled materials to buy, as well.  And really cool, unique ones, at that.  The first time I went, I ended up with a bunch of clear VHS tape cases that I’m going to use to store supplies (6 for $1- who can beat that!?).  I also got some random metal objects that I want to experiment on with welding (I know, “experiment” and “welding” don’t sound like the safest combination- do not try that at home).

Here’s the link to their web site and they also have a Facebook page:

http://www.knack.org

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And the coolest part is that they have a crafting space and classes for kids every other weekend.  We’ve gone twice and had so much fun.  The first time, we decorated the handles of marshmallow sticks.  A local artist had donated the handles from a bunch of spatulas that he had only used the tops of for a piece (I’d love to see that). Amber used twisted wire to make a long skewer and then supplied home-made mod podge and tons of fabrics, yarn, paints, and stickers to decorate the handles.  Here’s mine (and the neat way she attached the wire to extend the handle):

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This is my wife’s.  I think hers is my favorite.  She put on letter stickers, painted over them, and pealed them off.

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And our boy with his:

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He won’t do crafts with me at home, but he’s loved doing these at Knack.  Maybe it’s because he’s a captive audience when we’re out.  Also, one of the women who owns the store has a couple boys about his age so I think she has his demographic in mind when selecting materials and projects.  (For this one, he found some camo fabric and who doesn’t like the prospect of making something that can be used to make s’mores?)

The next project we did was these simple but really cute bottle top hanging ornaments.  I think I know what our family craft for the holidays is going to be this year.  Try to guess whose is whose in the pictures below:

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Okay, so I gave it away with the collage of our boy working on his.  But, I think it’s funny that my wife and our boy have a really similar ascetic.  (Yes, hers is the Batman/Catwoman themed one.)

If you’re going to be in Western Massachusetts (US), I totally suggest you check this place out!  There are endless possibilities  for ideas, materials, and inspiration.  Next week’s craft: wine bottle cork boats.  Can’t Wait!!!

“Treasure Rocks” for Easter

My mom has some Australian friends who e-mailed her a cool alternative to Easter eggs which I’m trying out for our annual “hunt” this year. I used baking soda, cocoa powder (for color) and water to make a play-dough like substance and then hid “treasures” inside them, forming a rock shape. This, I’m told, will dry to be relatively hard and I’ll then hide the “rocks” amongst real rocks in my parents’ patio. The cool things is that when vinegar is added (either dripped on slowly or through immersing the “rock” in a bowl of it) the baking soda concoction will fizz up and dissolve, leaving just the treasure behind.

I’ve tried a few with red sprinkles to give them a pinkish hue and a bunch with silver and gold glitter (I like those the best). Inside, I hid quarters and tarnished pennies (so we can watch as the vinegar shines them up), little plastic dinosaur toys, and a couple of rubber Dora bracelets (she’s my niece’s favorite).

I can’t wait for the kiddos to find them and then go through the process of uncovering the treasures inside! What a great tie in to the Easter story (and a little science experiment to go along with it).

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Update:  The “rock hunt” was a huge success!  They actually blended in amazingly well with the rocks on my parents’ patio and were somewhat difficult to find, but that made it all the more fun.

Treasure Rocks

We had done a test run with the boy and realized that the dripping vinegar slowly on the rocks would take until next Easter to dissolve them so we went for the full immersion/volcano effect.  They loved it.  We had to help them along by squeezing them a bit to crack them open but once they saw that there was stuff inside, they were even more eager to get in there and help out.

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The best parts about it:  it did not result in any extra Easter candy, we made it into a little science lesson (about acids and bases), and no plastic eggs were harmed in the making of this adventure.

If you’re interested in trying these with your kids, but don’t have the time or inclination to make them yourself, I’m also selling some in my Etsy store.  I’m happy to customize them with whatever kind of toys or coins you’d like!    https://www.etsy.com/listing/129853106/treasure-rocks

If you want a little more specific instruction, I wrote up the “recipe” last time I made them (for Vacation Bible Camp):

32 oz. baking soda

1 oz. baking cocoa (for color) (A little goes a long way and too much will make them look like poop- literally.)

approx. 1 cup water

 

glitter (optional but highly encouraged)

Directions:  Mix the dry ingredients together.  Add about 3/4 of the water and then try mushing it around with your hands.  You want it to be moldable and stick together well, but not so wet that it doesn’t keep its shape while drying.  Add more water or baking soda if needed.  Make rock-shapes and then stick whatever small object you want to hide inside, mushing the dough around the object.  Let dry overnight before dissolving them in vinegar.  (I tried using a drying rack at first, but then realized that my “rocks” were getting a waffle pattern on the side that was resting on the rack.  I put newspaper under them and they dried just fine.)