Baby Cakes (and a bouquet)

My much bragged about diaper cake is done!  My lovely wife got some baby goodies to decorate it so I was able to finish it off.  But first I’ll start at the beginning.  I found this excellent tutorial already written on this “Crafty Chic’s” blog (http://craftychicsblog.blogspot.com/2011/07/diaper-cake-getting-started.html) (and in much better, more precise detail than I’d every use) so I’ll just run through the highlights of mine (and alterations):Image

I started off by flattening the box the diapers came in as the platform and I used some awesome paper I got at Resources for Rhode Island Educators to cover the top (see my post on this amazing place here: https://craftymadre.com/2013/08/25/heaven-im-in-heaven/).

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I rolled about 60 diapers and tied them with embroidery floss.  Keeping them rolled while I tied was not as easy as I was hoping, so I grabbed a pipe cleaner to temporarily hold them closed while I tied (the instructions suggested rubber bands, but I didn’t have any and I had this vision of a rubber band snapping and whacking my friend’s baby in the head at 3am).  I used a really plain ribbon to hold each layer together but then decorated them with a fancier ribbon.

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The top layer is just one diaper in the center with about 6 others around it.  For the middle layer, I made a top layer again and then put a row of diapers around the outside.  For the bottom layer, I made the middle layer and then put another row of diapers around that (Crafty Chic really broke this part down to a science).

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Then, I piled them all up and put a skewer down the center to make sure they didn’t all topple over in the car or something.  Like I said, I tied much prettier ribbons with nice bows around each layer (I really tried to make the bows as fancy as I could, but they’re definitely a skill I need more work on).  And I added all kinds of fun baby stuff as decoration: baby spoons; wash cloths; a little set of keys; travel-sized lotion, shampoo, baby wipes, butt cream, and baby powder (I actually pulled out the middle diaper from the top layer and stuck the powder in there).

Voila!

 

I also promised the bouquet I made for our other friend who’s having a baby:

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I took a few left over diapers from the box and rolled them a little more loosely, tying them with just one string.  I stuck them on skewers that I had tied and glued pieces of ribbon to as “leaves” (really, just to hold the diapers up).  I stuck spoons in some of them (just because they were one of the goodies my wife brought me to add), put some washcloths around the outside as “greens”, and filled the vase up with some more travel size baby stuff.  Another little bow finished it off (I did better with this one).

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I’m actually entering the cake in a Craft-Dee BowZ September challenge, because there’s a bow-making kit up for grabs: http://craft-deebowz.blogspot.com/2013/09/september-challenge.html.  I could certainly use it!

On a roll

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I made another card tonight.  I was so exhausted after the Block Party that all I could do was sit at my table and grab for supplies within reach.  The cool thing is that the event made the news and attracted a ton of people from the congregation and the neighborhood.  Here’s the link to the story:  http://www.wwlp.com/news/local/hampden/spfld-church-hosts-block-party

I made this card as a thank you for my boy’s principal, who helped him get cleaned up last week after a little “accident” at school (suffice it to say, he won’t be wearing a belt to school anymore).  This is another “clean and simple” one for CAS-ual Friday’s Challenge blog:  http://cas-ualfridays.blogspot.com/2013/09/cfc114.html.  The theme was “Back to School”.  I’m also entering Shopping our Stash’s School or Workplace/Office challenge: http://shoppingourstash.blogspot.ca/2013/09/sos-117-school-or-officeworkplace.html.  My boy went back to school a couple weeks ago and I already posted the card I sent his teacher (here: https://craftymadre.com/2013/08/25/beginning-of-the-year-teacher-gift/).  Luckily, the boy’s little accident gave me another occasion for a school card.  (He’s going to kill me for writing about this if he ever decides to read my blog.)

I used black cardstock with a white Pitt Pen for the chalkboard effect.  I also made a little schoolhouse stamp (out of an eraser).  I sketched it on and then had to remember which line I actually wanted to cut around.  I threw the bell in the roof on as an afterthought.  I think I can use it for Christmas cards, as well, by just drawing some snow on the top of the roofs and finding a Santa with his sleigh stamp or sticker to put over a bunch of them.  I traced around them with colored pencil (and then cleaned up some of the lines on the stamp after using it on this card).

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I was inspired to make this stamp by these adorable house stamps made by another blogger but I can’t, for the life of me, find the post.  I hate it when that happens!  They were much more detailed than this one and she had a whole collection of different styles of houses that she put together, in one piece, in all different colors (if this blogger is you, please comment and let me know so I can add the link).

Anyway, I’m sending the loaner shorts back with a couple extra pairs for other kids who may be caught in a similar situation.  It’s my boy’s first year at this new school and so far we’re loving it.  I couldn’t believe it when he said it was the principal who cleaned him up (rather than the school nurse or an aide) but it’s great to see people all pitching in- above and beyond.

An owl to scare away the woodpecker

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My parents have a woodpecker problem.  A HUGE woodpecker problem.  They have clusters of holes in every corner of their siding.  They’ve tried hanging shiny things from the roof to scare them to no avail.  My dad has even hinting at getting a BB gun.  Here are a couple of photos that I cropped from our recent reunion (I wasn’t even aiming at the holes, but they came through in the pictures loud and clear):

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So, when I saw this adorable Upcycled woodpecker on the Old School Garden blog (http://audaxdesign.co.uk/) I knew I had to give it a try.  I followed the post pack to this neat blog:  http://aristonorganic.com/2013/02/19/upcycle-make-an-owl.  You’ll have to check out the blog itself, because I couldn’t copy the original photo but, trust me, it’s adorable.

I went through my considerable CD collection and ended up with a compilation CD I made when I was teaching middle school theater.  It was definitely time to close that chapter.  My only second thought about this one is that it was kind of blue, instead of the typical hologram-y silver you get with store-bought CDs.  I think I’ll try one of those next if I can find one I’m willing to part with.  I picked up a bag of knives at the local thrift store and I raided my button stash for the beak and pupils.  I had the rest of the lids and bottle-caps lying around for just such a project.

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It looks like the elements are bolted together on the original version but the glue seems to be holding pretty well.  I put a used cap center from a canning jar on the back for another layer to hold the knives together.  (Those suckers are heavy.)  I have no idea how they found such short knives, but this will be the samurai edition.

My version is nowhere near as cute as the original, but it’s a first try (and there are 5 corners at my parents’ house, so I have four left to make).  I’ve since found a ton of other cute owls made out of upcycled materials, so I have a lot of others to try.  I’ll be sure to add any subsequent ones to this post.

I hope that if the shininess of the silverware and CD don’t scare off the woodpeckers, the knives will.  (My boy was very excited to think that they might be “decapitated”, which disturbed me just a little.)

I made a wreath!

ImageMy wife has been wanting me to find a new wreath for our door for ages.  We had a dried lavender wreath on the door that I got her for Valentine’s Day but it started shedding every time we opened and closed the door. I wanted to preserve it so I found a nice hook on a wall near the door, nestled next to a couple of kid-made frames from my boy for its golden years…

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So, I finally made a new one.  I pinned about a million.  (Okay. Maybe only 29.  But you can see them here.  http://m.pinterest.com/bakercooley/wreaths/)  And then I went with a pretty simple one (being my first, and everything).   Here’s the one I tried:  http://sabrinarenee92.wordpress.com/2013/08/25/burlap.

I got a simple wire frame from Michaels and grabbed some fabric from my stash. Both were actually left over from our wedding. The paisley was supposed to be wrapped around the linen on our table (that never happened).  The purple was supposed to be on the ground as the edges of our “aisle” but people kept tripping on it at the rehearsal so I yanked it up. (Yeah, it was a that kind of wedding but it was absolutely perfect.)

I kind of made up my own way of wrapping the ribbon on the frame.  I kind of looped it on and started wrapping it around.
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I and didn’t have enough of the paisley to go around so then I yanked that out and redid it. Here was my first attempt:

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I tried a couple other versions before settling on this one. I ended up just wrapping the paisley around as far as it would go (making it loose enough so I could puff it up a bit). There was still a gap so I used the purple and kind of braided it around the wire. I like that part the best.

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I hung it on the door, content.

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The next morning, I was fiddling around in the dining room and found some silk flowers I got for the wedding (doesn’t everyone store their silk flowers in the dining room?).  I’m not a huge silk or dried flowers fan (I’d so much rather the real thing) but my wife likes them so I got a bunch in our colors and had them scattered on little projects throughout.

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Borrowing from this beautiful blogger (http://www.stonegableblog.com/2010/08/bridal-wreaths.html) I grabbed a handful and decided to try adding them in to make the wreath fuller…  And it was perfect!

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!

Knife-block redo and barstool upcycle

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My wife suggested I paint our knife-block but I hesitated for a bit because it came with a expensive knife set from SharpenedKnife that my parents gave me. But you can’t win if you don’t play, right?  And she found this cool example and sent me the Pin, so I couldn’t resist.

http://www.johnnyinadress.com/2011/03/beautify-that-boring-knife-block.html?m=1

And the first picture is an awesome bar stool turned (literally) into wrapping paper storage. We got the idea from Pinterest (where else?) and then the wife happened across a somewhat broken stool at a huge tag sale to benefit a local animal shelter. I promised to make the stool into a wrapping paper caddy if she promised not to bring home another dog. Here’s the inspiration for the stool:
http://96195.com/pic-759.html

I tried out Crackle for the first time on both of these.  It was actually kind of a ruse for the wife’s benefit. She’s much more of a contemporary, bright color kind of person and I’m more of a shabby-chic kind of person. So, I started with the Rachel Ray green that she wants to do our kitchen in (along with her eggplant and orange). She loved it, but then I put the crackle and yellow over them both (to go with our current shabby-kitchen).
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The stool was a lot of fun to make. I used ribbon to replace a couple missing rungs with bottle caps instead of washers to hold it on. On the feet (now the tops) I decoupaged paper from an end-page from a used book from the same tag sale and wrapped some washi tape around it.  I used one of the thrift store table cloths I got for my parents’ 50th anniversary to make a few pockets to hold tape, bows, ribbon and such. It was my first time using the button holer (is that a word?) on my sewing machine and it was so cool. It says you can use it to sew on the buttons, too, but I didn’t quite trust it (or myself). I had a vision of a flying needles and broken buttons so I just sewed them by hand.ImageImage

For the knife-block I made a stencil out of cardstock to tie in with the boarder in the kitchen and varnished the heck out of it (she tends to make a bit of a mess when she’s cooking, so hopefully that will make for easier cleanup). I told her I could repaint it without the crackle if/when we redo the kitchen. I even think my parents would approve!

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My first commission!

Well… in all honesty, I was talking with a friend at work whose employee’s last day was coming up.  She said that she was going to get a special card and gift for her (she’d been with us for 4 years, which is a long time for our program).  So I said “I know!  I’ll make you a card.”  She didn’t really protest so I assumed she was good with it.  And here it is:

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Our coworker’s favorite color is orange and I asked my friend what she wanted me to write on the card.  She suggested “Shining stars never fade” on the outside and “Twinkle on” on the inside.  I love that!

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I already had the wooden star and I made the stamp out of an eraser (my new favorite hobby).  I’m doing it very low tech, with just an X-acto knife which I use to cut around whatever I want the design to be (after drawing it on with a trusty Sharpie).  Then, I cut the rest of the background out, slicing horizontally through the eraser about 1/8 of an inch down.  I do a couple practice stamps to see if there’s anything I want to change on the image and if there’s any of the background that’s not deep enough, and I’m good to go.  I’ve made about 5 of them so far. I also put a button on the front because when our coworker was pregnant a couple of years ago she didn’t find out the gender of her baby so we all called it “Button”.  And, I have to admit, she really is as cute as a button.

I also found a challenge using die-cuts on the Simon Says Stamps Monday Challenge blog:  http://www.simonsaysstampblog.com/mondaychallenge/challenge-make-the-cut/.  The Design Team’s samples are amazing- many of them are so intricate and the die-cuts really make them “pop” (literally).  I don’t actually have any die-cuts myself, but I made a banner for the text on the front of the card kind of looked like one.  One of the Design Team members for the challenge used cardboard in her die cutter and I loved the effect, so I tried to mimic it using my handy-dandy X-acto knife again and origami paper.  I also used a paper punch (which is the same principle as a die) to make the little swirls on the inside.

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I love the dimension from the button, star, and cardboard.  And gluing them on with silver glitter glue gave it a fun twinkle (which I kept going by using it as the tale of the shooting star, as well).  I used pastels in yellow and orange to color around the edge, having cut the orange background paper a little smaller than the card on purpose.  As a side note, the orange paper was a gift from another work friend.  She was cleaning out her childhood home and came across a whole box of this really beautiful, heavy, colored artists’ paper which she gave me.  I love it!

I used my Tim Holtz‘ Distress Ink pad for the text (with my stamp press) and stars but then had to go over the letters on front with a black Sharpie because they were a little too “distressed” to be able to read them clearly.  I have to get a plain black ink pad for things like this.  I sprayed the whole thing with  a high-gloss spray fixative to make it shiny and keep the pastels from smudging.  Also, the spray adhesive I used on the origami paper was still a little sticky around the edges so that helped cover the sticky up.

All in all, it was a lot of fun to make and my friend loved it.

Birthday Card Ministry

So… I’ve been loving making these cards.  I keep thinking I’m going to stockpile cards so I have a bunch to choose from whenever an occasion comes up, but as soon as I make one I want to give it to someone.  I just so happen to go to a church with a huge congregation and every month the “Carillon” (kind of like a newsletter) lists all the congregants’ birthdays for the month.  So I decided to start sending them to people in the church.  I can do them for other occasions, too, like weddings and funerals.  There will always be some occasion to make a card for.

Here are the ones I made today:

ImageI went with this theme specifically for the Drunken Stampers’ challenge this week: Beaches.  http://drunkenstampers.wordpress.com/2013/08/10/place-beach-drunken-stampers-challenge-136/  This “term” their themes are People, Places, and Things, so there are tons of possibilities.  I had so much fun with the 3 cards I made for their movie-themed last term.  I love the way these ladies think.

Anyway, the “Life’s a beach” is kind of a play on “Life’s a (some other word that begins with ‘b’ and ends with ‘ch’)”.  Unintentionally, but perfectly enough, I stamped the “e” upside-down on my first one.

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I used a couple stamps from a cheap set that I just got at a local discount store for the “Have a Great Day” and palm tree (with this challenge in mind).  It didn’t stamp very well (I guess I know why it was at the discount store) so I went over it a bit with my trusty Sharpies and also added a couple coconuts while I was at it.  I used my awesome stamp-press to put down the letters for “Life’s a Beach”.  I used Distress Ink for the black, hence the “distressed” look, and combinations of stamp-pads, magic markers, and Bingo daubers for the tree and sun.  The sun is one I made recently and am still pretty proud of it.  (Here’s my post about that, if you’re interested: https://craftymadre.com/2013/08/08/i-made-a-stamp/)

I’m also going to enter it into Our Creative Corner’s “Words, Words, Words” challenge: http://ourcreativecorner6.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/words-words-words.html.  This will be my second entry for that challenge (they allow a max of 3) and my first entry also had a little mistake in it.  I hope they don’t think I mess up everything but if they do, that’s okay, too.

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.

A few more ICADs- on the home stretch

ImageI saw a “recipe” for making spray ink on a blog recently and decided to try it out.  Not only would it be a money saver, but it would also be a way to upcycle come spray bottles I already have and a new technique to try- TRIPLE WIN!  Here’s the blog with the really simple instructions:

http://crippledpapercrafter.wordpress.com/2013/07/06/good-luck-going-away-gift-and-homemade-spray-ink/

I started out all these cards with a little spray-ink from the first bottle I made.  The only glitch I found was that the spray-nozzle seemed to get clogged up after not too long.  I think I’ll have to clear it out with water pretty frequently.  When I started out, I didn’t have as much paint in the solution, but it wasn’t very dark on the page, so I guess the clogged sprayer is the price I pay for wanting more color.  I also used the tulle to make some texture on the card with a brush in the same color paint.

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I had printed this little poem/blessing on a card with my new printer when I was testing it out a couple weeks ago.  It had come to my attention when I saw a blogger post a request from Jan to let people know that it was actually her work, rather than the work of someone else it was mistakenly being attributed to.  Here’s that post:

http://masterbard.wordpress.com/2013/06/07/because-i-love/

And here’s a link to one of Jan’s blogs:

http://paintedprayerbook.com/

I love Jan’s work and am going to a retreat being sponsored by my church that she’s leading in the fall.  I can’t wait.  I used the washi tape prompt on this one for just a little more color, but I didn’t want to do too much to it because I think the words are just beautiful as they are.ImageImage

These last two I just made for fun.  The Dr. Seuss quote is one of my wife’s favorites so I’m going to put it in a little frame for her office (and the rainbow wording is a big theme for us, for obvious reasons).  I tried using some “floating medium” I had around but couldn’t really figure out what it did.  I have to check out some tutorials and try it again when I have some more time and patience.

The last one is just a quote that popped into my head with the combo of the “ocean” and “bicycle” prompts.  I kind of messed up the bicycle wheel, but it’s only an index card, after all.  After the spray clogged, I just took the cap off and started flicking and wiping the straw on the card.  I made a little washi tape fish and then put on the reverse of the fish for good measure.  (Who’s ever seen an ocean with only one fish?)

Here are a few other ICAD posts from some of my other favorite bloggers:

http://pixelknitsponderings.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/index-card-a-day-2013-week-6/  – She used some spray-inks this week, too.  I love all the techniques she tried, especially her scrap washi heart (I need to start my own scrap-washi collection, now.)

http://defineyourjoy.com/2013/07/14/this-weeks-index-cards-2/ – I know I’ve already linked to Natasha’s cards but I just love them and her daughter is still doing them right along with her.  She was just published in Altered Arts Magazine, which is the coolest thing in the world.  (She totally deserves it.)

http://imperfectimpulses.wordpress.com/2013/07/09/idle-impulses/  – And here’s another blog I recently started following.  I especially love his art journal stuff and I’ve watched a bunch of his tutorials on YouTube.  They’re not only fun to watch, they teach great techniques.  Here’s his YouTube channel:  http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjU04ybwhaF0OyvQp-4Y1Eg

Thanks for looking.  Two more weeks of ICAD… what will be my next “challenge”???