Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tool School- Getting the Basics

I have another basic tool to feature today. Now most of the basic toolkit list that you will find probably do not mention a paper piercer, but I have found that they are important. I have the We R Memory Keepers brad setter.

Yes, me, a brad setter. I know I don't use brads very often, but this little dynamo has helped me in so many situations. In fact, last weekend, it was my life saver. Someone at a retreat was having trouble with her the hole in her beads being too small for her project. My brad setter rectified the issue and she was a happy lady.

The purpose of the tool is to poke the hole for the brad, then you use the head of it separate the legs of the brad and flatten them out. No more poking those little demons under your fingernail, which is great.

But, I have found that this tool's application goes WAY beyond setting brads. I use it to hold tiny embellishments down while I am gluing them, to punch holes through a button I wish to sew onto paper, to pluck little sticker letters from their sheets, (oh, yes, Cosmo Cricket Tiny Type, I am talking to you), to push pieces of die cuts that are not fully cut through, to grab pieces of paper left behind in dies, punches, etc. The applications are endless. It is one of the tools I consider most necessary.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Monday's Random 5- Memorial Day Special

Today's random five are focused around five different outfits in my life that were all red, white, and blue. I am very patriotic and have always been, so I have also always expressed it in my attire.

1) Eighth grade: This outfit, which was by far my most patriotic, was purchased for a contest I was in, but I wore this outfit SO many times that the navy blue shorts and jacket almost faded to royal.

(Can I be honest and tell you that I would totally still wear this outfit, including that awesome hat, and so wish I had it?)

2) Freshman year: White t-shirt with a puppy on it holding an American flag in it's mouth, blue jeans, red heart earrings, white leather Keds. I am not making this up.

3) Senior year: Western shirt with a blue bodice covered in white stars and sleeves that were red and white striped, blue jeans, and boots. I am surprised there is not a picture of me in this shirt because I remember wearing it A LOT.

4) 24 years old: Navy blue tank top with a sequined flag on the chest, camo green shorts, white Skechers with rhinestones and tiny little metal rhinestone flags on the laces. (I had/have a blue, red, and silver pair of Skechers that I loved too).

5) 32 years old: Red and white striped sweater, dark wash jeans, blue clogs, navy and white polka dot headband, and my sailor monkey earrings.

Some things just never change and my love of the red, white, and blue is most definitely one of them.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunday's Special!

This is a project that I dreamed up a year ago for a design team entry. Obviously, we know how that went. ;P

I used a bird house found in the $ section of Micheal's, a piece of wooden dowel, and a blank 3x3 wood block. I drilled a hole in the block, (which totally surprised me by being hollow!), and the bird house with my nady-dandy Fiskars hand drill. Then I covered the block with a paper bag that my friend uses for her store. My medium was, you guessed it, Mod Podge, which by the way, I have erroneously called Modge Podge for years until I was chastised recently that I was in fact, saying it wrong. I may just start calling it, "that amazing gel medium that comes with the funky 70's inspired label" and then no one is offended with my mispronunciation.

I wrapped garden twine of the dowel and glued to to both the house and the block, then glued a pile of random flowers and the birds over the entire piece. Most of these flowers are from The Art Life Shop, who is the same store that uses those darling bags that I used to cover the base.

Such a fun little piece that has huge impact, yet took little effort to make. Love those projects!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tool School- Getting the Basics!

How many times have you looked at a class and it says to bring your "basic tool kit" with you? Ever wondered what exactly is IN a basic tool kit? Well, I have a page here that breaks down my own personal description of the basic tools needed for a class and then some extras that always seem to be a good choice. For the next few weeks, I am going to be picking these items from the list and featuring them on Tool School Tuesday, cause you can't drive the dozer until you learn to man the lawnmower first, right? ;-P Some country girl wisdom there for you.

One of the single most important things that you will put in your tool kit is scissors. Seems like a no brainer, I am sure, but you would be surprised how many classes I have taken and had to share mine, (not that I mind sharing), because the person next to me didn't have a pair. No kidding. My suggestion is make a real basic kit that contains doubles of certain things so you do not have to pull them out to create at home, things such as scissors. Use a coupon and pick up a second pair of your favorite all purpose bad boys and a pair of your favorite fine snippers and leave them in your tool kit. That way you won't have to borrow mine. :)

While I am not very specific as to brands of most things, when it comes to scissors there really is only one choice in my world. The red handled Tim Holtz branded Tonic scissors.

Now, remember kids, Auntie Lora does not get paid for any endorsements, nor has she received free product unless specified. That being said, this is the third pair of these scissors I have owned, the first pair disappeared after a class, (hmmm...), so if Tonic wants to send me some, I certainly wouldn't say no. ;-P

In all seriousness, I have two pairs of these scissors because they are that awesome. I have a pair on my desk and a pair in my kit. I have now tied a blue ribbon to the ones in my kit in an effort to keep them from running off. Why do I love these scissors so much? First, there is this:

Yup, rubberized, pliable handles so there is no extra metal piece putting pressure on your fingers. Love it! Then it comes down to how they function. I have cut wooden dowels, metal necklace links, legs of brads, the little bails on the backs of buttons, cardboard, thread, yarn, and jute with these puppies, then turned around a cut a piece of paper with them. There is no misses, no nicks in the blades, nada. They still work like butter. I would say that 99% of the time while creating, I will reach for these scissors to cut just about anything.

My second choice in scissors is fine tipped pair and I have three pairs of Cutterbee brand fine tipped scissors, one pair that stays in the tool kit and the other two hang out on the desk.

Can you guess which pair belong in the tool kit? I love these scissors because they really can get into the detailed cuts on some of my projects.

While I have found that these work best for me, I am not quite as adamant about them as I am about the above Tonics, but I do strongly suggest having a pair of fine tipped scissors in your kit for those intricate cuts.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Monday's Random 5

So today is more like random four, BUT two of those are projects. I was going to do a post called "random two in blue," but I snapped these cute kitty pictures today, so I just had to add them and that kicked it up to four. I suppose my fifth random thing could be a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my mom. If it wasn't for her, there is a lot that wouldn't be, including, but not limited to, me. Okay, on with the show!

First, this is a layout of a really good friend. As you can tell, the Hubsters has been friends with her since w-a-y back in the day. (Seriously, when were skinny ties in?) Anywho, she is one of the awesome additions I got by default when the Hubsters and I got married.

I wanted to keep it simple because the Anna Griffin patterned paper is just about all the pop! this layout needed. The Pink Paislee Artisan Elements are colored with a Copic marker and have a little bit of bling added. Here is a close up of the title and journaling. Oh, and that skinny tie!

Those are of course, Thickers. Shocking, isn't it? So I must have been in a blue mood, but in a good way, because the next layout I finished featured it as well, this time with one of my all time favorite subjects to photograph.

There's another butterfly! Seriously, do you use things in your creating that under normal circumstances you tend to avoid? I am not a butterfly person, per se, but I have been using them frequently. Maybe that is because Jenni Bowlin makes great ones. So, this layout is about my niece playing on her great-grandma's headstone. While Cady-bird did not get to truly meet her G.G., I hope that I can share enough memories with her and Lily-bee as they grow so that they will know her.

The final line in the journaling is that I can hear my Grandma saying that Cady playing here and me taking photos is alright. I had some mixed feelings about this moment and these pictures, but I truly heard her say it was all okay and that is why I had to scrap it. I am not sure why Cady chose Grandma's stone to play on, as there were a number of other ones that I and my family were showing interest in, but she did and it again shows me that children see things that us adults miss. I am not entirely sure Cady was playing alone.

Now onto my other two randoms of this Monday. I continue to adjust to life with fur-babies. They are funny and their personalities have completely surprised me. The one I expected to be shy is in fact the extrovert and a bit of a trouble maker, which should come as no surprise since she is the one who adopted the Hubsters, who is a mischievous soul himself and the one I expected to be dominant, is in fact, a scaredy cat.

This is Lotus Chief and I swear she will be the end of me. There are times I can literally see her plotting and I wonder if she is plotting my demise. If she could only figure out how to work the can opener, I would be useless.

One of these things is not like the other one.... Every time I see this picture, I think of that jingle. The Hubsters left just a smidge of the closet door open and I went into a panic because I couldn't find General Fuzzface. Then I saw the opening and viola! there she was. Silly kitty.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Random Five- Indulgences Right Now!

Hello, readers. Here are my Random Five for Monday, this time with my current indulgences.

1. Starbucks Peanut Butter Chocolate Mini Cupcakes-- OH! Heaven!!!

2. The smell of coconut and the reminder that summer is closer today than it was yesterday...I think...

3. Watching the finals of Dancing with the Stars. So NOT a reality show person, but I love to watch people boogie!

4. Thinking about Chris Hemsworth in Thor. All I can say, "hubba-hubba!"

5. Last, but certainly not least, spending time with the two new furbabies in my life.

What have y'all been up to?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Friday's Finishing Touch

Okay, so I am a little late today, BUT it is still Friday here on the WC. I am reserving Fridays for my lost of unfinished projects. I am not sure if you are anything like me, but I have a hard time completing things. I get bored, sidetracked, etc and they sit around partially done and waiting for those "finishing touches."

Friday is where I will feature a finished project. After this post, I will try to take before and after photos. Today though was a project I got a little ahead of myself with as far as blog recording. This is an altered box I started with my friend, Daniela, last August, (I think), and it sat unfinished until now.

I love the mosaic technique that she created with pieces of torn paper. To finish it, I added ribbon, flowers, the feet, and some Stickles. Here is a closer view of the top where I tried to create four specific fairy worlds.

So, that is one more thing off the "To Finish" list. I would love if you shared your own finally finished pieces with me. Or maybe I am the only one who has trouble seeing a project to completion....

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Technique Thursday- The FIRST!

Bear with me everyone as this is my first video and it is a bit rough. For this first tutorial, I had a request on how I make the niches in the altered books. Here is my first shot at this!

It is on my new YouTube channel as well. Get that here: http://www.youtube.com/user/TheSingingSquirrel

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

KISS Wednesday- Simple Color Combo

For this first KISS Wednesday, I am going to use a simple color combination. While my personal style tends to be busy and very colorful, I believe you can make beautiful creations by simplifying your methods. For this week, I decided to limit myself to only using five colors on the layout-- black, kraft, white, red, and yellow.

I started by pulling everything that fit that description from my stash. I had the page design in mind and selected a stack of things that could possibly work. If there was any of other color than one of my five on the embellishment, I did not choose it. After I selected my pieces, I picked out photos. I pulled photos much the same way as I pulled embellishments. I used the stack of already printed pictures and pulled ones that 1) would work well as is with my color scheme and 2) were photos of people I don't scrap often. When I was done I had about five pictures that I thought could possibly work.

For the page I cut and 11"x11" square from the center of the kraft paper, laid the red scalloped Bazzill paper over the cut, and put the smaller piece of kraft in the center of the Bazzill to create the look of a red frame. Then I laid out the embellishments along the bottom. Once I got the basic scheme, I tried the different photos. Now, this process may seem kind of backwards, but it does work for me when I have an idea for a layout that isn't photo specific.

I decided on the picture of my brother and sister-in-law. It couldn't be a more perfect photo for this layout, as they are dressed in the perfect colors and it is such a lovely photo of them. Once I had the picture, I was then able to add the calendar page behind them and adjust some of the embellies to be more specific, such as adding the "h" sticker to the the black polka dot button and adding the squares of stamped paper behind some of the embellies. I also added the measuring tape ribbon and the title at this point, basing both solely on the photo. My sister-in-law was about 4 months pregnant with their first child so I cut the ribbon off at 9 and tried a few titles to convey what I saw in this photo.

By keeping my color combo simple, I was able to create this layout quickly and still be really happy with it.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tool School Tuesday!

 Tuesday is going to be the chance to go back to school, so to speak. No tests, no bad yearbook photos, but hopefully a chance to learn something new about a tool you may have or may be looking at adding.

On this first Tuesday, I am going to touch base on the Dymo label maker. This form of journaling was popular a few years ago, but I find that it is still the perfect touch. Recently, I made a mini album that had a number of different type of pages in it, acrylic, card board, and canvas. The Dymo labels seem to work not only in the design of the book, but they adhere well to the different materials of the pages.

I have this Dymo labeler. It has three disks of letters, numbers, and symbols. I liked this one because it offered symbols like a heart, as well as a lower case disk that looks like cursive. I wanted the old school hard plastic labels and mistakenly bought the new high-tech labeler that is all digital. I still have it too and it is neat, but frankly, this little pink tool is hand powered whereas the other one needs batteries and the labels have texture where the other one is flat and the text looks like its from a printer.

This little guy is easy to use too, though when I ran out of tape the other day it did take me a few moments to load the new roll correctly. It had been so long since I had needed to change it and I yanked the old disk out before thinking about it, so I had my few moments of looking like a monkey trying to figure out an algebra problem, but I did get it. 

In the mini I mentioned, I decided that I would use two disks for the journaling, the upper case disk for the beginning of names, phrases, etc. and the lower case cursive disk for everything else. Below is a picture of the curl of tape in the Dymo that I created while flipping from page to page and making the journaling.

Instead of cutting it off after each phrase I decided to just use the space key on each disk and cut when I was done journaling. It seemed less time consuming. Flipping the disks in and out was simple and I only lost my place once, but that is because I was distracted. When I ran out of tape in the middle of a word, I didn't worry because the beauty is that you can cut it very close and make the tape match nearly seamlessly. 

You can see in this photo that there are actually a couple of places where I cut the tape and the matched it back to make it flow. I actually ran out of tape while punching the word "saying" right after the "y." The other cuts were because I got a little snip happy and cut the phrase wrong. All wrong, in fact. The line through the "o" is just a glare actually.

I find in a small space, the Dymo is a great way to put the needed information in without feeling like it is heavy handed in the journaling. PLUS, it is easier to correct your mistakes. 

I love how the two disks created this more unique font for me. Dymo tape also comes in other colors, such as pink and blue, so you can match it to your project.

Hope this was interesting. If you have a tool in mind that you are curious about, please let me know. If I own it, I will see what I can do for you.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sunday's Special- Punky Sprouts Mini

Each Sunday, I will try to bring you a new special project, something I don't feature any other day of the week. This week it is a mini album featuring the Memory Makers retreat that I attended last September/October. There were 8 of us from the MM Forum that were able to make this maiden voyage and for many of us, it was the first time meeting each other. While I felt I knew them, I had not met any of the ladies I was flying to Texas to spend four days with, so I was uncertain how the weekend would pan out.

I am so happy to say again that it was FABULOUS!!! Everyone was exactly the person I had come to know and love on the boards. Truly genuine and so much fun, I counted each one as a whole new blessing to my life.

Okay, enough of the waxing poetic, right? Onto the mini!

This was a kit put together by the very talented Suzy West. I purchased the kit back in December because I knew I would find the perfect thing to showcase in it and I did. I have to add that this Punky Sprouts album is not in it's original form as I did add some pages since I had so many pictures I wanted to use.

The top page is a picture of all of us in front of the cute scrapbook store. Then I used an acetate journaling block to make the "menu" which leads us to the photos of dinner the first night we all arrived in Texas. On this bottom page, I hand sewed, (which is why it looks like a 2 year old did it), the card stock to the canvas page with turquoise floss, spritzed the white flower with Smooch spritz, and the dot in "enjoy" is an earring given to me by Kathi, who hosted this retreat.

The patterned paper is Glitz, the acetate and rub ons are Hambly, and the glitter dot paper is Best Creations. The lime green card stock is Bazzill, I am sure.

A few more photos from dinner that first night. The next two pictures show the two tag pages and the overlays I created for them from the acetate journaling blocks. In the second photo, the black and white resin rose was another earring and the black and white pom pom is crepe paper cut with fringe scissors and rolled.

The page covered with the polka dot paper is one that I added. The flower on the second page is a piece of glimmer misted lace rolled and glued to a larger blue flower with a button center. The bottom two photos are an acrylic page that I covered one side of with the chandelier acetate. The zipper flower is a piece of Maya Road trim and the polka dot ruffle on the bottom picture is crepe paper again cut with fringe scissors.

In the top photo, you can see that I tore off the top layer of the cardboard page from the album. I did this same thing with the front cover, only I did not glimmer the page like I did the cover. In the bottom picture, the cake journaling square is actually a Glitz acetate piece. 

The top canvas page is misted with a mask. The second two photos are the front and back of an added page. The ribbon at the top is actually two pieces that I contrasted and wove through the original holes of the page, (it was a pre-punched paged for another type of book). I tied a few charms on the end, one being a tag with two Epiphany epoxies and the other is a Maya Road crystal colored with a Copic.

These top photos are another page I added that is acrylic and covered with some pieces of the Glitz and Best Creations. The bottom picture is the inside back cover. I painted the lime green square to fit behind the acetate block.

I used my Dymo labeler for the journaling in this mini because I felt the black and white went really well with the colors. I want to thank Lisa, Kathi, and Serene for the photos. If it hadn't been for you snapping and sharing great pictures, I wouldn't have had much to feature in this mini!