Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Art is the Answer

 I'm still working on my final journal for my Letter Love 101 class.  Joanne wanted us to do a page with this particular quote, and I decided that since it summed up the class so well I'd put it on the back cover.
Because I love using recycled book pages to achieve that extra layer of text and texture, I wrote the quote on a piece of such paper which I had first painted using watercolours.

I'm especially excited about the flower petals on this piece. Months ago I had used round stickers (cut from a sheet of address labels, using a circle punch ) as masks on fabric when I was doing some surface design.  I loved the random colour that ended up on the paper circles so I stuck them to a piece of freezer paper to keep them for "some future project".  We'll, that day had come! I added a bit of sketching with a Pitt pen to draw in the leaves and stems.
This wonderful quote came from Pippa, one of my Letter Love classmates (and a new follower of my blog).  Thanks Pippa.  I love it.

Take a look at the second line of text on this page.    I had made a mistake so I covered it with another piece of that painted, recycled book and rewrote the words.  When an eraser won't work, figure something else out. There's always a way to 'fix' a problem!  And, because I can't let anything go, the grid lines on this page are the tiny bits of torn off paper left because I had wanted torn edges on the page in yesterday's post.

Thanks for your visit today.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

10 Truths About Me

In Beyond Layers, Kim has challenged us to share '10 Truths' about ourselves.  What a perfect fit for the Letter Loved journal.  Here are 10 truths about me:

 1.  I am married to the most amazing man! So true.  He is loving, thoughtful, considerate, supportive, understanding...the list goes on.  I am truly blessed!

2. I am committed to doing art every day.  Whether it is a long time in the studio or a few minutes in a journal, this is my personal happy place.

3. I am incredibly proud of my son and the man he has become.  Sure, there are still moments when he makes me crazy, but he is truly wonderful. 'sigh'

4. I am passionate about my art.  (see #3) Whether it is fibre art, journalling, beading, art brings me joy and allows me to focus on all the positive things in my life.

5. I am a bit of a loner... I like quiet... I find it challenging to interact with others.  (see #2, #4, #6, #9, #10) I am comfortable in my own company and sometimes crave 'alone' time to help me heal.

6. I am an avid reader... hooked on my iPhone Kindle app. Who ever thought you could carry an entire  library in your pocket?  Heard about a new book that you want to read?  There's also a huge bookstore in my pocket that delivers in seconds no matter where I am.  And I can read the first chapter for free to make sure I really want to buy the book!  Awesome!!!

7. I love my coffee and my amazing husband's thoughtfulness in bringing it to me every morning. (see # 1) What more can I say?

8. I have just learned how to bake my own gluten free bread. Fresh, hot from the oven breads that don't leave me in excruciating pain.  And the variety is endless:  breads with nuts and seeds; classic French bread; sourdough... (If you're on a gluten free diet, check out Bette Hagman's Gluten Free Gourmet Bakes) [Thanks Sue and Kay for telling me about this great resource!]

9. I love to cycle (30 km/day ideally).  (See #5 and #10) Cycling helps me heal body and mind.  When I can't cycle outside I use my trainer indoors.  Talk about going nowhere fast! LOL)

10. I struggle with depression and work hard to see the JOY in life. (See #2, #5, and #9) And I struggle with the stigma of admitting this fact but know that we all have to see it for what it is - a physical illness (because the brain is part of my physical being!).

Bonus:  To quote Joanne Sharpe, "I am a letter dork".  And I'm proud of it!!!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Colourful Lettering: The Journal Continues...

 Today's post is a short one (did I hear a sigh of relief???).  I just wanted to show you the first few pages of the journal I'm working on.  This is the final project in Letter Love 101.  It has been such an informative and inspiring ride.  I highly recommend that you check it out.  It's the best online course I've ever taken!

I love the contrast of the bold black and white duct tape and washi tape with the bright coloured papers.

 My moto for keeping my sanity...make art every day!

I wish I knew who first said this.  What a wonderful quote.  Right now I still feel like I have two left feet (maybe even three because I keep stumbling!) but I'm working hard to learn to dance in the rain!  One step at a time...

Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

DIY: Home-Made Washi Tape

Before I get to the home-made washi tape, I wanted to share the improvements I've made to my new 'Journal on the Go' (see original post here for more details about how and why I made it).  Since taking Joanne Sharpe's great Letter Love 101 online class, I just couldn't stand looking at those plain pockets.  They just begged for some lettering on them!  I also added a belt loop to hold my new home-made washi tape!  Keep reading I'll tell you all about how to make it.
Mouse over photo to see the 'before' image.

This is dedicated to my new cyber friend, Heather, who lives in South Africa and can't get her hands on washi tape (no local shops carry it and none of the online vendors will ship to South Africa).  I've heard about this idea in a few places, and today it was time to try it.  It was easy, fast and really inexpensive.  I started with some double sided tape that I got at the Dollar Store and some tissue paper that I had saved because it was still 'like new' Yes, I can be a bit of a pack rat but it's environmentally friendly!
I pulled out my ink pads and stamps and just started stamping on the tissue paper.  I love black on white to contrast all the other colours I use in my journalling, but you could use coloured ink pads if you prefer.  I personally like StazOn but use whatever you prefer.
These five stamps are especially great for this.  They're the clear ones that you stick on the acrylic block and I simply lined all five up side by side to make the printing really fast.
The next step is to turn the tissue paper over and put the two-sided tape on the back, smoothing it out as you go (sorry, I forgot to take a photo at this stage).  I don't worry about a few wrinkles because I actually like the added texture and interest.

You're now ready to cut the tape out.  Just cut along the edge of the tape.  This is a great activity to do while 'listening to TV' (I hardly ever actually watch TV anymore. LOL).
If tissue paper is good, why not old dictionary pages?  I get old books at a wonderful recycling depot called Wastewise which recycles all sorts of things for incredible prices.  I can get old hard cover books (also great for altered books - learn more here) for 50 cents!
One thing led to another and I pulled out this 'love' paper which is actually the inside of an envelope that I took apart (Thanks Diane. The birthday card you sent me last month is still bringing me Joy!).  I know you can get some beautiful printed tissue papers so you could make some washi tape with those too.  I'd love to hear your ideas for what else we could use to make our own unique, inexpensive washi tape. 
Here's my new stash of washi paper.  You'll notice some coloured pieces.  Those are some bits of old book pages that were used when I was making background papers.  Nothing goes to waste!
Here's the washi 'stash' all neatly organized.  I rolled them, secured them with little binder clips (another Dollar Store find) and put them on a large binder ring.  This is why I had to add the belt loop to my Journal on the Go!  The shorter pieces were just tucked into one of the pockets.

It's been a very busy couple of days.  In addition to the above mentioned pursuits, I also made some more beautiful background papers.  If you want to know more about the process, check my previous post here.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Kindness Chronicles

I've recently read about 'The Kindness Chronicles', a project that Lyric Kinard and Jane LaFazio have started in an effort to make the world a better place with random acts of kindness.  They invite other blogger to join them (click on their names above to find out how you can contact them and join in).  
As some of you may know from a few of my previous posts, I've been struggling to recover from depression as the result of a concussion.  This inspires me as a way to bring joy to others while hopefully helping myself heal.  In keeping with the guidelines set out by Jane and Lyric, I will post about simple, random acts of kindness I have done, not in a bragging way, but to hopefully inspire you, my awesome readers, to do some similar 'kind' things.  When going through the drive thru for coffee, pay for a coffee for the person in the car behind you; smile at strangers; hold the door open for someone; let someone ahead of you in line...
I'd love to hear your ideas for little acts of kindness that you have done or are considering doing.  I'd love to have more ideas of things we could all do to make the world a little better for all of us.

Free Vintage Digital Stamps

I've found a great blog that offers free vintage digital stamps and digi-scrapbook papers.  They'll be great for using in the making of ATCs, journalling projects, and more.  Here are a couple of examples of things I've found on Pamela's site. Look for the link in my sidebar to the right and have fun!

I'd love to hear how you plan to use these great FREE images.

Thanks Pamela for sharing!!!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Recycling An Old Pair of Jeans = Journal To Go!

I've had an old pair of my husband's jeans lying on the studio floor since I used a bit of the denim in a piece of mixed-media art that I'm working on.  Today, as I glance down at them while doing something else I suddenly got a great idea.  This is where my husband would say, "Self praise is no praise." but I really do think it's a great idea :o)

I used the back of the jeans, pockets and all to make a journal cover.  It has a pocket on the front and back to hold a selection of your pens, markers, your aqua brush, etc.  You could even fit a few small rolls of washi tape (see note at end of post and click here for a DIY for making your own washi tape) in the pockets.  I used a bit of left over upholstery weight cotton to add a pop of colour.
Now you've got an easily portable journal so you can do "art every day" no matter where you are.  Wouldn't this be great on a long plane trip?  Australia is on my bucket list and the idea of being able to journal along the way would certainly make the long flight seem to pass faster.
I also found a bit of time to make a birthday card for one of my great nieces, so it's been a good day!
Note:  Someone in my Letter Love 101 class shared a wonderful link on making your own washi tape.  It's absolutely brilliant and so easy!  

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Journal Maps and a Giveaway

If you love maps and journalling, you might want to check out Jill Berry's blog where she currently has a great giveaway posted.  Those of you who have been taking Joanne's Letter Love 101 class, these maps would make great backgrounds!  However, having said that, I'm feeling lucky so maybe I'll just have to win them myself...

Things Are Blooming in the Studio

Yesterday I was back in the studio playing with some of the hand dyed fabric (read 'wipe up rags') I made the day before.  Hanging to dry, they look pretty messy, but there are so many wonderful treasures within that mess!  
I had prepared these backgrounds a while ago, and was planning to create some floral quilts similar to the one I did last year, but when I saw these pieces of fabric I was inspired to use it to make some flowers and leaves. I started with simple, rough circles (randomly cut by hand to avoid that perfectly round look).  
I drew one line as a guide for the stem and then went to the machine to start thread sketching.  I love how the black thread sketching just makes it pop.  I still have to quilt the background and then finish the edges.  This is the first in a small series of four.   
This morning, I finished another page in my 'Letter Loving' journal.  I really like the torn paper edges on this page.  

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Make Art Everyday

Today I've been journalling about my new philosophy of making art everyday, while continuing on in the Letter Love 101 course.  As you can see, I've used some of yesterday's wonderful papers to create this page.  I love how that white correction pen made this page come to life.  I'm sorry to say I forgot to take process pictures today, but when I had finished the journalling I was disappointed by the dull, dark appearance of the page.  Then I started to add some white and it just made things pop.  As an artist, I know the importance of contrast, and I guess this is a great illustration of just how important it can be.
On another note, I now make all of my own greeting cards.  They are generally little pieces fibre art or paint and mixed media, but I needed to make a birthday card for my little great nephew so I thought some bright marker and doodles would be fun.  Here's hoping the little guy doesn't read my blog in the next week or so.  :0)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Messy 'Play' Day

Today has been a wonderfully messy art day.  I was up in my studio playing with a variety of homemade spray inks to create some backgrounds for my journalling.  Joanne from Letter Love 101 gave us a fabulous assignment of playing with colour and texture to create some backgrounds.

She 'required' us to do 5 or more and laughed at herself because she knew once we got started we wouldn't be able to stop!  I've done this sort of thing before, but I really had fun trying a few different ideas that I hadn't done before, and the more I played the more I wanted to do!

I used bristol board, watercolour paper, mixed-media paper and some old pages that were left over from an altered book.  I did have two colours of Ranger 'Colour Wash', but I made other spray inks by mixing a variety of India inks with water (about 1 part ink to 10 parts water).  I also experimented with some silk paints (also 1 to 10 ratio) and Ranger alcohol inks.  I love the vibrant colours I got with the silk paints and the alcohol inks.  As you can see, I had a lot of fun letting the ink run down the page.  I imagine myself journaling on those grid lines later!

I also used some stencils and sequin waste in my play today.  Aren't the numbers wonderful?!
Do you see the heart.  Don't you just love happy accidents!

On this page I used some of the left over pages from my altered book to tear strips for a resist.  I think I'll play with this another day and create more jagged edges with the torn pages.

 These look like a whole bunch of helium balloons that have been released into the air.  Can't wait to journal on this page!!!

 The rest of these are the smaller pages in my mixed media journal.  These were drops of alcohol ink that were allowed to run.  Notice that they don't run as much as the other inks.  The alcohol evaporates so quickly that they're dry a lot faster.
I love this page.  I had put white gesso on the page first and there are some brush strokes that give it a really neat texture.  I spritzed on the ink while the gesso was still wet.  Love everything about this page!

Check out these wonderfully bright little drips.  I let the alcohol ink drip on the page and then dabbed them with a cloth to pick up the excess.

 And now for the bonuses that resulted from today.  Look at these wonderful bits of coloured papers I'll be able to incorporate in my journalling.  I had used these bits as resists by now I'll be able to up-cycle them into another piece of art.
 And then there are the wonderful wipe up clothes.  I can't wait to use these in some fibre art. I have an idea blooming already so check back soon to see the art quilts that are forming in my mind as I type this.  Maybe that's what I'll do tomorrow...
 Needless to say, no studio time can go by without Inspector Cat (aka Arbour) checking it out.

Did I mention it was a messy day in the studio today?  :0)