Monday, July 31, 2017

Halloween 2017 - New Stampers Anonymous Stamps

I just got my Halloween 2017 Tim Holtz Stamper's Anonymous stamps. I love them. I planned on making some houses on my days off, but instead I got wrapped up in a Halloween stamping frenzy. It probably doesn't come as a surprise, but I did a framed perspective piece. I think it looks pretty cool, but of course, I would do some things differently if I were to make it again.

I keep experimenting with the frames, making them longer, narrower, sometimes just extending the length. I only had 1/2 inch between each frame so that's 1/4 inch on each side. It didn't give me much space to put my Halloween elements. Also I only extended the width on every other piece. I don't know if that worked or not. It was hard to cut the rectangles close to the same size.

I do like how long and narrow it is. The Distress Oxides formed my color palette again. I think the chalky effect looks very good with this house. I used watercolor paper for the background of the house. I distressed it using Iced Spruce, Faded Jeans and some Black Soot distress oxides and some water spritzing. The house is stamped on the watercolor paper with black ink. The windows were colored with a distress pen in Fossilized Amber. I stamped a bat in the upper right corner and the spooky tree just off the edge the right as well.

The grumpy buzzard stamp was stamped and cut out. I adhered it on the second layer of frames. I added him later in the process. He really needs more plain space behind him to show up better. I decorated the sky with bats I had cut long ago. The owl on a branch is from the Halloween shadows strip die. I don't have this year's Sizzix dies yet (which have a really cool owl die). They have been ordered though.

You can see I used the graveyard die again. I just love this die. And the branch tree. Mustn't forget the branch tree. 

I edged the entire piece in black because the edges of the under layers don't line up as well as they did on my previous pieces. It's supposed to function as a kind of funky frame. 

Just a fun piece playing with stamps and distress stuff and cardboard and glue. Itwas a good day.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Stone Stenciled Clock House

This might be my favorite house. Well, maybe the top 3 (Abandoned Italianate house and the Stone house with 3 gables, although the Bat Wing houses are right up there as well). I started to make it for the PaperArtsy challenge "Aqua" but I didn't make the deadline. I wanted to do a very different roof - different color at least. You have to balance the roofs and the body of the house. If the house siding is very detailed you need a more muted roof. If the roof is very detailed, then the body of the house needs to be subdued. That's what I think anyway.

So here is my stone stenciled house. I made the siding by painting the house with a thick layer of black gesso that was heavily sanded - just using the sand you buy in a jar at the craft store. It gives a lovely, irregular bumpy texture. It's perfect for stone or a rough plaster.

You can see through the window a little. I painted the back side of all the windows with Glossy Accents to make it look like wavy glass. That way you can't see the candle as well. The light just looks spooky. I used the 13 hour clock that I found online. I outlined it with one of the Sizzix Industrial gears.

Then I used the mini-stone stencil from Tim Holtz and Stampers Anonymous and Iced Spruce Distress Oxide for the base of the stone. To give more dimension to each stone I painted over each of them with Hickory Smoke, Pumice Stone and/or Picket Fence paint. The stones are subtle, but I love them. At first I was unhappy with my choice of windows (window frames from the Village Manor) because I thought they covered up too much of the stone, but now I think it's perfect for this house.

I didn't use texture paste for the stones because I have such trouble with the seams between each strip of the stencil. This stencil is much smaller than the front and back of the house. I was able to work around it with the Distress Oxide inks, but it's much more difficult with texture paste. I will keep experimenting with it though.

Here is the back of the house where you can see the graveyard better. I cut out 3 layers of the Tim Holtz Graveyard die and painted them with grey paint mixed with sand. Then I painted the front of one of the cutouts black. I adhered the 3 layers together with the last layer, the black painted layer, slightly offset to give more dimension to the gravestones. Then I used Black Soot paint with a scraggly brush to distress it a little.

The graveyard doesn't really show up on the front. It is there just to add a little interesting detail in front of the tree. The tree is, of course, my favorite die cut tree - the Branch Tree from Tim Holtz and Sizzix. I think it is kind of retired, but you can still find it online.

The gate in the front is the Tim Holtz Gothic Gate. I cut it out of heavy cardstock and glued multiple layers together. I also cut off the posts on each side because they are too tall and I cut the gate in the middle to look like it could open - didn't really need to do that. It would be more sturdy without doing that. I put my standard 2 pumpkins out front. The hilly base is angled such that this was the only place for the pumpkins.

I am going to share this one with the PaperArtsy challenge "Dark to Light" because I think the stones definitely work as dark to light. Also the entire house is outlined in black with the fencing. 

I put some more details about actually making the house on the Cardboard Christmas Forum. If you want to learn about making little houses, this is the place to go. 

Thank you for reading. I do love comments.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A Study in Perspective - Again

My project for this month's A Vintage Journey is called "City on a Square". Well, I found the idea behind it kind of interesting so I thought I would make a similar project playing around with dimension and color to improve the depth. This is a photo heavy post, but I think it makes sense to show it this way.

Rather that making a square project, I used a rectangle as the basic shape of the project and the Sizzix Cityscape dies from Tim Holtz. Here is the finished piece.

I tried numerous things trying to increase the illusion of depth - black gesso at the center for the start. Darker buildings in the back, yellow illumination of the some windows in the back, gradually using lighter and lighter colors on the borders and the buildings as they get closer to the viewer and the edge of the frame - all help with depth.  Also, the I layered more buildings and increased the height as the buildings get nearer. I did not erase my pencil lines from making the frames because it's obvious that this is a study in perspective so the lines are ok to my way of thinking. 

Distress oxides from Ranger were used to color almost everything except the very deep black in the back, even there I put a smattering of Black Soot to just vary the color a little. 

Here are a few progress photos so you can see how it came together. Each photo shows the successive layer that was added. I used cardboard for the frames holding the buildings. I didn't add anything behind the cardboard for depth because I was pleased with the perspective as it was. Each frame was one inch larger than the previous one. That gave me 1/2 inch on each side for the buildings (assuming I centered and cut the frame perfectly which is not really my skill).

Layer 1

Layers 1 and 2

Layer 3

Layer 4

Layer 5 - more detailed, more buildings

Layer 6 - increasing the height, more overhangs

Layer 7 - last layer, increasing detail, height and overhangs

I realized that if I extended the building or balcony or tree past the inner edge of the frame that gave more interest to the picture. I tried to remember to distress the angled cut edges of the buildings as well.

That is this week's non-little cardboard house project. Really fun and interesting to make. I am very pleased with it. 

I had 2 challenges in mind when I made this piece. The first one is the Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge "You've Got the Edge". This project is all about edges since it is edged frame layered over edged frame. That's how these challenges help you - they make you think of things that wouldn't ordinarily come to mind. They stretch your artistic thinking. 

The other challenge is PaperArtsy "Dark to Light and Contrasts" which is really the basic idea behind "A Study in Perspective". I love, love the samples they show in the introduction. They are so beautiful. This is a wonderful blog for artistic inspiration. They have great designers who design the most interesting stamps.

I hope you are doing well this summer. Will it be cooler in a month? Maybe. 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

"Get In Shape" Challenge - The Tower House

This week's Simon Says Stamp Monday challenge is "Get In Shape". I wish my project was based on getting my own body in shape, but that is not the case. I have been making shapely little houses though. How is this particular house appropriate for the "Get In Shape" challenge? Well, it is a very unique pattern, one which I did not design. This design is from Howard Lamey, the best cardboard house maker. He graciously shares his patterns on the Cardboard Christmas forum. This design makes a tower without having to glue it on the roof. It is an integral part of the building. When I saw it, I thought to myself, that is a special design. A very special shape for a little house.

Here is the house before I added the surrounding wall. The color is pretty accurate in this photo.

The pattern is basically an inverted T with gable ends. The side walls are flaps from the body of the T.  I picked purple just to use a different color for my Halloween houses. I embossed watercolor paper with a Tim Holtz Texture fade called "Tiles" which I glued on the cardboard form of the house. Then I used my Distress Oxide Wilted Violet ink to color the tiles. I went over them with some Black Soot Distress Oxide ink for the spook factor. I really like the pattern. The windows were made from Dark Room Door window stamps on plain white paper, cut out and glued to the window openings. I used a Sizzix die Mini Scallop and Pinking to make the roof shingles. I edged the shingles with Picket Fence paint and then some Wilted Violet paint.

Here's the finished house - the Tower House.
This color may be a little too purply in the photo, but in truth, the house is purple.
Back view of the purple Tower house
Back of the house. I let the ochre paint drip off the edge of the base. I may clean that up a little bit.
I kind of like drippy edges though.

Close up view of the windows and the center door, also the polymer clay pumpkins which I put on almost all of my Halloween houses.

Bird's eye view of the front door.

Well, that is my shapely house. If you've been here before you know I am making a bunch of houses to sell in October for a Habitat for Humanity. I've got a pretty good collection going.

Thank you for reading.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Tree House Prototype Fixed

I made this house about a month ago and it just did not work. No matter how many leaves I glued on the front, it did not look the way I wanted it to. Last night I noticed the house sitting with the back towards me and I realized I could make it into a house I like.

Initial Tree House Prototype - not working
Back of the house as I first made it
Trying to fix the house by gluing on lots more leaves - still not working
The extra leaves framed the house better and the hole in the back for the light could function as the opening in a bird house. Now if I had started out making a bird house, I would have made a bigger opening, centered it better and added a perch. But I figured I could still modify the house so that I would like it.

Much better. 
It is very satisfying to salvage a project, don't you think?

Thursday, July 20, 2017

All Squared Up Challenge

I was a pinworthy challenge winner from A Vintage Journey's The Magic of Three Challenge. Very excited to be chosen. AND I was chosen with some incredible artists - Barbara who posts on a blog called YaYa Scrap and More and with Nate who has a blog named Le Scrap de Nate. So when you are a pinworthy challenge winner that means you get asked to be a guest designer for the blog sometime in the future. Well, that is today - the challenge is titled "All Squared Up".

I was told the challenge topic about 2 months ago and I was so relieved to have an idea to work on. I recently read that Vincent Van Gogh used a frame device to help with perspective. I always thought great artists like Van Gogh just instinctively understood perspective and that his drawings were flowed from that. Now I don't really know how his device worked, but it gave me an idea to work on perspective using framed squares. I used the Tim Holtz cityscape buildings as my objects that get larger as they get closer to the viewer.

This project is called, naturally enough, City on the Square.

I cut a bunch of squares each one smaller by 1/2 inch. I cut out the centers to make the frames. Every frame was painted a different color. The plan was for the background to recede so I made it darker, then the rest were successively lighter. I played around with the Distress Oxide colors for these frames.

The cityscape buildings were stained with various Distress inks and Distress Oxides.

Then I arranged them on the edge of the frame to get bigger and bigger as the frames got larger. I also cut the bottom of the building at an angle. I glued some strips of cardboard on the back of each frame to help them protrude a little to emphasize the perspective.

When I conceived of the idea, I wasn't sure how it would work, but once I started placing the buildings on the the edge of the frames, I realized it did work. Kind of a fun artistic exercise for me.

Thank you everyone at A Vintage Journey for picking me for this challenge.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Hip Roofed Square Farmhouse Finished with Landscaping

The latest Halloween house is finished. It's the one with the hip roof and square sides that was inspired by A Vintage Journey's "All Squared Up". Each side is 3" x 3", each window is square, the pathway is made with squares and the fence posts are square. Oh, and the base is a square. Lots of squares.

I found some moss on the side of the road which kind of looks like tumbleweeds. I glued it down here and there.

This is the back of the house with the light hole open. I glued the fence posts in and let them dry for a day before I looped wire around the posts. The best wire I had was silver which needed to be distressed with dark brown and orange alcohol ink as well as some Prima Rust paste in brown and orange.

I made a red door just to give a little surprise color then I figured it was too bright so I toned it down with a little Black Soot distress ink. Better, I think. I made the square stepping stones out of a thick cardboard that one brand of kitty litter comes in. It has such a nice lumpy texture and looks like stone to me.

One of my online blogging buddies, Laney of Sugarplum Patchwork, asked me about what I use for the base of the siding. (Check out her work, she makes such beautiful putz houses.) At first I used the same cardboard that formed the structure of the houses. But lately I've been using 110# black card stock. It works really well with the crackle medium. The siding that is on this house consists of leftovers from a couple of previous houses. That's why there different degrees of crackles and colors. I think works for this abandoned house.

See the straw bundle on your left. I was trying to get the glue to dry with a heat tool so I could take photos and almost set the straw on fire. Sometimes you have to be patient and just let things dry on their own. You can't see the browned bottom edge from this view.

That's about it. I hope you enjoyed this little tour of the Hip Roofed Farmhouse. I'm going to share it with this month's A Vintage Journey challenge.

I have some ideas for the next house. I really have to get a move on because I think I only have 14-15 houses for the sale and I really want to have more than 20 completed. Fall will be here before you know it.

Thank you for stopping by.

Recent Trip to Utah - Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

I wrote a brief post about going out west in early July, but I hadn't gotten around to a real post so here it is.

One of my favorite charities is the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah. It is actually a national group that aims to make all shelters "No Kill" by 2025 - a lofty goal. The sanctuary houses about 1700 animals on 3000 acres in Kanab, Utah. I had never visited but I kept hearing what a beautiful place it is to visit so I finally got the time to go. I went with my friend, Lynn, from Montana who does a lot of animal transport from high kill shelters in the west to no kill shelters. I knew she would like to go. She met me at the Salt Lake City airport and drove me to Kanab, Utah about 5 hours away in the southern part of the state.

We stayed at a cute little hotel in "downtown" Kanab called the Canyons Boutique Hotel. We signed up to volunteer at Best Friends for the next 2 days. Lynn really wanted to work with the dogs on the first day, but volunteer opportunities in the doggie areas fill up fast and there was no place for her to work on the first day. So we get volunteer in the cat area much to my delight.

Canyon Boutique Hotel

Our first job was to walk the cats. Huh? Cat walking. We were in Cat Headquarters where the cats that don't get along well with other cats live. They each have a nice sized room with outdoor access, but apparently they really enjoy going on walks in pet strollers. The first two we walked were Butch and Bruce. Butch loves to go on rides and whenever he is out of his room, he goes to the lobby and jumps in the stroller waiting for someone to walk him.

Lynn took a picture of me pushing Bruce. He was very attentive and was looking for lizards. After walking about 4 cats in strollers we got to work cleaning rooms - cleaning litter boxes, changing water bowls, sweeping and petting the kitties, of course.

We ate lunch at the Best Friends cafe which is all vegetarian (mostly vegan) for $5.00. It was great food.

Then to the Bunny House for the afternoon volunteering session. We got so lucky because apparently Wednesday afternoon is treat day for the bunnies. To keep them from getting fat, they only get treats on Wednesday and Sundays. We fed them some dried apple snacks. Now some of these bunnies are very human friendly, but a lot were very shy so coaxing them out to give snacks was a bit of a challenge. And you have to give both bunnies in the same room the treats at the same time. If you don't, one will get jealous of the other and might start a fight. Who knew? The photo below shows two "Lion Head" bunnies who are killer cute. They look like fuzzy slippers. Honey is the one with the brown coloration. I can't remember the white bunny's name. Let me just tell you - judging from their rooms - bunnies are MESSY, very, very MESSY. I am glad we didn't have clean up duty in the bunny house.

That evening we went to a service for the Sanctuary animals who had recently died - crossing the Rainbow Bridge. The service is held at a place called Angel's Rest high in the canyon - very beautiful. It was a lovely service. We cried, of course, but we were happy to hear how loved all these animals were.

We ate that night at a great restaurant in Kanab called Peekaboo Canyon Wood-Fired Restaurant. Again we ate vegetarian and loved it.

The next day we got up early because Lynn got a volunteer spot in one of the dog areas. If you go early you get to choose where you work. Most people choose the puppy room, but Lynn wanted to work in a training area. She actually got admissions and worked with dogs who had recently come to Best Friends. I think she really liked that area.

I got Cat Headquarters again where I started out walking cats, but this time I got to walk 2 cats on a leash!? Cats walk on a leash? Well, barely. Melanie easily walked out the door across the side walk and proceeded to roll over and over in the red sand. She was a dilute colored calico until she started rolling in the red sand, then she turned orangey-red. I was able to get her to walk a little bit by picking her up and moving her away from the Cat Headquarters where she walked on a wall to get back to her familiar building. I cannot remember the name of the second cat I walked, but he would not walk except 6 inches from one grass clump to another. I imagine his room was littered with grass-covered hairballs after my walk with him.

The beautiful Melanie after rolling in the red sand. Melanie is a 15 year old cat with diabetes who requires daily insulin.
Melanie missed a spot so she has to roll some more.
Melanie actually walking on a leash. 
The grass eater cat. I couldn't get him to walk at all, but you could tell he loved being outside for some grass treats.
Then I cleaned a few rooms. I cleaned one of the kitten rooms with 3 little rambunctious kittens. After I mopped the floor where they had spilled their water, I went to clean another room while waiting for the floor to dry. I made a serious error and put the food bowl on a counter to let the floor dry. When I went back to their room, they had knocked the food bowl into the water bowl making an even bigger mess than the one I had first encountered. You can't trust little kittens.

Lynn and I did a tour in the afternoon and got to play with some puppies which was really fun.
Puppy Mania.
This little boy dog named Etoufee looks exactly like one of Lynn's dogs. She almost took him home with her.
Puppy Attack. Lynn did not mind.
The most important thing about the visit to Best Friends is that it is so positive and loving and kind. I thought it might be sad, but the Sanctuary personifies the best aspects of the word. It is both a sanctuary for the animals, but also for any human who visits. You will feel love and kindness - something we all need.

I was going to include the side trip to the Grand Canyon in this same post, but I think this post is long enough. The Grand Canyon will have to wait for another day.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Hip Roof Farmhouse - latest House for Habitat

Still working on this house, but it is getting close to completion. I got the idea from A Vintage Journey blog challenge this month "All Squared Up". I thought I should make a square house with each side a square and all the windows square. To maintain the look of a square house, I had to make a hipped roof - a kind of pyramidal roof which is a first for me. It was much easier than I expected. The base is square as well.

Each side is 3 x 3 inches. The basic cardboard I use is 8.5 x 11 inches so I couldn't cut the house out of one piece. I made the back separately. The seams don't show from the front because the glued flaps fit inside the house. I decorated this house before I glued it together. It is easier to glue all the crackled, distressed pieces of siding when the house is flat. The roof is just cardboard covered with a metallic tape distressed with Ranger texture paste, alcohol inks and little bit of Distress Black Soot paint. I wrote up tutorial on how to make a rusted tin roof here.

The house glued together.

Waiting on the posts to dry so I can string some wire between them.

As always I have to figure out some landscaping. I'm trying to figure out how to make some hay bales. Maybe glue some straw to small pieces of wood - not sure how to do that. Maybe tumbleweeds? 

I think it looks like an abandoned house during the dust bowl era. 

Thank you for reading. Have a happy, creative day. 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Monday Challenge - Red, White and/or Blue

I came up with an idea for this week's Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge "Red, White, and/or Blue". Of course, I would include blue since I love blue and I have these great Distress Oxide blue colors. I decided to use the Stampers Anonymous Tim Holtz "Sea Life" to make a July 4th card. It will have to be mailed to someone next year though since I missed the day of July 4th as I had just gotten back from vacation. 

I figured the lobster, octopus and fish would function as my red, white and blue. Then I found a flag stamp which I colored with various pens. The hat on the octopus is from the Tim Holtz Crazy Things which was colored to look like an Uncle Sam hat. The background is primarily Distress Oxide inks on watercolor paper spritzed with water. I tore the edges and layered it on 2 layers of the Tim Holtz Idea-ology Correspondence scrapbook paper. 

I am very happy with how this turned out. Thank you for stopping by. I hope your summer is going well. Stay cool. 

Monday, July 3, 2017

Spooky Tree Tutorial

I'll try to write a brief tutorial on making trees from wire and brown packing paper and glue. Newspaper would work just as well, I think. I've made 6 so far and each time I get better at it. They are really pretty quick to make. This is a photo-heavy post so I'm going to keep the photos smaller than I usually do.

I tear the paper in strips to wrap around the wire. If the branch is pretty small I don't use glue, but on the longer, fatter branches I do glue them because the paper unwinds more. When I paint the trees, the paint functions as glue to hold the twisted ends together permanently.

I usually make the wire longer than the paper because it is easier to twist the ends of the paper on the wire. Also if you use a shorter piece of wire, the wire tries to slip out of the paper and you can't bend the limbs as easily.

Just twist tightly and it usually stays very well. If you have to use a little glue on the ends, that's fine. As you can see below it is the fatter strips that tend to unwind.

Now wind 2 branches together. I try to offset them a little so the branches aren't all the same size.

Then wrap a strip of paper with glue on it around the 2 branches so they become one branch.

Keep doing that until you have a tree. I try to vary the length of the branches. Since each one has wire in it, you can bend them however you like. The base of the tree and the roots need more filling out.

Here you can see how I've wrapped the trunk and even wired 2 branches together.

I used a short piece of paper-wrapped wire to make a 3-pronged branch.

Here is the tree with the base of the trunk filled out and more paper wrapped around the roots. If your tree doesn't stand up very well you can bend the roots to get it to stand the way you want it to.

I trim the wire with wire cutters when I am satisfied with the shape of the branches. The trees are not fancy or perfect, but they work well with my Halloween houses. Below is a photo of the tree standing up. It tilts a little, but I will play with it when I glue it to the base of one of the the houses.

I like this tree and as I said earlier, each time I make one, I get better at it. Let me know if you make one or if you have any questions.