Friday, December 07, 2012

2012 Holiday Cards

If you liked my page on Facebook, then you have already seen some of these images. But not all of them! And you certainly didn't get the full story about my creative process (and if you haven't liked my page, what are you waiting for? See what goes on in a day to day format! Click here). So read on, and see the story of the creation of my 2012 holiday cards unfold before your very eyes. :)

Well. These days I'm all about recycling and paper based collages. As I got to thinking about the theme for this year, I decided to challenge myself and craft my cards out of my recycle bin (as much as possible, anyway). Since I need to make about 70 cards, I elected to use envelopes and white card stock I already had. All of the collage materials will be recycled--woo hoo!

I really liked the horizontal strips on the palm tree cards I made recently; I think they easily translate to visual landscape. So I decided to do the same for these cards, but with a fun twist: I'm tearing the edges for a more organic feel. 70 cards is a lot and I also thought I could improve the process by making a continuous roll of background landscape and just cut it up as needed. Piecing all of those individual shapes on each card was tedious for 20 or 40 cards. 70 cards would likely turn me into a gibbering idiot. Luckily, I had a roll of tissue paper (don't ask me how or why I had it) so I was in luck; just had to trim it in half and I was all set to go.

I started with a strip of blue ocean from some of my saved bits of National Geographic maps. Next I wanted a feel of distant hills, so I chose newspaper, which visually reads as gray. Close to the foreground I needed something off white so I went with some country interior from the same Nat. Geo. maps (did I ever mention that I save EVERYthing? no? well, I do). I'm almost at the foreground, so I switched to some manuscripts from my office recycle bin. The paper is white but there's printing on it.
[I bet you're admiring my kick-ass tablecloth, eh? One of my favorites!]
 Finally, I used unprinted margins or the back side for a strip of pure white at the bottom. Along the way, every bit of the underlying tissue paper was covered.
 Next step is to cut the strips and affix to the card. Here's a rough cut.
 And here it is trimmed with doily snow flakes added. Ok ok, strictly speaking, the doilies aren't recycled, but I needed a little something to add interest in the foreground and emphasize the whole winter theme.

While the snowflakes do do both of the above, unfortunately, I find them pretty boring. Need something else....
 One of my favorite pages on FB, A Room with a View, recently posted a lovely photo of a red birdhouse. I remembered that I had a few leftover red card stock cards from about 10 years ago ( I save..., well, you know) so I dug those out and cut this cute birdhouse. The post and perch are from saved grocery bags, so more recycled points there.

Hmmm. I like the house, I like the contrast of the colors and the sharp vs. torn edges but I don't think the horizontal format works. And I still need some close-up details.
 So let's flip this baby vertical! Yes!

A few doily snowflakes come back, too. Yes! Yes!

A vintage 50's look stamp adds the final touch! (stamped in black) Yes! Yes! Yes!

[Check out the photo that inspired me at A Room with a View on FB]
Let's just tweak the layout a little bit--the stamp on top of the birdhouse was too rigid.

And here's the winner!

[Don't worry, the house is still bright red, I just took this photo later in the day with all artificial light.]

Did I meet my challenge? I cheated a little with the doily bits, but otherwise I did, indeed, use all recycled or leftover materials!  I'll sign these cards and stamp my LizzieLuvs2Recycle logo on the back and I'll be done! Yay!

And now I go into high card production mode...

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Ornament explosion!

A variety of interesting on-line tutorials have been tickling my creative self lately--I keep pinning holiday crafts on my Pinterest board and going to Michael's to the point where I just couldn't stand it. So, despite the fact that we have a full supply of perfectly acceptable Christmas tree ornaments already (that I would never part with, of course), I told my daughter last week: "let's make all new ornaments for the tree this year! And let's have a color theme! And let's do it tomorrow!" She instantly saw the brilliance of my suggestion and so the next day we shopped at Target and Michael's and got our supplies. We decided on a cool silvery blue and aqua color theme.

First the lights. New LED lights from Target were strung on the tree. We chose "cool white", and they really do have a an icy blue-white color. Just right for our theme.

Four strings was enough to do the trick. Actually, just the lights were very pretty on the tree all by themselves. But we were pretty psyched about the ornaments so the next day we eagerly set up our decoration station on the kitchen table.

Here's our set-up: several boxes of clear ornaments in several diffeent sizes, floor wax (!), glitter (both coarse and fine) and some odds and ends to include inside the ornaments. [Note the newspaper on the table--the first step that I always insist upon.] You might also notice a couple of plastic cups from the recycle bin. Not pictured are some gloves and mini funnels made out of taped 3" x 5" index cards.

First step: remove the tops of the ornaments and set aside. Squirt some floor wax into an ornament. Swirl it around evenly coating all of the interior. Try not to create any bubbles. Pour the excess wax into one of the plastic cups and save for the next ornament.

Add a bunch of glitter and shake the ornament vigorously. The glitter will adhere and get stuck to the floor wax, which, of course, dries clear.

Here's the finished product! Nice, huh?

Here's a whole batch. Some have multiple glitters in different textures and different colors. We tried to cover all combinations at least once.

We let the floor wax dry for a good 20 minutes or more before replacing the tops of the ornaments.

We also made some ornaments with larger inclusions. No adhesive necessary for these. Here are some clipped leaves from a sparkly garland that was on sale.

Loose glitter and larger cutouts are featured in this ornament.

And here's a whole tray of the inclusions ornaments.

Stay tuned for more and to see the final decorated tree!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Halloween revisited

And here (finally) is the whole crew that went out for Halloween a couple of weeks ago. My daughter is the Poison Ivy on the right with the cutie little leaf skirt I sewed for her (scroll down 3 posts and you'll see the making of).

She got really creative with her costume: adhering ivy leaves all the way up her leg and one or two on her face as well. She used eyelash adhesive which worked great--even better than expected.

Also in the crew is Batman and Cat Woman. And then there's Dracula, too. no--don't ask me why. It was 3 Batman characters and a Dracula. :)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Magnets and more

Hi all, I've been puttering about and keeping up with my inventory at my online store at etsy. I'm pleased to say that orders are picking up to several a week. Not big bucks by any means as most of my stuff is relatively inexpensive, but its meaningful to me. I hope to get to the self sufficient stage and then slide into the making a profit stage (which I am fast approaching!).  Notebooks are popular! In all sizes and with all coverings. Its a good thing. Especially since I like making them. I did have to stock up on more National Geographic maps but that was easy enough to do on ebay. I've also been expanding my horizons with a FaceBook page and trying to get used to posting on that medium (as opposed to the regular blog post). So if you are so inclined (and have not already done so), feel free to wander over to my LizzieLuvs2Recycle FaceBook page and like it! thanks! :)

Well, I added a new item for me: fridge magnets. I had been thinking about making these for quite a while but couldn't figure out what images to use. Then it struck me: "Duh! Vintage maps. Of course!" So, last weekend I made the first batch with some glass cabochons that I picked up on etsy. I tried initially to use the squashed marbles that you can buy for cheap at Michael's but they are not appropriate: too uneven in shape, scratched often, and with bubbles or other internal flaws. So lash out and buy the real thing that really works.

 And here are some of the sets that I made up. I used the last little bits of maps from the 1964 atlas that I used to make the thank you cards for my dear friends Matt and Mindy recently. The color range on that atlas was really rich and varied.

Here's a set cut from the greater Washington D.C. area.
 And a set from North America.
There was one little map that was of downtown Washington D.C. Aren't the colors great?

All of the maps were cut out and adhered with my favorite multi-purpose adhesive, E6000.
 After that had dried, I used it to affix the magnets on the back.
Each set got its own padded box and...done!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

And yet more cigar boxes

I love me a good cigar box, you all know that. If it does something cool in addition to being a cigar box, well, that's a big bonus!

Recently, I succumbed to the washi tape craze. I have held myself in check because I can plainly see that these addictive lovely little tape rolls could easily take over. So...washi tape, cigar boxes and a little cruising on the interwebs for inspiration and a new project is born!

Here is the cast of characters: 4 new (used) cigar boxes fresh from my local cigar shop. This time I chose "naked" boxes with no decorative paper covering.

My good friend Chris from Fox Trail Knives was kind enough to cut these little "G" shapes out of some leftover wood I had from another project. We had a nice time brainstorming what their exact size and shape should be for what I wanted them to do. And since he has practically every woodworking tool known to mankind (well not really, but way more than what I have) it was no problem for him to cut these shapes pretty quickly.

Next, he cut and sanded down my dowel rods so that they fit inside each box. The interesting thing about cigar boxes is that they all are unique in size and dimensions. Even those that are for the same type of cigar have some fluctuations. I love that--machine made/computerized precision is death to the organic beauty and individuality of crafts, especially wooden ones.

I had also purchased some hacksaw blades and now I trimmed these to fit within each box.
The serrated blade will act as the cutting edge for some of the washi tape.
A little manipulation quickly demonstrated that if I just glued the blade down to the inside lip of the box (outside mounting would look too crude, I felt) the blade would interfere with the lid closing properly. So I needed a way to tilt the blade inward just a bit. I decided to glue down a piece of string as guard to fulfill that purpose. I used my favorite wood glue which dries yellow. sigh. yeah, next time I'll use the Elmer's so the yellow doesn't show on the white string. But the blade will cover most of it anyway.
After the string's glue was dry, I mounted my blade with E6000, some of my favorite adhesive. Its smelly, but it sure gets the job done. Then I used the wood glue to adhere the G-brackets and...
 Voila! Washi tape storage!
 The dowel rods easily lift out so that I can switch my tapes out, but because the bracket has a raised lip at the back end, the dowel rods easily stay in position.
I've removed the back rod here and you can see the where the rod rests on the bracket.

Thanks again, Chris! I would have had to undergo major contortions to accomplish these wooden cut-outs or something that approximates them.

Monday, October 22, 2012

A happy customer :)

My lovely niece recently place a large order from my Etsy shop for some early Christmas shopping. I was quite grateful for the business, of course, and envious that she was getting started Christmas shopping so early. I'm sure I'll be running around in December, as usual. [sigh]

One of the items she purchased was for herself, however, and she sent me a very nice picture of her wearing her new Frida Kahlo pendent.

She paired it with the perfect black cord, I think!

Thanks for sharing, Jackie! I don't usually get to see my creations out in the big wide world when they find new homes, so this is a nice treat for me.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Poison Ivy time

Its that magical time of year again when all good children rack their brains for what they are going to be for Halloween. My daughter is the same, and this year decided she wanted to create her own costume (with a little help from mom, of course). Since she is a big Batman fan, she chose the character Poison Ivy.  A lot of interesting make-up will be involved. Leaves will be everywhere!

My job is to help make the skirt happen. After several discussions and a couple of trips to Michael's, we  got down to constructing the leaf skirt.

We began with a stretchy tube skirt that still fit but is never worn anymore. She cut off the leaves from some bushy bunches and I started to pin them down in straight rows starting from the bottom, sewing them down with a zig zag stitch to allow for expansion. I then overlapped rows upwards trying to randomize the dark and light green leaves as well as the occasional leaf with red veins.

The sewing looks a little messy, but each successive row covers up the previous row.

The last row will be hand tacked down. Just a couple of tacks per leaf should do it.

I'll post the finished skirt soon. Hopefully I'll be able to get a picture of my daughter in the full get-up as well.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Fabulous sunsets and recycled maps

Lately, my favorite medium is paper. Specifically, old maps from atlas or foldable road maps or those large map inserts in National Geographics. I find that the map patterns are instantly recognizable as a map (iconic, really) and thus to use them as the material for a different product entirely results in a pleasant mental juxtaposition that keeps flipping back and forth in your head. "Huh?" you say? Just wait...I'll get there.

Recently, I had offered to making some thank you cards as wedding present for some dear friends of mine who will be married on the beach this coming Saturday in Key West. They wanted something: beachy/tropical/maybe palm trees, please? on the cards so recently I got to work.

At the top you can see the envelopes that I made. Each was individually cut out using a template I made, folded, then glued down. The final step is painting on the gum on the flap so that its sealable. Et, Voila! A real, live envelope!

Next, it was time to make the cards. The background was going to be a tropical sunset. Blue ocean pieces were pasted down first.

Next, a series of sunset colored strips and streaks were pasted down in random but leasing more or less horizontal layers. Golds, yellows, oranges, pinks and purples from various different map sources were utilized. An extra strip or two of blue was also added, usually ending in a blue at the bottom. I planned to put a setting sun at the bottom but that just didn't look right, so I left it out. Man, I just love doing collages.

So far, so good. I thought the sunset clouds looked pretty good, and it was a lot of fun to assemble them one after the other.

Now for the piece de resistance! I had cogitated long and hard about how to get that darn palm tree in the image. Here was my process: palms can look either really cool or very stylized and hokey. Obviously, I wanted really cool. To me, really cool = biologically accurate. Hmmm. Biologically accurate palm trees have a lot of leaves. Each leaf has a lot of leaflets. OK--cut them out of black paper? Gack! Heck no. Take, mmmmm....maybe, 10 years? Nah. Draw them free hand? Too much variation possible and take, maybe, 7 years. I had good luck dealing with Simon's Stamps in the past so... I developed a biologically accurate image of palm trees in Photoshop until I had what I wanted, then I sent the image to Simon's and had a custom made rubber stamp manufactured to my size parameters. Here's what I ended up with--a unique palm stamp that I just love. Tell me that that is not a big-ass rubber stamp!

So then I got to the fun part of the project: stamping! Just simple black ink for the palm trees, thank you very much. Because that's exactly what color they are in front of a sunset, don't you know. And the palm tree shape is instantly recognizable too. (yeah, I know, I said that about the maps too, didn't I?)

And my last picture is a close-up of one of the cards. Obviously they are all unique as far as the background is concerned. Each stamp turned out a little different too. I also had to do a little touching up with a black marker as the ink image did not lay down at the paper piece edges. But that was fun and quick job, too. Overall, there's a nice continuity. Very satisfying to see all of them together.

Ok. Juxtaposition time. :)
Look at the bottom picture. Blur your eyes a little. Focus on the background only--its made of maps and countries and oceans and roads, right? Now, focus on the foreground/palm trees. My, those are nice palm trees aren't they?  Background becomes gloriously garish clouds that you would see any day of the week at sunset here in lovely Florida. Not maps any more at all. But wait, they are maps! See? look closely! and..

Boo yah! Mental juxtaposition!


Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Celestial Journals

You may well ask where I get my supplies, and I would say: that's a good question! A lot of my stuff I have had for years (in some cases since I was a kid, even) and other things I just come across and snap up for a rainy day. But sometimes I need a particular item right now, so I have to go out and get it. I have been known to hit up Home Depot, Michael's and JoAnn's, among others. If they all fail me, or its a more esoteric item, I must search on-line. In those cases I check out etsy vendors, ebay and sometimes even Amazon. So far, I have almost always successful.

So, recently I purchased a collection of National Geographic maps for my various paper projects and when it arrived I was pleasantly surprised to see that one of the maps was not a world map but a map of the heavens. The journals that I covered earlier in the week turned out so nicely, I wanted to create celestial composition note books too.

Above, you can see the full size notebooks; one with the southern hemisphere sky and one with the northern hemisphere heavens.

Below are a couple of mini notebooks featuring particular constellations.

I think I will never have to buy another "special" notebook for journaling again!

Monday, September 03, 2012

The August Baldwin Park Art Stroll

 I thought you all might enjoy seeing a few pictures of the local Art Stroll that I have been participating in. Its held at the Baldwin Park town center on the first Friday of the month and features all sorts of artists and crafts people. Its just for a single evening which I like--no whole weekend commitment!

Here I am with my back to the pillar. In the fore ground is my neighbor at the show, Parker Sketch.

Next to one of my card racks.
My daughter, Fiona, helped me set up and kept me company. I was very grateful for her help.

I'll be showing up for the September Art Stroll this Friday, so if you are in the Orlando area, stop by and say hi!

Map covered composition notebooks

Hello my dear friends. I have been busy working and crafting and have a couple of new things to share with you. I have made a little progress in the sewing department but crafting once again has been taking center stage. I've also had a big push to get all of my finished items up and available on my etsy store. I find that the crafting is fun. The picture taking, editing and computer work, eh.. not so much.

 My latest craft is pretty simple but with a super WOW factor--at least I think so. Hopefully, you will too.

Another map project--this time covering composition notebooks. I love the size and heft of them so it seemed like a natural extension of my love for map crafts.

Here are four full sized composition notebooks, all covered with vintage maps from National Geographic magazine which I purchased from ebay. (you can buy anything on ebay, I swear).

 Don't you just want to sit down and start writing? I'm very tempted to keep some of these for myself, I can tell you.
 And even more adorable are these mini composition notebooks. So cute! Love the way these turned out.
My daughter had to snag one of these as soon as she saw them. Perfect for you purse or pocket, wouldn't you say?