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Friday, June 22, 2012

My Space

Since summer started, I have been cleaning and reorganizing my "art" room.  I don't refer to it as a craft room because from time to time I do practice the fine arts of oil painting, watercolor, acrylic, etc.  I never exactly finish a painting but I do turn paintings into mixed media projects.  I guess that is just my process...

So here is my the current state of my art room.  I've been separating school stuff from art stuff by putting all school stuff into my office.  Every school year I swear up and down that I am not going to do candy and prizes.  All those "experts" say let students be motivated intrinsically not externally, etc.  So all my scented pencils, ring pops, eye ball erasers, and homework passes are all out of view downstairs.  Maybe I won't be tempted to do those pesky prize drawings?  I'll tell them, "The best reward is learning something new!' (I think I did before and they laughed out loud...)

I also have a small tv to the left to my Cricut. This is where I obsessively watch Investigation Discovery (ID)...One reason is that I don't get full cable in this room, another is that it is my favorite channel.  I have to watch tv while "working." I also work on the floor which is terrible for my back but I need to have everything spread out around me.  I still need to organize my paper, ephemera, file cabinet, and figure out what to do with my millions of beads!  I like to have a lot on the walls for inspiration and so I don't forget about it.  I used to have a high shelf that I could put stuff on but I must have lost it when I moved. Plus, I was afraid it would collapse due to overloading.  Okay, forget the shelf!

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresea, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” –Life’s Little Instruction Book

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Fiskars-Hot Off The Press Paper Disaster

My friend and I had to meet with our trainer at 5:45 am.  I came home at about 7 am wired and ready to  "cricut."  (As an English teacher, I feel a little odd about using a noun as a verb but the English language is "living"! Does that make it okay? Probably not...) Anyway, I wanted to use my new Paisley cart.  I now have several cartridges that I have never used.  My life has been Mini Monsters and Bump in the Night preparing for my adorable nephew's first birthday monster mash.  So I already had two sheets of Fiskar's Hot Off the Press patterned paper taped on cutting mats. Since I still don't have re-positional adhesive spray (couldn't find at Walmart or Lowes but I was rushing around buying a lot of other stuff) I tape down my paper with scotch tape.  (I did buy blue painter's tape for this purpose yesterday.)   Disaster! No matter was setting I used, the paper was tearing!  I changed my blade. Worse.  Slower, less pressure,  heavy, medium, light settings...All were tearing!

I finally decided to try my one Cricut marker. it came as part of a home decor bundle that I got from eBay but haven't used yet. There was already a pen setting and all I did was take out the housing unit and put in the marker. (Oh, take off the cap also.)  I have no idea what to do with this now.  I guess I could use my Martha Stewart Craft Station to cut all these images out or use them as a template with vellum or something.  I was also thinking how awesome it would have been to have a Cricut when I was in college.  When I was student teaching in art, I spent HOURS making templates out of manilla file folder paper for kids to trace.  Actually, I think all visitors to our house were conscripted into this practice.  Back then in 1999, I didn't even have a laptop.  I used to type my lesson plans on a borrowed word processor!  I had to pay to make color copies at a copy shop.  No one had a color printer or copier...I have a ton of this HOTP paper because my late father was a Fiskar sales rep.  That's how I started scrapbooking about a million years ago!  Ugh, maybe I should just go back to bed.

Monster Wear

I very quickly made a little outfit as a sample for my nephew's birthday wear.  Actually, he will probably be wearing his swimsuit because his birthday party is also a pool party but I thought I would play around a little.

I REALLY want to get a sewing machine this summer. I could kick myself for passing on one at a recent flea market I was at.  This lady was literally giving away (I spent a few dollars and she started giving me baby stuff for free!) her late mother-in-law's things.  She mentioned the said sewing machine but my sister and mom already took off and my arms were filled with a stuffed monster, horse on a stick, baby books, and other stuff.  Darn!  I really want that machine now.  About 15 years ago, I bought a "Tiny Tailor" machine from Walmart.  I was never able to figure it out.  I ended up putting it on the curb with a "free" sign.  (Someone did take it right away!)   However, now with YouTube videos, I'm sure I would make more progress.  There are so many great things I want to make. Plus, I love the look of sewing onto paper.

So, not being about to sew, I decided to print out an object and use an iron-on fabric transfer.  In my hoard of supplies, I found two sets of transfer paper. I bought some cotton one-sies at Walmart.  (Sadly, I could ONLY find 100% cotton long-sleeves. UGH.)

 I googled this image, printed it out, then copied it onto the transfer paper with my ink jet HP printer after cutting it out.  I still am struggling with this Mac Book Book. I'm really good at MS Word but awful on this Mac.  I then ironed it on.
(I am trying to find the source of this image to cite. However, no one is reading this blog anyway so at this point, I guess it is a moot point:(  )

Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.
Friedrich Nietzsche

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Developing Velcro Addiction

I STILL cannot get into the infernal Cricut Craft Room. I even created a new profile, uninstalled, reinstalled, and it still wouldn't work. I accidentally thought I was "in" through the website and designed a 12 x 12 layout to cut  and of course it wouldn't cut! So anyway, I couldn't weld the above letters which was a massive pain.  By the way, the arrows on the poster are velcro so we can move them to direct party guests. I was going to use brads to attach them but I thought they might start spinning around and no one would find the party.  (Also, I also used velcro on the monsters...Why? I really don't know!)

I am frantically trying to get a gypsy from eBay.  It is ironic because I keep meaning to contact Provocraft about screwing me over on that "Buy 3 cartridges and get one free" from Michaels. Apparently, I didn't have something off the plastic labeling or something.  I don't know if I accidentally threw it out or if it is somewhere on the cartridge.  Anyway,  I meant to follow up on that.  I have a receipt, the code from the cartridge...It's not like I am some fraud.  All the money they make and they nitpick over stuff like that!  It is really armed robbery what all this provocraft stuff costs.  I guess I am a sucker for buying it. However, my nephew will have great party decorations.

"The world is round, and the place which may seem like the end may also be only the beginning."
~ Ivy Baker

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Your Story Book Binder and Laminator

 My nephew (11 months) loves Eric Carle's Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do 
You See?

I  was able to use my Your Story laminator and thermal book binder today.

 I decided to do a little spin off on that in my first book.  I changed it to "Jackson, Jackson, what do you see?" Then, on the next page, I did a picture of that person looking at the baby.  I did double up on some pages to get more family members in the book.  I used the 4 X 6 inch book cover that I got on eBay today. I also used the 4 X 6 laminating sheets.  However, I could have used any size laminating sheets but this made the process really easy. 

Baby "What Do You See?" Book based on the Carle book:

1.) I first choose the pictures of my nephew's "circle": mommy, daddy, doggy, etc.

2.) Then, I picked one picture of that person and Jackie for the "What do you see?" page. I also choose one where that person was looking directly at him for the what he sees page.

3.) Then, I made the labels on Pages for MAC. It was pretty simple considering that I just got this Mac Book Pro a few months ago and am much more comfortable with MS Word. I printed those labels and cut them down to size. 

4.) I arranged the pictures, then mounted them on mat paper. I did not glue down the images. (I'm glad I didn't because the pages split due to the pressure of the binding. I split them and then just reglued them with a glue runner.) ***Make sure that you have space on the left side for the pages to bend! Maybe 1/2 inch or so. 

5. I ran the double-sided images with text through the laminator. Then, I trimmed off the excess and ran each page through again.  

6. I arranged the pages, clamped them, and did the thermal heating.  (All you do is switch from the left laminate button to the right bind button.)  You leave it in until it beeps, then cool it on the plastic holder on the back of the machine.  I also pushed down the pages to make sure that the pages all got stuck in the glue.  Let cool two minutes.

7. I stuck some bubbled letters on the cover that my nephew will probably rip off.  I can't wait to read his own book to him!

Tim Holtz Obsession

Ever since I got on eBay, I've become obsessed with Tim Holtz.  I really love all of his projects and artwork. I've always done assemblage and decoupage type projects. Even as a kid, I made tons of collages and weirdly painted projects.  (My students always get freaked out my my doll head scented marker box that I keep at school.  Really? No one else glued doll heads to things?)

Anyway, I've been guiltily bidding on Tim Holtz supplies like nuts.  I say guiltily because I feel like I should be using the salvaged items I have from various sources.  I have a lot of great "vintage" (read: old) items from my grandmothers, childhood hoarding, mom's basement, school, and gifts from friends. I think I got the coolest items from my friend G$.  Her mom used to love to frequent estate sales and auctions.  She used to give me everything from old game pieces and photos to old X-rays. These are times that are recycled and have a history. Whose is in this picture?  Who used to wear these crystal beads?  With "bought" items, that history is absent.  The item is
mass produced and no longer unique.  That being said, some of these items are just awesome and really inspire my imagination.  Sometimes it is hard to use one of those very old one of a kind objects...I do have some very cool items that I just love too much to use. I have to get over this!  Tim Holtz will help me with this...Isn't it easier to use an item that is fascinating and also bought at a great price?

I was cleaning out my art file cabinet and I came across one of my favorite altered art books.  It is called Collage Discovery Workshop by Claudine Hellmuth. I love the book because not only do I love Hellmuth's style but she uses a lot of innovative techniques. I need to do my own thing when creating but it is nice to pick up some new ideas.  Hellmuth's art used to be featured in Somerset Studio. I don't buy it anymore but I remember being so inspired by the fascinating things people were creating. My friend (the one who gave me the objects) also loved this magazine. We had been doing this type of artwork for so long, it was awesome to see other people doing the same sort of things.  Like it was "okay" to tear apart books, sewing into paper, and rip body parts off of dolls.  Back then, it was all about using FOUND OBJECTS that we got from flea markets, relatives, and shoe boxes under our beds.  The best form of artwork for sentimental hoarders.  Thank you, Tim Holtz and thank you, Claudine Hellmuth!  After so long of not using industrial glues, making a mess, and wire, I'm back!  And yes, I'm making a mess!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Cricut Craft Room Angst

I don't know why but I cannot log into the Cricut Craft Room.  This is really screwing me up because I need to make a "party-this way" sign.  I'm almost tempted to just use some Crayola Gel markers that write on dark paper.  I did want to make an arrow on a brad or on velcro because I don't know where they are going to put the signs.  Anyway, I added some more velcro monsters and signs to the display board below. Luckily, my sister took a picture of my nephew every month and put the month number sticker on her shirt.  I was also able to make magnets of each month. Jackson loves to play with these (and try to destroy them) on the refrigerator.

Luckily in spite of my cricut dilemma , I got a lot done today.  I stocked the gift bags with a bunch of stuff.  Luckily, around the same time I was moving my school reward prizes to my downstairs office closet.  I decided to dig through my prizes and see what was monster-ish! I did find glow-in-the-dark eyeball stickers, eyeball erasers, and some creature bookmarks with googlie eyes.  I also threw in a color-changing pencil and my favorite smelly pens with highlighters.  I also added all the stuff that I ordered online (monster lollipops, finger puppets, rubber duckies, and even mini-stuffed monsters!) I have to get a sewing machine because I would have made a stuffed monster for everyone at the party. They are so adorable!
Now, I'm trying to win a Cricut gypsy off of eBay.  Of course, I am the top bidder on one that goes off in a day. If I bid on the one that ends in an hour, I might end up with two. That happened to me with the Provocraft Your Story!  I'm going to give one to my sister for her birthday.  

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Monsters Continued

I had to take a break from monster gluing because my back can't take anymore. Today, I was able to get back to work on the party full-time.  I finally was able to chronically organize my nephew's scrapbooks. I have four done, which is about 80 pages.  Due to the huge amount of pictures that I have, that barely takes him up to 7 months old.  Since my nephew is almost one year, I have to accept the fact that all his pictures will not be scraped in time for the party.  I really don't know how much people are going to be looking at these scrapbooks at the party. We'll see.

Anyway, today I worked on the 12 monster treat bags.  There will not be more than ten kids at the party.  I ordered monster finger puppets, monster tattoos, monster pops, and several other monster things. All the extras I plan to put in the piñata.
I have all these word signs. I don't know what I am going to do with them yet!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Martha Stewart Craft Station

I just received the Martha Stewart Craft Station in the mail yesterday.  This machine is a light table, cutting board, stamp positioner, and great for tracing items on thinner paper.

I got this item from Ebay.  I did get a great price but the side of the board was cracked off.  The seller emailed me and did give me a discount. After an unfortunate experience with superglue in which I got glue ALL over my fingers, I finally broke out my tie-dyed duct tape. Problem solved! 

There were two videos on You Tube which were very helpful in finding out all the features of this item.  So far, I love the tempered glass because I can cut on it and it will never scratch.  I tried out some dry embossing and blown away.  This is time consuming but the effect looked very cool.  However, the paper I used was very thin.  I will try this on heavier paper.  

Cutting with the paper cutter was confusing.  I had issues trying to figure out where the blade was going to cut. Hopefully, I will figure that out.  Even though I was at one time an art teacher, I cannot cut a completely straight line at times!  I do like how you can clip the paper down so it doesn't move.  One thing that already bugged me was that there is no bar on three sides of the work surface. I might add a layer of tape of something.

Overall, I would not pay full price for this craft station. You can get all the features separately for much cheaper and the light doesn't seem bright enough for heavier paper.  However, I am happy with it because it is very convenient and just a lot of fun. 

Monster Party

All I have been doing all day is making monsters!  My nephew's first "Monster Mash Birthday" bask is in less than two weeks.  I have been mainly using my Cricut Expressions 2.  The cartridges that I am using are "Bump in the Night" and "Mini Monsters."  I hope to post all pictures of each step of the party decorations.  It has been quite an odyssey!  I really don't think I could have done so much if not for Ebay (I just "discovered" it) and for the fact that school just ended.  

The main projects that I am focusing on are:
1.) Happy Birthday banners
2.) Name banners
3.) Display board of photos from birth to 11 months
4.) Treat bags
5.) Card box decorated
6.) Download "monster" music
7.) Candy and prizes for piñata (It's actually a dino from Walmart but who will know?)
8.) Monsters on sticks for cupcakes
9.)46 monster invitations
10.) Various monster signs to direct guests to party
11.) Monster mouth masks

So far, that is all on my plate.  I'm sure more ideas will be discussed as the party nears.  I've gotten so many awesome ideas online that I just wanted to share mine.
These monsters are for decorations.
For the treat bags and cupcakes.

For the birth to eleven months picture board. I took this used display board out of the garbage at school a few years ago! It is three panels. I would have painted it but it was slightly damaged from having been used.

For invitations.

For invitations.