Saturday, March 17, 2018

Etching a Glass Pickle Jar with etchall Etching Creme!

Do you like to play it "safe" or do you like to step outside your comfort zone sometimes and try a craft you've never done before?  I'm kind of split on it because sometimes it is easier to just stay with what is familiar.  Not sure what drives me--or keeps me so engaged--but I've loved paper crafts for so long, I don't even remember a time when I didn't have inky fingers or a work table buried in scraps of paper and stamps.  I will try anything new that is any way related to ink, stamps, stencils, or can be done on or with paper.   I may not do all techniques all the time or use all the materials long term, but basically if it is something that allows me to use my existing skills, I'm always up for the challenge!

But...once in a while a creative opportunity comes along that has little or nothing to do with stamping, inky techniques or even paper.  Unless it involves materials I cannot use because I'm chemically sensitive--and, of course, sharing my environment with my parrot, Ollie-- it is hard to pass up the fun of learning new crafts and trying something I've never done before.

I was recently asked to join the etchall Ambassador team...and I jumped at the chance! I was a tiny bit hesitant at first, but I can now confidently say I have etched glass....and it was SUPER EASY to do!

The process is quick...and results are AMAZING!  The most important things to remember are (1) think though your project so you know what you want to accomplish, (2) prepare for each step by having all necessary materials gathered and ready, and (3) test the etching creme in an inconspicuous spot before beginning the project to make sure the glass is the kind that can be etched. It is literally THAT easy!

For my first project, I decided to repurpose a glass pickle jar so I can prep and serve my own pickled cucumbers, beans or other veggies.

Here's how:

1. Wash the jar thoroughly with dishwashing liquid, rinse and dry with a clean towel.  I was extra careful so I also cleaned the glass surface with a cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol right before I began the project.

2. Instead of using a cutting machine and adhesive sticker paper to create my own stencil design, I decided to use masking tape plus metallic border stickers I already had in my craft stash.


3. I wrapped the stickers and masking tape around the jar as shown. 

4. The jar circumference was larger than the length of the sticker so I cut another smaller piece and added it into the gap.

5. Once I burnished everything securely onto the glass, it was time to apply the etchall creme.

It is meant to be applied generously with a little spatula that comes with it.  

6. Once the creme was applied, I set my timer for 15 minutes.  I actually wound up with a phone call that extended my time to 22 minutes but that was no big deal.  The etchall creme won't etch too much if it sits a little longer.  It just needs a minimum of 15 minutes.

The cool thing was I could actually see the results of the etching process by the time the timer rang!

7. Next I removed the creme from the jar.  Yes!  No waste because the creme is RE-USABLE!  How cool is that?!  So I used my little handy dandy spatula, scooped off as much of the creme as possible and slid it off into the jar to use for another project in the near future.

8. After that, I rinsed remaining creme off the jar in a plastic bowl filled with clean water.  One thing to remember is the etching creme will etch anything glass (like fiberglass) and porcelain, but won't affect plastic.  So I had my rinse bowl already set up and ready to go.

9. Last step is to remove all the stickers and tape.  A little sticky residue remained but I cleaned that off with a little abrasive sponge afterward. 

SO EASY!  Go check out the etchall website for more information, videos, tutorials, projects...and all the cool etching products and possibilities!

Until next time....

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Fun Color Pencil Technique for Christmas!

I am currently putting final touches on a book manuscript due at the publisher after the holidays. That means I will soon be taking off my writer's hat and replacing it with my designer/illustrator's cap. 

The next 4-6 weeks will include creating new art for my next rubber stamp release with Impression Obsession, along with creating oodles of cards and other stamped projects with stamps from my latest images.  Here's just a small peek at my new D7881Snowman !

So, beside deadlines--and pre-trade show season--we are also smack in the middle of the holiday season!  Whew!

Has the craziness of the holiday season gotten to you yet like is has to me? All I want to do right now is de-stress and disappear by doing a little creative play! (No calories or high risk behavior side effects other than inky fingers and a totally trashed!)

The biggest question is always...where to begin!?  I'm still mourning for summertime (sniff) but not yet deep into hibernation winter mode.  We have no snow on the ground here in Chi-town, so my strongest Christmas inspiration this year will be from my new winter stamp images!

One of my very favorite things to do is to explore with color. And, since the students in my weekly drawing class are currently working in color pencil, I have color pencil on my mind.  From the results, I'd say my F7886 Holiday Goose agrees color pencils make a really good play choice!

It is really fun to do things out of the ordinary so I decided to begin by stamping on colored cardstock.  The great part about this technique is that the actual color of the cardstock becomes a tonal value influencer for the final piece.  What that means is the color of the cardstock will show through the color pencil layers and influence the overall color value of the piece. 

Here is how I started:

I stamped on grey cardstock using Wicked Black Colorbox Archival dye ink (Clearsnap). Once the stamped image dried, I added black pencil to the eyes and mouth.  I did that to prevent any white pencil strokes from obliterating those features since the pencil will tend to dim the ink beneath.  Once I laid down some basic color strokes, I returned with a second pencil layer and blended colors together using pressure and stroking in multiple directions to blend.  I kept going until the image was colored.  As you can see, I stroked pencil right over some of the outline but left the outline visible in other areas. Then I went back and darkened some of the black areas in the hat and added some lighter grey shading details on the snowmen and the snow beneath them.  I even added both white and light grey snow falling from the sky.

Then, I decided to try the same image on a lighter, smoother cardstock.  Same pencil approach, different result!  Pretty cool eh?!

I repeated the same experiment using my F7886 Holiday Goose stamp image.  First the dark grey cardstock...then on the lighter, smoother cardstock.
In both versions, you can see how the color of the cardstock becomes the tonal and color value influence in the final piece. 

I just LOVE how I achieved two totally different looks just by using different cardstock and colors! Both of these pieces will make beautiful cards and other projects!

While the results looks very skilled, the technique is actually very easy.  Of course, my stamp images give you the basic image without your needing the drawing skills. 

Sshhh...don't tell anyone! Just enjoy the praises you will get when you try this color pencil technique!

(Any questions? Please comment...)


Saturday, November 18, 2017

Got Clutter? Tips to Destash and Declutter!

There is an element in creativity that demands we let go and let ourselves run free.  In my world, that also means periodic chaotic mess in my work space because, well, that's just how crafting is done. When the creative frenzy ends, however, I simply clean up and put things back in their places until the next inspiration or deadline.

But it is different when I look around my home and see living spaces that need more than just a bit of tidying up.  In that context, the clutter is simply excess out of control. It is visual chaos, confusion and bad feng sui. It also makes me feel overwhelmed and out of control.

Let's face it.  We ALL have stuff we don't use, don't need or have simply outgrown. It is just part of being primal human gatherers.  And in a world bombarding us daily with retail temptations like Black Friday sales (basically year round) and coupons coming out of our ears, how can our homes remain pristine and clutter-free?

The answer is actually simple.  Routine "de-stashing".  Every time we bring something new into our living environment, we need to get rid of something that is already there.  If we never increase our belongings, we will never experience out-of-control clutter.

Sure, it's easy relatively easy to gather and give away the obvious--like the shoes that hurt to wear or the useless gadget that jams the drawer each time we open it--but what about all the items that fall into that 'grey' area?  You know the ones.  The jeans we LOVE but are still too snug to actually wear comfortably for the past 2 years (or more).  Or maybe that cool tortilla maker we used once when we had a free afternoon to actually cook from scratch.  Those are the difficult decisions to make because we have an emotional connection to those items. 

We need ninja decluttering strategy tips to deal with those areas of clutter:

1. Enlist a friend who is not emotionally connected to any of the items in question to help us make decisions or actually go through those "grey" piles and box them to give away or sell for us.

2. Identify items that we perceive as having special value and find new homes for that will appreciate them.  Knowing that the items will be "loved" makes it easier to give them away.

3. Take photos of items or groups of items that have emotional meaning before boxing them to give away. Taking the photo serves as a symbolic act of saying goodbye and can give a sense of closure. And a few photos take up waaaay less space!

4. If you are parting with a large collection of items that have significant emotional meaning or are items additional family members may also be connected with, place those photos into an album.  Knowing you have the memories safely stored will make the de-stashing easier.

5. Find a good cause that you believe in and donate items to be used for fund raising or to help people or animals in need.  Knowing that the items will be helping others gives the act of de-cluttering a sense of purpose.

6. Box those hard-to-part-with items and put those boxes away with a note to reopen them after one year.  If you find you have forgotten all about them after all that time, you will find it may be easier to sell or give them away.

7. Have a garage sale and celebrate your de-stashing by spending the money on experiences instead of on more "stuff". 

Next time, I will address the destash and declutter process that relates to so many creative thinkers.  Yep, fellow crafters, I feel your pain! This is the one area in which I totally struggle. How on earth do I declutter all that craft stash?!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Goodbye Daylight Savings Time....Happy Wet November!

Ok, I haven't blogged  for a while.  Yeah, for weeks.  Actually almost 2 months. 

I have to admit, I would be more encouraged to blog if my readership would grow and if readers left comments so posts became a conversation...instead of what weirdly feels like just talking to myself.  Which, like most creatives, I already do without blogging.  I would even appreciate someone courageous pointing out if my posts are, well, kind of pointless, so my blog is not worth the time to visit, read and comment. That way I could plot a new course of action! Which is why I just pushed outside my own comfort zone and expressed my thoughts.

So.... with that said (and hopefully stirring up the pot), I am here now blogging! And... all is good!
Hope all has been well with you, as well.  Summer was such a busy time of outdoor activities and, social events, I kind of forgot about blogging.  I mean, I still posted on FB and Instagram via mobile devices, but let's face it-- who wants to sit indoors at a computer screen when summer is beckoning outside?!  (Sigh.  Now that leaves are turning and I need a coat, hat AND gloves, I really miss my no-fuss summer walks!)

It is actually very symbolic for me to write to you at this transitional time of year.  My life is currently in transition.  Not just the normal seasonal changes or "I'm-geting-older" changes so many of you are also going through. Bigger stuff.  Life event and new chapter type of stuff.

Almost everyone and everything around me is in a state of flux which affects everything I do--like a domino effect.  As 2017 slowly slides to a close, I foresee lots of changes for 2018.  In fact, I see 2018 shaping up to be one of those milestone years. You know what that is...those are the crossroads you look back at later and realize shaped the path you walked.

So, with that far this year we have celebrated the birth of a new grandchild...little baby Sophie....who, amazingly resembles my grandmother--something that makes my heart fill with joy each time I see her smiling face or hear that adorable little giggle.

We have also had loss. 

Tuxedo passed over the Rainbow Bridge this summer at the ripe old age of 14.  He was the first dog we have had who just literally laid down and died--no fanfare, no drama, no hard decisions to make.  He was always the dog who belonged to himself. So he waited until he had some "alone time", somehow managed to crawl over to the spot where my scent was the strongest, lay down and peacefully let go.  He had already said goodbye in his own way earlier that morning so he was ready to go see his buddies Shady, Tyler and Sudsy.

 Till next time....

Friday, August 18, 2017

Summer Bliss Topped with a Hint of Fall

Hope everyone has been enjoying the summer!  Have you been traveling or enjoying local festivals, and farmers' markets? Or have you been chilling in the hammock and sipping ice tea?

While much of the country may still be in toasty hot mode, Chicagoland and neighboring parts of the Midwest have been enjoying a more moderate summer. In between the record breaking rain (and subsequent flooding), our temps have been comfortable enough to keep windows open part of the day and throughout the night.  That definitely saves on our air conditioning bills!

However, temps like these also remind me of what is just around the corner. Since it feels a little bit like autumn, it seemed logical to stamp some fall-like cards--especially after I received my "happy mail" with samples of my brand new fall stamp images from Impression Obsession!

Happy stamping!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Color Pencil Guide

Looking for help with coloring stamped images with color pencil?  Good news!  My new guide and tutorial "How to Color: Colored Pencil Basics for the Crafter" is now live on the Favecrafts website!

This article is totally STUFFED with great information, including basic color theory, pencil strokes, color layering steps and more. Best of all, I've also included a step-by-step tutorial to help you in your journey.

Please check it out...and leave a comment!

How to Color: Colored Pencil Basics for the Crafter

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Decoupage and Beer

It isn't often that "decoupage" and "beer" come up in the same sentence. However, this is one of those rare occasions when the combination is perfectly logical!

Empty beer (or other glass beverage) bottles are some of my favorite items to repurpose. While there are multiple techniques and mediums that can be used to transform a simple glass bottle, one of my all time favorites is decoupage!  I love the simplicity of decoupage and that it is a relatively inexpensive craft for all ages and skill levels.  Decoupage mediums like Mod Podge make it super easy since you can attach and seal using the same product.  Paired with torn book pages and printed paper napkins, and embellished with beads, buttons, and/or silk flowers, this project becomes the perfect mixed media vase for all those beautiful summer flowers!

I like to get  an early jump on the holidays and have already made several for gifting. These would also make great craft fair items.

So sit back and enjoy a summer brew...then hop over to the Favecrafts site for a full tutorial with step-by-step instructions!