Monday, February 28, 2011


Our friends over at Crop, Paper, Scissors in Waco, Tx have been busy with the new 7gypsies paper line, Lille.  We love the new Lille paper but we never would have thought to do this:

stamps = Lille paper tape 
"remember this" card = Family Card Set
black number card = Lille tags 
clock, key, etc = metal hardware
can you see the optical lens? used like a magnifying glass highlighting the butterfly.

 take an up close look at the back...just lovely
 fabulous right?
thanks so much Sylvia and Emmalie!

Friday, February 25, 2011

In Search of Good Junk - A love for Notions

There's something enticing about a little group of buttons all lined up in a row on a printed card, or the graphics and texture of an old fabric measuring tape, or a line of wooden spools wound with colorful thread.   Who doesn't love a jar filled with old buttons, snaps, pins and the like.  And a bonus, that they are usually relatively cheap and easy to find.   Notions are so versatile and fun to use, I thought you might enjoy a bit of card making mixed with a love of notions.  Get out your sewing machine for some quick and easy cards using old notions, printed sentiments and some simple stitching.   
Here are a few ideas to get you started - 

Vintage packaging is so good, and old snap fastener cards are a favorite!   It doesn't even matter that the bottom part of it has been cut off.  In fact that leaves a nice place for your sentiment to go!

 I have no idea where I found a hot pink garter and not even sure it qualifies as a notion, but it makes for a cute thank you card.

I love these straight pins!  They come pinned to a paper strip on a roll.  Just tear a strip off and combine with piece of fabric and ribbon.

Use the smallest bits of fabric along with a corner of some snap packaging....stitch around some of the elements for interest.

A hook and eye adhered to bits of frayed fabric.

You can't really tell by the picture, but there is one button missing on the card...hence the sentiment, "missing you"

Envelope details - adhere a piece of fabric behind the hole on the flap which allows the envelope to be pinned closed.  Add ribbon and mini tag.

A needle and some darning thread...

 The "closure" card...for the person that needs some closure in their life.

 Love an old measuring could be used to represent the number of years for a birthday or anniversary.

I wanted the envelopes to match the theme of the cards so I added a fabric flap.  I started with a regular envelopes.  They were a bit too white so I brushed them with walnut ink.  I wanted the orientation of the envelope to change so I sealed the flap that was closing the long end.  Then I stitched down one of the short ends of the envelope.  This also allows for you to change the size of the envelope to fit your card.   I made a new flap for the envelope out of wool fabric.     

I trimmed the front of the envelope 1/2" shorter than the back of the envelope and stitched the wool flap to the inside of the back only.

So many possibilities and everything I had on hand!  Here's a challenge...Try just using what you have on hand and create something fun.  We refer to this as - "within arms reach" going to the store, just what you have hanging around.  Show us what you come up with.
Good Luck!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Perfect Vision

Back in December I was invited, along with other artists, by Ranger to create a something for the Ranger trade show booth for CHA.  Each artist was sent a 12 x 12” wooden frame with a rounded edge and a selection of the new Perfect Pearls Mists and Perfect Pearls powders as well as a few other items like Sticky Back Canvas (which was already one of my favorite products on the market).

I came up with the idea of what it would be like to have perfect vision of what one needs to be happy (I also thought it was a fun play on words since it was all about using Perfect Pearls products, but I am sure I am the only one who noticed) and started by making a list of words that might work to convey the message in 6 or 7 words.  After I had a list of about 10 words, I gathered items that might work to visually convey the message.  Love, of course was the easiest and compassion being the hardest to figure out.  Thank goodness I went to the Tim Holtz class back in November where I was given the hand I used, as part of the kit. 
I like the piece way better in person than I do looking at it here on my monitor but that's okay since I am really here to show you the technique I used to create the background.
But first, here's how I got started:
1.  I wasn’t a fan of the rounded frame shape so I flipped the frame over and used the back as my front so that it appeared more like a canvas than a frame.
2.  I cut 3 pieces of foam core to “fill” the center of the frame (a bit of glue in between).
3.  While the glue was drying, I drew out a basic sketch of the tree on a piece of tracing paper, then used it as a pattern to cut the tree from Grungepaper.  Once the tree was cut, I stamped it using a wood texture stamp (I think I have used that stamp about a 100 times on this blog) and Walnut Stain Distress Ink.  I quickly dusted the tree with Perfect Pearls after each time I stamped the image to give a subtle shimmer to the tree (spray with water from a mini- mister to set and dry with a heat gun).  
4.  I used the tree to direct me to where the holes for the niches needed to be.  I don't mean by psychic means, just that I laid the tree on the frame so I could see where the holes should logically be.  I cut the holes all the way through the foam core and add the back later (remember, I had my items already picked out so I knew what size holes to cut).  I lined all the holes with pieces of old book paper.  I knew I was going to cover the foam core with sticky back canvas so I didn't have to worry about being neat. 
Here's how I covered the foam core-
I use two colors of Caludine Hellmuth Studio paint (sky blue and blank canvas) and mixed them up on a craft sheet until I was happy with the color.  Use a popsicle stick to get the paint out the jars so as not to contaminate the colors.
You can paint the canvas directly or prime with gesso.  I just painted it.
Completely cover the canvas with the paint, but really no worries if there is some white showing.
 I am impatient so I used a heat gun to dry the canvas.  That is one of the things I like about Sticky Back canvas, you can use the heat gun to dry paint and it does not effect the glue on the backing.
 Now it's time to have some fun!  Break out the Perfect Pearls favorite Heirloom Gold.
 Perfect Pearls Mists are mixatives (I have no idea if I spelled that right), meaning they have a tiny ball in the bottom of the bottle that is used to mix up the liquid when shaken.  So shake, shake, shake till you hear the ball, then spray.
 Spray over the canvas.  The spots appear dark but lighten as they dry.  On some pieces of canvas I let the mist puddle and then sopped it up with a rag for a different effect.
 Dry with a heat gun.
 Peel back the canvas,
Snip a section with your scissors.  When I made this project I painted 2 sheets of 12 x 12 canvas so I would have plenty to cover the frame.  I ripped all the pieces at random widths from 1" to 3" and just used the pieces that worked.
If you don't like the pre-cut edge on the canvas just snip about 1/2" from the edge to create a ripped edge on both sides.
 Smooth canvas onto the craft sheet.  Don't worry it won't stick permanently.
 Break out the Perfect Medium and any stamp you like.  I used this one.  I prefer using red rubber stamps with this technique because the stamped image is more precise, but it will work with clear stamps.
 Pounce the Perfect Medium onto the stamp.
  As I said before, when I made the piece the strips were ripped in different widths so I could choose what part of the stamp to use depending on the size.
NOTE: Before you stamp the image on the canvas strip have the color of Perfect Pearls Powder chosen and ready to go along with a brush.
 Now your saying, "where in the heck is the image?"  "How am I going to know where to dust the powder?"  Well, that's my favorite part.  It's like magic invisible ink, only it's glue.  So, LIGHTLY pick up some powder on the tip of the brush (you can tap off the extra if you get too much) then...
start brushing the powder over the image.  Once you see some of the image you will know where to go to find the rest of it.
Just keep moving the brush until you see it all.  Try your best to brush away the excess since it has a tendency to want to rest in the weave of the fabric.  Once the image was to my liking, I sprayed a fine mist of water using a mini mister and set with a heat gun (don't skip this part).
Once I thought had enough strips to start layering on the foam core I began with larger 3" wide pieces, layering and cutting as I got to a hole in the foam core.  It really is personal taste from here on out.  Do what you think looks good to you and it will work out in the end.

To make the holes into little niches for objects, I simply covered a piece of chipboard with book paper and strategically glued it to the back. Now all the holes looked like they were carved out of the wood frame.
You might notice the wool thread on the tree limbs.  When I got all the niches done, I wanted my tree to have longer limbs then planned so I cut off some limbs and moved them and made others just like the first, attaching with the wool thread X or wrapping to cover up the seams.

I am not sure if you can tell but this is an upside down thimble from a Monopoly game I picked on my trip to Texas.
I adhered a little picture of the Eiffel tower to a piece of book board, sanded and inked the edges heavily, then used Glossy Accents to attach a Idea-ology Facet.  I also used my favorite Therm O web 3-D squares to raise it up off the back.
You might notice the spot to the left of the word, Direction.  This is what it looks like when you let the Perfect Pearls Mist puddle.  I tilted the canvas so that is would run a bit down the canvas and then sopped up the excess.
I created a patch with some leftover pieces to represent forgiveness and stitched it on with some heavy red button and carpet thread.
Sorry this post ended up so long...A couple of my friends Dina Wakley, Tammy Tutterow also were in on this how we were all given the same challenge, yet each one turned out totally different (click on each name to see what they created for the challenge).  If you are interested in all the participants pieces, they were posted this week on the Ranger blog here (scroll to Feb 18th for the 1st of 3 blog posts on the challenge).

Friday, February 18, 2011

No. 2 - Good Junk

It seems that using vintage luggage is a tradition with us.  We have used them in decorating every 7gypsies booth since the beginning.  We love the way they look and can be used as a table or riser, opened or closed, they are always a good display piece.  

We also love them in our everyday life - 
Here's a few of the suitcases around our houses...

My studio

My living room

Paula's family room
 The round case holds some of the mini books paula has made over the years.

Since that last picture was taken of part of the entertainment unit, the little brown case with the broken handle has moved to the living room where it was needed to raise up a lamp after paula picked up this lamp shade at Anthropologie.
My living room, that's a lot of suitcases!
Paula is going to Art and Soul next week in Las Vegas.  She packed a vintage train case with her supplies she will need for classes.
 love the little book to take notes
 even storage for paintbrushes

 This train case has a second compartment below.  Perfect for vintage cigar boxes that hold ephemera and tools.

There was even a couple at my son's wedding last year.
We were asked a couple of questions about suitcases.  Even though we have a lot of vintage luggage we don't really see ourselves as experts....but we will give it our best shot anyway.

Question #1
What do you do with luggage that has a less than desirable smell? - 
answer - 
We don't mind if they have a little bit of a musty smell....just part of the appeal.  Although if it was really bad you might try Fabreeze or something similar.   Spray it on and let air out in the sunshine for a day or so. 
Update: We got an email this morning from Tammy L. about getting rid of the musty vintage suitcase smell.    "I love the old suitcases and trunks as well, but sometimes they leave a lot to be desired as far as odor.  Here is what has always without fail worked for me.  First take newspaper and squish up into balls enough to fill the suitcase then take a paper plate and squirt toothpaste in the center.  Set the plate on top of the newspaper and shut the suitcase up.  leave closed for a couple days and tada minty fresh suitcase.  A couple of times I've had to do this twice but usually once does the trick.  Just thought I would share what has kept me from passing up even some of the smelliest yet beautiful suitcases out there." 
Thanks Tammy! I am going to try this!

Question #2
What paint do you use to paint a suitcase?
answer - 
One of the pictures of painted luggage came from "A Beach Cottage".  We found in a different blog post some information on how they painted theirs.  You can find it here.  Looks pretty simple!