Have a little Christmas heart …

Linda_Neff_mini_mug_shotI get a lot of pleasure out of my love of Christmas by sharing my craft with friends and co-workers. Once I start making my list of recipients, though, it seems to continue to grow and grow and grow. Because of this, I realize I need to create with supplies I really, really love (otherwise it turns into a chore) and it needs to be a fairly quick-n-easy project. Sometimes it may be a special holiday tag or picture frame but this is the year of the ornament. Throughout the year I have found ways to incorporate this wonderful Primitive Heart  die cut into a lot of my projects. I just love the look of the heart and when it’s cut  from corrugated cardboard and I find I can rough it up, peel it, tear it and poke it to give it that rustic, vintage look that I just love.

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My Xyron Design Team challenge for December is to create an ornament using my favorite Xryon products. I thought long and hard about how I was going to be able to incorporate one of my Xryon machines into the making of an ornament. So many ideas bounced around in my head for weeks as the deadline drew closer and closer. It was down to the wire when I spotted some extra corrugated heart die cuts in a container on my shelf – I tend to save my extras and challenge myself to find ways to use them. I removed them and spread them on my desk, thinking, thinking and thinking. And then inspiration hit!

Here’s what I did: Take the hearts and spritz them heavily with water. While the hearts are wet, use an Exacto, edge distressor, scissor blades or your fingernails and rough up the edges of the hearts. Peel and tear off some of the top layer, revealing the corrugated layer. Haphazardly, brush on a coat of Claudine Hellmuth’s Gesso. This can air dry, or if you’re like me, heat them up with the heat tool. A little bubbling can be a good thing!

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When the Gesso is dry, place the Gesso-ed hearts face-down on the Creatopia (with permanent adhesive) and process through the machine (the Creatopia is the only adhesive machine that will accept items up to 1/2 inches thick so it’s great for corrugated cardboard, thick chipboard, etc.)! I can get about eight or so hearts lined up on the Creatopia by alternating up and down and placing them close together. Normally, I would rub and outline my paper pieces while still on the Xyron adhesive backing so it peels easily, but we want an altered, distressed look so just whip those hearts right off the backing. Some adhesive will remain on the heart, some will not (this is the look we’re going for). Place the sticky heart sticky-side-up in a glitter/bead tray and sprinkle with a clear fine glitter. Make sure to glitter the edges as well – no sticky areas should remain. Tap off the excess glitter and set aside.

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Cut about a 5-6 -inch strip of cream or white tulle from a spool; tie a tight knot in the middle. Use a very strong clear-dry glue on the tulle’s knot and press in the center of the heart; clamp with a clip clothespin and set aside to dry. While your knots are drying on the hearts, cut and ink Christmas words from a typed and printed sheet of white cardstock. Gather some little bells, pearl gems, buttons and white wire.

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Process all the cut and inked words through the Xyron 1.5″ Create-a-Sticker. Begin decorating the hearts. Keep it very simple. A word or two, a button or a bell, or a few gems is all that is needed. Place the heart on a piercing pad and pierce two holes for the wire. Insert the wire and twist ends around the wire to secure. These make a wonderful gift on their own or attach them to a bag or box as a gift tag that can be saved.

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I love experimenting with new ways to make my Xryon’s work for me with my mixed-media, distressed style and am really so pleased with how they turned out. I love the way the Xyron adhesive weaves and spider-webs across the corrugated parts of the heart and holds the glitter so well.

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Hop on over to the Xyron blog and check out our Xyron Design Team Ornament album on Facebook that is full of all kinds of beautiful ornaments!

Focusing on the positive…

If there was ever a time when everything falls apart it was in class this past weekend and, as an instructor, that’s the one place you never want it to happen.

I’ll admit, the majority of my classes usually go extremely well and I consider myself very fortunate. It doesn’t just happen, though. There’s a lot of time put into designing my projects, keeping track of all the products used and writing easy-to-follow instructions with color photos for all the students. I package kits and pack extra supplies. The store owners receive a complete list of products that will be used in class and they receive a sample for display.

Techniques are the focus of all my classes. I love teaching technique so have learned to incorporate them into projects that can be completed in an allotted amount of class time. I’ve been getting much better at estimating class times and classes have been finishing on time – until this past weekend.

Boy, my estimates were way off and everything that could go wrong did! Students were very understanding and still commented about how much fun they had and that they loved their project, but underestimating the time to complete the project combined with confusing instructions was frustrating for students as well as myself.

On my journey home I churned the day’s events over-and-over again in my mind, working through all the kinks – I do make an effort to learn from my mistakes. These mistakes needed to be corrected because I’m teaching this class again in a couple of weeks and I’m positive it will be a good time for all!

Weather, birthdays and classes …

This beautiful weather we’ve been experiencing for a week now is making it very difficult for me to stay indoors and do what needs to be done – like posting to this blog! Today my husband and I started by clearing out a lot of junk out of the garage but as the day wore on we both found ourselves sitting under the tree and watching the wildlife scurry around the pond.

Dinner was cooked on the grill and we ate on the patio. What a wonderful day! I justified the easy day by telling myself I’ll take it for my birthday instead of Monday – works for me (I don’t know what other excuses I’ll use if this weather holds much longer)!

I wanted to share these photos of my recent shutter classes. I’m really bad about remembering to take photos during classes because I’m usually chatting and sharing techniques and ideas and before I know it the students are gone and I’m packing up. This first photo is the first group of students working on their shutters during class at Scrap Tales.

This next photo is at Scrapbook Peddler in Saginaw. I caught the students just as some were leaving but I really wanted to share their shutters with you. They worked hard on them and they each created very unique looks to fit their decor.

I just love teaching and watching the students go off on their own allowing their creativity to jump out and take over.

One of my most enjoyable teaching experiences recently was with the Brush Benders painting group in Brighton. This is a very creative group of students who are usually much more structured in their meeting sessions and their craft than I. But they gave it their all as they experienced playing with gesso, Distress Inks, Grunge Board, paints and gel mediums in my version of painting class.

I’m currently working on some classes for Fall and Christmas and I’ll have some sneak peeks to post later this week so stay tuned. I will be teaching in Flint and Saginaw this weekend so hope to see you there!