A little birdie told me

My Art Journal sessions are broken up into four weeks. Each four-week session is themed. These cute little birds are from Art Journal-Fly Away where we worked with creatures that had wings.

These background pages started out with just a few stripes of acrylic paint colors and some water. Pretty darn boring! But we learned to work it into a beautiful background to display our winged birds on.

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DecoArt acrylic paints spritzed with water.

Combining other mixed–media products with stamps, stencils and more, we were able to create the most beautiful backgrounds.

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Die-but bird added to background.

It’s just so much fun and very relaxing to just sit and play with no end-game in sight. Your page may never be done or it can feel complete in a quick 10 minutes.

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Die-cut birds stacked atop each other create a colorful scene.

Art Journaling requires no art background, just a willingness to express yourself while playing with paper and paints.

Loving this art journal thing!

Teaching classes at the CoBACH center in Brighton came to an abrupt halt back in October when the center was closed for building maintenance. With no word on when it might reopen I decided to try the classes in my  home. I won’t lie, it’s been cozy but it’s also been fun and rewarding.

My most popular has been my Art Journal sessions. I never thought I could enjoy something as much as this form of free-form crafting. It’s a way to incorporate products you most likely already have and chances are haven’t used much.

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From Art Journal-Fly Away

My Art Journal classes are offered in four-week sessions. Each week I teach a different technique and the students play with that technique, experimenting to make it their own. They’re able to see how other products they may have at home or items found around the house can be worked into their art journal.

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It’s fun to watch the students grow each week and become a little more free in their interpretations of the projects.

We’ve had to limit class size for these but hopefully the CoBACH Center will reopen early next year and I’ll be able to accept additional students. The sessions have continually sold out.

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Heat guns, acrylic paints, tissue papers, glazing mediums and more!

In the meantime we just keep plugging along having a grand ol’ time right here in my living room where I set up extra tables, push the furniture back, put out the chocolates, and we all get nice and cozy to play and socialize.

From box to gift

It all started when I received a Teresa Collins Adhesive Kit from Xyron. The box is wonderful. It  has a magnetic closure and it was perfect for being altered.

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It’s perfect for keeping my Teresa Collins supplies in but it’s also great for packing with some nice chocolates and small gifts to give away. I didn’t want to cover the entire box because I liked the pretty pink surface so opted just to alter the top. I started with a pulled-paper technique by running my inked background paper through my Xyron 9-inch Creative Station.

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I peeled it from its backing and stuck it down to the box cover, rubbed it down really well then found a loose edge or two and ripped off quite a bit of the paper. This leaves a thin layer of the paper behind in some areas – really a cool look! This creates a nice base to build layers on and started by adding a length of pink krinkle ribbon with the Teresa Collins Tape Runner. This ribbon wraps around the lid and ties on the inside.

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After cutting, distressing and inking another pattern paper I coated it with a thin skim of white Gesso and let it dry.

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While the backing was drying I spread some Teresa Collins Clear Hold Adhesive randomly across a strip of corrugated cardboard using my finger and lightly sprinkled with some Sea Shell Art Glitter.

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I stapled this strip to the dry backing using the Teresa Collins Stapler. I love this stapler! It goes through really thick stuff! I was able to tuck a decorated tag into the strip and glued a title on that will go behind a Tim Holtz metal bookplate.

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I made several different sizes of paper flowers using a Spellbinder’s Donna Salazar die, glued them together with the Teresa Collins Clear Hold Adhesive, inked them then spread a thick glob of Tim Holtz Clear Crackle Paint on them and left them to dry.

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Let the assembly begin! I just played around with lots of stuff out of the table and continued to layer items till I got the look I really liked. The filmstrip is stapled through the tin heart with the Teresa Collins Stapler. Once the backing was completely assembled it’s glued on the cover with Teresa Collins Clear Hold Adhesive; the same adhesive is used to fill the bookplate. It dries clear and dimensional.

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I added a bit more detail to the cover with some tissue tape and tied a pretty ribbon through a key and attached it with jump rings. It’s now ready to be packed up presented as a very special gift.

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ATC’s dressed for the holidays

ATC’s are just not my forte. I keep trying but I’ve never been quite happy with the finished results. The Cracker Jack Stamper’s that I’m part of have been swapping ATC’s recently and every time the sign up sheet comes around I swear I’m not going to participate again, but when that paper lands in front of me I pick up the pen and sign my name once again.

These are my attempt at a holiday-themed ATC for this months’ swap. I’m not afraid to show my failures!

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They started out as watercolor paper die cut with Tim Holtz’ ATC die. I needed eight so cut 16 pieces – front and back. They are brushed with one coat of Gesso and left to dry.

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Then they’re painted with red paint and left to dry before adhering a torn strip of patterned paper with a Xyron Glue Stick.

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A thin coat of soft gel medium, colored lightly with a touch of black acrylic paint to make a tinted glaze, is brushed on. While the medium is still a little tacky I randomly pressed down some gold leaf to add a touch of bling – it is the holidays after all!

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I typed up a saying – “And she wore holiday dressings” and printed it out on plain office paper. I trimmed the sayings down and inked the edges with Ranger’s Archival Black ink before running them through the Xyron 1.5″ Create-a-Sticker.

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The saying is split and adhered to each ATC then the ATC’s are brushed with a thin layer of soft gel medium tinted with Ranger’s Adirondack Metallic Gold paint dabber. I used a baby wipe to blot and gently wipe away some of the gold layer; I wanted just enough left to add a slight sheen.

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I prepped eight Dress Form Hangers from Maya Road by tying a piece of Maya Road Twine Cording around each one and trimmed the ends.

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To complete the look, I stamped the other eight blank ATC’s with a label stamp, wrote my info on the back and ran them through the Xyron 9″ Creative Station. Then I matched them back-to-back with the finished fronts.

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I finished them off by edging them with the gold paint dabber and added the cute paper clip!

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I took them to Club and exchanged them with the others. Though I don’t love them I’m not ready to give up yet! I love a good challenge so keep watching for that perfect ATC from me!

Good times and butterfly kisses

Linda_Neff_mini_mug_shotI’ve really enjoyed my time on the Xyron Design Team and am so happy to announce that they’re letting me stay for another six months! They have partnered with so many wonderful companies during my term and this month my shipment from them contained a wonderful assortment from Kaisercraft. I’ve always enjoyed Kaisercraft products. Their paper designs are always so pretty and their Beyond the Page elements are so much fun to play with!

We’re involved in a Blog Hop with them this week so be sure to visit Xyron’s blog for all the links to see what the other designers have created. Today, I’m sharing a Round Shadow Frame and a tag I made using the 75 Cents collection and my Xyron!

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For my first project I used a Kaisercraft Round Shadow Frame to create a home decor piece titled “Butterfly Kisses.” The Shadow Frame comes in two pieces and it’s naked (meaning it is a wood color) ready for you finish. I painted the top portion with a thin coat of gesso which preps the surface so it accepts inks or paints. I spread the gesso on the top, outer edges and inner edges – any portion of the frame that will be visible.

Kaisercraft Round Shadow Frame with a thin coat of gesso.
Kaisercraft Round Shadow Frame with a thin coat of gesso.

The gesso dries fairly quickly, especially when applying a thin coat. Once dry, I literally globbed on Ranger’s Picket Fence Crackle Paint. The more you glob the better the cracks. Then I went to bed. I like the crackle when I’m patient enough for it to dry thorougly without getting my fingerprints in it so I try to apply it at night then go to bed to avoid any temptation of speed-drying it.

Kaisercraft Round Shadow Frame with Ranger's Picket Fence Crackle Paint.
Kaisercraft Round Shadow Frame with Ranger’s Picket Fence Crackle Paint.

I selected two pattern papers from Kaisercraft’s 75 Cents collection of 12-inch by -12-inch papers; laid the round bottom of the frame on them and pencil traced. I cut two portions of the papers to fit the bottom, making sure the seam would be covered by the wall in the shadow frame, and processed them face-up through my Xyron 9″ Creative Station. This puts total adhesive coverage on the back of the papers and makes it stick to the Shadow Frame background circle very securely.

Processing pattern papers face-up through the Xyron 9" Creative Station.
Processing pattern papers face-up through the Xyron 9″ Creative Station.

Peel the top layer of cellophane from the papers and then peel the papers -one at a time – from the backing and place them on the Shadow Frame background circle. Adhere the frame to the covered bottom circle.

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Adhere Kaisercraft Round Shadow Frame adhered to paper-covered background.

The white was way to bright so I used Ranger’s Vintage Photo Distress Stain and coated the top frame portion (outer and inner edges too) and lightly wiped with a soft, clean rag repeating these steps until I got the look that was right for me. I added an extra dose or two of stain over the crackle paint cracks to they would be a bit darker (I changed this up in the end and totally coated it with Ranger’s Tarnished Brass Distress Stain instead. It gave the piece a lot more depth and a bit of sheen). Next, I made a mixture of Heirloom Gold Perfect Pearls and water in a mini mister and spritz the Kaisercraft Paper Blooms. This tones down the color for me and adds a touch of gold shimmer to the blooms.

Spritzing Kaisercraft Paper Blooms with a mix of Ranger's Heirloom Gold Perfect Pearls mixture.
Spritzing Kaisercraft Paper Blooms with a mixture of Ranger’s Perfect Pearls and water.

I used a pack of die cut pieces – 75 cents collectibles – to add lots of dimension and texture to this piece without using any photos. All the edges are inked with Vintage Photo Distress Ink. Then I took my tub of clear UTEE and a Perfect Medium Pen (clear embossing ink) and edged or colored in nearly every 75 cents collectible used on this piece. I love the look the shiny embossing lends to the die cuts.

Use a Perfect Medium Pen to outline or color in then sprinkle with UTEE and heat emboss to add dimension.
Use a Perfect Medium Pen to outline or color in then sprinkle with UTEE and heat emboss.

I had fun just playing with the different combinations and layering of the die cuts to create a dimensional collage. The pieces are adhere with Xyron’s Glue Stick and dimensional tape (did you know you can make your own dimensional tape from chipboard scraps cut into little squares and run them through the Xyron 1.5″ Create-a-Sticker to put adhesive on them. Use just as you would foam tape to add dimension).

I added three corks and a little bottle to the bottom and stuck an embossed butterfly into one of the corks using a stick pin. The Kaisercraft wooden letters are one of my new favorites. These are just the right size for projects like this. I painted them with Adirondack Acrylic Paint Dabber in Willow to coordinate with the papers then coated them with Glossy Accents – then went to work and they were ready to adhere when I came home.

Completed project: Butterfly Kisses (Kaisercraft Round Shadow Frame).
Completed project: Butterfly Kisses (Kaisercraft Round Shadow Frame).

Added bonus: I hate to waste any spritzing mixture by just wiping it up. I will usually grab a few tags and blot up the leftovers from my craft sheet and save them for another project. This is a tag I created from leftovers.

Tag using Kaisercraft 75 Cents Clear Stamp, paper and paper blooms, Xryon Glue Stick.
Tag using Kaisercraft 75 Cents Clear Stamp, paper and paper blooms, Xryon Glue Stick.

Watch for a tutorial to post later this week on the tag. Don’t forget to visit Xyron’s blog so you can check out what the other design team members have created!

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!

Project-packed weekend retreat sends ’em home happy, glittery & de-stressed!

Ive had a few requests to share pictures of the projects I taught at my first Fall Art Retreat held at Cottages at Sunset Shores. I was so pleased with the comments and feedback I received from the students. Everyone had a wonderful time, Vivian fed us so very well, the cottages are adorable and the craft room offered us plenty of space. Best of all – everyone completed their projects! Of course, we all know there are certain projects that are ever-changing. We add a little something here, change a little something there; but for the most part the projects went home complete!

I planned three projects to keep everyone busy throughout the weekend but still allow a wee bit of down time for Saturday afternoon. They really had no clue as to what the projects were. They trusted me and signed up sight-unseen. I dropped little hints every now and then, but no major announcements. They were given a supply list to bring (mostly consisting of tools) and I supplied the rest.

We started Friday evening with the beginnings to a Vintage/Shabby Chic coin envelope mini book with tags. This project would teach a plethora of techniques and carry into Saturday to finish up. We worked on that till nearly 11:30 p.m. then did some stenciling on their Vintage window frames so it would be dry in the morning. I had a selection of different sizes of Vintage window frames so they were able to select a style and size best suited to fit their space at home.

The window project also taught several techniques using gesso, stencils, acrylic paints, ultra-thick embossing enamels, dry embossing, tissue printing and using manly tools like power drills and screwdrivers! I must say, the group took their windows up a notch! They all turned out so beautifully. I love when students have enough time during class to experiment with techniques and the freedom to play and that’s what this retreat weekend was all about – time to experiment and play.

It took all of Saturday to finish up the windows and coin envelope books and we tossed in a make-n-take provided by Globecraft Memories using Piccolo Charms and Piccolo Enamels.

We finished the weekend off by making an ornament from Globecraft Memories using Art Glitter, Crafty Secrets, Piccolo Enamel Powders and some beads.

I don’t know who had a better time – the students or myself! I’ve already selected the dates for the Altered Vintage Winter Mystery Retreat to be held at Sunset Shores Feb. 22-24. Watch for more info to come.

Here’s the pics: click on any them for a closer view.

   

  

   

Candy Spiegel tells you all about her altered window on her blog. Hop on over and see what she has to say!