Displaying fragments of a creative soul wannabe …

Remember the vintage letterpress trays I picked up at the Allegan Antique Market a while back? Yep, those trays. I think it was nearly two years ago that I came upon them thinking I’d create a shabby-chic style wall decor class.

I started collecting bits and pieces of sewing items – old patterns, threads, buttons, thimbles, intending to work into a sewing theme, but I struggled with where and how to begin. So the trays continued to take up space in the garage.

I turned many a magazine pages searching for inspiration; something to get me going. I shopped antique malls, searching for more little trinkets, treasures and ideas. I searched the Internet. Nothing. Nothing really inspired me enough to get started. Finally the time had come to do SOMETHING with those trays (my husband said so)! I took one out, hosed it down and spray painted it white even though I loved the honey-colored patina of the wood. It was like a whole new object – a big blank canvas to work with and it gave me the kick in the butt I needed!

I packed the tray along with loads of stamps, inks, paints, bits-and-pieces and whatever else would fit in the back of my car and headed to Sunset Shores over Thanksgiving with a couple of friends for an artsy weekend.

Nearly all the background papers are hand-stamped with Wendy Vecchi and Tim Holtz stamps because the papers I packed just weren’t working. The solid colors texturized with embossing folders, and yes, I measured and cut paper for each little cubbie.

I drew inspiration from some of my favorite artists: Rebecca Sower, Nellie Wortman, Michael Jack Putman, Tim Holtz, Wendy Vecchi and Lisa Pace. The piece finally started to come together. It actually took on a life of its own and went in a totally different direction.

Hardly any sewing notions I so painstakingly searched for and collected were used. Instead of a sewing theme it became representative of little fragments of my life. The life of a creative soul wannabe born in 1950. The thimble reminds me how my mother taught me to sew at the age of 7. A game piece from the Sorry! game played so many times with brothers and sisters. My Charlie dog and so many more memories fill those little cubbies along with a few family photos. Some cubbies remain empty to house memories of days and years yet to come. I am so pleased with the results. Don’t you think it will look great next to the vintage shutter?

Using minimal supplies to create one-of-a-kind gifts…

This old-fashioned looking tag came about because of a special gift I received from my friend Robin at Cracker Jack Stampers the other night. Robin made us all beautiful gift tags and adorable little wrapped packages of chocolate – love chocolate! The gift inspired me to create hand-made tags to add to the home-made peanut brittle I make and give each Christmas. The peanut brittle has become a cooking tradition for me and something I really enjoy making and giving.

So using some basic stamping supplies and a stack of manila shipping tags I set out to create a collection of individually-designed tags. I also proceeded to make one giant mess! It’s just the way I work, but I had such a good time. It’s so relaxing just to take the time to sit and play and see what materializes.

The supplies were minimal: Tim Holtz Distress Inks, Perfect Pearls in a mini mister, some holiday stamps (a combination of Tim Holtz and Wendy Vecchi from Stamper’s Anonymous), pretty ribbons and some steel-rule dies, my Vagabond and some little embellishments.

I started with tags I had stamped recently using the milk-resist technique. I really like the way the milk-resist leaves mottled designs in the background. My style is more prone to earthy, old-fashioned, classic Christmas style so the tags are kept pretty basic with minimal embellishments.

I swiped two colors of Distress Inks side-by-side on a non-stick craft sheet and spritzed them with water and Heirloom Gold Perfect Pearls mixed in a mini mister, dragged the tag through the concoction then dried it with a heat tool. I dipped and dried the tag several more times, flicked with water and heat dried. The pine boughs, music notes and sentiment were stamped on after the tag was dry. I then added the rusty star, lace trim and button threaded with a tiny gingham ribbon. It seemed a little plain so I wrapped the gold bells around the star and added the gold ribbon topper.

It reminds me a little of a quaint, country Christmas. I just really love the mottled colors and hope the recipient will too!