Monday, January 30, 2012

January Smash Swap

What is this?

On the Cricut Circle Canadian chat I started a swap for making our own "Smash Book."  There's plenty more handmade journals on youtube, they can be rustic or beautiful, functional or ornamental.  They are something personal, to put everyday flotsam & jetsam, aka ephemera.  Historically they have been called journals, or junque journals.  Smash book is an actual brand and what this swap has created is far more beautiful and original in my opinion.
Here's the criteria:

  • Pages will be journal size: an 8.5" x11" folded top to bottom becomes 5.5" x 8.5" 
  • Acid free supplies
  • Colour range: friendly and fresh, not muddy or dark. This is a swap for January, not soon enough for the mud to come but we will all be sick of winter by then I bet.
  • Participants can chose to commit to what type of paper they want to commit to or just leave it as a surprise. A special request to hint what the "extra"  will be so there isn't 20 pieces of ribbon. 
  • Usual swap rules: SASE, make sure your return envelope is not too small please; be generous with return packaging size & postage allowance; number of participants will be the number of pages and extras you send after the swap closes.


  • regular papers, not too flimsy. Time to break out stamps, glimmer, embossing tricks and dress them up a bit.
  • It is up to participants if they want to send bonus pages, enough for all. They could be more whimsical ie tissue, transparency, vellum, smaller size but big enough to bind.
  • Suggestions for "bonus extras:" clips, pockets, large papers "z" folded to fit, bags, dividers, to-do lists, charms, ribbon/yarn/string. 
  • Suggestions for unusual papers: map papers, ledger paper, folders, pockets, graph, lined, watercolour, beautiful hoarded paper packs that are just-to-pretty-to-use...
  • The book will be yours to bind how you please, any direction you prefer, and in whatever sequence you like. From there you can use it however you like.

I started chatter for this Nov 29, 2011. Deadline to sign up was January 7, mail by January 12th.  Its fun to have something nice and not stressful to look forward to after the Christmas commotion is done.

Here's what I have made

I could've made these with the cricut, but I like the way I can control where the pattern lines up in punch by using it upside down.

 These are mini charms.  I didn't glue them because both sides are nice.  Just fold them in half & glue them onto a tag, note card, page, whatever.  Hmm, they would be nice on the pins mentioned further along in this post...
Last tab punch, the X is the mini Zyron 1" sticker maker, I have 2, the original orange one, and this purple one I picked up from a thrift store for $2, score!  And, all these tabs fit into it nicely.
 These are the supplies I used to make the mini cork boards shown further down:  Pen, ruler, cutterbee scissors, scotch quick dry glue, a sheet of double sided adhesive, coffee-straw stir sticks, and super thin cork that a South African friend shared a piece of with me.  She brought it from her original home base and I have no idea where to get it from.  Over a year ago I saw mini cork memo boards on a youtube video and that was the inspiration to do these.  Sadly, I do not know where to find that video to credit back to.

 I won't bore you with my ammeteur efforts at mitering corners, you tube has great framing and mitering videos available.  I just winged it clipping and estimating the angles until they were nice.  I am holding the cork to show how thin it is.  Making template lengths for the sides speeded this up.  Also slitting the straws after they were cut and angled  was faster.  I left my scissors in the straw to show how simple the slitting was to do.  The adhesive sheet was applied to the cork & stabilized it nicely to cut to size.
 Here shows the detail of how the cutterbee scissors are so great.  These are nonstick micro tip scissors.  I use the blade edge to gently score away the backing & the scissor tips to peel it away so the plastic sticks to that backing.  Once they were assembled I twisted each one slightly and added the glue into the mitered corners to help make them more stable.  The mini-cork-boards are almost 3" wide x 2 1/4 high.
 This is humble plastic packaging, cut to swap size and corners rounded.  The same friend who shared her cork-paper graciously loaned me her "Close to my heart" stamps.  And she let me try her brand new brown "Stayz-on ink" which is reputed to be great for all slick surfaces.  It is, and does work well.  It takes forever to clean off the stamps, even with the appropriate cleaner.  Good friends really are a blessing.
With my gypsy I adjusted the measurements of a little cloud shape from the French Mannor cricut cartridge.  I cut from yellow paper, repeated with lilac paper, and stamped the yellow with CTMH borrowed stamps.  They line up perfectly with ATG gun glue on the plastic, I'm so pleased with that!  I doodled a bit of detail with gel pens on the yellow side, and swiped the lilac with brown ink to edge to reduce the bland "floating" effect.  The words say, " to thine own self be kind."
I have to find lil sewing dressmaker pins to stick into the cork to complete the effect.  What's the point of a cork-board if it doesn't have things stuck to it?  I'll post the other swap pages another day. It wouldn't be fair to release them to the world before participants get theirs back.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sympathy card swap

I joined a swap on the circle messageboard to trade sympathy cards.  Stumped for inspiration, a quick google images search revealed lots of white, purple, lilies, flowers...  I joined because it was a small swap and quite a creativity challenge.  These daisies are from the Botanicals lite cricut cartridge, and cut from white cardstock.  Working on a nonstick mat, I added platinum coloured stickles to the petals. Oops, almost forgot to grab a picture!
 I added gunmetal coloured stickles to the heart of the flowers. I thought the rest of the flower was too plain so I used "luster rubons" from my stash, apple green.  I don't think this product is made any more, I'm not surprised.  I started out using my fingers to apply but it was taking forever to build up any colour.  A packaging sponge that came with embossing folders speeded up applying the colour more heavily and it was easier.  This product is waxy and I have no idea how well it will stay on there.  I have mailed my cards in individual baggies to prevent any possible chance of green accidental transfer wrecking any of the other cards swapped.
The cards are 5.5 x 4".  The base paper is a deep purple cut at 5.25 x 3.75" and the 2 tone zigzag paper cut at 5 x 3.5" from my stash.  Somehow I like how the zigzags roll vertically, but I don't know why I like it.  I couldn't figure out what to do about the "floating" look.  I was thinking of grass or a flower pot but I couldn't figure out how to go about doing it so I opted to leave them simple.
 I used Fiscars brand clear acrylic "all around quotes" to stamp the inside of the cards with colorbox green pigment ink.  The quote says, "a moment lasts all of a second but the memory lives on forever."  I thought that was a respectful way to convey sympathy and caring without being too generic.  I look forward to the return mail to see what others creative minds have done.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Organization: Embossing Supplies

Merry Christmas to me!  I received a Cuttlebug (WARNING: LOUD Youtube video).  With this comes new organization issues.  This tool gives me ideas.  Many people have even made their own embossing folders from rough fabric, mesh grocery bags, coins etc.  All sorts of things can be texturized with it, paper, tissue, vellum, aluminum foil, but nothing thicker than 1/8."  Cuttlebug was one of the original manual cutting systems, cutting "die" plates can still be used.  I can't be bothered to invest in those since the cricut does that, any size I need.  I determined I needed to label each folder so I would know which was what.  That might help prevent purchasing a duplicate down the road.  I read that it is best to put the labels at the very edge of the folders, just the thickness of the label can affect the embossing.  I still need to label the machine itself with a reminder to always put the fold of the folder through first.  Prevention of inadvertent folder destruction?  I took apart all the packaging, trimmed away the bulk & kept the flat parts.  Never know when clear plastic is needed for a window or something.
My first label-maker, that lil guy is handy for all sorts of things.
I cut down a package of Recollections brand paper 8.5x11" into 4 pieces per sheet and punched holes into the corners using my crop-a-dile tool, and then my bind-it-all corner rounder.  I figured out a colour coding system & just kept the paper packaging for reference.  Erasing some of the brown becomes tan for TimHoltz, green for Provocraft, fushia for Sizzix, and plum will be for Fiscars texture plates when I figure out how to use them in this machine.  I still have room for 2 more brands if I should need them.  I did a reference emboss of each folder & put them on a single ring.  I noted the size of each folder on the sample, that may save an oops someday?
 Here is the box I found that fits them perfectly. 
The lid has a spot that I can tape the colour code against for easy reference.
  This box has a nice adjustable bookend thingy in it to keep the growing file from flopping over.  I used leftover cardboard for the dividers. I made the tabs with my McGill tab punch.  That is a heavy slightly clumsy punch to use, but it always works well.  I haven't quite mastered how I want them organized, but I'm starting with floral, theme, and texture and can improve as I go.  Some people have over 200 folders!  Not me, this is almost 30 since I found a decent sale last week.
I have learned a lot from the circle message-board members, the Provocraft message-board, and youtube is a great resource too.  Sometimes the hardest part of organizing is figuring out what to do with it all.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

January Organization

January, oh January, you are the armpit of winter.  It is a time of forced busyness to keep the grey doldrums away.  Resolutions, goals, fitness and organization.  None of those things really inspire me.  I am inspired when I am fed up with something that isn't working anymore.  I am also inspired by beauty, spring, summer, sunshine and life.

There's a topic on the circle message-board being bantered around about organizing our craft-rooms.  Channeling Flylady they have broken down the organization into topics of products:
1 ribbon/fiber
2 cardstocks/patternpaper/scraps
3 glues/stickles
4 stamps
7 markers/pens
8 brads/buttons
10 glitter 
Etcetera etcetera.  

As I get organized I will try to remember to update the topics with links to my blog posts of what I've done, that might be handy.  I do have some organization in place, but not enough and certainly not in this sequence.  I've fondly nicknamed my craft room, "the pit of despair."  It became a dumping ground over December and I'm not happy.  It became particularly worse in October and November when 1/3 of the room was boxed up and put out of commission waiting for new cupboards.  So, like many others I will venture forth chipping it out in between work and everyday life jobs.

I don't want any comments about a hoarding TV show needing to come in.

Although the basement is comparable.  No, I won't show that.

The rest of the house is better, honest.

Seriously.  I'm trusting you.  No intervention needed.

Here goes, public viewing of, "The Craft Lab."  These pictures were taken in October 2011, so they are a full blown "before" vantage of this mess.  Before you ask how I can make anything in there, be aware that I have been known to clear part of the table to work.  The first picture is when you walk in.  on the left hand wall there is an armoire storage unit.  in the corner behind that is my Baby Wolf floor loom, safely tucked in where it can be whipped out because there is a sewage access point there.  During December the pile-o-crap camped out on the floor somehow multiplied, I blame the stupid-crap-gremlins for that!

 I really like all the natural light from the patio windows.  I have a decent florescent ceiling light to use when it's dark or I don't feel like rolling up the blind.  As you can see, plastic storage containers are functional, but they look awful.
 This is the wall on the right hand side of the room.  Cabinets went here and the plastic containers are almost all unloaded, 3 drawers to go & they're GONE!  Whoo hoo!!!
 This is the wall opposite to the big patio windows.  Yes there is a closet in the left hand corner, it's getting better.  Surprise surprise, there's a plug-in in the very left lower wall of that closet, and one behind the metal grid cube organizer.  I learned awhile back that those cube organizers can be used as mini shelves, all you need are zap straps or zip ties I think they're called.  They're tough little plastic cinch straps that stay where they're put.  More on those in another post.  Remember, these are "before" pictures to give an impression of what's going on.
 I mentioned 2 plug in's being hidden & useless?  I wasn't going to allow my one & only accessible plug in to be burried behind the new cabinets so it had to be moved.  Much youtube research & conversations with people in the know, it was moved, YIIPPEEE YIPPEEE YIPEEEE!!!!
Since these pictures have been taken, that hole has been filled in, and the cabinets have been installed.


Monday, January 9, 2012

Happy New Year!!!

I can still wish everyone a Happy New Year, it is my first post of 2012.  Wow has it ever been Busy with Christmas, NYE festivities, work, life...  blah blah blah, boring.  Onward, I finally photographed the rest of the swap tags to showcase.

Lots of pictures coming, I tried to note blog links to share the talent. Not everyone blogs & I respect that but I won't post nonbloggers identities unless I have been given express permission to.  There were 19 participants, a record for our swaps.  Many generous people did multiple tag entries to help get us to the goal, 25 tags!  Here is the blog post showing the ones I made Christmas swap- tags x 3, and here are the returns from the Christmas tag swap hosted on the  Cricut circle messageboard Canadian, chat.

As always, click on any picture to enlarge. Unless specified, these are all by different people.

These 3 tags are one entry by image_queen.  Aren't they gorgeous?  Looks like she had some real fun playing with variables, they're similar but not the same.  Here's a link to her jeanniecards blog
These 3 tags are one entry by image_queen.  She also sent her cute mini calling card with her tags.
These 6 tags are also one entry by image_queen.  I had a hard time dividing them out, I realized pictures were the best way to show what she did.
Here's a link to GypsyLady's blog, she made the Santa tag.
I tried to capture the shine in the embossed ink, but the iridescence of the snowflake tag background was too elusive, trust me, it's lovely!
Here is the embossing of the animal and the pretty but subtle shine & curve of the poinsettia.  The pointsettia tag was created by this blogger, Scrapaholicjen.
These 3 tags were from one person.  The metal charm for the tags on the left hand side had all different words: wishes, jungle, yuletide, Christmas, season, greetings, joyful, merriment, holiday, tradition, SantaClaus, and snowflake.  The centre tag has red fabric.  The right hand tag is a mini snow globe with Santa & his reindeer flying through a snowstorm.  They were all created by ginaballoons
Soooo sweet!
Check out the embossed texture.  Here is the link to the blogger that made the snowman Chasinkeegan
The picture really doesn't do these justice, I did try...  Here is a link to the blogger who created the lil elf tag Ms.Mara.  Here is a link to Scrapperdee's Blog, she created the green Christmas stocking tag.
Are you jealous yet?  Here is the link to the Santa dancing tag Croatiancrafter.
These are from the same person.
I didn't show the backs of all the tags, but I tried to showcase the more unusual ones.
Whew!  I'm ready for a nap.  I never did get them organized into an advent  calendar like I meant to, but I'm all ready for Christmas 2012 now!  I'm so proud to be able to participate in these great swaps.  The talent and sharing is so very inspiring.  Happy New Year everyone!!!