Friday, September 30, 2011

It's Blog Hopping Time Again!

It's time for another Designer Crafts Connection Blog Hop and this one uses three of my favorite products: Westcott Brand ® Cutting Tools, Duck Brand® Duct Tape and Velcro® Brand Hook and Loop Fasteners.

Westcott is sponsoring a giveaway: To win a fantastic Deluxe Assortment of Westcott Cutting Tools, go to and leave a comment to win prior to November 1st (actual prize package may vary slghtly, US residents only please). You can also get an extra chance to win by leaving a comment about the hop on the Westcott Facebook Fan Page.

I once knew a photographer who said he could build anything if he had matboard, masking tape and an Xacto knife. Well, I'm here to tell you that by adding the products I received from these three companies, I could easily rule the universe. Seriously. Well, maybe not rule the universe, but I could certainly decorate it.

Don't forget to click on the Designer Crafts Connection button, left, to hop to blogs of some of crafting's best designers who used the same materials. It's fun to see the wonderful twists that are put on these products. Many of these projects will be auctioned off for Charity Wings, so be sure to check it out!

You can see the generous amount of treasure I received from these companies. I love the pink color scheme and could hardly wait to get started.

What made this whole project such a joy to produce? Those Westcott Brand® cutting tools, that's what!

Here are some facts about Westcott Scissors and trimmers:
• Westcott Brand® Scissors are the WORLD’S FAVORITE SCISSORS™ meaning Westcott sells more scissors than any other manufacturer in the world!
• Westcott Brand® Titanium Bonded Non Stick Scissors are the BEST Non Stick Scissors on the market that never get stuck and can easily cut through Sticky Back VELCRO®, Duck Tape and multiple layers of fabric and other materials!
• Titanium bonded blades are 3 times harder than stainless steel and never need sharpening!
• Westcott Brand® Cutting Tools have the best performance! The 3” scissors can even cut through 5 layers of fabric!
• Westcott Brand® Cutting Tools are ergonomic and come in several different color options!

The Westcott Brand® Craft Knife with Titanium Bonded Blade has a nice cushioned grip to keep your fingers from being calloused after a marathon cutting session (which is what I will have this week as I finish up my kit prep for my Houston gig).

Did I mention the Westcott Brand® pink self-healing cutting mat? Pretty to look at and such a work horse! Using it with the Westcott Brand® Craft Knife made the cuts feel like I was cutting butter.

I didn't use my pretty new Westcott Brand® 12” Titanium Bonded Trimmer on this project, but gave it a workout later, trimming 1/4" off some kit contents that I mistakenly cut too large.

The scissors holster, designed by Marisa Pawelko, is really a fun item to have. I am always losing my scissors, usually under a pile of papers, paints and brushes. I threaded it onto a piece of cording and hung it around my neck. Having that baby nearby has been a great time-saver.

I love the large Westcott Brand® Titanium Bonded Non-Stick Scissors, but my favorite pair? The tiny, tiny Westcott Brand® Titanium Bonded 3" Scissors, perfect for getting into little bitty places. I love to stamp, color, then trim to make dimensional embellishments, and these scissors are the best I have seen for that purpose. I love them!

On top of everything, the Westcott Brand® Titanium Bonded Non-Stick Scissors do not gunk up when you cut self-adhesive material. I'm sorry for that tacky term (pardon the pun, but tacky is the best term for that stuff that accumulates on the blades), but it's perfect for what I mean. Other scissors get adhesive that pretty much homesteads on the blades, not moving for anything unless I get out the cleaners that smell bad, turn my hands an ashy gray and make me hallucinate from the fumes. I have cut miles of self-adhesive materials in my 35 years of display design and, although some scissors claim to be non-stick, these are the first I've ever used that can truly own that statement.
My first project is a sweet little lunch tote, just the right size for a sandwich or salad, a piece of fruit and a bottle of water.

Here's how I made my lunch tote:

Black Fun Foam, 12" X 18"
Pink Fun Foam, 2" X 8", and three 5" x 5" pieces for flower diecuts
Pink Duck Brand® Duct Tape Sheet
Black Duck Brand® Duct Tape Roll
The Duck Brand® Patterned Duct Tape Rolls, Pink and Black Zebra
VELCRO® Brand Sticky Back Hook and Loop Fasteners
Sizzix Bigz Bow Die (button diecuts)
Sizzix Tattered Florals Die (flower diecuts)
FoamTastic Adhesive


I started by cutting black Fun Foam into 5 pieces: two-7" x 8", two 4" X 8" and one 4" x 7". I cut diamond shapes from the pink Duck Tape sheet and adhered them on the tote's front and back foam pieces.

Hint: Begin at the center for the first diamond shape and you will wind up with the same amount of margin on each side. If you have an even number of diamonds, your center will be the top points equally spaced from the center. If you have an odd number, the top point will be at the center.

I added 3/8" pink stripes to the back and 3/4" buttons to the sides. All of the stripes and buttons were cut from The Duck Brand® Pink Duct Tape sheets.

Some of you may remember a long-ago post where I said I felt that adding buttons to your art is great, but don't disrespect your creation by just gluing them on. They need an anchor, something to tie them to the surface, so even though these buttons were just diecuts, I took a black Sharpie and drew the thread in place.

I glued all the pieces together using FoamTastic adhesive and used straight pins to hold the pieces in place until the adhesive dried. I then reinforced each seam inside and out with black Duck Brand® Duct Tape cut into 1" wide strips.

I cut the piece for the closure from hot pink Fun Foam, then realized that the color was off a little. I covered the closure strip in more The Duck Brand® Pink Duct Tape, then covered the 5" squares of pink Fun Foam with solid pink, solid black and Zebra pink and black and cut flowers with the Sizzix Tattered Florals die. I stacked the flowers using FoamTastic to adhere them together. I used VELCRO® Brand Sticky Back Hook and Loop Fasteners to attach the closure band to the front and back of the tote and placed a stacked flower, again adhered with Velcro in case I ever wanted to change out the flowers, on each end of the band.

The whole process, from computer design to finished project, took a little more than an hour. The hardest part was figuring the best size for the diamond shapes.

I'll be posting more projects made with these products this week, so check back often. Plus, there's another blog hop for Sizzix next week. I'll be using the new Vase ScoreBoard, designed by my buddy Eileen Hull, the Mat Board Queen. I can hardly wait to show you that project!

Note: I received product for this project from Westcott Brand® Cutting Tools, The Duck Brand® Duct Tape Sheets, VELCRO® Brand Sticky Back Hook and Loop Fasteners and Sizzix.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Better late than never...

I remembered to post that there was Sizzix Blog Hop beginning today, but I thought I was not supposed to post until next week. Boy, do I have egg on my face!

Anyway, the featured die this week is Eileen Hull's versatile Sizzix ScoreBoards XL Die - Album,one of my all-time favorite dies. This album has a cover, a pretty scalloped edge binding and a very nice nameplate. You need to make two cuts to get both covers, but this turned out to be my pushing the envelope idea.I am usually very frugal with my mat board scraps, but was in such a hurry today that I mistakenly cut the entire plate twice rather than the entire plate plus the back cover once more. The two binding edges were laying with one overlapping the other and -Bingo!- I realized I could make a wider width album just by inverting and adding the second binding.

I have been preparing class kits for some classes I will be teaching for Viva Décor at the Collins Group Fall Education and Trade Show in Houston in October, so Viva products have been on my mind a lot lately. I've been doing a lot of experimenting with Glitter Liners, Pearl Pens, Precious Metal Color and Paper Soft Color, and, since I received some fabulous stencils from Crafter's Workshop, I decided to combine the two to make an album to organize all my experimental scraps. I also dug into my treasures from the Craft Gossip Fork and Talk event in Little Rock. (Thanks again, ladies, for a wonderful event!)

Here's how I did it:

Sizzix Little Sizzles - 6" x 13" Mat Board Pack, 6 Assorted Sheets
Eileen Hull's versatile Sizzix ScoreBoards XL Die - Album
• Big Shot
Crafter's Workshop Template, Mini Love Beads
Viva Décor Paper Soft Color, Light Carmine Red, Dark Sand,Violet and Cobalt Blue
• Viva Décor Pearl Pen, Ice White and Gold
• Viva Décor Precious Metal Color, Blue Azure and Silver
• Viva Décor Inka Gold, Gold
Deutica Lettering Arts Studio, Mandolyn Font
• Round Sponge Dauber (Viva Décor)
Allene's Original White Tacky Glue
• Brenda Walton Adhesive Borders, Flora & Fauna from K&Company
• Organdy ribbon scraps
• Violet Satin Ribbon, 1/8" Offray
• Cardstock, Blue, Violet and Pink, 12" x 4" folded to 6" x 4"
• Red Liner Tape

1. Make two sets of die cuts using the Sizzix mat board pack.

2. Tape cover and binding pieces with easy-release double stick tape. Place the stencil over each item, add masking tape to secure it in place and swirl on the Paper Soft Color, blending the colors where they meet. Move the stencil as needed to cover the whole book. Remove the stencil and add Violet Paper Soft Color randomly.

3. Fold the scalloped edges in on each binding. With straight edges facing, lay one over the other and secure with Tacky Glue. Use clothes pins or binder clips to hold the binding in place while it dries.

4. Assemble the book, adhering one scalloped binding to the front cover and the other to the back cover

5. Tint Flora and Fauna swirls with Cobalt Blue Paper Soft Color. Apply one piece to the binding, overlapping on the front and back if necessary.
allowing the blue to show through in some areas. This creates a hammered metal effect.

6. Paint the nameplate with Blue Azure Precious Metal Color and set aside to dry. When dry, use your paint brush to tamp the Silver Precious Metal Color onto the Blue Azure,

7. Glue the book title in the nameplate and the " A few of my" tag above. Tint with Paper Soft Color if desired. Glue the swirl and nameplate to the front cover. Place a dot of Pearl Pen-Gold on each side of the nameplate for faux brads.

8. Dot the Ice White Pearl Pen along the swirl.

Note: After I finished this and it had dried for about 10 minutes, I decided the white was too harsh and ran over the dots with a little Inka Gold in Gold. I liked it so much that I hit some other highlights with it as well all over the book.

9. Using 1/8" ribbon, tie three-three page signatures into the book, turning the knots to the inside. Gather the 1/8" ribbon on the spine and tie together with organdy scraps.

Now, I can go back and gather up all those little scraps of experimental art and put them in my new book. I just hope I remember how I did them!

Now, go make something for someone you love.

FAQ about the Fresh Vintage Blog Hop:

How do I hop around to see ideas using the current featured die?
Every Tuesday and Thursday between September 27-November 3, 2011 there will be a new Sizzix Fresh Vintage die featured on 6-10 of the 75 participating designers' blogs. The navigation buttons for "Hop Back" and "Hop Forward" will allow you to easily hop around and see projects featuring whatever the current die is, since those buttons are programmed to navigate only to the blogs that are participating for that die. On the next Tuesday/Thursday, the buttons will automatically reprogram themselves to navigate to the blogs that are signed up for the next featured die.

What if I start at a designer's blog that isn't one of the 6-10 signed up for that die?
No problem! Simply hit either the "Hop Forward" or "Hop Back" button on the Fresh Vintage navigation widget from any blog's sidebar and you'll automatically advance to one of the participating blogs.

Can I go back and view the ideas for a previously featured die?
Of course! Go to the "Blog Hops" link at the top of the page. It will bring up all of the blog posts where you'll find direct links to each participating blog along with a thumbnail image of the project.

Where can I buy the Sizzix Fresh Vintage dies, by Eileen Hull?
You can visit to find a local and online retailers for Sizzix products. Also be sure to visit Oh My Crafts, one of this blog hop's sponsors, (between the dates of September 27-November 3, 2011) and enter for a chance to win a Flower Layers #9 die!

The Blog Hop has ended and the navigation widget is no longer in the sidebar. How can I see the ideas?
Go to the "Blog Hops" link at the top of the page. It will bring up blog posts where you'll find direct links to each participating blog along with a thumbnail image of the project.

Note: I received product from Sizzix, Crafter's Workshop, Viva Décor and K & Company.

Another Sizzix Blog Hop!

Our good friends at Sizzix have organized a new Blog Hop to feature the Fresh Vintage Designs by Eileen Hull. Over the next six weeks, we'll be posting designs made with her mat board-cutting dies.
Have I mentioned how much I love these dies? I will have a post here next week with a tutorial, so be sure to check back.
In the meantime, be sure to click on the Fresh Vintage button on the left to hop to another blog in this great adventure!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Well, it's about time.....

"I'll report tomorrow."

Famous last words. I didn't report tomorrow, or the next day or the next. I have been frantically searching for my camera since Sept. 10, so I could post photos and report on the Fork and Talk event by Craft Gossip in Little Rock. It finally appeared this morning, hiding in the black hole that is my travel purse. I had only looked there about ten times, so black hole is the only possible explanation.

Melony Bradley and I left Memphis around 9 a.m. and headed west. It was a gorgeous day and with all our jibber-jabbering, the two-hour trip seemed like 15 minutes.

When we arrived in Little Rock, we were 30 minutes ahead of schedule. That's when we got out our Mapquest directions. Mistake. Big Mistake.

While we were trying to figure out where we were in regards to our exit, we saw the name of the street we were looking for on a big green interstate sign, congratulated ourselves on our savvy navigation and headed off on an adventure. That's what my DH and I call it when we get hopelessly lost. A Great Adventure. Second mistake. You know how there are streets in some cities that traverse the entire city? Well that was one of them and guess what: We were obviously at the wrong end of that street, although we didn't know it.

Not being men, we decided to ask for directions. We called Trio's,the restaurant where we were supposed to be, got very detailed directions and headed off, sure that we were almost there. Third mistake. We called the restaurant again, got a different person and a whole new set of directions. Fourth mistake. Suffice to say that we got directions from three more people, all the while seeing the entire city in our quest, including Razorback tailgate parties and lots of traffic jams. Finally, a very nice man said, "I'm heading that way. Follow me." We did, he pointed out the exit and we finally arrived, only an hour late.

The gracious folks at Craft Gossip welcomed us with open arms. We ordered our lunch and visited with the sweet ladies at our table, including Stacie Hooder, jewelry editor at Craft Gossip, who modeled our hat, which was a group design project. Each table was given a plain black top hat and we selected embellishments from the Craft Gossip editors' stash – beautiful ribbon, feathers, flowers and a wealth of other great embellies. We had 15 minutes to make our hats gorgeous, and I think everyone will agree that we all stood up to the challenge. Nothing like a group project to fuse friendships between women who don't know each other, have no idea what kind of talents each had individually and were reluctant to speak up if they thought they had a better idea for fear of stepping on someone's toes. I guess that comes from living graciously in the South. In spite of that, we came up with a great topper, with the theme Creativity Inspires Courage.

The four editors of Craft Gossip who live in the Little Rock area were perfect hostesses. They had a fun afternoon planned with great products and stimulating conversation.

The photo here is of a portion of the contents of the wonderful swag bags – yes, I said "bags" as in two huge bags – given by EK Success to each attendee. I am so overwhelmed with all the goodies and will be featuring many of these products on my blog in the coming weeks.

If you are not a member of Craft Gossip, go to and check it out. I have seen so many great projects as a result of the research of this great team, everything from paintings to cupcakes to needle arts to techniques.

And if they bring a Fork and Talk session to your area, be sure to sign up! You'll be glad you did!

Now, go hug someone you love. Wish I could hug the folks at Craft Gossip right now!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Little Riock, here we come!

Melony Bradley and I are off on a road trip to the first ever Craft Gossip Bloggers' meet-up, where we'll meet four of the editors from Craft Gossip, have lunch at Trios and participate in a group project. I have no idea what to expect, but know that with this group, it will be fun.
I'll report tomorrow....

Sunday, September 4, 2011

It's that time again....

...Time for the Designer Crafts Connection Blog Hop, that is!
Our theme for September is Celebrations. If you have a celebration coming soon in your life, you can probably grab the perfect idea from this hop and make either copy it or atler it to make it your own. The design professionals on this blog hop are some of the best in the business. To see more, just press the Designer Crafts Connection button to the left and hop forward or backward to the next blog.
Be sure to go to Julie McGuffee's Blog to see how you can win A DVD set of the new TV show, Scrapbook Soup, Series 100.

! went to the Creating Keepsakes event in Nashville a few weeks ago and came home with much more than I left with...or needed, but the sight of beautiful papers and gorgeous embellishments gets me every time. It didn't help that I was with my enabler buddy Barbara Rankin. We are a disaster waiting to happen when we attend these events. If she doesn't find something unique that I must have, I find it and then she has to have it. After all, great minds think alike! Let's just say that the car rode a little lower to the ground on the way home.

As soon as I walked into the exhibit, I was immediately drawn to the Hot Off the Press paper booth. I walked in saying I was just looking. I had way too many papers already... and then I saw this Steampunk collection. That did it. I had to have it, even though I had no idea what I would do with it. Beautiful papers usually wind up in my stash of I-can't-use-this-because-I-may-never-see-it-again papers.

Celebrations always mark some sort of milestone: a birth, a birthday, a new job,a wedding, etc. I chose to use retiring as a celebration, which I have done twice, both times from the same company and same job. But that's another blog entry....

When I retired the first time, I looked back over my 25 years with the same company and could hardly believe I had been there that long. I wish I had kept a journal of my reflections at the time, because I can barely remember details of the things I thought I would never forget. This book is designed to be used by the retiree to jot down memories of the past (Reflections) and dreams for the future (Adventures).

Right now, school supplies are dirt cheap.I always use this time of year to stock up on index cards, post-it notes, crayons, pencils and notebooks, especially the old-fashioned composition book, which I snagged this week at WalMart for 40¢ each. Add some scrapbook paper, some embellishments and a little time and you have a great gift for less than $3.

Here's how I made it:


Composition book
Steampunk Collection paper pack, four 12" x 12' sheets (Hot Off the Press)
Weathered Clock die (Tim Holtz Alterations, Sizzix)
Viva Décor Embossing Cream, Silver
Viva Décor Inka Gold, Cobalt Blue and Violet
Viva Décor swirl stamps
Duetica Lettering Arts Software
Embossing powders of your choice in metallic colors
Versamark Ink
Hampton Arts Graphic 45 Steampunk acrylic stamp set
Flouish stencil (Tattered Angels)
Heat Tool
Stazon Ink,Jet Black
Colorbox Chalk Ink, Chestnut Roan (Clearsnap)
Craft Knife
Walnut Ink
Beacon Zip Dry Adhesive
Large, long-shank brad
Sharpie, black, thin line
Circles from a 3/8" circle punch, Navy Blue and Silver


1. Cover book, front and back with papers from Steampunk collection.

2. Cut clock and hands from chipboard with die. Ink top and sides with black Stazon ink, then apply silver Embossing cream randomly, spreading with craft stick or palette knife. (Be sure to clean knife or stick immediately as the cream is quick drying.) Use heat tool to make cream set. Do not be alarmed if portions swell and move slightly. Cool, then apply more black Stazon randomly. Repeat on clock hands and brad head.

NOTE: When heating brad, be sure to grasp shank with a clothespin to avoid burning your fingers.

3. Glue clock to book front. Attach hands with brad.

4. Stain tag with walnut ink.When dry, lay stencil over center and rub on Cobalt Inka Gold. Apply Violet Inka Gold to edges, then apply Stazon ink to edges, Stamp swirls along bottom.Add enough twine to tag to loop to inside of book. Secure tag with glue, loop twine to inside book cover and secure with tape. Cover book inside covers with additional Steampunk papers.

5. Create labels using Duetica Lettering Arts Software and print onto cream cardstock.Trim labels and ink with Chestnut Roan ink. Attach both labels to tag.

6. Attach 3/8" Navy blue paper punches to left side of cover. Attach 3 silver punches to lower part of tag. Draw lines across each circle with Sharpie to simulate screw heads.

7. Stamp butterflies with Versamark, apply embossing powder and heat with heat tool.

NOTE: I originally used a gold embossing powder which I thought was bronze. (It was so old that the label had disappeared.) I didn't like the effect, so I heated each image again and applied a gray embossing powder. I had to do a lot of cleaning up of stray powder before I reheated it, but am much happier with the resulting color.

8. Edge book with Chestnut Roan ink as desired.These composition books are great for things that you don't want to tear out since they weren't made with torn pages in mind. The kids in my Sunday School class make these every year to write down their memory verses each week.

Now, hop to the next blog and don't forget to go to Julie McGuffee's blog to register for the prize!

Note: I received product from Clearsnap, Beacon Adhesives and Viva Décor for this project, although I would have purchased them anyway.I never promote anything that I don't believe in 100%.