Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goodbye, 2011.

It was a very good year. Lots of things happened that we prayed for, some things were gifts from God that we didn't even know we needed and some prayers were wisely denied by God. He certainly knows His stuff!

We will ring in the New Year with a jam session at the home of Dianna Ford, musician and singer extraordinaire, with a lot of our Bluegrass friends. Usually, Larry is booked for New Year's Eve, and we haven't been able to spend the time with friends as much as we would like. That will change this year, and we're really looking forward to it.

Reflecting on 2011, we had some ups:
I finally was published in one of my fave magazines, Cloth, Paper, Scissors and shipped off my book to the publisher;
and downs: Phil Cox, singer/songwriter/guitarists for Sorghum Hill was working in Nebraska, a far cry from Tennessee. He's home now, and Sorghum Hill and Andi Nash and the Ramblers will continue to entertain their fans, only a lot more often!

Here's wishing you a wonderful, creative, healthy 2012. I hope all your dreams come true!

Now, go hug someone you love.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Just a little more Christmas...

I am not ready for Christmas to end, even though I will begin removing the decorations today. I love the spirit of Christmas, the gathering of friends and families, the fun of selecting, wrapping and opening gifts and the soft glow of Christmas evening when it's all over. Even the hustle and bustle of last-minute shopping is different from any other time of the year. The Christmas spirit that pervades the atmosphere, especially around 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve, an hour before all the stores close, is magical. You hear strangers wishing each other a Merry Christmas and everyone smiles at everyone and there is a peace in the air that can hardly be described. I just love it.

This particular December has been the best we have enjoyed in many years. There were parties every weekend, six in the last week alone, and lots of visiting with old friends, especially my BFFF (Best Family of Friends Forever), Linda, Ronnie, Charlotte, Debbie and Judy Gordon, whose home was the center of my teenage years. Linda was my best friend, and though we have not been as close in the last few years, I have always known that she would be my best friend forever. This Christmas was so special, spending time with this wonderful group of people.

All that being said, I have always loved A Christmas Carol and Scrooge's turn-of-heart at the end, even though I may have not gotten the quote exactly right. Larry and I have made a conscious effort in the last few years to be content with where we are in life, the gifts God has given us and not allowing petty grievances or the shortcomings of others to affect the way we see the world. I used the design element I created (It was created with the Duectica Lettering Arts Studio, and the illustrations and layout design were done in Adobe Illustrator, although I'm sure there are other layout programs you could use.) to make this little ornament which will hang on my tree for years to come as a reminder of the wonderful Christmas of 2011.

If you have followed my blog, you know what a love I have for fonts and typographical designs. The Duectica Lettering Arts Studio allows me to create custom lettering the easy way. The fonts all have a variety of styles within each font, so every word is unique.

Here's how I did it:

Christmas Design Element

1. Open Duetica Lettering Arts Studio and set the C using DT Mandolyn-2 BOO.

2. Create a new 12” x 6” file in Adobe Illustrator. Fill the background with a cream color, then edge the rectangle with a light tan.

3. Place the C and apply a gradient from light to dark green. Set the remainder of the word in dark green using DT Mandolyn-1-A00.

4. Using the Text on a Path tool and black fill, set I will keep along the curve of the top portion of the C using DT Piper-A00. Add the remainder of the quote along the bottom of Christmas.

5. Draw Holly and berries using the pen tool and place.

The piece is ready to be printed and used as a framed wall hanging, a scrapbook page or greeting card element, or a nice little Christmas ornament.



Printed Design Element

Mat board scrap

Christmas paper scrap

Versamark Clear Ink

Ultra Thick Embossing Enamel (UTEE), clear

Heat Tool

Viva Décor Paper Soft Color, Walnut

Round Sponge Dauber

12” ribbon, plus a 3" scrap

Cropadile or 3 /16” hole punch


1. Print Christmas element, reducing the size to 4” x 2”. Cut a piece of scrap mat board to the same size and adhere the printed piece to the mat board. Cut a piece of Christmas print paper to fit back and adhere.

2. Sponge edges front and back with Walnut Paper Soft Color.

3. Cover front with clear Versamark ink and emboss with clear UTEE. Repeat twice. Repeat again on the backside. This will help make the piece feel a lot more substantial as well as making it very shiny.

4. To create the hanger, punch two small holes with a Cropadile ¼” from the top and right and left sides. Thread ribbon front to back,knot and trim ends. Tie the 3" scrap to the ribbon on the left side and trim edges.

Now, go hug your sweetie!

NOTE: I received product form Duetica Lettering Arts Studio and Viva Décor, although I would have purchased them anyway. I love these products and would never promote their use if I didn't have absolute faith in their performance.

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Blast from the Past

Do you remember the macaroni necklaces we all made at Vacation Bible School and summer camp? I sure do. We carefully colored all the little curved pieces and then strung them on a string. I would take mine home to my mother, who would wear it proudly to church the following Sunday.

Pasta as a decoration has come full circle. With all the fabulous, fun shapes available now, there's no limit to what you can create. That's why the Second Annual Holiday Noodle Party is hitting the 'net.

This little addition was not my creation, although I wish it had been. My cousin, the extremely talented Linda McCaskill, made these years ago, and I had a set of six. This is the only one remaining, and I have cared for it lovingly, storing it in a cotton-filled tin to protect the sweet little bow-tie pasta wings. Every year it has a place of honor at eye-level on my tree.

So here's to you, Linda! I love your work and I love you.

To see more pasta creations, see the list of links on Eileen Hull's blog.

The linky party starts today, Monday, December 12 and runs till Friday, December 16 at midnight. This event is open to all and extended in the spirit of fun and sharing the love of crafting during this holiday season. Here's how it works:

1. Post a blog on your site with a picture of your project and enter the URL of that post below from now until Thursday, December 15.
2. Enter as many projects as you would like.
3. It can be a project created by you, your child, or anyone.
4. The only requirement is it must contain a noodle of some kind :-)
5. Please vote for your favorite design on Friday, December 16.
6. The project that gets the most votes will receive a bag of goodies from our friends at Noodles & Company! Eileen will also be giving away one of her great Sizzix dies to a random commenter.
7. Post early so everyone has a chance to see your work.
8. Please share this with your social media friends and invite them to join in!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Do, do, do lookin' out my back door

There was a mention of a "wintery mix" in the forecast for this morning. Wintery Mix translation in the South: rain and maybe, just maybe, a little sleet. Imagine my surprise when I awoke to find close to 2" of snow on the ground. It was a perfect snow, however: Beautiful on the lawns, fields, trees and rooftops, but not a trace on the roads. That's my kind o'snow!

It had already started blowing off the trees and rooftops when I snapped this pic from my studio, although it was a nice wet snow with great packability.

Hubby had to go to the recording studio today, so I'm all alone, and you know what that means: I'm going to turn on my tiny space heater that keeps my tootsies warm, crank up the Christmas music, bake some yummy yeast bread and be highly creative today, even if I'm just doing a little artful re-arranging in my studio!

Here's a nice shot I made of Sam, the Wonder Lab as well. I think he's trying to figure out why I keep pointing this contraption at him and he's not getting any benefit (i.e., treats) from it.

Now, go hug someone you love. I think I'll hug Sam!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Steampunk, the Sock Monk

Caution: This is NOT a toy!

It's time for another Designer Crafts Connection Challenge, and this month, I am out of my comfort zone. I never had a sock monkey as a child, never created one for my child, and the only fact I knew about them is that they were made from Red Heel socks. However, I do love a challenge.

This challenge was conceived and sponsored by Ana Araujo of When Creativity Knocks. Ana has a new DVD, Sock Monkeys Go BanAnas, a wonderful instructional video which walks you right through the steps to create this icon of American crafting.

Our monkey kits included a pair of Original Rockford Red Heel socks, Ana's DVD, Rit® Brand Dye and a precious little sock monkey stamp from Judikins.

Be sure to see all the sock monkeys by clicking on the Designer Craft Connections button at left to hop forward or backward.
You can enter to win your own Sock Monkey prize package valued at over $40!

Here's what one lucky reader will receive:

• Sock Monkeys Go BanAnas WCK VideoBook
• One (1) sewn Sock Monkey body ready to be stuffed
• One (1) pair FoxRiver: Oringal Rockford Red Heel Socks
• Button Eyes, needle, floss and stuffing

Go to the When Creativity Knocks website and in the Member Log In box click Create An Account. Then enter Sock Monkey as the entry code along with your info. Good luck!

Ana is also offering all blog hop readers $2 off the purchase of a Sock Monkeys Go BanAnas WCK VideoBook plus a free copy of the 2012 WCK Sock Monkeys Go BanAas eCalendar with purchase of the video! The coupon code is sockmonkeybloghop.

I have to confess that although I read and followed the construction instructions, that's where my salute to conventional creating ended. I have always traveled to the beat of a different drummer, and this time, I think it may have been Charlie Watts. That's the only explanation that I can come up with for this artistic departure.

Here's how I made Steampunk, the Sock Monk.

Basic Supplies
Sock Monkeys Go Bananas DVD
Original Rockford Red Heel socks, one pair
Quilt Batting and Fiberfill
Needle and Thread
Sewing Machine

Make your sock monkey according to the dvd instructions then customize using one of the patterns included in the dvd pack or using the following:

I repeat. This is not a toy! It is made with metal parts that can cut, so it is only to be placed on a very high shelf and admired from a distance.

Customizing Supplies

Rit Dye, Purple, Evening Blue, Kelly Green
Atomizer Bottles, 3
Paper Towels
Recycled metal printing plates and/or copper sheeting. I used both.
Sizzix Big Shot
Assorted Texture Plates
Ranger Alcohol Inks, assorted colors
Metal ephemera (found objects,nuts, bolts, hinges, chain plus metal from the Tim Holtz Collection, Ranger)
Viva Décor Pearl Pen, Bronze
Canning jar lids, 4
Beacon 3-in-1 Adhesive

1. Mix Rit® Brand Dye in atomizer bottles, 2 parts dye, one part hot water. Spritz color all over monkey body, pat with paper towels to remove excess, then toss it in the dryer until dry to set the color. The dye doesn't show up well on my photos, but Steampunk, the Sock Monk is delightfully spattered with shades of blue, purple and green.
Note: Do not use this technique rather than the instructions on the dye bottle if this piece will be handled a lot or intended for a child's toy. This is another reason that the Steampunk, the Sock Monk prefers shelf sitting. He doesn't know if his colors will run if he gets wet, and he knows his creator did not follow Rit® Brand Dye directions!

2. Cut metal pieces and emboss with assorted Texture Plates and Big Shot. Add alcohol inks, allow to dry then sand with a sanding block or sandpaper.

At this point, I just winged all the parts until I was happy with them. The shoulder covers were from the edges of the metal printing plates and the thimble on the tail was a find in my sewing box when I was looking for a small zipper for his mouth. Since I couldn't find the zipper, I substituted gold bead chain, stitching in place in the corners and draping across the mouth.

The skirt (inspired by military uniforms in ancient Sparta) was a textured rectangle, cut 2" wider than the monkey waist. Slits (approx. 1 1/2" wide) were cut from the bottom to within 1" of the top. Score along the top of the slits and fold up. Wrap around the monkey and secure with adhesive. Add Viva Décor Bronze Pearl Pen accents as desired.
The only construction I planned was for the hat, and I actually changed the design mid-stream with a hint from my hubby (using canning jar lids for support).

Basic Directions:
1. For the hat brim, cut a metal circle approximately 5". Beginning in the center, cut "pie slices" to within 3/4" of the rim. Trim the slices to about 1/2' in length and fold up.

2. Stack four canning jar lids and glue them together, top to bottom. Place the metal circle under the lids and fold the pie slices up. Glue the slices around the inner edge of the bottom lid.

2. Cut a rectangle from a sheet of textured metal approximately 8" x 4" and adhere it around the outside of the lids. Trim the top so that there is a small dip in the middle front and back.

3. Cut a circle 3"4 inch larger in diameter than the top hat opening. Cut slits all around that are 3/8", fold them down, then place them inside the hat top. When you are happy with the fit, glue in place. Add Pearl Pen dots all around the top to help hide the seam and around the hat brim for interest.

Note: I didn't texturize the top of the hat, but looking back, it would have been a nice addition.

4. Add textured band.

I definitely had fun with this project and you still have time to create your own sock monkey for a favorite child (or for yourself) before Christmas.

Now go hug someone you love. I'll be hugging Steampunk, the Sock Monk, although not too tight!

I received product for all the manufacturers listed above.