Monday, August 29, 2016

The Rook's Book - Creative Carte Blanche Challenge

You know I love to make books, even if they are kind of wonky. This book is definitely a little wonky, but still pretty fun to make and the inside looks cool even if the outside looks funny.

Here are some photos of previous books I've made:

This book actually opens and closes pretty well, but it probably took me a week to get it to work.
Same book as above. 
This book is glued shut. That was easy.
Another book base that does not open. This is one of my favorites.
This book doesn't open either, but there is a light in the back which allows the owls eyes to light up. 
So I just got a new phone for my bike trip and of course I had to buy a sturdy phone protector. Well, wouldn't you know it, the box the phone protector came in looked like a book to me.

I had been planning to make a diorama or something with one of the new Tim Holtz stamps - the Manor stamp which is so beautiful and detailed, so I decided to make a book instead. The challenge with making a book is making it so that it opens. I can do it, but that's where the wonkiness is most apparent. You will witness that in just a moment. I also wanted to make something for the Creative Carte Blanche challenge this month which is "Sun, Moon, and/or Stars". I've done a couple of challenges that involved celestial bodies so all I did was submit my most recent halloween house with a moon stuck in the back. This time I wanted to make something where the moon (the celestial body in this case) was a more integral part of the design.

Here it is - I'm calling this project the Rook's Book because Spellbinders called this embossing folder - The Noble Rook. A Rook is a sociable bird in the crow family that has grayish-white face which is supposedly easily distinguished from a crow though I find that hard to believe.

Cover in open position- that's because it really doesn't want to close.
Inside of the Rook's Book
Close-up of the Rook's Book
I recently took the Tim Holtz' Summer of Creative Chemistry classes and decided to use some of the techniques I learned about - sort of. Mostly I embraced his major point which is experiment with your materials. As a result the background used Distress Crayons, inks, stains, sprays, paints - a little of everything. 

I stained and embossed the house almost exactly as Kim Mathura described in her tutorial because I think the way she did the Manor looks so incredible.

I cut out 4 layers of the gate, glued them together and then glued them in front of the house. The gate is also highlighted with a black shimmer wax so it would stick out a little better. I used a bat suspended on a string for a little movement in the sky.

The inner cover is new Tim Holtz stamp what makes a lovely background to the owl stamp. It looks like old wallpaper to me. I will be using that stamp over and over.

Well, that's it for now. I hope to post some details on making some of the Haunted Holtzville houses in a day or two.

Have fun and be safe with the scissors.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly - August 2016 tag Inspiration

As I was riding my bike today, I was on the lookout for the yellow butterflies that love the Joe Pye Weed. I was finally able to some fairly decent photos when I was on the downhill (thank goodness) portion of the ride.

These are Tiger Swallowtail butterflies and they are everywhere which I love. This first photo is a just a picture of Joe Pye Weed after the butterfly flew away. See the color is kind of odd. I guess you could call it a dusty rose.

Tiger Swallowtail on Joe Pye Weed

My brother and I got going kind of late so we only did 30 miles but it was all in the mountains around here with about 3500 feet of climbing in 90 degree temps. Several times on our rides lately we have gotten rained on but not today, though I would have welcomed it. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

Tim Tag August 2016

Finally finished the August Tim Holtz 12 Tags of 2016. It is actually a card I made for a friend of mine who has 2 more months of chemo. The card was inspired by all the butterflies I see when I ride my bike. It is stunning to see them dancing everywhere. It just makes me happy. Lately they have been gathering nectar from Joe Pye Weed which has this odd light purple color on flower stalks that are 4-6 feet tall. I didn't think I could copy the color so most of the wildflowers are meant to be Queen Anne's lace which I love as well.

I am new to using a lot of the products used in the 12 tags so sometimes I don't get it. I was able to do the techniques, but I didn't realize how overwhelming my background was. It needed to be much more subtle. When I reviewed other tags I finally realized this, but my butterfly and flowers were glued down at that point and I really didn't want to make any more (as I still have Halloween houses to make!!)

The other kind of goofy thing I did was sew around the edge by hand. My sewing machine is 2 feet from my crafting area, but I didn't feel like moving my box of tools and cleaning the craft table just to put a few stitches on the card. As a result I did a blanket stitch all around the card. It looks ok, but I think some simple accent machine stitching would have been better.

Well, there you have it for August. I don't think I'll be able to do the next couple of months tags as I am going on a 2400-mile bike trip which is very exciting. I'm taking an iPad Pro that I can draw on and I'm going to take pictures of inspiring houses for my little cardboard houses as my creative outlet. I'll be posting a blog somewhere, haven't decided exactly where yet, but I will let you know.

Ya'll take care.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Welcome to the Halloween Village Dwellings for Haunted Holtzville

I've almost got the village completed. All of the houses are done as is most of the decor. The 3 houses for Haunted Holtzville are the Spiky Shingled House, the Rough Sawn Plank House and the Haunted Manor.

I made a Welcome to Holtzville signpost using the Sizzix Hardware Findings die.

For the Spiky Shingled house, I made a pumpkin tree which I am kind of tickled about. I needed more color for this house so I made a bottle brush tree out of sisal rope, used various distress inks to give it a dark color, then I made little tiny polymer clay pumpkins and glued them to the tree. Silly, I know, but I think it looks cool and it does give this very monochromatic house some much needed color. The Spiky Shingled house is made with the basic Village Dwelling die.

Here it is - the Spiky Shingled House

I scattered some pumpkins below the tree to look they have fallen off the tree. I have not glued down the pumpkins yet. I may add an owl or a bat or another bird at some point. The roof is made from the off cut of one of the set of shingles on the Village Rooftops die. I think it looks a little more menacing that the other dies.

You can also see the branches from the Sizzix Bird Branch die that I used at the porch supports. The brick wall was made from a Tim Holtz brick stencil.

The Sizzix Bird Branch shows up a little better here as the porch support.

Now for the Village Manor - I had the base and the base house made weeks before the die arrived because I was so anxious to make this little house. The base is intended to look like a rocky outcropping.

That's all for now. I will talk about the details in making the house tomorrow. I have to work in the morning (Just imagine - work interfering with blogging and crafting, really now.)

I am going to enter the Spiky Shingled house in this month's Vintage Journey challenge which is "Stencil It". 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Haunted Manor for the Holtzville village - a work in progress

I received my Village Manor die about 2 days ago. I have been diligently working on it since then. I've got it almost done to complete the halloween village I am calling Holtzville in honor of Tim Holtz who designed all these dies for Sizzix.

Here is a brief preview of the Manor as it exists now. Probably I will finish it tonight or tomorrow. I have to work at a real job sometimes I am afraid. In the meantime, I am really happy with how the house is looking. I need to make the fence, color the back of the tombstones, make a tree of some sort and decide how to do the chimneys.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Spider Gathering House

I continue to make Halloween houses for the fall fundraiser. This week's challenge on the Simon Says Stamp Wednesday blog is "Make for the Border". Well, when you see this house, you will want to make for the border. It is a little scary. The product line that is highlighted is from Memory Box. I realized I had a really cool spider web die from Memory Box so I made a Spider Gathering House with spiders all over the house.

I had a lot of trouble gluing on the border largely because I was lazy and didn't score the border before I tried to glue it on. I was covered with glue trying to get it to stick down. I don't think this is one of my best houses, but it was fun and a good experiment. I especially enjoyed using Ranger's Enamel accents on the spiders. If you have ever seen a Black Widow spider in real life, you know how deep and shiny the black color is. The black Enamel accent color is perfect for that. I put a dot of cherry red Enamel accents on the back for the hourglass on the spiders. I know that on the real spiders it is on their abdomen, but I have to have a little poetic license for my Halloween houses.

I hope somebody will have fun with this little house. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Haunted Holtzville - First House of the Halloween Village Dwelling Series

Finally, I have one of the Haunted Holtzville houses done. This one is the Village Brownstone altered as a Halloween house. I am making a little village - Holtzville - really, Haunted Holtzville, with the Village dwelling dies. I am eagerly awaiting the Village Manor to complete the village. 

My plan was to unveil the entire village together but today's challenge on the Wednesday Simon Says Stamp challenge is "Make for the Border" and since the fence as a border to this piece is fits perfectly with the challenge (in my mind, anyway) I decided to go ahead and post it. 

The basic house die is the Village Brownstone. I altered it by making 2 back pieces so I could make a different, less ornate door. Then I made rough sawn plank siding with the Tim Holtz torn notebook die and painted the pieces with black gesso covered with Picket Fence crackle paint. The edges of the planks were distressed with Black Soot distress paint. 

The roof is the Village rooftop die that looks like shakes. I love this die. I edged these shakes with some Picket Fence distress paint after painting them black with black gesso. It gives them a more spooky dimension.

The fence - the border,rather - is the Tim Holtz On the Fence edge die. It is made of 2 layers of cardboard glued together and distressed with Ground Espresso and Black soot. I made a gate using a section of the fence and cut out 2 cross pieces to look more "gate like". I put 2 cardboard strips behind the gate section to make it stick out beyond the fence. 

The base is just cardboard built up in layers so the ground looks uneven. I painted it with an ochre paint and distressed with Black Soot and Ground Espresso distress paints. The leaves are from Tim Holtz Sizzix punches along with a few other miscellaneous leaf punches. I made the pumpkins from sculpey, but now Tim Holtz has come out with some Ideology pumpkins which came out after I was making the Haunted Holtzville Village.

The tree is one of my standard trees in the background - the Tim Holtz Branch Tree which is retired, I think. You can still get it online though on Amazon or Ebay. You can substitute the Sizzix Bigz Bird Branch as a tree. I'm going to do that on one of the other houses. You can see an example of the branch as a tree on my Red, White, and Bluebird Clock house. I love the little owl from the Sizzix Halloween shadows die. I wish they would make the owl and what I call the "mouthy pumpkin" into a punch because I use them so much.

I tried to use all Tim Holtz products for Haunted Holtzville which really wasn't a challenge because there are so many cool things in his product line for Halloween houses.

I hope you enjoyed the introduction to Haunted Holtzville. More to come. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Tim Holtz Village Dwelling - Tips on making these little houses

I've been making little cardboard houses for about a year and half. Most of the time I make them from templates that I draw and cut out myself.  Lately, though, I have been making the little houses from the Tim Holtz Village Dwelling series. He started out late last year with the first one called "Village Dwelling". It is a simple die with a gable front, a door in the middle flanked by 2 windows. Shown below is a simple (undecorated) house that I made from this die.

The next major variation on this series is the "Village Brownstone". My first house that I made from this was a Christmas church with the bell tower addition.

Soon a new addition called the Village Manor will be coming out and I cannot wait because it will bring a whole new dimension to these little houses.

But in the meantime, I have learned some tricks that help in the construction and customization of these little houses.

1. Use cardboard for longevity

Since I make all my little houses to sell, I want them to last for a long time so I make them out of cardboard rather than card stock. I think it would be easier to score the folds, glue things together if made from card stock or scrapbook paper, but the houses would not be nearly as sturdy. And I always reinforce the cardboard with an extra layer behind each wall. The weakest wall is the wall with the door because there is only a small strip that maintains the form of the house. Sometimes I glue an extra little strip there to make sure the house stays square.

See the extra strips below the door on this halloween house. The house was curving under the door so I added extra strips to keep the front wall straight.

2. Make a larger roof

 I almost always make a larger roof because I like larger overhangs. I use the roof piece that comes with the die as an under roof, but I either cut a larger piece of cardboard and glue it on top or make shingles that extend beyond the borders of the roof. You can see on the little blue house at the top of the post that there is not much of an overhang, but the church roof extends a little further out. Tim Holtz did a great job designing a bunch of features to fit on one die, but size is a limitation. Also remember to paint or cover the visible portion of the overhang before you glue it down.

Upside down house showing the underside of the porch overhang. I didn't paint this one very well, but orange showing through the paint looks ok for a halloween house.

3. Pre-score fold lines before gluing

Pre-score your folds before gluing. Since I use cardboard, a thicker material, I score the folds a little deeper using a ruler and the back side of my craft knife. That way the folds go completely to the edge and fold better.

4. Glue vs. Hot Glue

I use a PVA glue, usually Aleene's Fast Grab Tacky glue, told glue the house together. Most of the demonstrations online use hot glue. Again, because I am making my little houses to last for years, I
think the white PVA glues are the most durable. Most of the people who make reproduction putz houses on the Cardboard Christmas forum use some form of white glue. So my choice is based on what I know to be durable.

5. Use the die cut pieces differently

There are an infinite number of ways to customize your houses, but I'd like to mention a variation that makes the buildings a little more flexible. Instead of cutting a front and back piece you can cut 2 back pieces of either the Village Dwelling or Village Brownstone.

Village Brownstone on the right made with only back pieces

6. Consider making your own base a little larger

Because of the size limitations on the dies, the base that comes with the die is relatively small, I make my own base so I can add more scenery.

7. Fences can make the house

I think fences make a dramatic addition to any little house. Because I want my houses to last for years, I make the fences out of cardboard - 2 or 3 layers. I have some fence punches that will not go through cardboard so for those I glue 4 layers of 65# card stock together to make fences using those particular punches.

You can see on other houses on my blog how the fence really helps make the house.

Old Little Cardboard Houses

I was reminiscing and found some photos of the very first crop of little cardboard houses (2015) that I haven't posted on this blog. Often I can see details that I have improved upon, but sometimes I think "Whoa! That was a really cool idea. I need to do that again."

Here's a double gable house that I made with scrapbook paper. It went to my biggest fan.

Here is Black Hat Inn, one of my very favorite houses. The hat comes off so you can put an LED tea light inside to light up the house. The 3 witches on top can spin around as well. It took awhile for me to figure out how to do that. I think the whole project took over a month to make.

Halloween Steampunk House. All the keys and locks were made with cardboard covered with metallic foil tape, then painted or antiqued. 

Clockhouse on a Frosty Morn

I posted these houses to motivate myself and just to document the wide range of possibilities making cardboard houses. I hope you will enjoy making one (or several) someday.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Tim Holtz Village Rooftops

Sometime in May, the Tim Holtz Village Rooftops dies from Sizzix arrived to make my little houses so much cuter. I have used them on every house since then, I think.

Bat Clock House

Raven's Crest Rooftop

Widow's Walk Rooftop

One cool thing I noticed is that the off cuts can be used for rooftops as well. You can see a little bit of that on the Widow's Walk Rooftop where I used the off cut around the edge to give some spooky spikes to the edge.

Here are a few photos of the dies and how the off cuts can be used.

Rooftops cut out in cardboard. 

Rooftop off cuts. Can you see the potential for using these on a rooftop?

Off cuts separated - the top off cut is before separating the shake shingles.

Shake shingles separated.

Staggered rounded off cuts:

Staggered Pointy off cuts - a little spookier than the others. I have just the house for this one.

Staggered shake offcuts. I combine these with the regular shakes so you don't have to cut out as many.

So if you are making a lot of little houses, this saves you some time and gives you more options for the roofs.

As I have said before, I love this die. It has made making the roofs so much more fun. Now I don't have to cut out shingles by hand anymore.