Friday, February 26, 2016

The Tim Tag Trials - Episode 1



Though my main craft is making little cardboard houses, much of my inspiration and many of my tools come from scrapbooking websites. Probably Tim Holtz has one of the most visited craft websites that is not specifically a seller of goods. Each month he demonstrates various techniques with his products to make a tag. I think he's been making tags for about 10 years. It started as 12 tags of Christmas, now it's 12 tags of the year.

Ok, so in the past 10-12 months when I have been crafting like crazy, I have been tempted to make a tag. But I often misunderstand the concept and think that I don't have the rights supplies (really, you should see my crafting area - there is no shortage of supplies) so I've never done one.

While I was working so hard on my Easter houses, I thought I would make tags to go along with the houses when I deliver them. I made the January tag in February and I can safely say it was not successful. See the January Tim Tag below.


This is the January tag where you use embossing powder and chalk on a stamped image.  My image is a little complicated and clearly did not work well.

I can fix it as seen below. I'll glue a better stamped image over the chalk rabbit. I think the colors look better as well.



Ok, so the February tag was posted on the first. I'm thinking to myself, "I'm doing this one. I will make this tag." The only thing is that you really do have to pay attention to instructions. Tim Holtz designs most of the products he uses so he knows what makes it work. And when he says he uses watercolor paper, he says that for a reason - perhaps because the inks and dyes need to soak into the paper or spread over the surface of the paper, you think? So what do I do? I read on one website where the artist says she always coats her tags with a layer of gesso. Since I love gesso (its thickness, slightly rough texture, how fast it dries) I must coat my tags with gesso. I wasn't really thinking that it might inhibit the paper's ability to do its job with the inks and stains. Next I see some pretty pearlescent paint on my table that I love because I like the color so much. I think I will use that as the background color. Do you think a layer of pearlescent paint might prevent the paper from absorbing the dies and stains? Maybe.

So I try out the first technique called the stencil monoprint. Seems pretty easy, but it is not if you have changed the nature of your paper. Step one of the February tag is unsuccessful, you could call it a Pinterest fail. Since there are 2 techniques to be demonstrated this month, I have an additional chance and getting one part of the tag right. This is embossed paste technique which is much less confusing than the stencil monoprint, though not without challenges. I have a few nice stencils. I chose 2 Damask lace-like stencils, one ray of sunlight stencil and a harlequin stencil (not shown because it was so unsuccessful). In the demonstration, the textile paste which you rub though the stencil is sprinkled with metallic embossing powder to give it a really nice shine. I actually did the first one correctly, but my embossing powder (not a Tim Holtz Ranger product) is kind of funky and didn't shine very well, but it's still usable. The 3 others were not right. I don't even know what I did wrong. I let the paste dry overnight, but on one of the tags, the embossing powder all fell off the next morning. If you rank your success at this technique on a scale of 1-5 for all 4 tags, I might have made it to 2.

Two months of tags have gone by, the second set of tags are salvageable, but I feel like I'm in school and I didn't follow the instructions. Creativity doesn't really work that way and I'm sure Tim Holtz would not think that, but if you have traditionally been a good student and went to school forever (20+ years), you still have that ingrained thinking. I guess that's what you have to let go of to be creative. I have posted my not-so-successful February tags below.



You can barely see the stencil monoprint technique in the upper left hand corner. I was trying to stencil a watch face on the background.


No way the stencil would work on this tag, but the embossed texture paste is pretty nice and I still like the tag.


There was a lot of white texture paste showing on this one so I had to strategically place my images to cover it up. 

That is episode one of the Tim Tag Trials. We'll see what happens when March rolls around. I hope the instructions are easier. 

Have fun, everybody.


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Maple leaf top for Easter House


I finally fixed the maple leaf top Easter house. I originally used a number of different maple leaf dies and punches but it looked chaotic. So I glued a bunch of Tim Holtz maple leaves punched out of distressed green cardstock. One color green is a little off so I am gradually covering those leaves up. I think it looks much better now.

You can compare it to the picture from February 21st. I think it's pretty obvious that this is a better solution.

I finished all the bunny portraits. The clip art is from digital Easter collage sheets from Alpha Stamps. They are actually having a sale where the sheets are 50% off until Feb. 29th (only $2.25 per digital sheet that you can print over and over). I do not have any relationship with them, I just happened to notice it when I went to get the link. The portrait frames are a La-La Land die that I think looks a bit like a picture frame.



Now it's just a matter of gluing them inside and then doing the exterior decor.


This particular Easter house is almost done. I can see from this photo that I need more oak leaves to cover up the green paint on the cone better. And I need to apply the white picket fence. That's about it for this Easter house.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Design Elements for the Easter Houses

Almost ready to decorate the little Easter houses. I die cut about 50 picket fence pieces, glued them together, painted with primer. They only need a layer of white pearlescent paint before they get applied around the base. The grass is die cut and will be applied randomly around the tree roots and around the fence. I am making some bunny "portraits" again to go inside the house - just a fun little detail. I may also add some clip art rugs to the floor inside as well. The doors have been painted and will be soon applied. I'm figuring out which bunnies I want on the outside. I'll glue the clip art bunnies to cardboard, cut them out and play around with the arrangements on the house and glue grass to the bottom of the bunnies. Then the polymer clay eggs will be applied. That is really the funnest part - it really makes the easter look.

Have to go to work now so this is a very brief post. More details later.


Have fun crafting.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Easter Houses with Leafy tops

Just finished the leaf tops for the next set of Easter houses.
























I made one with maple leaf dies and punches, but I don't like it as much. Also there is a little too much variation in the coloring on the cardstock on that one. I need to tone it down some by adding some smaller cutouts with more uniform coloring on the top of some of the leaves so it won't look quite so chaotic.




The last leaf top I made has both more uniform coloring and more similar oak leaf punches. I think it is more pleasing to look at. I like the rounded curves of the oak leaves rather than the sharp angles of the maple leaves for this purpose.




Some of the products I used to make these tops are listed below:

Leave dies and punches (note: * denotes a favorite that I will be using again and again for a project like this):

1. Lawn Fawn Leaves - nice die but a little large for what I needed it for.

2. * Tim Holtz Medium Maple Leaf punch

3. * Tim Holtz Medium Oak Leaf punch

4. * Martha Stewart Oak Leaf Punch This punch is discontinued but pretty easy to find online at Amazon or Ebay.

5. Tim Holtz Autumn Gatherings

Distress Stains and dies to get some variation in the leaf color on the cardstock:

1. * Ranger Tim Holtz Distress Stain Peeled Paint - love this color

2. * Ranger Tim Holtz Distress Paint Peeled Paint

3. * Imagine Walnut Ink - Eucalyptus - gives a great color to green cardstock for variation on the
leaves

4. Ranger Tim Holtz Distress Paint Twisted Citron - good color for highlights on leaves.

The window panes are made using a LaLaLand craft die - Diamond Lattice Border.


That's about it for now. Back to making fences, bunnies, easter eggs, painting bases - in other words, little house crafting fun.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Inspiring Gift Today

Different things get different people inspired. While I am obsessed with making my little cardboard houses, I find cardboard to be extremely inspiring. One of my friends texted me and told me she had been saving cardboard from her office and would I be interested - oh yes, I will come and pick it up.

And what did she have for me? A 4 inch tall stack of beautiful, clean cardboard - perfect for building my houses and making the fences. It's so much cardboard that I told she didn't need to save it for me for awhile.

Feast your eyes on this wonderful cardboard. That will make a lot of houses and that makes me very happy. Thank you, Karen.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

More Easter Houses on the Way

We got back from skiing in Montana last Saturday. It was incredible, beautiful, beautiful weather with snow almost every day with not a lot of crowds. Just wonderful skiing.

Then what happens - back to work, of course. The hospital where I work needed a new computer system in which every department communicates seamlessly with every other department. This, of course, required a serious upgrade which, of course, requires a serious learning curve. Which also means it is a pain at this time. I don't think it will remain painful, it just is going to be tough going for awhile. So I haven't been able to do much crafting this first week back, but I do have some little Easter houses in the works.

I'm making these houses for my biggest fans at work - the people who repeatedly ask me about my houses or have kids who seem to delight in the little houses.



With each new house I get better at bringing my vision to reality. I think these little tree stumps look much more wood-like than the one I made last month. I also decided that I wanted the leaves to be more variable and more lifelike as well. So I punched a bunch of different sizes and shapes of oak leaves and added some branches. I am really pleased with house this roof looks. I'll probably do one more oak leaf house and then a maple leaf and an elm leaf roof.

I haven't made the doors yet. I'll also put some bunny portraits inside these houses as well. I'll play around with the picture frames to make them a little more realistic. I think I've got enough polymer clay eggs already done. My plan is to use the same fence die because I think it looks appropriate for Easter and kind of reminds me of the Beatrix Potter stories. Two of the houses are going to homes with young girls so I intend to decorate the fences with flowers.

That's about it for now. I'm still having fun making my little houses. If I tire of making the houses, I know I will find another crafty creative outlet.