Friday, July 21, 2017

Tree House Prototype Fixed

I made this house about a month ago and it just did not work. No matter how many leaves I glued on the front, it did not look the way I wanted it to. Last night I noticed the house sitting with the back towards me and I realized I could make it into a house I like.

Initial Tree House Prototype - not working
Back of the house as I first made it
Trying to fix the house by gluing on lots more leaves - still not working
The extra leaves framed the house better and the hole in the back for the light could function as the opening in a bird house. Now if I had started out making a bird house, I would have made a bigger opening, centered it better and added a perch. But I figured I could still modify the house so that I would like it.

Much better. 
It is very satisfying to salvage a project, don't you think?

Thursday, July 20, 2017

All Squared Up Challenge

I was a pinworthy challenge winner from A Vintage Journey's The Magic of Three Challenge. Very excited to be chosen. AND I was chosen with some incredible artists - Barbara who posts on a blog called YaYa Scrap and More and with Nate who has a blog named Le Scrap de Nate. So when you are a pinworthy challenge winner that means you get asked to be a guest designer for the blog sometime in the future. Well, that is today - the challenge is titled "All Squared Up".

I was told the challenge topic about 2 months ago and I was so relieved to have an idea to work on. I recently read that Vincent Van Gogh used a frame device to help with perspective. I always thought great artists like Van Gogh just instinctively understood perspective and that his drawings were flowed from that. Now I don't really know how his device worked, but it gave me an idea to work on perspective using framed squares. I used the Tim Holtz cityscape buildings as my objects that get larger as they get closer to the viewer.

This project is called, naturally enough, City on the Square.

I cut a bunch of squares each one smaller by 1/2 inch. I cut out the centers to make the frames. Every frame was painted a different color. The plan was for the background to recede so I made it darker, then the rest were successively lighter. I played around with the Distress Oxide colors for these frames.

The cityscape buildings were stained with various Distress inks and Distress Oxides.

Then I arranged them on the edge of the frame to get bigger and bigger as the frames got larger. I also cut the bottom of the building at an angle. I glued some strips of cardboard on the back of each frame to help them protrude a little to emphasize the perspective.

When I conceived of the idea, I wasn't sure how it would work, but once I started placing the buildings on the the edge of the frames, I realized it did work. Kind of a fun artistic exercise for me.

Thank you everyone at A Vintage Journey for picking me for this challenge.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Hip Roofed Square Farmhouse Finished with Landscaping

The latest Halloween house is finished. It's the one with the hip roof and square sides that was inspired by A Vintage Journey's "All Squared Up". Each side is 3" x 3", each window is square, the pathway is made with squares and the fence posts are square. Oh, and the base is a square. Lots of squares.

I found some moss on the side of the road which kind of looks like tumbleweeds. I glued it down here and there.

This is the back of the house with the light hole open. I glued the fence posts in and let them dry for a day before I looped wire around the posts. The best wire I had was silver which needed to be distressed with dark brown and orange alcohol ink as well as some Prima Rust paste in brown and orange.

I made a red door just to give a little surprise color then I figured it was too bright so I toned it down with a little Black Soot distress ink. Better, I think. I made the square stepping stones out of a thick cardboard that one brand of kitty litter comes in. It has such a nice lumpy texture and looks like stone to me.

One of my online blogging buddies, Laney of Sugarplum Patchwork, asked me about what I use for the base of the siding. (Check out her work, she makes such beautiful putz houses.) At first I used the same cardboard that formed the structure of the houses. But lately I've been using 110# black card stock. It works really well with the crackle medium. The siding that is on this house consists of leftovers from a couple of previous houses. That's why there different degrees of crackles and colors. I think works for this abandoned house.

See the straw bundle on your left. I was trying to get the glue to dry with a heat tool so I could take photos and almost set the straw on fire. Sometimes you have to be patient and just let things dry on their own. You can't see the browned bottom edge from this view.

That's about it. I hope you enjoyed this little tour of the Hip Roofed Farmhouse. I'm going to share it with this month's A Vintage Journey challenge.

I have some ideas for the next house. I really have to get a move on because I think I only have 14-15 houses for the sale and I really want to have more than 20 completed. Fall will be here before you know it.

Thank you for stopping by.

Recent Trip to Utah - Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

I wrote a brief post about going out west in early July, but I hadn't gotten around to a real post so here it is.

One of my favorite charities is the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah. It is actually a national group that aims to make all shelters "No Kill" by 2025 - a lofty goal. The sanctuary houses about 1700 animals on 3000 acres in Kanab, Utah. I had never visited but I kept hearing what a beautiful place it is to visit so I finally got the time to go. I went with my friend, Lynn, from Montana who does a lot of animal transport from high kill shelters in the west to no kill shelters. I knew she would like to go. She met me at the Salt Lake City airport and drove me to Kanab, Utah about 5 hours away in the southern part of the state.

We stayed at a cute little hotel in "downtown" Kanab called the Canyons Boutique Hotel. We signed up to volunteer at Best Friends for the next 2 days. Lynn really wanted to work with the dogs on the first day, but volunteer opportunities in the doggie areas fill up fast and there was no place for her to work on the first day. So we get volunteer in the cat area much to my delight.

Canyon Boutique Hotel

Our first job was to walk the cats. Huh? Cat walking. We were in Cat Headquarters where the cats that don't get along well with other cats live. They each have a nice sized room with outdoor access, but apparently they really enjoy going on walks in pet strollers. The first two we walked were Butch and Bruce. Butch loves to go on rides and whenever he is out of his room, he goes to the lobby and jumps in the stroller waiting for someone to walk him.

Lynn took a picture of me pushing Bruce. He was very attentive and was looking for lizards. After walking about 4 cats in strollers we got to work cleaning rooms - cleaning litter boxes, changing water bowls, sweeping and petting the kitties, of course.

We ate lunch at the Best Friends cafe which is all vegetarian (mostly vegan) for $5.00. It was great food.

Then to the Bunny House for the afternoon volunteering session. We got so lucky because apparently Wednesday afternoon is treat day for the bunnies. To keep them from getting fat, they only get treats on Wednesday and Sundays. We fed them some dried apple snacks. Now some of these bunnies are very human friendly, but a lot were very shy so coaxing them out to give snacks was a bit of a challenge. And you have to give both bunnies in the same room the treats at the same time. If you don't, one will get jealous of the other and might start a fight. Who knew? The photo below shows two "Lion Head" bunnies who are killer cute. They look like fuzzy slippers. Honey is the one with the brown coloration. I can't remember the white bunny's name. Let me just tell you - judging from their rooms - bunnies are MESSY, very, very MESSY. I am glad we didn't have clean up duty in the bunny house.

That evening we went to a service for the Sanctuary animals who had recently died - crossing the Rainbow Bridge. The service is held at a place called Angel's Rest high in the canyon - very beautiful. It was a lovely service. We cried, of course, but we were happy to hear how loved all these animals were.

We ate that night at a great restaurant in Kanab called Peekaboo Canyon Wood-Fired Restaurant. Again we ate vegetarian and loved it.

The next day we got up early because Lynn got a volunteer spot in one of the dog areas. If you go early you get to choose where you work. Most people choose the puppy room, but Lynn wanted to work in a training area. She actually got admissions and worked with dogs who had recently come to Best Friends. I think she really liked that area.

I got Cat Headquarters again where I started out walking cats, but this time I got to walk 2 cats on a leash!? Cats walk on a leash? Well, barely. Melanie easily walked out the door across the side walk and proceeded to roll over and over in the red sand. She was a dilute colored calico until she started rolling in the red sand, then she turned orangey-red. I was able to get her to walk a little bit by picking her up and moving her away from the Cat Headquarters where she walked on a wall to get back to her familiar building. I cannot remember the name of the second cat I walked, but he would not walk except 6 inches from one grass clump to another. I imagine his room was littered with grass-covered hairballs after my walk with him.

The beautiful Melanie after rolling in the red sand. Melanie is a 15 year old cat with diabetes who requires daily insulin.
Melanie missed a spot so she has to roll some more.
Melanie actually walking on a leash. 
The grass eater cat. I couldn't get him to walk at all, but you could tell he loved being outside for some grass treats.
Then I cleaned a few rooms. I cleaned one of the kitten rooms with 3 little rambunctious kittens. After I mopped the floor where they had spilled their water, I went to clean another room while waiting for the floor to dry. I made a serious error and put the food bowl on a counter to let the floor dry. When I went back to their room, they had knocked the food bowl into the water bowl making an even bigger mess than the one I had first encountered. You can't trust little kittens.

Lynn and I did a tour in the afternoon and got to play with some puppies which was really fun.
Puppy Mania.
This little boy dog named Etoufee looks exactly like one of Lynn's dogs. She almost took him home with her.
Puppy Attack. Lynn did not mind.
The most important thing about the visit to Best Friends is that it is so positive and loving and kind. I thought it might be sad, but the Sanctuary personifies the best aspects of the word. It is both a sanctuary for the animals, but also for any human who visits. You will feel love and kindness - something we all need.

I was going to include the side trip to the Grand Canyon in this same post, but I think this post is long enough. The Grand Canyon will have to wait for another day.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Hip Roof Farmhouse - latest House for Habitat

Still working on this house, but it is getting close to completion. I got the idea from A Vintage Journey blog challenge this month "All Squared Up". I thought I should make a square house with each side a square and all the windows square. To maintain the look of a square house, I had to make a hipped roof - a kind of pyramidal roof which is a first for me. It was much easier than I expected. The base is square as well.

Each side is 3 x 3 inches. The basic cardboard I use is 8.5 x 11 inches so I couldn't cut the house out of one piece. I made the back separately. The seams don't show from the front because the glued flaps fit inside the house. I decorated this house before I glued it together. It is easier to glue all the crackled, distressed pieces of siding when the house is flat. The roof is just cardboard covered with a metallic tape distressed with Ranger texture paste, alcohol inks and little bit of Distress Black Soot paint. I wrote up tutorial on how to make a rusted tin roof here.

The house glued together.

Waiting on the posts to dry so I can string some wire between them.

As always I have to figure out some landscaping. I'm trying to figure out how to make some hay bales. Maybe glue some straw to small pieces of wood - not sure how to do that. Maybe tumbleweeds? 

I think it looks like an abandoned house during the dust bowl era. 

Thank you for reading. Have a happy, creative day. 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Monday Challenge - Red, White and/or Blue

I came up with an idea for this week's Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge "Red, White, and/or Blue". Of course, I would include blue since I love blue and I have these great Distress Oxide blue colors. I decided to use the Stampers Anonymous Tim Holtz "Sea Life" to make a July 4th card. It will have to be mailed to someone next year though since I missed the day of July 4th as I had just gotten back from vacation. 

I figured the lobster, octopus and fish would function as my red, white and blue. Then I found a flag stamp which I colored with various pens. The hat on the octopus is from the Tim Holtz Crazy Things which was colored to look like an Uncle Sam hat. The background is primarily Distress Oxide inks on watercolor paper spritzed with water. I tore the edges and layered it on 2 layers of the Tim Holtz Idea-ology Correspondence scrapbook paper. 

I am very happy with how this turned out. Thank you for stopping by. I hope your summer is going well. Stay cool. 

Monday, July 3, 2017

Spooky Tree Tutorial

I'll try to write a brief tutorial on making trees from wire and brown packing paper and glue. Newspaper would work just as well, I think. I've made 6 so far and each time I get better at it. They are really pretty quick to make. This is a photo-heavy post so I'm going to keep the photos smaller than I usually do.

I tear the paper in strips to wrap around the wire. If the branch is pretty small I don't use glue, but on the longer, fatter branches I do glue them because the paper unwinds more. When I paint the trees, the paint functions as glue to hold the twisted ends together permanently.

I usually make the wire longer than the paper because it is easier to twist the ends of the paper on the wire. Also if you use a shorter piece of wire, the wire tries to slip out of the paper and you can't bend the limbs as easily.

Just twist tightly and it usually stays very well. If you have to use a little glue on the ends, that's fine. As you can see below it is the fatter strips that tend to unwind.

Now wind 2 branches together. I try to offset them a little so the branches aren't all the same size.

Then wrap a strip of paper with glue on it around the 2 branches so they become one branch.

Keep doing that until you have a tree. I try to vary the length of the branches. Since each one has wire in it, you can bend them however you like. The base of the tree and the roots need more filling out.

Here you can see how I've wrapped the trunk and even wired 2 branches together.

I used a short piece of paper-wrapped wire to make a 3-pronged branch.

Here is the tree with the base of the trunk filled out and more paper wrapped around the roots. If your tree doesn't stand up very well you can bend the roots to get it to stand the way you want it to.

I trim the wire with wire cutters when I am satisfied with the shape of the branches. The trees are not fancy or perfect, but they work well with my Halloween houses. Below is a photo of the tree standing up. It tilts a little, but I will play with it when I glue it to the base of one of the the houses.

I like this tree and as I said earlier, each time I make one, I get better at it. Let me know if you make one or if you have any questions.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Vacation to Utah and the Grand Canyon

This is just a brief post because I haven't posted yet this month. I visited an animal sanctuary in Southern Utah called "Best Friends Animal Sanctuary" and then about 2 days at the Grand Canyon since it was only 80 miles from Kanab, Utah. We camped outside of the park and drove in each day. We hiked about 5 miles the second day. It was wonderful.

I haven't figured out how to post photos from my iPad so that will have to wait a day or two for a real post after I get home. Thank you for stopping by.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Hipster Inc.

Tim Holtz is the designer of the Stamper's Anonymous Hipster stamps and Sizzix Hipster dies. Sizzix and Tim Holtz teamed up for "Get Hip for Summer" encouraging craftsters to use the stamps and come up with unique projects with these dies and stamps. This is my first attempt. Hipster summer extends until July 21st so I hope to enter one or two more projects later.

I've been working on this Hipster idea for awhile. It took me a few tries to draw a suit for the Tim Holtz Hipster cat. The Chuck Taylor shoes required a few attempts as well. I've also been working on making my backgrounds more interesting - even to the point of taking an online class by Marjie Kemper at Craftsy. Finally, I am getting better at backgrounds.

I will enter this Hipster cat in the Sizzix "Get Hip for Summer" on Instagram and in the Simon Says Stamp Wednesday Challenge which is "Use a Patterned Paper". The Simon Says Stamp challenge specifically wants you to use a printed patterned paper rather than making your own patterned paper so I used both. The patterned paper I used is from a Tim Holtz pack and I used it behind my Hipster Cat to make him a little more prominent.

That's it for today. Next project - either a tutorial on making trees or perhaps a new house.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

House Guardians for the Halloween "Tree" House

I decided that the trees around the house looked like they are guarding the house so I call them the "House Guardians". I glued a crow in one of the trees as a guardian as well.

I've talked about this before how what you plan in your head is not often what comes out when you complete a project. Sometimes that is a good thing and sometimes it's a bust. (The previous "tree" house was not a successful design.) This house does not look like what I envisioned, but I am very happy with this iteration.

The trees are pretty rustic-looking which is ok for this design. I really like how all the leaves pop and provide color to the house. I made the leaves by coloring watercolor paper with various stains and sprays then used a Fishers leaf punch to make the leaves. Since I used watercolor paper there was a conspicuous white edge to the leaves so I distressed some with Walnut distress ink (one by one - my fingers are still stained brown 24 hours later) and others I sprayed Fossilized Amber and smooshed them around in the stain to obscure the white edge.

In my original house plan, I didn't put any windows except the circular ones and I realized after gluing the house together that that was a mistake. So I cut out some window frames and backed them with black cardstock and glued them on the house.

This is the back of the house. I usually leave a hole in the back just like in the Japanese putz houses, but my base has a square cut out large enough for one LED tea light. I drew the boards on the house  with a fine tipped pen and then distressed it with some dilute black gesso. You can see one of the tree roots extending over the edge of the base just to increase the creepy factor a little bit.

I enjoyed making this house. Next will be a much more complicated design based on a house I found on pinterest.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Better Trees for the "Tree" House

Ever since I made my tree house prototype, I have been trying to figure out how to make some spooky trees. Earlier this year I made one with wire and polymer clay but I didn't like it. It was too clunky. I couldn't seem to make the branches thin enough.

So I've been going over ways to make a tree. I saw lots of wire trees on the Pinterest that were very cool, but I didn't want my trees to be made exclusively from wire. And I didn't want to have to cut 100s of pieces of wire. I can do some tedious things, but that is not one of them.  Also I don't like to have to buy supplies which is ironic considering how fast I will order dies and stamps and paints and stains, but I cannot make myself buy cardboard or mat board, for example.

As a result I came up with a way to make trees that satisfies the creative and thrifty sides of my personality. 

Basically it's a variation on the wire trees I found on Pinterest. Cut some wire (only 5-8 pieces per tree), wrap the wire in paper, salvaged brown packing paper in this instance, paint, wind them together and voila! a spooky tree. 

I think they work very well with this abandoned house. I may call this house "Tree Guardians". I have two more trees to glue on. Then I have to decide about placing leaves and any other decorations. 

What do you think?

More on this house in a day or two. Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

"Tree" House - House Prototype

I've had this idea for awhile and just decided to make a quick house to see how the idea works.

The idea is based on some abandoned houses I've seen where it looks like the woods are taking over the house - trees and vines growing along the lines of the house. I used a tree die to cover the house and then painted it and added some maple leaves from an old Martha Stewart punch. I used Fossilized Amber distress stain to make the yellow and sprayed some Rusty Hinge and Barn Door and walnut stain on top to age the paper for the leaves.

I glued the trees on and then painted them. It looks kind of messy to me. I don't think there is enough contrast between the trees and the house itself. The maple leaves are a little large as well. But this is a prototype - just playing around so it's a perfect way to experiment. There is also an online challenge that works with this house - Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge which is "Touchy Feely". I think there is certainly a tactile component to the house, especially seen on the side view where you can see the leafy shingles on the roof. 

I will probably try to make one more house like this, but using paper mache for the tree rather than the Tim Holtz Branch Tree die. I love this die, but I think a paper mache tree will have more dimension and may be easier to paint. Also I will try some smaller leaves. I have a punch of leaf punches including a number of oak leaf punches that I think will work better.

Another reason I haven't been around very much is that I actually was asked to be a guest designer for an upcoming post on A Vintage Journey - a very big honor. I've made one project but I may make 2 others just to see which one works the best. At first I was really scared because I was afraid I wouldn't be able to come up with an idea, but I immediately had 3 ideas that I was excited about.