Giant Steps: A Graduation Card for the Jazz Musician

Repurposing for a Purpose!

Well, this past Sunday I attended the final graduation party of the summer for one of my seniors who departs for college this week.  One of the great joys of doing the kind of teaching I do is witnessing the growth of many of my kids over several years.

The particular student for whom I made this card is a tenor saxophonist who really found his voice as a writer and musician this year.  I couldn’t be more proud.  So I dug into some vintage stash to put together this layered piece.

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I bought this magazine in 1997 at the Bop Shop in Rochester, NY.  I’ve been carting it around all this time, looking at its amazing ads and images every now and then.  It features gorgeous full page pictures of Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Charlie Parker’s grave.  It is full of articles about musicians’ musings on the current state of jazz, in 1959, and the future of the art form.  A pretty cool artifact for a jazz lover.

The magazine, like most of our belongings after awhile, hadn’t really seen the light of day in a few years, so I figured parts of it might be better put to use as a gift.

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The image of John Coltrane is also repurposed, cut from a card I bought 20 years ago and never sent!  I have a few of those lying around.

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The Happy is from PTI, cut in Chickaniddy Gold foil paper.  I ripped an ad for Capitol records to layer in the middle of the card.

 

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The bottom layer, which is covered by a waxy brown bag that I also repurposed, is part of Duke Ellington’s article on the future of jazz.  You can lift all of the layers to read the entire piece.

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The inside and back are adorned with gold stripe washi.

Below is the middle and base layers so you can see the awesome ad.  I should have grabbed a photo of the Ellington piece but neglected to!  Good thing I made a copy of it before I put the magazine original on the card!  It is a really great piece.

 

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This is headed over to Simon Says Stamp’s Wednesday challenge–“Back to School”.  School never ends for me, but I am feeling the push of September pretty hard this week!  And I’ve still a few more congrats cards to finish before the summer is out for my graduated 8th graders and one more senior!  I’ve also a backlog of congrats cards from JUNE to showcase featuring Dewey Decimal by Lawn Fawn and other awesome goodies, so check back soon for those!

Simon Says Stamp

I will take a bow and leave you with a colorful image from the magazine and Coltrane’s Giant Steps–swoon.  Keep swingin’.

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An Octopus’s Garden and a Summer Soundtrack

Adios, I’m a ghost!*

Bienvenue, I’m back! And with a backlog of work to boot!

But tonight, rather than bore you with the details of the last two months of my life, I am going to keep it simple and share one of my recently completed cards, which had been in the works for two months, as well some recently discovered music perfect for these sweet summer days, which for me have mostly been packed with work (and a few stolen moments of sun and fun), hence my longer than planned hiatus!

So one morning in what seems like a galaxy far, far away, we were driving along with the morning spring air flowing sweetly through the car and Ringo’s voice ringing out “I’d like to be, under the sea, in an octopus’s garden, with you.” And I immediately thought of my goofy little octopus stamp and all my sea creature dies and the shaker card craze, and before the song was nearly sung, a card was almost done… in my imagination, at least.

Until this weekend, when I was finally able to dive into a day of paper and stamp play!

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That little octopus from Kelly Purkey’s set just kills me!  I stamped him in a navy, embossed with clear powder and then stamped the coral from a fabulous Carta Bella set around him, wiping off the excess ink from his arms when the coral images had dried.

I flicked some Heidi Swapp Color Shine in Seafoam around him and then set to stamping the sentiment with Milo’s Alphabet and a Stampendous set.

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What to do with all that packaging you accrue from crafting supplies?

Repurpose!

The plastic shaker window is from the packaging for a set of die cuts!  It was easy to find rectangle dies large enough to cover its edges. I used Spellbinders and Mama Elephant to cut my wave paper and create a frame.

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Sequins, Melissa Frances Sea Glass, sparkly Memory Box and Savvy sea creature die cuts fill the floor of my scene.

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Since I’ve been away for so long, I never did share the fact that I was one of two winners in the Basic Grey Grand Bazaar give-away!  My goodies arrived at the end of May, and I just cut into the first sheet of paper from the set for the blue background paper on this card!  I NEVER win anything, so seeing my name randomly chosen for this collection that I love was astounding!

Here are some photos I snapped of the stash!

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So before I go, allow me share some sweet music with you!  Summer is the perfect time to just lounge long in the morning sun or sit through the evening dusk listening to some down-tempo, chilled out music!  This ended up being quite a musical weekend for me– a local street fair brought me back to a fabulous local group The Moondoggies (*from whose 2013 album I have stolen the first line of this post).

And after hearing the song “Baby” by Donnie and Joe Emerson on NPR’s Dinner Party Download while I was making the card above, I found myself traveling down a rabbit hole into some fascinating musical terrain–one story, one song lead to another and another!  The tale of Donnie and Joe is interesting–their rediscovery nearly 35 years later even more so– and their 1979 album is super fine for a lazy summer Sunday.  The track “Baby” has garnered the most attention.

Ariel Pink, also new to me, released a cover of the song that captures its essence perfectly.  Gorgeous soul groove… YouTube has a mix based on Ariel Pink’s track that is wonderfully lush listening.

Like this tune from Darondo…

And this cover by Chet Faker (loving his work so far)…

Need to take it up a notch?  Here’s some pure weirdness, In the Summertime, by Mungo Jerry

And if you are still with me, well, how can I leave without sharing this…

Happy summer, happy listening, happy crafting!

 

 

Signs and Songs and Poems of Spring (and one card)!

Happy weekend, once again!  I had hoped to be back bit sooner this week, but the design I was working on just wasn’t ready to be birthed!  Some pieces are like that, especially when you are trying on a new style for the first time.

I’ve got a card to see, a poem to read, and a song to hear, as well as some great resources to follow, so settle in and read on!

Birds and Bees

For the past two weeks, I have been working on building nests just like my sparrow, wren and crow neighbors!  We have an adorable house wren couple that covets an evergreen bush and Camellia tree in the front yard.  The cats and I have enjoyed watching the little love birds pecking about the ground and in the branches that brush right up against our window!

Camellia Tree
Camellia Tree

Likewise, the crows have been foraging for nesting materials in my yard, and the other day I watched one fashion a stick from our backyard tree to his liking.  I’ve spied one of the local crow family’s new nests perched high in a birch overlooking the beach and within viewing range from my studio window!  And just this morning, a baby bee was buzzing about my screen door giving the cats quite a time before I was able to shoo him to freedom.  The winged creatures have certainly sprung into action here on Alki!

And so, I attempted to follow their lead and get this shabby chic creation, inspired by the wrens and trees and colors in my yard, completed at last!

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This is not a style that I typically gravitate to, though I have been making more clean and layered cards with frames and clustering and am thoroughly enjoying the clustering style.

Because the layout of this card shifted quite a bit, I decided to photograph the different ideas for comparison, and frankly to aid my visual memory!

I consulted some gorgeous paper artists who work exclusively in this style to learn more about how they layer panels and embellish.  Check out the work of Andrea Ewen (more elegant-less-shabby at times, always chic master),  Dorota_mk (jaw-dropping work), Frau Muller (edgier approach to this style, which I love!), Scrapperia (vintage, shabby style with a hip twist in cards and scrapbook layouts).  You can find representative work from each on my Pinterest as well.

Techniques

This style is quite labor intensive!

I initially began stamping my Sparrow from Deep Red Stamps onto watercolor paper with Walnut Stain distress ink.  I then watercolored him with various Distress inks and a fine watercolor brush.

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Reinforce paper for distressing

To reinforce thin paper, I Mod-podged my newspaper from the 7 Gypsies Conservatory pack onto heavy cardstock, and did the same with my wood background panel to enable distressing as the thinness of the papers would not hold up to the edging tool.  The frame’s paper, cut with Spellbinders Fancy Ovals, is also from the Conservatory pack.

I Distress inked most papers with Antique Linen and/or Tattered Rose.

Sewing on Paper

Before sewing my two paper panels, I made sure to adhere them in the center so they would not slip.

One thing I should have done was reinforce with heavy cardstock, as it would have made the sewing easier.  These papers are very thin as well, and despite using a grippier quilting foot, they tended to slip around a bit making straight-lining tricky!  I sew fabric much better, folks.  We’re going for shabby here! 🙂

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I die-cut dozens of branches from a variety of papers for texture.  I then cut or ripped them to get the sizes or shapes I wanted.  I featured these delicious little pins in my Enticing Embellishments post and I was excited to find a use for them!  I also love Fancy Pants resin flowers.  They are the best ones out there in my opinion.  Gorgeous shapes and colors.

When playing around with placement of my completed panel on the card, it felt a bit empty, ironically!  So I dug into one of my favorite paper sets, DIY Shop, and the Joyful Morning Anthem sentiment fit perfectly length-wise.  After trying it atop the card horizontally, I decided on a vertical placement.

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I finished off the back and inside with my woodgrain washi– a favorite I reach for time and again!

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ADHESIVE TIP:

And speaking of nests– you have likely seen circles of twine or nests of gold and silver thread adorning people’s cards lately.  It’s definitely a trend. But how to do that easily so it looks like a controlled chaos rather than just a mess?

I love this adhesive for my cards as it is strong, but removable (won’t rip most of your papers), can be cut to desired size and gives a little dimension (if that is what you want) but not as much as a foam square.

scoch restickable

This is perfect to lay down on your surface and encircle or twist and turn your thread into the desired shape as I did here:

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I have one adhesive square down on the card, curled my thread in a design I wanted and then put another square atop to adhere the die cut.

My Sparrow card is headed over to Catered Crop for their current challenge: Put a Bird on It and to Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge that features more vintage work!  There are many challenges featuring our fine winged friends going on and I will be swooping back in with more bids and some butterflies soon, so check back!

Catered Crop

 

Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge Blog

April is National Poetry Month!

On my way out, I thought I would leave you with a poem to celebrate the month of poetry here in the States as well as a song!  I listened to this album while I was working on the card above and the first track is quite appropriate for spring!

 

Let Birds

by Linda Gregg

Eight deer on the slope
in the summer morning mist.
The night sky blue.
Me like a mare let out to pasture.
The Tao does not console me. 
I was given the Way 
in the milk of childhood. 
Breathing it waking and sleeping.
But now there is no amazing smell
of sperm on my thighs,
no spreading it on my stomach
to show pleasure. 
I will never give up longing. 
I will let my hair stay long. 
The rain proclaims these trees,
the trees tell of the sun.
Let birds, let birds.
Let leaf be passion.
Let jaw, let teeth, let tongue be
between us. Let joy.
Let entering. Let rage and calm join.
Let quail come.
Let winter impress you. Let spring. 
Allow the ocean to wake in you.
Let the mare in the field
in the summer morning mist
make you whinny. Make you come 
to the fence and whinny. Let birds.

– See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/20615#sthash.4Axrli7O.dpuf

More bird poems here!

Interested in bird study, issues confronting birds and the environment, what that warble really means?  Check out public radio’s BirdNote!

Supplies:

Bee-lieveably Sweet! A Card, A History, A Poem

Well, fancy meeting you here again!  I am back with my second post of the day to prompt you to play along with us at the CASE Study Challenge, where some delightful designers are working this month from the inspiration of Joni Andaya of Papell With Love .  Please see my first post for the challenge here!  And since it is the beginning of spring for many of us, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, I can think of few better than Joni for some spring inspiration.

Here is this week’s offering from Joni!

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Elegant harmony.  That’s what this card is.

In my first take on this card, I wanted to capture that elegance.  However, in the second incarnation, I went whimsical and trendy.  It was the amazing grey and salmon hexagon design and wasabi paper from Amuse Studio that pulled me in that direction.

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The true color of this paper is easier to see here in the second photo.  I absolutely love this color, and when paired with the salmon and pinks, it’s just delectable.  And that hexagon paper?  It came in a pack from Impress stamps, so I don’t know who manufactured it.  It was the only one of its kind, so I was hording it for just the right time.  And this card was just the occasion.  Can you see some of the fine print and detailing?

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I wanted to make sure to leave the sentiments and details of the paper exposed and tried to draw attention to them with placement of subtle embellishments, such as the wood veneer diamonds that I die cut from Simon Says Stamp’s Mod Window.

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The black Swiss dot paper from Bazzill makes an appearance again, this time really grounding the design and making the textured pink bee and wasabi laurel pop!  I used PTI’s tag sale die for this.

The flag is from a Dear Lizzie pack of chipboard embellishments.  I strategically tore my script washi so it would read “I walk on the line of love”– delightful line!

What really ended up bringing the design together for me was the die cut striped washi at the bottom of the card.  This was my ah-ha moment where I knew the card was finished, and how I brought in that captivating stripe of Joni’s card.

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As you can see from the back, the front panel sits up a bit higher, so I was able to capture the full design of the paper on the front.  I like how the back of the cardstock peeks over the top edge and how the design plays with the arrowed washi at the bottom.

Please join us at CASE Study now until Tuesday at midnight to play along with this week’s challenge!

So what is the story of the bee and laurel? 

If you have read any of my other posts, you will have noticed that I love to work thematically in my writing, pulling in historical and cultural references, and providing my readers with interesting facts about the topic at hand.

I enjoy the French country and shabby chic aesthetic.  I am, in many ways (apologies to my British friends), a Francophile at heart.  From the moment I walked into my first French class at the age of 11, I was hooked on the language, culture and history.  Sadly, I don’t use my French as much as I used to since I’ve no occasion to speak it or teach it here in Seattle.  In Upstate New York, so close to Canada and specifically Quebec, French was much more prevalent, and it was a dominant language taught within the schools in the area. Now it comes in handy when I am teaching morphology and etymology to my students, or assisting with Spanish.  Quel domage.

One of my (many) goals is to join a French conversation group so I can brush up!  If you know of any good ones online, or if you would like to correspond in French, let me know.  I am rusty as an old hinge, but passionate nonetheless!

So, the bee and laurel!

You’ve likely seen this regal combination adorning cards, pillows, linens and other home décor.

In France, the bee was representative of French sovereigns and became an emblem of the First Empire under Napoleon I during the 19th century, adorning his coat of arms.

The bee is a “Symbol of immortality and resurrection…chosen so as to link the new dynasty to the very origins of France. Golden bees (in fact, cicadas) were discovered in 1653 in Tournai in the tomb of Childeric I, founder in 457 of the Merovingian dynasty and father of Clovis. They were considered as the oldest emblem of the sovereigns of France.” (Napleon.org)

A laurel wreath also appears on Napoleon’s coat of arms encircling the N and around which bees and stars dance.

The laurel has long been associated with power and victory, going back to the Ancient Greeks and Romans.  It was Apollo who first donned the wreath in honor of Daphne, who had, in fleeing from his insistent pursuit, been turned into a Laurel tree by the Gods at her imploring.  Not so victorious, hmm, Apollo?

When considered within a contemporary, feminist framework, the tale raises issues about the problematic nature of freedom for women, the struggle for power, and the threat that both society and men pose to the mind and body of women.  I was long ago inspired by the myth and these issues, so I wrote the following poem based on it and the Miles Davis tune “Pharaoh’s Dance.”

I will leave you with that very poem and an embed of the amazing tune if you care to read and listen!

While Listening to Miles Davis’ “Pharaoh’s Dance”

Corner creeping quiet sneaking trumpet
blow the echo and crash in empty black
comet spiral sound keep crashing into light

Stars explode in drum beat burst
shrill silver light streak in sky then silence
and night

haunting rhythm return soft toe

tap tingle around crafty foot
step and louder now                     the squeak                          the squeal
hand around waist where skin screams
at touch and wriggles away

Running faster Daphne from Apollo
perverse pursuit
her hair flow in wind long tail behind
and the phantom at her back
to help          her flight                her final cry
ends here

quiet legs stick in ground
arms outreaching             rhythm slow fall over her
thigh becomes trunk                  small waist circle of wood
breasts knotty knobs and fingers branch to end
with green tipped wonder                     point to the sky

gratitude

Her pursuer stops                  wants to break
branches                 halo         the leaves around his head
a laurel crown caressing
hurt                             he will watch forever as she withers
and is reborn

the pound                the pulse             the rhythm
faster now in memory                     in memory                     in memory
in memory                             in memory
of the chase

Rhythm, Blues, and Spelling Challenges

So I figured I would end today’s entries on a humorous note.  Third time’s a charm right?

(See my second music-themed card & post of the day here.)

Evidently so as it pertains to my other music-inspired card, which unfortunately did not make it over to CASology due to some technical difficulties…

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So as many of you know, I am a teacher.  Specifically, I work with special needs kids who are diagnosed with dyslexia, dysgraphia and ADHD.  I also work with typically developing students in the areas of reading, writing, and study skills.  Additionally, I myself am a writer.  I understand the inner workings of words.

And yet, there are three words in the English language I perpetually spell incorrectly.  Not every now and then.  Always.

Surprise
Negative
Rhythm

(Hmm, these words look like the beginning of a very interesting poem…)

And it is that very last word that I spelled incorrectly not once, but twice on this very card.

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The first time, I caught my mistake.  And it was all the better, since the card itself needed some reworking design-wise.

After playing around with the record image, and deciding to double stamp, die cut, and piece it together, I found the card taking shape.  I embossed the record so it would have the sheen of vinyl.

Then it was time to stamp the sentiment.  The card was coming together!  The photo session was a success!  I uploaded to Flickr and to my other post.

And then, I noticed the extra “y” in rhythym.  And it was back to the drawing board.

How many times can you look at something and not notice the flaw?  I have talked before about my trouble with visualizing; it seems I not only have trouble seeing images in my mind’s eye, but recalling the visual patterns of some words.  They just never stuck.  And all the spelling and phonics knowledge I possess has not altered that fact.

After all the blues this card gave me, it still ended up being one of my favorite “AND” creations.

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I chose this cardstock specifically for the “grooves” in the texture.  Looks like a record, no?

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The square shape of the card is meant to mimic an album or CD cover!

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Here is the inside above and a close-up below.

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So on my way out, I wanted to share with you a bit of history behind the stamp!  Sun Records was born in Memphis in 1952, discovered Elvis in 1954, and recorded greats such as Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Merle Haggard, and Roy Orbison through the years.  It was the quintessential home of rhythm and blues, rock and roll, country, and rockabilly.  Click on the link above if you’d like to learn more about its legacy!

This is a fabulous book and musical journey–a legend of the comics, R. Crumb, drawing on the legends of blues, country, and jazz.

In honor of great R&B and good old Rock and Roll, I will leave you with some tunes–She’s So Scandalous by Black Joe Lewis from the album featured in the photographs above and Spin the Black Circle by Seattle’s own Pearl Jam.

Rock on, dear readers!