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!
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!
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.
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.
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! 🙂
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.
I finished off the back and inside with my woodgrain washi– a favorite I reach for time and again!
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.
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:
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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?
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.
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.
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
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
her hair flow in wind long tail behind
and the phantom at her back
to help her flight her final cry
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
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
In my last post, I briefly explored the restorative powers of scent. This week, the ladies over at CAS-ology have prompted me to think about the significance of color, in particular, purple. It is the theme of their current challenge, and a color that doesn’t seem to be a terribly popular choice among card makers, based on some reactions I have read. I, myself, own very little in the way of purple clothing or accessories, and up to this point only considered it once in my card making when I was creating an assortment of gumdrops (which can be seen here). I needed to use a Crayola marker as I hadn’t thought to invest in Copics of purple shades!
Initially, I dismissed the challenge. What could I say or would I want to say through purple? Despite it being the color of my birth gem, amethyst, and birth flower, violet, I’ve never been drawn to or inspired by it, regardless of shade. But over the last few days, my thoughts kept turning toward this regal hue.
Having just replayed seasons one and two and three of Downton Abbey while I was ill, images of ethereal lilac and lavender dresses flowed through my mind. Unbeknownst to me before the series, Victorian and Edwardian ladies turned to soft purples for half-mourning clothes. Purple was also one of the main colors employed by the Suffragettes in the Women’s Social and Political Union in England, standing for dignity; white and green were also featured in their flags, banners and other materials, symbolizing purity and hope, respectively.
All of that reminded me of the annual Lilac Festival held in my hometown of Rochester, NY where more than 1,200 bushes of 500 varieties have bloomed and drawn visitors from all over since 1908. I was prompted to pull out my WPlus9 Fresh Cut Florals set and start stamping lilacs for a card that is still in the works!
Maybe I was too quick to cast aside the color of 2014!
Melissa Phillips’s window card had me really inspired; I created a few versions, some which are still works in progress, but will be featured soon. CASE Study’s muse, Donna Mikasa, had me reaching for my Hero Arts Fancy floral lace die and re-visioning my approach to the window card. The two challenges combined with purple for a match made in heaven!
I was pretty faithful to Melissa’s tutorial, using tone-on-tone stamping with the Ruby Reprise stamps from PTI on my second layer. However, I wanted my card to be much more clean and layered, so I did not add stamping or much embellishment on the top layer. I really love how the cream base and top layer play against the lavender, lilac and purple hues.
I popped my window out, but wish I’d had thicker foam squares, or more of them (I ran out of the large squares which are better for doubling up), to pop it out a bit more, as the die will cast a wonderful shadow against the background the further it sits off the paper.
Purple is long associated with spirituality and piety, and one thing I love about this die is that it looks like a stained glass window in a church. So playing off my original card, I inverted the colors, and simplified the card even more. The sentiment is from PTI’s Mega Mixed Messages, which I stamped in lavender Color Box ink and heat embossed.
The card base is from a paper assortment my mom sent me, which I wondered if I would ever use! Seems like it found just the right fit at last!
I would love to hear what you think about purple, Downton, or my cards! Drop me line if you have the time.
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.
One of my favorite things about living in a coastal city is the fog, especially on warm days when it peels back slowly to reveal a cloudless sky and leaves just enough gauzy mist to cool the air and soften everything in view. That was true of yesterday. After three days of confinement from illness, it was a glorious day to finally venture out, and it seems these crocuses, along with the rest of the neighborhood, felt the same! I live steps from the beach, which despite its numerous residents, is a very quiet place in the winter; I hadn’t seen it this busy since Labor Day. Traffic tangled at intersections and crawled along the Avenue, and Seattleites desperate for some Vitamin D thickened the sidewalks and lounged, fully clothed, in the sand.
It was a day that made it easy to forget we are only a third of the way through winter.
And while I am not sure those of us in the Pacific Northwest will be experiencing anything quite like the polar vortex of our Midwestern and East Coast friends, winter is bound to return with its stretches of rain and unyielding grey, which always makes me begin to crave some serious aromatherapy.
I find that my desire for certain scents changes with my emotional and physical needs, as well as with the seasons. A few years ago, I went through a phase where I couldn’t get enough rose geranium. I sprinkled the oil into every shower or bath, added it to my body lotion, and wore a perfume whose main note was geranium. Looking into the healing properties of the scent, I found that it helps to alleviate stress, balance female hormonal shifts, and aid skin ailments. Some research has shown that it stimulates the adrenal cortex, which mediates stress in the body. When your adrenals are overworked, your defenses are lowered. It made sense given the challenges of the time that I would be craving this restorative oil.
The body is a great source of its own healing, and tells us all the time what we need to balance, repair, and recover. If we take the time to focus and listen carefully to our body, we can often unearth a natural remedy in the foods, scents, sounds, images, or physical environment with which we interact.
So if you are in need of a serious mid-winter boost, or just want something new and delicious, here are some recommendations, any of which would also sweeten up a Valentine’s gift, along with a handcrafted card, of course!
Hands down, these products have been one of my most delightful finds in the last few months. Hailing from Portland, Oregon, Valentina’s crafts delectable scent combinations, my favorites being Protection, Habit Breaker, and Sweet Dreams. The rich perfume oils come in little roller bottles which I dab on my wrists throughout the day whenever I need a little lift. Her formulations are not flimsy; they endure and maintain true to their profile when on the skin. There is some variation, as is usual, among the perfume, spray, and oil.
Her line of True Love products would be perfect for Valentine’s Day, if you love the scent of chocolate, cardamom, and roses, that is!
Speaking of chocolate, my next pick for an uplifting seasonal scent (and sweet treat) is Lulu’s Chocolate from Arizona.
I fell in love with Lulu’s handcrafted raw chocolate years ago, and couldn’t get enough of her body butter. It truly is good enough to eat.
No winter season is complete for me without her Mexican Chocolate mix, which local coffeeshop Hotwire uses for their mochas.
Not all essential oils are created equal. I am sure you have smelled some and wondered at the incongruence between the name on the label and the emanating odor that makes you want to cap the bottle quick! Two brands I turn to over and over for their quality and consistency are Seattle-based Uncle Harry’s Natural Products and Pharmaca’s line of oils.
Here are a few of my favorites in each brand:
Additionally, I am drawn to anything Eucalyptus. It’s one of the most invigorating scents I can imagine.
Both Pharmaca and Uncle Harry’s have solid eucalyptus oils. A few drops in the shower and suddenly the morning, or your head cold, become a little more manageable. For a double dose, Dr. Bronner’s eucalyptus liquid or bar soap is a must if you love Eucalyptus as much as I!
Lastly, whether you are looking for uplift or romance, what is better than the glow of a candle? I have tried many brands, and the best one I have found for the money is from Aquiesse. Their candles burn evenly, cleanly, and completely, leaving no trace of wax behind; the scents are so saturated they fill multiple rooms, lingering even after being extinguished, and the gorgeous packaging makes them a delight to adorn any shelf. My top picks? Most of the time I tend toward a woodsy, musky scent with notes of vanilla, tobacco and sandalwood, or mandarin and spice, especially in the winter. The Cinnamon Tabac, Sandalwood Vanille, and Mandarin Tea all fit this profile perfectly; no matter what you prefer, though, they likely have the scent for you.
So have your senses been tempted yet? I hope I’ve offered some tantalizing options for you to explore!
When spring seems so far away, what revives your mind and body? I’d love to hear some of your scent-sational recommendations!
Thanks for stopping by, and may everything in your little corner of the world be coming up roses.
Here’s a sweet poem to send you on your way…
By the road to the contagious hospital
under the surge of the blue
mottled clouds driven from the
northeast—a cold wind. Beyond, the
waste of broad, muddy fields
brown with dried weeds, standing and fallen
patches of standing water
the scattering of tall trees
All along the road the reddish
purplish, forked, upstanding, twiggy
stuff of bushes and small trees
with dead, brown leaves under them
Lifeless in appearance, sluggish
dazed spring approaches—
They enter the new world naked,
cold, uncertain of all
save that they enter. All about them
the cold, familiar wind—
Now the grass, tomorrow
the stiff curl of wildcarrot leaf
One by one objects are defined—
It quickens: clarity, outline of leaf
But now the stark dignity of
entrance—Still, the profound change
has come upon them: rooted they
grip down and begin to awaken