Topsy Turvy World

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Hey everyone.  What a couple of weeks (months, really) the world has had, no?  It’s hard not to become world weary and beleaguered by the continual barrage of bad–but that is a luxury no one can afford at this point.  We must remain vigilant and optimistic and do what good we can in our small corners of the world, which includes creative acts and sharing that beauty, though it does feel futile and insignificant at times.

While things are mixed up all over, right now I am counting myself lucky to have the luxury to make art, and I am sharing it this week over at the Mix It Up Challenge where Neat and Tangled is joining forces with Essentials By Ellen!

While I had the world on my mind for this piece, I also thought it would be perfect for teenagers who often feel like it’s the end of the world on a moment to moment basis (remember those days?).  Time to up the happy!

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To make my upside-down world, I cut out Neat & Tangled’s Hexstar die to make a stencil and used Heidi Swap’s Color Shine spray to pattern the world die (also by Neat & Tangled).  As you may have seen in another card of mine over at THD, I embossed the world die cut with WRMK’s Next Level embossing folder, which offers great texture and ability to manipulate.

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I used Paper Smooches Border die to create my fissure, which is propped up on either side with foam squares.  The base paper is a lovely ombre world image from Amy Tangerine on which I stamped the sentiment from Julie Ebersole’s Up the Happy Set. It’s a bit difficult to see in my photos, but the shadows of the continents on the paper float below the die and are perceptible in real-life.

If you are familiar with my work, you know I love layers and dimension, so I often alter die cuts and create architectural, 3-D pieces.  Below is a close up of the fractured world.

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Here’s the inside with some ombre washi running lengthwise.

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And the back.

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Click on images below to view full size close-ups.

 

I made this card below as well, uniting Neat and Tangled and Ellen Hutson goods!  It is a case of one of my own cards, which you can see here or here. All white base paper is also from Ellen– my favorite 100# linen stock.  You can see the full N&T Hexstar die cut below and world die again (this time right side up!). I stamped Julie Ebersole’s Brushstroke Christmas “peace”  on vellum, heat embossed and fussy cut; the “to the world” sentiment is from the same set, heat embossed on MFT washi tape die cut.

Well, I sure don’t know if everything is gonna be okay, but if I don’t get to bed soon, I can guarantee it will not be in my corner of the world.

Wishing you peace and beauty.  Thanks for spending some time with me today!

 

Catching Up…

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I have struggled with sleep for years– falling asleep, staying asleep, needing mid-day naps to compensate for the lack of sleep.  Having experienced chronic, debilitating bouts of insomnia over the last decade, I am nearly giddy when I actually zonk out for more than 5 hours at a time.  No longer accepting early morning teaching gigs has helped somewhat with my sleep issues and has resulted in a more natural sleep cycle whereby I go to bed later and wake up later. Because I teach most nights until at least 8, sometimes 9pm, it takes a few hours to wind down after 5 or 6 hours of back-to-back students and parents.  And not until the last few months did I notice what a difference my elimination of morning teaching (at 6:45 or 7:30 am 2x-3x/week for the last few years) really has made to my health.  I have come to the realization that I am a shift-sleeper, and if I can get two 3-4 hour cycles in each night, I feel good and rested the following day.  According to sleep doctors, this kind of sleep is actually quite normal, and I am thankful to have a job where I can manipulate my schedule somewhat to accommodate my natural physical cycle.

However, when the mind is heavy or hormones are creating havoc, I typically find myself up around 2-3am, and unable to return to sleep for possibly hours.  I often chide myself to get up and do something since just lying there never helps (chiding yourself doesn’t do much good either!) and since I can’t seem to squeeze enough time out of my days to accomplish what I want, nor lately what I need, it seems even more futile to lay wide-eyed in the dark with an unrelenting mind.

So here I am, up since 1:30 (it’s now 4am in the windy PNW), having roused myself (after significant chiding) to catch up with some creative work.  I’ve taken a couple days off for the mid-winter break to relax (maybe) and organize my physical and mental spaces!  When you work for yourself, there really never is “downtime” and frankly, after a conversation tonight with my partner, I have come to the realization that I really don’t think I know how to relax, truly–or maybe I don’t believe in it, or rather what is typically considered “relaxation”?  Don’t get me wrong, I do attempt this state through massage, acupuncture, and the occasional pedicure, but even then I can find it hard to tune out and turn off. How can one relax when there is just so much to be done in this life– so much to create, and read, and experience, and think about?  Sometimes I think that is what some diseases, like migraine, are meant to teach us–to let go, relinquish control, truly rest (other times I doubt there is any greater meaning within them–they are simply chemical or biological alterations in our bodies beyond our control)–but either way it’s a paradox; my migraines FORCE me to slow down, shut off completely for awhile and reboot– but then on the other side I am often left further behind, with more catch-up!  Without rest (and frankly, better time management), though, we cannot manifest fully in any capacity– and so whatever we choose to call it– relaxation, rest, meditation, downtime– I guess it’s something I need to consider and uncover what will work for me, without guilt, in 2016 to bring many aspects of my life back into balance.

At any rate, catching up is what this post is all about and after being asked to participate in 7 days of sharing your favorite creations from 2015 on Facebook, I figured it was time to empty the folder on my desktop labeled “To Blog” (just like it’s time to empty the real folder on my physical desktop that contains all the belated cards and letters and gifts  I’ve slated to send for months)!

This was one card that actually made it into the mail and into the hands of a student who graduated in June 2015, and it is one of my absolute favorites from last year, partly because of my technique, but also because I think it shows some growth in my design knowledge and style.

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For this card, I cut the MFT Stamps world die from acetate to make a stencil and then adhered that to some Ranger watercolor paper.  From there, I proceeded to use a variety of Distress inks to watercolor my world.  This was actually my first attempt, and I was pretty excited with how it turned out!

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I also used  a MFT Stamps sentiment from their graduation set, a must-have for teachers!  I love the bold fonts of MFT’s collections.

I adhered some washi, and echoed the black and white outlined letters with the b/w striped paper.  The colorful paper layered below is some OLD stock (possibly My Mind’s Eye) that also echoed the colors of the world and the water-coloring perfectly.

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Please check out my portfolio pages for the rest of my new/old creations; I have some fun cards and mini-albums there (I entered the world of layouts and scrapping in 2015!).

May this be the start of an inspired, fruitful week with plenty of rest!

 

 

Good Spirits

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I am an idealist with a healthy dose of realism.  We can be taken down by the disappointments of our daily lives and the dark forces within them, or the greater world, or we can confront these realities and counterbalance them with creativity and compassion.  My idealist nature has opened me up to not just a few tricksters throughout my life, and in recent years, I’ve experienced a not-so-healthy dose of disappointment.  It is easy, and human, to become discouraged, to want to disengage as a result.  And this reaction very well may be necessary for our own healing and growth.  Like a yoga instructor once said to me, “It’s important to open, but you have to close, too.” This was a really important revelation for me.

But then you need to find a way to open back up again–to trust, to forgiveness, to acceptance.  That is the hard task of living.  Cynicism, negativity, rigidity are much easier, but if prolonged, much deadlier states of being.  I know I have held on to people or incidents using them to stoke my anger, as proof of what a dismal business any relationship can be.  The reality is no matter how generous or kind you are to some people, no matter how authentically you try to conduct your life, you can’t necessarily expect reciprocation, and to expect as much, while only natural, can be a recipe for disappointment.  It also leads to a transactional view of the world or relationships (rather than a transformational one) which isn’t healthy or realistic in the long run.  What I’ve come to find, rather, is that often you will receive what you need when you need it, and it may be from an unexpected source, at an unexpected time.  Sometimes this source is within us, other times it is outside of us.  Reminding myself of this on a daily basis is one thing that helps me persevere in my personal and professional realms.  It also helps me recognize my own shortcomings and forgive myself when I haven’t directly acknowledged or repaid someone’s kind act.

And this weekend in particular gave me pause to reflect on all of this, not only because of the conversations and interactions I had, but also because I received an unexpected gift in the mail from a fellow paper crafter.  There are myriad reasons why anyone creates art–for me, one reason is to counteract the ugliness in the world, and sometimes in my mind.  It is the same reason why I, and many of us, retreat into nature.  Both remind me that the world is a beautiful place and we can have a hand in that beauty.  Becoming part of an international group of paper crafters and artists has contributed to that sense as well.

So I just wanted to publicly thank Jeanne of A Kept Life for her kind gesture.  Not only did she send me one of her gorgeous cards with a wonderful note, she included some Pretty Little Studio materials–and I love their work.  In case you don’t know Jeanne, she is on numerous design teams and has an amazing flair for color and pattern.  Her cards just pop out of the screen, and are even more delightful in real life.  Please pay her a visit!  These are just a few of my favorites of hers, seasonally appropriate! Click on image for more information.

I have been working, as usual, behind the scenes quite a bit on different pieces, but haven’t had much time to write and post the work.  I finalized this card last week, inspired by Fusion’s latest challenge.  There are some AMAZING entries (as usual) from the design team and players this week!  Go check them out!

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I integrated most of the imagery in the photo, including the branches and the mini candelabra, and manipulated the sketch a bit.

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The inside sentiment is from Waltzingmouse’s Halloween set released last  year. inside trick or treatAll of the ephemera is from an old American Crafts set; I die cut the clock (Crafter’s Companion), branch (Memory Box), and leaf sprig (Maggie Holmes).  The papers are old October Afternoon, and the base is one of my favorite cardstocks, “Fuse” by MFT.  I am not a big twine or ribbon user in my cards, but I do love the look of that moldable wax twine as a finishing touch sometimes.

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Click to enlarge.

I am also playing along with AAA Cards and a new-to-me challenge, Time Out (I made it over, Anita!!)

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Time Out Challenge

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In the next few days, as the moon becomes full and the veil thins, I hope your world will be full of good spirits, and if you encounter any ghouls, may you find the power to cast them off.  I plan to be back with some more Halloween fare before the week is out, but if not, enjoy this enchanted season and revel in the treats of Halloween night!

Love, Love, Love

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Love wins.  We’ve been hearing that sentiment quite a bit lately.  So I figured it was about time to share this wedding card I created for a celebration in May!  Pink wins as well, yet again, along with some sweet Maggie Holmes swag!

I was pretty motivated by my sketch for the Magic card and the birthday card I created for Kimberly’s blog hop, so the design of those cards clearly affected my layout here!

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I stamped the background with the PTI Wet Paint sentiment, leaving some white space at the bottom.  I really love the MFT small circles die, which I cut down to a 3.5 x 5″ size as the backdrop for some Maggie Holmes “Kiss Kiss” ephemera, and a die cut layering card from the Love Notes collection papers.  All clipped together with a Paper Source clip.

20150502_164912I had my eye on that “Love” die from Frantic Stamper for ages.  They have some really cool sentiment dies over there.  So I covered some paper in that pink and gold washi tape, then cut it out!  Love making washi “paper” for die cutting purposes!

Layered a bit of netting to reflect a bridal veil, some Maggie Holmes’ Open Book flowers, and a touch of sequins to finish the front.

20150502_164827Kept it simple on the inside with a PTI wedding sentiment, and a touch of something blue in the turquoise sparkle.

Finally, I wrapped it all up in a Whisker Graphics goodie bag, and added a bit of swag to the vellum tag–more Maggie Holmes paper goods.

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I was really pleased with the entire flow and feeling of this card.  One of my favorites by far, and the bride liked it too!

Wishing you a lovely week!  And don’t forget to leave some love on my last post if you’d like to win some crafty goods!

Birthday Blog Hop!

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Whew, my head is spinning with all these April birthdays–family, students, friends, acquaintances!

If you are participating in the hop, you’ve likely made it here from Tonya’s site.  If you are not hopping yet, follow the links below!  Even though it may not be your birthday, you might receive a gift if you hop along!

I’ve been able to squeak out a few cards to honor some fabulous folks, and today we are celebrating a PNW crafty friend, Ms. Kimberly Wiener of Wienerhoneymooners, who is well-known for her prolific, bold, and colorful styles featured not only on her blog, but numerous design teams.  She regularly inspires our crafty little group when we gather with her make & takes, and always shares her wares generously!

I hope her year is just as bold and exciting as her creations, and as sweet as she is!

So this card’s for you, Kimberly!

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As in my previous post, I was playing with the brushstroke sentiment background, featuring PTI’s Wet Paint collection here.  The cake is my first acquisition from Stamplorations, thanks to Maria of Riesling Mama–I could not resist after seeing her gorgeous work with this cake and their other stamps!

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What’s a birthday without something sweet?

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Love this cake-focused collection of sentiments, Delicious Birthday, from MFT!

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I added a bit of fun stitching, and these delectable sequins in salmon, aqua and gold from Fancy Pants.  I can’t get enough of these colors!  I like stitching, taking out the stitches so the holes are left, then adding a new line.  Adds a bit of interest!

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Alright, now it’s time for you to hop around to the rest of my crafty crew’s sites in celebration of this special day!  Amy of Tsuruta Designs, ever the amazing organizer, has pulled this hop together, and she will have blog candy for those of you who leave a comment on each of our posts, including on Kimberly’s site, so make sure to leave some love here before you go!  And don’t forget to wish Kimberly the best in her new year!

PNW Participants!

ME–You are here!