Catching Up…

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!

 

 

Sympathy, Fashion, & A New Stamp Company

Good evening! Here we are in the last week of January, the month that seems to never end! Does it seem like that to you? The New Year and holiday season always feel like ancient history by the time January winds down.  I don’t mind a slow month, though, as I need the time to get myself in order for 2015, and since my birthday kicks off the month of February, I plan to formally spring my new year objectives into action then!

For now, I have some catching up to do here and in physical reality!  Be on the watch for  portfolio entries this week showcasing some holiday cards and seasonal thank you’s (all of which I need to finally get off my desk and into the mail!).

On a more somber note, I have a sympathy card to share today.  There were a few inspirations for this card: my Savvy flower dies, an oval shape, Downton Abbey, and the current Runway Inspired Challenge!  I wanted to play along with their last challenge, but time wasn’t on my side.  It’s funny that I’ve never played along, since I sew, love fashion, and often visit their site.  Well, I’m throwing my hat in the ring now, and plan to more often in 2015!

So here is the inspiration photo, outfit courtesy of Carven, a designer entirely new to me!

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And here’s my take:
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I wanted a lot of open space and texture, but I deviated a bit from the ivory of the model’s pants, and went with white instead.  I pulled the orange-red of the belt buckle into my card base, and positioned my floral paper so the red flower would be visible.  The MME Market Street Collection, Nob Hill, is full of delightful floral papers, and this one not only seemed to echo the patches on the model’s blazer, and the obvious prominent black, but was also influenced by this season’s episodes of Downton Abbey.  If you are a fan, you may have noticed the ladies donning quite a bit of ruddy-hued and marsala dresses, as well as delicious florals, ivory and jet black.  This week’s episode 4 (state-side) even featured a fashion show!

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The texture of Ranger’s watercolor paper is divine.  I think I will be using quite a bit of it this year!  And I’ve not yet done justice to my Savvy floral dies– they will be getting quite a bit of use as well.

I used heavy vellum from PTI to emboss my Verve stamp sentiment.  The flow of the font echoes that of the die cuts and underlying pattern.

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A sampling of Downton fashion–boho, glam, and lithe flapper!

And speaking of fashion on and off the runway–

Have you heard of The Ton?  I recently purchased some stamps from them as they have just launched, and I am thinking their focus would be perfect pairing for Runway Challenges.  Here’s a little bit about them:

“Established in January 2015, The Ton was born out of a combination of one new crafter’s passion for card making, creativity and entrepreneurial spirit.  Our stamp designs are inspired by haute couture fashion and modern decor.”

I am really excited to get my shipment of “Round Diamonds” and “Vintage Frames”!  Check them out, as they have some unique offerings!

That’s all for me this evening!  Head over to RIC for some inspiring paper and fabric art!  And if you are looking for other challenges, check out my links page in the menu header!

Have a fashionable week!

 

 

Into the Deep

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Hello everyone!  It’s well into Thursday for some of you, and that means it’s time for another week of inspiration over at CASE Study!

I have been itching to sit down and write this post, but I have been knee-deep in work, so I didn’t get to it in time for the strike-of-midnight reveal over at CASE.

We are back with another very cool card by Joni Andaya.  This week is a move in the more modern, trendy direction.

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The minute I saw this card, back in Februrary, I knew exactly what I wanted to do, inspired not only by Joni’s technique, but also the gorgeous mercurial blue hues of the Puget Sound that lap pretty much at my back door.

I have always been drawn to bodies of water, so I am incredibly lucky to live steps from the beach.  I love watching how the Sound changes not only daily, but hourly in its depth and color.  I wanted to capture one of my favorite blues in this card.

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What I love about Joni’s card is how she created that wonderful focal point where the colors lighten in the center.  First thought–its like what you see when you are swimming deep, and begin to come up toward the light.

So working from the margins toward the center of the watercolor paper, first with Peacock Feathers Distress Ink, and blending back, adding Tumbled Glass and Salty Ocean Distress Stains on the outer edges, I tried to create that effect.  Because I used a combination of the Distress Ink and Stains, which are liquid, I decided to use watercolor paper.  Most techniques blend with the ink pads only; I wanted to experiment a bit using both the ink and the liquid stains on my application sponges.

After blending my blues, I tapped water with a brush along the card.  Then I spritzed Heidi Swapp’s Color Shine in white and Mr Huey’s Shine mist to give it a pearlescent effect, which you can really see in the photo below.

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In keeping with the sea theme, I wanted to create a lot of slippery and rough textures.

For the heart and arrow, both die cut from the Lil’ Inkers set, Of the Heart, I blended alcohol inks in Watermelon and Sunset Orange onto Ranger Gloss Finish Paper.  I have been playing around with my alcohol inks quite a bit and will reveal some of them soon!

Using some of the Melissa Frances Glass Glitter in Deep Pink, which is wonderfully chunky, I adhered this with Glossy Accents onto my arrow, creating some gorgeous deep sea coral!

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Now for those letters!  You likely recognize them from Mama Elephant; they have appeared on a few of my cards lately.  I initially cut the negatives in my paper; then I die cut multiple letters in black cardstock, adhering 4 layers of letters.

I covered with Glossy Accents, and when dry adhered below my panel so they are just about surfacing atop the blue.  I used some gorgeous turquoise Bazzill paper for my layer underneath the panel, leaving some of it peeking out from the bottom, to play on the variant blues and add some interest and additional depth.

My little nest of silver thread was a final touch on the front, which echoes for me fishing line and the silvery streams of fish that shimmer by when you are swimming or snorkeling.  A bit of Crate Paper’s DIY Shop adhesive paper finishes off the back and inside.  The grey stripe really seemed to add an important element to this card; can’t explain it–it just worked!!

I have a few other cards with this distressing technique waiting in the wings.  So be sure to check back soon for those!

May your day go swimmingly and may you find yourself deep in delight.  If you head over to CASE Study right now to see what the rest of the design team conjured, you no doubt will!

Here are direct links to each fabulous designer if you want to blog hop!

Chupa
Amy Wanford
(Amy’s not playing this week 😦 , but get over to her blog anyway for amazing creations!)
Clare Buswell
Debby Hughes

Jeanne Jachna

Maureen Merritt

Silke Ledlow

Tasnim Ahmed

March Guest Designers: 

Sarah Gough