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.


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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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:

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!



Good morning, all!

Yesterday, when I was staging the photographs of my Paper Smooches cards, I decided to haul out my old photography backpack.  It is full of camera backs, lenses, filters, a light meter, cleaning cloth and a whole bunch of memories.  15 years ago I ventured into the field with my new Pentax and lenses, a 1980’s Polaroid Sun 660 that captured so many of my childhood moments, my uncle’s Polaroid EE100 and his Pearl River TLR, a cheap knock-off of the Rollei. I grew up in the town that spawned Kodak, and visited the Eastman Kodak house throughout my life in Rochester.  My uncle taught me how to use a darkroom at the Rochester Institute of Technology, and encouraged my exploration.  I loved photography, and was consumed by the work of Andreas Gursky, Cindy Sherman, Mary Ellen Mark, but it didn’t come naturally to me.

Through the early 2000’s, I dabbled in the medium, enjoying in particular Polaroid work and emulsion transfers.  My cameras accompanied me on trips to Chicago and twice cross-country.  Over the years, though, as a poor graduate student, then a poorer post-grad student waiting tables and teaching to pay down my debts from 3 years of study, the cameras became more like museum pieces adorning shelves than working tools.  Investing in film was an expensive venture and I couldn’t justify the cost simply for the sake of experimentation and play.

And then, I watched as camera shop after camera shop shuttered its windows and it became more difficult to easily find film and quality developers.  I remember in 2009 wanting to bring the Pearl River with us for our trip to the Olympic Peninsula, and checking into the last convenient downtown camera store for 120 film only to be met with a raised eyebrow and pitying laugh.  They hadn’t sold that film in years.  And upon closer inspection of the ghostly shop, I found only a few boxes of Kodak film hanging from a wall display.  That shop closed a few years ago.  Polaroid had stopped production in 2008; my last pack of the fun I-zone film came up blanks when, for the final time, I used that toy-like camera. I kept four shots of film in my EE100 for sentimental reasons, I guess. And as I read through a list of Polaroid films and their approaching expiration dates, which I had found online, I momentarily mourned the end of an era not only in photography, but in my own life. And while Polaroid didn’t officially die–the Impossible Project and Fuji are making some types of instant film, and even Polaroid itself seems to be attempting a revival– I had stepped out of the shot so to speak, packed up my gear, and hadn’t look back except for the occasional shuffle through the stacks of photographs.

But this morning, I felt that little tug of excitement that accompanies the discovery of something long forgotten.  As I looked over the Pearl River, I noticed that there was still film inside!  Three shots.  I have no idea when I loaded the film or what might be trapped within the remaining 13 frames, but I am thrilled to find out.  Haphazardly and a bit impulsively, I fumbled around with the aperture and lens, stared down into the milky viewfinder (which seemed like looking back into time itself) and took the remaining shots of my cat Atticus.

What could be waiting within?


Here’s a shot of the old Pearl River.


Now for some shots of my cards which were created using Paper Smooches stamps and some of their dies!


Oh, Snap!!

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This card uses “We Totally Click” stamp set and Borders 2 die.  The image above captures the embossing and sheen of the inks–Brilliance in Silver used for the sentiment and Rocket Red Gold used for the hearts. I Copic colored the camera (whew, alliteration!) with R01, R12, R15, C00, C2 & C4.  The paper onto which I stamped the polaroid is My Mind’s Eye Polaroid paper.  The striped paper is Crate Paper’s DIY Shop, which I intentionally tried to ruffle up at the top.  Arrow is from the Lil’ Inkers set of stitched hearts and dies.  I colored my clothespin with the Brilliance ink and heat set it.

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I masked the hearts so that they would appear to be slipping from the lips of the camera– my stamping is a bit off on the one to the right!  For the inside, below, I used the DIY Shop paper, die cutting the top with the Paper Smooches Borders 1 die upside down.

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Next up, Camera Whimsy!

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This card definitely turned out more whimsical than I had initially envisioned!  I stamped the Paper Smooches camera onto woodgrain paper, and then again onto striped and ivory papers, fussy cut and assembled.

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I made my little frame with basic rectangle dies; the inside is some awesome scrap Valentines paper I had from a random assortment.  But I used the photograph acetate cover to add some character to my “polaroid”.  I cannot recall who manufactures these films–they are designed to look like slide film and even have a realistic film border. However, I threw away the packaging!

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The back uses some coordinating aqua and pink washi.  I used Lil Inkers dies for the background panel and arrow.  I love how the Studio Calico heart is shaped like the Paper Smooches heart in the We Totally Click set.  The clothespin is from Paper Source.

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Hope you enjoyed my musings on a medium that might be a little lost amid the ease and instantaneity of the digital age, but is not forgotten!  These little cards are an ode to the film camera and the love they inspired!

Check back for my next post and contribution to the Paper Smooches Guest Designer challenge!

Happy snapping!

Wilco’s “Kamera” for you listening enjoyment!