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Updated: 2016-12-20T06:13:50.400-05:00


Pencil keeper tutorial


I got some new pencils for myself after Christmas and I wanted something safe and portable to keep them in. The tin that they came in is nice but I am way too accident prone to risk dropping and spilling these nice (expensive) pencils all over the floor.I looked around for something nice to carry them in and found a few that were really amazing, They were also, unfortunately, amazingly expensive. A couple of them were also more expensive than the pencils.So I decided to do what I always end up doing when I need something and I haven't got anymore money to spend.I make my own.First I found my hubby's old Franklin planner that he doesn't use anymore. It has a zipper that closes all the way around and is a ring binder style. I made it clear to hubs that I am borrowing this planner binder in order to create my prototype pencil keeper. If this works out then I will find a zippered binder of my own for a permanent home for my pencils. He's happy that I'm not going to paint it purple or something. It took him a long time way back in the day to find a plain black planner. This project is basically a set of pages that are made from canvas, painted wildly, with elastic attached and then sewn together to make a double sided page that holds the pencils.I kind of made this up as I went along, like most things I do.It looks fabulous and after the test drive over the next two weeks I will refine the design and see what improvements I can make to the pages.One change that I already know to make is that I will paint the canvas before cutting the pieces down to size. This time I got lucky since I already had to cut the pages down to make them easier to fit inside the zippered binder. I had cut out the fabric first and then gessoed and painted the pages....and then they shrunk. This time it didn't matter but next time I will do the painting first. ;)I didn't want to pre-wash the canvas because I didn't want the fabric soft. I wanted the pages to remain stiff.Here are the steps: The first thing I did was find a page that fit inside the binder the way I wanted my pages to fit. I traced the shape onto my canvas fabric. I didn't have enough in the remnant that I bought ages ago so I grabbed some cotton duck that I had to trace the remaining pages that I needed.They shrunk at different rates so I do recommend using all of the same fabric. As I said, this is a prototype and considering that my usual style of artwork is kind of messy  the weird shrinkage didn't really bother me much at all.Once all of the painting was done and dried I got some black 1 inch wide non roll elastic.  I attached a strip at one side and then stitched it down at 3/4" intervals all the way across to the other side. You can adjust the stitching intervals based on what size you need for your pencils, pens, markers, knitting needles, whatever.I did a test strip with some scrap elastic and a scrap of the canvas that was left over from the pieces that I cut out for my pages.  I just sewed the elastic down at random intervals and then measured the space that worked best for the pencils that I use. Stitch, stitch, stitch. This part was a little tedious. My old workhorse machine has to go in for repairs so I'm using my new machine. It has a button for reverse stitching that goes at a really s...l...o...w....speed.  So this took a long time to do. I stitched forward through the elastic, then went in reverse then lifted up the foot, slid the page over to the next stitching mark and repeated the process. I haven't counted how many times I did this. My neck and shoulders are sore so I guess it was a lot.Then I pulled all of the loose ends of the thread back to the wrong side of the page and put a dot of white glue at each spot and let it dry.Then I sewed two pages together.Trimmed around the edges. I might need a new pair of pinking shears after this job. We'll see how they do on regular fabric after this.Marked where the holes for the rings in the binder go.Then I punched the holes one at a time. Again....I'm not going to count how many times I did this. I'[...]

Gel medium and embossing folders


I do not have an embossing machine but I have quite a lot of folders because the designs on the folders look cool and I can get them on sale for about a dollar. Good enough reason, I guess. LOLI have done some embossing just by rubbing the paper with a popsicle stick over the embossing folder design. Kinda nice but over all it isn't really my thing. I find that the pattern doesn't hold for very long considering the abuse that paper takes when I'm working on my books and journals.The other day I had a thought about using gel medium on the folders to make textured skins that I can paste on any page and that will hold no matter what I do to the paper.I am happy to say that my experiment has worked beautifully.And it was easy.Beautiful and easy.... I love it when that happens.Get out your matte gel medium and a popsicle stick (or any old spreading tool that you like to use).Spread the gel medium on whichever part of the folder design you like. You'll have to pay attention to which part will leave a raised design or sunken design when the medium is removed after it is dry. That part is up to your preferences. I use both sides and then do a lot of random playing around.Make sure that your gel is smooth on the folder because if it's lumpy on the back of your gel skin it will not lay down right when you adhere it to your project. Sometimes it matters, sometimes it doesn't. You'll get the hang of it pretty quickly.At this point you can leave the back open or you can press a spare book page into the gel and then leave it to dry.This is the part where you leave it for a day or two. There is no rushing the drying time of this much gel medium but I promise you'll have something fun to play with when it's fully set up.When the medium is completely dry it should just peel right away from your embossing folder.If you just run your thumbnail under the edge of the dried gel it should peel right up.This one will look backwards but I still like it.You can cut it into pieces if you like or use it all in one spot. My first couple of skins were lumpy on the back so I had to use more gel medium to fill in the edges where it met the page. I kind of like the effect. I might do this with the brick wall folder I have and make it look like a damaged plaster and brick wall on the cover of my book.The edges won't lay down so I just gelled around until it smoothed down to the paper.The edges are not exactly smoothed down but I kind of like the rough plaster look. I'll keep it.Once you have your skin glued to your page (and you let it dry again...that pesky TIME thing) then paint and decorate to your heart's content.I'm still painting on this set of pages in my book but you can see some of the  raised design in the photos.[...]

Finishing up.


I still have a couple of stray, unfinished pages in last year's journal. I got a kick out of this one because I found an image to match the quote. The image is from a stamp by Daniel Torrente. I added the dripping water balloon.



 The colors for my inside title page for my journal look a little pastel in this picture but they are more bold in person. Still I like the effect.

The cover for my journal you'll find here.

The next page facing my calender squares page is just one I wanted to try from a clip art sort of book of fantasy drawings. I freehanded the castle in pencil and then used my nice new watercolor crayons just to see if I could make it look like a nice castle. Not bad for my first try. I'm happy with the doors. I have a weird thing for doors so I'm glad these came out well.

And here is my January page in shades of blues and grays. So far the weather has matched the theme for the squares. I'm glad I stock up the freezer in August because I'd hate to have to go out in the weather we've had for the past week. 
I'm playing with the idea of keeping this journal a pure watercolor journal. We'll see if my attention span will hold onto that idea. ;)

New Year, New Journal


 I found some inexpensive but good quality watercolor spiral books on a great sale a few months ago. I bought four for under $10. I pulled them apart, replaced the cover with a sheet of the paper from one of the other pads, added an extra two sheets and now I have a nice watercolor paper journal for this year for about $2.50. Plus I have extra to make some other books for other projects. I love it when I find a bargain!

This is the cover of my new journal for this year. I love the little guy on the cover. He speaks my mood on a whole lot of days. lol

The last of December


I'm finally delving into some watercolor crayons that I've had for some time. I have two different brands of crayons and one set of Inktense pencils by Derwent. I do like the Inktense pencils very much for tight spaces. I got a set of Caran D'Ache watercolor crayons with a 50% off coupon at the craft store and I really like them a lot. They are what I used on the vocabulary page and they are very bold. I might get to like this watercolor stuff for some of my pages. It's quite portable with a water filled brush that I bought. I can take everything with me to my daughter's classes and happily paint without making a mess.

December calender


A few years ago when I was doing digital scrapbook freebies I made a little kit for Christmas that was wild and funky and.... neon bright. It was so cool. I've made so many things using the tree from that kit. I decided to draw that tree and put it as my focal point on my December calender. It's been quite some time since a page has made me giggle while I was working it up.

Funny thing about tequila....


Anybody who has ever experienced the overindulgence of tequila knows that there is no such thing as a SECOND tequila hangover. ugh.  I haven't touched the stuff in over 20 years but the memory is quite vivid.

When I ran across this quote I knew which stencil I wanted to cut for it. I had to clean up the quote a bit. I generally don't like to put any profanity in my artwork. I like it when anyone in my family can read it (my art quotes) without feeling uncomfortable.

I'm still loving my old typewriter. It makes my journalling look absolutely perfect.

Saturday Drivers...


Normally I love to drive. I always have. I knew when I was 13 years old that I wanted to drive for a living and when I got the chance I did it. I've delivered everything from pizzas to flowers to appliances and building supplies.  I've driven regular cars, pickup trucks, school buses and tractor trailers. I even did prototype test driving for alternative fuel vehicles. (just an aside...I wouldn't drive one if you paid me....I don't generally like my transportation to go *BOOM*)

So fast forward to today...I hate driving on the weekends. I find that during the work week there are drivers who use this seldom used thing called a brain. They are driving and working, thus they are thinking. On the weekends you see the OTHER drivers. The ones who sit at a desk all week and wouldn't be able to explain the right of way at a four way stop to you if they had the law printed right in front of them.

And in all my years of driving throughout the many states of these United States, never have I seen a law where it states that you MUST make a right turn on red.

Now... I will generally make a right turn on red where it is legal and safe to do so. In my area the traffic signals allow left turning traffic to go first on a green arrow while all other traffic remains stopped. Then, when the traffic has cleared the intersection, you may make your right turn if there is no posted prohibition.

So when I am waiting for the traffic to clear the intersection, and an IDIOT behind me leans on his horn to make me move....well..... I just want to sit there until the light turns green. Because there is no law that says I MUST make that right turn on red.  And today....when the IDIOT in the white Chevy van decided to lean on his horn ...  I sat there until the light turned green because that is what the law says. I must stop and remain stopped until the regulatory signal turns in my favor.

If he was in such a hurry...then he should have been more patient because I had every intention of making the right turn on red as soon as it was safe to do so. At the point that he honked his horn at me, the car making the left turn (oncoming traffic) had not cleared the intersection. Had I turned when he honked I would have caused a serious accident.
Art inspiration can come from the darndest places sometimes. But I think I'd still rather do my driving on Mondays.

Fun with white ink


I had painted this page all black with the very last of the black gesso I had. It made a perfect ground for white ink. This is my furbaby Jake. He's a real snuggler and he thinks he's a lap dog. He's going to be a BIG lap dog.... he's part black lab, part border collie, and part golden retriever. He's going to be a great dog someday when he fully calms down.



Talk about skidding into the finish line. I haven't had very much time at all to do any painting in my journal. Barely had time to write in it either.  The whole month of October was a frenzy. Furniture moving in unexpectedly, mice moving in unexpectedly, and whole house cleaning unfortunately VERY expectedly.

Things are starting to settle down a bit. Though what that means is that I started with a bare page for November on November 2 right before midnight. I got it finished but I couldn't scan it because it wasn't quite dry enough. So instead I had to take a picture with the camera. Not bad but not as good as my scanner.

So here is November.

I realized almost too late that I had a font that was made up of crazy looking moustaches. I printed them on one of my transparencies and made a quick stencil. I love how they go with the top hats at the top of the page.  I even have one day already journaled though it's rather predictable. lol  I am so looking forward to my candied sweet potatoes!

Happy Birthday


October! Really?


I'm trying to decide if I'm happy that October is here. The jury is still out on this one. I guess it explains my choice of colors for this month's calender.

I went with dark, creepy and gothic rather than purple, green and orange.

I particularly like the eyes glowing in the dark spaces.

And since I have a dozen really good white ink pens I thought I'd have my squares in black.


Another summer done...


And another garden full of weeds. I'm pretty sure that I want my next house to be in the middle of a corn field so that I don't have to do any gardening. Give me a house in the middle of 40 acres of tall something or other where no-one will see the house but me and I'll be happy. I hate gardening. I hate having to pull the weeds because of what the neighbors think. Frankly....I LIKE the tall, prickly thistles. Have you ever watched a bumblebee try to scramble his way into the fuzzy head of a thistle to get at the pollen? It's hysterical! All you see is this fuzzy purple thistle head with a fuzzy bee butt and two little bee legs kicking to try to get as far into the pollen as possible. Then later, when the thistle goes to seed, the bright yellow and black birds (can't remember what they're called at this moment) will come along to eat those seeds and when they land on the plant it doesn't always hold their weight and they have to balance carefully to get at their treat.

I have goldenrod that is over 6 feet tall that the local honeybees absolutely love. I have a weed that is what butterfly bushes were cultivated from. The hummingbirds love it. 

But all of my neighbors aren't as appreciative of the weeds. Even though the thistles in my yard come from the birds that eat the thistle seeds in the feeders in every other yard. I have trees and the birds that feed in their yards come over to my yard to nest.

I have song sparrows in my yard. According to all of the experts I'm not supposed to have song sparrows but here they are enjoying my weeds.  *sigh*

40 acres of wildflowers and weeds. I'll be happy and so will all of the birds, butterflies and bees.

Where to go now?


I just don't know what to do next with these.  I rather like the Chinese feel of the clouds and sunshine of the first one. I'm thinking of journaling the words to make it look like rain falling from the sky. 

 This second one came to me when a friend gave me the chipboard waste from a game that he was setting up for all of us to play. The shapes of the game pieces reminded me of PacMan so I went with it.
 And this last one is part of my recently renewed obsession with the Moody Blues. I just love listening to their music in the summer. I'm still loving my white ink pen, too. That's what I used to draw each little circle using sequin waste as a guide. eek!  That took awhile!



I'm just not fit to be around. You know how it is. There are times when I sit and search for snarky quotes and picture everyone that day that deserved their share of karma. And I laugh. Those days I try to stay inside.

It's better for everyone that way.

My favorite color


I just love red. I have tried many times to put other colors in my wardrobe. Each time I've ended up with clothes that I never wear because they just don't feel right to me when I wear them.  That's kind of how this page started out. I tried muted colors that I don't usually like and this page just sat there. Then I broke my wrist and the red started to come out in me because I was mad about how little I was able to do in my journal. I grabbed my hand stencil, some alphabet chipboard waste and my red paint and let it rip.
I think I'm going to call this one done.

OK....where did summer go?


It's gone!  Last  night was a four quilt night! It's not supposed to be this cold yet! *sigh*

I didn't get very much done aside from the main calender page of my journal in August. Between doctor visits and trying to get things done around the house there wasn't as much art time as I was hoping there would be. But when your back goes out...again... you just have to do your best and move slowly so that it doesn't get worse. Yeah...I know....sometimes it already feels like it can't get worse. I figure that if I can still walk then I'm ahead of the game. Even if it is with a back brace and a cane. :)

Here's my calender page for September. I had a vision of falling leaves and as my yard is populated almost entirely with maples I decided to cut a stencil of small maple leaves. Then I got out my acrylic craft paints in all of the fall colors I have and started stenciling. I kind of like how it came out. This stencil is definitely a winner.

I'm envisioning a little guy there at the bottom playing around in a pile of maple leaves. I'll have to work on that one.

I got bored!


I know! With all of the stuff going on around here in the last few weeks I didn't have TIME to get bored. I guess the more accurate description would be that I got distracted. And I needed a new pair of sneakers. But I'm kind of broke so no money spending for awhile. But I had this pair of sneakers in the garage that I had been avoiding because I let them sit out there a bit too long. Like...a year. And they had cobwebs and sawdust and spiders....but I cleaned them up and they were actually still in almost new shape. It must have been laziness that made me leave them out there in the first place. Because....I am basically lazy. LOL

They were tan colored canvas and cost me all of $1 on clearance at Wal-Mart a few years ago. I think I bought a few pairs....must go dig them up soon.

I can't wait to wear these to the movies tomorrow!!!

August already?


LOL! Isn't he cute? I drew him on the page because the original stamp is much smaller and I wanted a BIG monster.

I can't believe it's already August. Or that it IS August. We had two weeks of hot summer and then *poof* it seems that fall has arrived. A friend in Pittsburgh says she has seen trees changing colors already. The Rose of Sharon trees all around here have been in full bloom since before the Fourth of July. They aren't supposed to bloom until late August. Something is telling me that longer summers aren't in our near future.

We had more than our share of excitement in July. Our pool collapsed. Yeah...that was fun. Fortunately nobody was hurt. No people and no furries were in the way of the 18,000 gallons of rushing water. That happened the day the heat wave started here. Yeah...that timing was terrible. Then my husband hurt his back and has been working intermittently in between visits to the chiropractor. Poor guy. He hurts so bad at times but he is getting better. That was his final sign that he needed to get serious about the diet and losing a bit of weight to ease the pressure in his back.  We do the low carb thing. It works for me because I have an actual wheat allergy. Not gluten intolerance but an actual allergy that causes joint inflammation when I eat anything with wheat in it.Once I am about four days into the diet without carbs (sugar, rice, wheat, potatoes) my whole body feels about ten years younger.'s the right diet for me. I can still have wheat once I've lost my extra pounds but only once in awhile and only when I haven't got a busy day the next day. Trying to dash from place to place and up and down stairs isn't easy when your knees, hips, ankles and lower back are all screaming at you for the slice of pizza you had the night before. LOL

On top of all of that, as if we needed more, we got one of our new puppies neutered. He was not at all happy having to wear the big collar around his neck to keep him from chewing at his stitches. It took a lot of duct tape to keep that collar together towards the end. He kept ramming it into stuff and cracking it. But today he got his stitches removed and no more gigantic collar! He is one happy puppy.

Well....I ought to get this posted. I have about a day to myself so I am going to use it to get paint all over a few things. I'm glad I saw the article in Somerset Studio's Art Journaling magazine about Kate Crane. I have half of a year of my history written now and it was a lot more fun than I had expected it to be. I just need a little bit of slow time to get caught up. No more excitement please. I like things kind of dull. ;)

Twilight Time


Another of my favorite songs. I'm on a real Moody Blues kick lately. I think it's because the two times I saw them in concert it was in early July. Beautiful weather both times. Nothing in the world is quite like listening to your favorite music under a clear sky, beautiful sunset, then every star in the heavens overhead.

Back then I could get a ticket for the lawn for about $15. They're coming to town here in August and the tickets are $50 each. If I was single and had no care as to how groceries were going to be bought I'd go. But I guess I'm at that responsible age where I simply cannot justify spending a month's worth of groceries to take the three of us to a concert no matter how good the band is.

I'll have to be content with my memories. And they're pretty darned good.

More masking tape typing


 I have always loved The Moody Blues. My mom used to play their music on 8 tracks when I was little. I've always loved their music and it takes me back to my childhood whenever I listen to it.

I managed to get tickets to an outdoor concert of theirs back in 1986 and they put on quite a show. And there really is nothing like listening to Nights in White Satin under a clear sky full of stars. Or The Sunset when the sun is just about to set.  I think they must have played nearly every song they ever recorded that night.

I did the paint blots in bright colors and smooshed them one color layer at a time. Then some black stenciling and then the lyrics to "Lunch Break: Peak Hour" from Days of Future Passed typed onto strips of plain masking tape.  I'm really having some fun with this old Underwood.

Some non-journal work for a change


I did some really cool backgrounds on canvas last night. I really like how they came out. Now I just have to figure out what to do with them next. LOL

Whatever I decide, they're going to look great up on my wall!

I was ready on time! Honest!


I've just been super lazy about blogging for a few weeks.  I've also been in the process of moving my craft room down to the basement so now all of my art supplies are way far away from my computer. When I have something ready to post I have to carry it up two flights of stairs to get it to the scanner. So I've been kind of avoiding it lately.

Anyway, here is my July journal page. I'm managing to do the artwork in my journal but the daily entries are hard to do when you have days where it's just the usual mundane daily house stuff going on.
I'm hoping to do better in July but I have already fallen behind and it's only July 4th. 

I finally found a supplier for typewriter ribbon for my old Underwood typewriter. This is awesome because using the typewriter for some of my journaling has been really cool looking.  I just take some masking tape, stick it to the roller, type what I want and then stick it on my page.  I love it!!

Well, I'm off to bed now that our puppies have calmed down. Tonight some neighbors had a fireworks display and the puppies didn't like the noise at all. Poor babies. They were frantic for a time and then they just snuggled under any feet they could find.

So a 12th Doctor is coming, eh?


My main thought is that he should be a ginger. Seriously, he's wanted red hair the last two regenerations.... he needs to be a ginger.

But I think the 10th Doctor was my you can see...

Zentangling works really well for explosions, don't you think? ;)