Thursday, December 27, 2012

Thursday Theme: Brown Paper Packages Tied Up With String

Less with the string, more with the brown paper.  But still.

Merry Christmas!

Okay so I'm a couple days late, but it is still the Christmas season until January 6th, so merry Christmas anyway.  I hope you had a good one, whatever you were doing.  Mine was great, and though I had absolutely nothing to show last week (I had been doing some sketching but that will show up later), I have two days' worth of gift wrapping to show this week.  Yep, it took me two full days to wrap gifts in my usual brown kraft paper.  Normally it wouldn't have, but this year instead of doing a tag for each box, I had the brilliant brainwave to decorate the paper itself.  Still not really sure why I do these things to myself.  And I put clues on all of Mr. Pocket's gifts (though some were kind of a stretch).  Anyway, this is going to be a VERY picture-heavy post, especially since I went a little overboard for Mr. Pocket.  Here we go!

This was a mug and some tea for Mr. Pocket to take to work.

Pajamas, something I'm making a tradition.

Custom Achievement Hunter t-shirt with his XBox gamertag on it.

Socks.  Yeah, I know.  He always wants socks for Christmas.

Cut the Rope boxers.  Om Nom is green.

Lego Lord of the Rings for the XBox.  Santa's helpers are elves, and there are lots of elves in Middle Earth.  I know, kind of a stretch.

Next, two gifts for Pocket Papa (my dad):

And for Mom:

These were for my brother and my sister-in-law:

And then finally, a gift card tag and a plain tag for my brother-in-law and my mother-in-law.

I had so much fun doing all of this, but I think next  year I will probably go back to tags for the boxes rather than decorating the paper itself.  It took five forevers.  Or, you know, two days.  Perhaps if I hadn't been so type A and wrapped the paper around the boxes first to get creases in the right places to guide where I had to decorate and then decorated the paper and then wrapped it back on the boxes, it wouldn't have taken so long.  But it also wouldn't have looked as good, and I wouldn't have been satisfied. 

I hope the post-holiday letdown isn't too bad, and that you have good plans for New Year's.  We're taking it easy this year and staying home.  Looking forward to a better year to come!

What I used:
Stencils:  by Michelle Ward
Stamps:  by Tim Holtz for Stampers Anonymous, by Inkadinkado (the adorable birds), by HeroArts, and I don't have the label anymore for the letter stamps but I got them at Michael's and I think they were Recollections (maybe)
Die Cuts:  Sizzix by Tim Holtz, and some random holly leaves that Mom had gotten at Michael's.  Cut from Core'dinations and some random gold and silver cardstock we've had for a few years, probably Recollections because I know I got it at Michael's
Inks:  Distress Inks by Tim Holtz for Ranger, some random gold and silver pigment ink that Mom had, and Tsukineko embossing ink
Embossing Powders:  I think they were all Stampendous
Sprays:  Perfect Pearls and Tattered Angels mists

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Thursday Theme: Evergreen

Been a little more artsy this week.  Yay!  With an unexpected twist.  See, a couple weeks ago, I had cut a bunch of tags out of plain white watercolor paper with a torn bottom edge, planning to do a lot of white backgrounds with simple motifs.  But... best laid plans of mice.  You know.

Green happened.

More specifically, Iced Spruce, Evergreen Bough, and Pine Needles in the Distress line happened. 

I blame Mom.

But it's okay, because I really didn't know what I was going to do with all my pristine white tags, but then I started playing with Mom's Distress Stains and Perfect Pearls, and the next thing I knew, I had a whole theme for this week.

All of these backgrounds were done using Distress Inks or Stains in various combinations of the above listed colors and Perfect Pearls mists in Heirloom Gold and Biscotti, using the wrinkle-free distress technique, which is my current favorite way to do a background.

Here I used that embossing powder resist technique that I used on the last acorn tag.

I used the Fabulous Flourish stamp from Hero Arts.

Even with the embossing powder melted off, you can see where the ink pooled in the curls.  I love it.

This one shows more blue than green, but I promise, it's the same inks.

I also had some fun with my Michelle Ward stencils and some gold Liquitex Heavy Body Acrylic.
This is actually a monoprint off of the Maltese Small stencil after using it on another ATC.

And since green makes me think of trees, and Winter makes me think of evergreen trees, I played with some tree motifs, too.

Tim Holtz tissue tape gives me my strong vertical here.  The trees were cut out with a new Tim Holtz die that does a pine tree border...

...and I coated them with embossing ink and used copper embossing powder on them.  Look how the torn edge soaked up that ink.  Yum.

I decided that rather than let the back be messy, I'd just ink that, too.

Finally, a new insert for my clear iPhone case.  Just the Iced Spruce ink and Biscotti Perfect Pearls for the background, with Tim Holtz stamps and tissue tape.
So much for my white backrounds.  Although I do have one project in mind that will be all white backgrounds.  But green really has caught hold of me this year.  Is there a particular color that you find yourself using predominantly this year?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Exce11ence: Or, It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas


Around here, there's a very special event that marks the beginning of the Christmas season.  It is perhaps more important than Santa's arrival at Harold Square (Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, for those unfamiliar).  For my family, this event takes the place of the common Christmas party.  It is an event steeped in tradition, with ups and downs and lots of yelling, singing, nail-biting, and beer consumption.  It is... the Army-Navy football game.

Yes, folks, we are a Navy family.  My dad went to the Naval Academy and was a P-3 pilot and flight instructor.  Most of our family friends are Navy folks, too, and we're very close.  So every year, my parents host a small get-together with what I call my "Navy family" to watch the year's most important football game.  There's always lots of food, lots of noise, and LOTS of blue and gold :)

The friend in the blue chair is wearing his bathrobe from the Academy - it has faded from navy blue to purple.  That's my dad and Mr. Pocket on the couch.
Proudly sporting my Navy jersey - not as spiff as the game jerseys they had on today though.
Like I said - FOOD!

I made mulled white wine this year.  Yum!

It was a close game, and one that meant a lot.  Army-Navy always means a lot, being a sort of brotherly rivalry, and one that's really important to the cadets and the midshipmen.  This year, the mids were trying to keep up their winning streak to make this their 11th straight win against Army - coining the tagline "Exce11ence."  Army was fighting to get their first win against Navy since 2001.  And for both teams, winning meant taking home the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy, awarded each year to whichever service academy defeats both of the others in football - and both Army and Navy defeated Air Force this season (yay!).  In the end, Navy squeaked out a win, taking home the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy and their 11th win.  And for me and my family, the Christmas season can now begin in earnest, and it begins with the gift of Exce11ence :)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Thursday Theme: Decking the Halls

Very brief post again.  Haven't had much art time, and I haven't even fully decorated for Christmas yet.  But I do have some decorations up, and there is somewhat of a theme.  It sort of revolves around childhood.  So far, I've got this shelf:

Obviously childlike, with the toy theme going on.  And teddy bears are dear to me.  But the rest of what I have up is probably not so obviously related to childhood.  It is, however, very related to my childhood. 

Mom and I used to read this magazine together all the time, and it still is my favorite:

Every month, when it came in, we'd wait til bedtime, and then I'd sit on Mom's bed with her and we'd page through the new issue.  The Christmas issue was always our favorite.  Now, quite a bit of my taste in Christmas decorations leans toward the Victorian.  Like these:

I love these cones.  I think I got them from Victorian Trading Co. but I don't remember.  The holly and pinecones are just floral picks from Michael's.  Nothing special.  But I like hanging these from the bottom shelf's brackets.  It just makes it that much more festive.

Next week I should have more to show, although the coming week is going to be hyper busy.  In the meantime, pocketeers, what do you most love to decorate with at this time of year?  Even if you don't celebrate Christmas, it's a change of season, which ushers in all kinds of fantastic new motifs to take the place of Fall harvest imagery.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thursday Theme: A Farewell to Acorns

Okay, one last acorn post, and then I'll move on to something else for next month.  I promise.  And I don't have much to show this week, unfortunately.  It's been a busy two weeks. 

Remember this tag? 

I did two more like it.  But... I didn't take pictures.  Sorry.  I used them as gift tags on hostess gifts for Thanksgiving.  (Yes, two, and "gifts" plural.  We do two Thanksgiving dinners, one with Mr. Pocket's family and one with mine.  Both on the same day!)  So, imagine that tag, but with a red acorn at the bottom instead of a green one.  That's the difference.

The only other tag I've managed to do since then is this one.  Somewhat inspired by the one above, but also coming out of a desire to try a new technique and to use the Authentique stickers.

The background was done with a Tim Holtz technique of embossing a design, then inking over/around it, then melting the embossing powder off.  Super cool.

This feather came from our wedding centerpieces!

I had fun with it, but the embossing powder technique was tricky.  I'm not sure I really successfully melted all of it back off.  But whatever, I like the way the tag turned out.

Lest you think I haven't been artsy at all in the past two weeks, I did get myself set up for Christmas tags.  They just don't go with the acorn theme.  But stay tuned for watercolor paper, heavy body acrylics, and gratuitous use of stencils...

Anyway, back to acorns, I thought I'd share with you my favorite earrings which I just replaced.  See, I had lost one of my favorite earrings, and had to get a friend to pick up a pair for me at the Renaissance Festival before it closed.  What are these amazing earrings, you ask?  Well, they're acorns! 

Silver acorn earrings, by The Crafty Celts.

The Crafty Celts are my favorite vendor at the RenFest.  I have a cuff from them that I wear every day, and you can just barely see in that second pic up there a little bit of the awesome neckring I have from them.  I have several of their pieces, all from when I was living at home and didn't have many bills to pay.  I'd buy something from them each year.  Like I said.  Favorite.  Maybe some Thursday of a particularly unproductive week, their jewelry will have to be my theme.  We'll see ;)

So there you have it.  My November of acorns.  I still have to finish my acorn rosette thingie, but Mom has the jump rings I need.  I'll post it when it's done.  Next month I'll share all the Christmasy and Wintery things I'll be working on.  This year, expect lots of white, lots of metallics, lots of green accents, and probably lots of Narnian motifs.  We'll see how that divides up into themes.  I can't wait!

P.S. Okay one more thing.  Since I brought up jewelry.  I took advantage of a sale at Spiffing Jewelry in order to get a pair of rings that I'd been going back and looking at all year.  Like a lot of Etsy sellers (while they have their own domain they also have an Etsy shop, which is how I found them), they do hand-stamped word jewelry.  Unlike a lot of Etsy word jewelry sellers, they specialize in geekery and pop culture, and my first purchase from them was a pair of cuffs for Alex and me with Star Wars quotations.  But even when I bought those, I had my eyes on these:

Two concepts that are important to me.  Many believe them to be mutually exclusive, but I do not.  And as if to confirm one of them, this pair of ready-made rings in a mostly custom made-to-order shop sat there for months, like they were waiting for me to buy them.  I'm happy to give them a home.  Please check out Spiffing Jewelry and see if you find something waiting for you!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thursday Theme: Acorns pt. 3 - Mixed (media) Nuts

Only one project to show in this week's installment in the continuing theme of acorns.  I spent Monday at Mom's house, working on an idea I had gotten over the weekend.  See, one of our favorite dies for the die cutting machine is the rosette designed by Tim Holtz.  And I like to put things other than the provided circle in the middle of them.  So what did I do? 


I cut an acorn, embellished it with Distress Ink, Distress Embossing Powder, and Glossy Accents.  While that dried (all freaking day), I cut and assembled a rosette from the Authentique Fall papers.  By the time I was done, I really liked the back of it:

There's Tissue Tape on it to keep it from falling apart at the perforations.

So I decided that this would not be something I glued down onto something else.  I'd have to hang it from something so I could see both sides.  So I made two more, in the smaller sizes:

The tiny one is so cute.

Fortunately, I had two cut out acorns that hadn't turned out so good (embossing powder fail) which I still have to do the Glossy Accents on, but which are now stuck onto the fronts of the rosettes.  So here's how they look from the front:

The tiny one is a little wonky because I had to trim it down from the full-sized acorn cutout.

The plan is to hang the medium one from the large one, and the small on from the medium one.  I just haven't decided how.  I think I want to use either white and brown baker's twine or the acorn charms Mom gave me:

What do you think?  Would the rosettes look better connected by baker's twine or by metal acorns?  Leaf me a comment and let me know what you think would look better (see what I did there?).