Sunday, November 13, 2016

Birthday Cards - Clean and Simple

Hello friends,

Today I wanted to share a couple of cute birthday cards I made yesterday, using 3 different stamp sets, some bold patterned paper, and some simple coloring.  

I started with this cute mini stamp set by Art Impressions, which I found at my local craft store.  They come with matching dies.  How can you look at this little guy and not smile?!   I stamped him on some white card stock and used my watercolor pencils and blending pen to color him in, but any coloring medium would work.  I wasn't sure how I would be using him when I started - I could have stamped him directly onto the card panel, but in this case I cut him out and adhered to the panel, which I die cut using the Inside & Out Stitched Rectangle Stax die from My Favorite Things.

Then I stamped out a bunch of these balloons from the Simon Says Stamp Birthday Bits stamp set, and colored them in using various colors of distress ink and a waterbrush, using a couple shades of each color to create a little bit of dimension.  And my new favorite thing (I know it's been around for quite a while, but it's relatively new to me)... the clear Wink of Stella glitter pen!  Love!  It adds just the right amount of shimmer without going over the top, and there's no mess!  

The Happy Birthday sentiment is from Hero Arts Many Everyday Messages, and was stamped using Onyx Black Versamark ink.  I added a glitter heart using a confetti heart punch (Martha Stewart) with glitter craft foam, and adhered the whole panel to some bold patterned card stock (American Crafts - Marine paper pad 6x6), using white craft foam to add some dimension to the card.

I repeated the same design below, but used different patterned paper (American Crafts - #Summer paper pad 6x6) for some variety.  This card would be super easy to mass produce.

I just love how the sun catches the wink of stella shimmer!  Looks like little diamonds.

Hope you enjoyed these two simple birthday cards.  

Thanks for stopping by!

~ ellen.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Ranger Altered Mailbox

Hello again friends!

Thanks so much for the warm welcome back to blog land - it was so very nice to be back in touch and hear from some dear old friends.  

During my blog break, I did do a few creative projects, and today I wanted to share one of my favorites.  I made this about a year ago at one of my art retreat ("stamp camp") weekends.  Since moving in to our house 3 years ago, I had wanted to replace the mailbox with one that was easier to get mail in/out.  

We had this style mailbox at our old house and loved it.  I altered that one, too, with some Dylusions stamps and Tim Holtz letters.  Click HERE to see that post.  

This time, I decided to use Ranger's Foil Tape Sheets, some embossing folders, and Ranger's Patina Glazes to create a metal patchwork mailbox.  It was super easy and super fun!  

I started with several sheets of 6 x 12  Foil Tape Sheets and several different embossing folders.  It took a little experimenting to find the right amount of "shim" needed to give a good embossed impression without tearing the thin metal sheets.  I found that two layers of heavy card stock was the perfect amount.  

After embossing LOTS of different patterns, I pulled out my Ranger Patinas in a variety of colors, and started painting on the glazes, setting each sheet aside to dry as I went along.  Once they were all dry, I used black paint to "age" the colors a bit, and wiped back the black paint right away before it dried, leaving a small amount of black in the recessed areas of the pattern.

Then it was time to fit the colors and patterns together on all the external surfaces of the mailbox.  It took a lot of dry fitting, but the results were amazing!  The foil tape sheets have a strong adhesive backing, which made things so much easier.

After all the foil pieces were adhered to the mailbox, I decided that a thin border between each piece would help to further define each pattern, and would make the mailbox more cohesive.  I used a Ten Seconds Studio texture wheel to impress thin strips of the foil sheets and then pressed them between each section. 

I used one pattern on each side of the mailbox, and I have to say, this is my absolute favorite embossing folder, maybe *ever*!  It's by Spellbinders and I have used it SO many times!  

After all the metal was adhered, I sealed the mailbox with Patina Glaze.  This stuff is amazing!  It dries pretty quickly and leaves a super smooth finish without any tackiness at all.  Love it!

If you noticed the clear spinning organizer on my craft desk, you may have seen that all my pen/pencil/brush containers were made using recycled aluminum cans and this embossing folder - I did a rainbow of colors in the same pattern.

I hope this gives you some inspiration for a foil tape sheet project.  I love the look of textured metal and it can be applied to almost any surface.  Cigar boxes, soup cans, art journal or sketchbook covers, and yes... even as the background for a card!  Hmmmmm.... need to explore that a little more! 

Take care 'til next time and thanks for stopping by!

~ ellen.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Long time no see.... Studio Pix and Cards to Share

Hello old friends... hope some of you are still out there and haven't given up on me... This has turned into a long post, so get some coffee... 

.. it has been *quite* some time!  My "little" break from blog land lasted so much longer than I ever thought it would.  Suffice to say that life threw me for quite a loop and I just needed to retreat from crafting for a while to figure out what I wanted from it.   

Since my last post, so much has happened... I lost 30 pounds... had to say goodbye to some people I loved, gained 30 pounds back, stayed pretty much out my studio for almost a year, and in the process did a major studio purge, getting rid of an insane amount of stamps, dies, ribbons and embellishments, had an "awakening" health-wise, lost 50 pounds over 8 months, trying very hard to make this a permanent change in lifestyle, and slowly... very slowly... got the urge to start creating again.  I would like to give a big shout out to Jennifer McGuire.  I have been following her for YEARS and she has served as a constant inspiration, especially during my "down time".  It is largely due to her that I am back to crafting again.

I rearranged my studio and got a few new storage units - here are some pix of the new space...

After re-organizing my supplies, old and new, I felt even more inspired.  I spent a lot of time in my former craft life trying to ignore my tendency to like things neat and crisp and precise, which is my natural inclination in most things (I'm an accountant after all!).  One of the things I decided during my time off is that I need to embrace my own style and my own way of doing things, rather than trying to embrace someone else's style, which often times was in direct conflict with how I would do things.   Not that there's anything wrong with a different style... it's just not "me".  So... 

... the funny thing is... I've come full circle.  My paper crafting journey began with card making.  My good friend Connie used to be a demonstrator for Stampin Up! and she would hold small workshops after work to teach us about stamping, and heat embossing (still magic!), and paper trimmers, and brads and eyelets, and dye inks and pigment inks, and ... the list goes on and on.  And that card-making bug has bitten me again!  I have slowly been re-building my stamp collection, slowly adding all the latest gadgets and gizmos that have come along since I left the card making world... and I'm actually having fun with it again!

Here are some pix of my first cards... made with whatever I had on hand... I'll list the basic elements under each card.  Eventually I'll figure out how to do a product list with links, but for now... keeping it simple.   Hope you enjoy.

Bumble Bee patterned paper (OLD!), flower and sentiment stamps by PaperArtsy Eclectica Ellen Vargo (EEV10) stamped with Onyx Black Versafine ink and clear heat-embossed, Memory Box ticket die, distress ink watercoloring for the flower, and clear Wink of Stella shimmer pen over the flower.

OLD (but beautiful!) patterned paper,  flower by PaperArtsy Eclectica Ellen Vargo (EEV10), sentiment by Art Gone Wild - Catherine Scanlon Designs, distress ink watercoloring.

K & Company patterned paper,  flower by PaperArtsy Eclectica Ellen Vargo (EEV10), sentiment by Fiskars, watercolor pencil coloring, blended with Stampin' Up blending marker. 

Distress card stock, flower stamp by Art Gone Wild - Catherine Scanlon Designs, watercolor pencil coloring.

Distress card stock, leaf background stamps by Tim Holtz - several distress inks used on each stamp, then spritzed with water before stamping.  Center leaf by Tim Holtz - gold heat embossed, sentiment stamp by Wendy Vecchi.

Made a set of these cards for a good friend who works with a cat rescue organization.  Cat and sentiment stamps by Fiskars.  OLD patterned paper, Distress card stock base, purple metal: Ranger foil sheet, embossing folder by Spellbinders, colored with Ranger Patina glaze and aged with black paint then lightly sanded.

Same techniques and products as above.

This card is completely inspired by (copied from) Jennifer McGuire blog - click HERE.  Hydrangea stamp by Wendy Vecchi - white heat-embossed, saturated paper with blueprint sketch distress ink and then "lifted" the blue color off with water brush, then added mowed lawn distress ink to leaves, and picked raspberry distress ink to flower.  Sentiment stamp by Jillibean Soup.

Patterned paper is from the "Old World" stack.  Fine glitter paper by DCWV, flower stamp by Fiskars, flower stem is a border stamp by Fiskars, flowers colored with watercolor pencils and blending pen by Stampin' Up!, sentiment by Wendy Vecchi.

And there have been so many more since these were made, but I have to leave something to share in the future.  I don't have any specific plan on how often I will do blog posts, but this is a first step.  I hope any of you reading this are doing well, and thanks so much for stopping by.

~ ellen.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Embossed Metal Altered Cigar Box


Glad to be back in blog-land... has been a long time, but I've been busy in the studio playing with embossed metal.  It all started during a long Skype with Hels.  I had an old cigar box that was just begging to be altered.  So I pulled out my Ten Seconds Studio molds and metal and got to work.

Here is the before picture...

As you can see, this box was pretty worn with lots of tears and chips, so I decided to paint it all black with a double coat of black gesso.

Then I picked out a cool metal mold and a sheet of red metal and got to work embossing.  I started with a large paper stump, then moved to a smaller paper stump, and finally used a detail tool to bring out all the fine details of the pattern.

I adhered the metal to the box using ultra-sticky adhesive sheets, and enforced the edges using a texture wheel.  Then painted over the whole sheet with black paint and wiped it back to reveal the red metal, but leaving the black paint behind in the grooves of the pattern.    

The sides of the box were done using an embossing folder and my trusty Vagabond machine - SO much easier than hand-embossing, and I love this geometric pattern.

I decided to do another hand-embossed sheet for the inside of the box lid.  Once all the metal pieces were adhered, I sanded over the raised area to reveal the raw metal.  It really brings the whole thing to life.

I've had these glass drawer pull knobs in my stash for years and decided to finally put them to use.  I couldn't find a screw that was short enough to use, so I just adhered it to the lid with gel medium.

After it was dry, I decided to add a shiny finish to the surface.  I painted a layer of Ranger's Patina Gloss Glaze - I LOVE this stuff!  It dries quickly, leaves a silky smooth finish, and it's just gorgeous!

Hope you enjoyed.  I've got a lot more boxes to share.  Some cigar boxes, and some small unfinished wooden boxes from the craft store.  I'm thinking of setting up a shopping page on the blog, or an Etsy site so I can offer them for sale.  So tell me... would you buy one?  Let me know!

Take care - I'll be back soon with more to share.  Good to be back.

~ ellen.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Altered Cigar Box - PaperArtsy Fun


I'm back!  Today I'm sharing a recent project I did over on the PaperArtsy blog.   I have been having a lot of fun in the studio, altering old cigar boxes so I decided to try my favorite brayer and stamping techniques to alter a small cigar (cigarillo) box.  Here is the "before" pic...

Head over to the PaperArtsy blog HERE to check out the finished result.  Hope you enjoy!  I'll be sharing some of my other altered boxes here soon.  Thanks for stopping by!

~ ellen.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

What I've Been Up To

Hi everyone,

It has been QUITE a while since my last blog post and some of you have asked if everything is OK. So I wanted to take a moment to let you know.... I'm fine.  I'm just taking a bit of a break from blog land to focus on some goals, both personal and artistic.  

On a personal note, I've been focusing on losing some weight, something I have struggled with my whole life.  I have been successful in losing weight a couple of times, but have let it creep back on ever so slowly (dang it, I do love food!).  I'm going to see Hels in May and really wanted to drop 30 pounds because it will make traveling more comfortable and enjoyable for me.  I'm happy to report that after only 7 weeks, I've lost 22 pounds!  Only 8 more to go.  

Artistically, I've been doing less than normal, but I still spend time in the studio, and I'm working some items that I hope to be able to sell in an on-line shop (not sure if I'll do the Etsy route, or add a shopping page to my blog... need to do more research).

I'm heading off to "stamp camp" this afternoon and will spend the weekend with a group of wonderful ladies making art for 3 days.  Looking forward to some quality time with quality people!

I hope you are all doing well - I'll be back sometime - just not sure when.   Until then...

~ ellen.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Distress Christmas Gift Tags


Hope everybody had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  We had a lovely dinner with a small group of my family and have been enjoying a quiet rest-of-the weekend.  Yesterday, I spent FIVE hours on Skype catching up with Hels.... you know... THE Hels Sheridan.  We haven't had a good old Skype session since end of August and it was FABulous.  We talked, we giggled, we even wiggled along to some music blasting from my iPod.... and best of all, we came up with a new "I Challenge Thee" for her weekly Sunday Stamper project - she even let me pick the song!  

Here's our recipe:

* Distress ink
* Clear embossing powder
* Nostalgic Batik technique
* Manila tag(s) - Hels did one BIG tag (#12) - I'm doing lots of small ones (#4) 
* Christmas themed stamps and dies of choice
* Tinsel / garland
* Bells / jingle bells
* A bow  (that was Hels' way of torturing me... groan....)
* Other Christmas embellishments of choice

The key to this recipe is the Nostalgic Batik technique.  This technique allows you to fool people by making them wonder how you stamped a light image over a darker or contrasting image without the colors blending or stacking on top of the other.  You'll need some newsprint and an iron.

For the most dramatic effect, start by stamping an image in a light shade of distress ink and then *immediately* coat the image with clear embossing powder.  Tap off the excess and then heat-set to melt the clear powder.  Now your light colored image has a protective coat on top, so it will act as a resist to any inks you put on top of it.

Now, ink the rest of your tag with darker, contrasting shades of distress ink.  See how the lighter colors stay true?  So cool.  Now comes the magic... sandwich your tag between two sheets of newsprint, and use an iron on top.  Move the iron back and forth slowly over your tag (which is UNDER a sheet of newsprint).  The heat will re-melt the embossing powder and the newsprint will absorb it, so when you're finished, you can never tell that the image was embossed.  LOVE this technique - was one of my favorites at Ranger U.

I worked mostly with Tim Holtz Christmas stamps (classic, old-school ones from 3-4 years ago).  I added water spots to most of the tags by spritzing water and heat drying.  I added some Perfect Pearl mist to a couple of tags, and some rock candy crackle to other tags (this will reactivate the distress ink and cause a little bit of blurring, but I didn't mind...)  

I also decided to add a metallic edge to all my tags, so I tapped the edges of all the tags in embossing ink (Versamark or other), and coated with metallic embossing powder - I love a border - makes all the difference.  Other than that, I kept them pretty simple.  I may add some more embellishments later, but these will be placed on Christmas gifts, so I need to leave room for the "To's" and "From's", which I'll hand stamp with a mini alpha stamp set.

Be sure to head over to Hels' blog HERE to check out her Giant #12 manila tag, done using the same techniques.  It always amazes me how we use the same materials/recipe and get *completely* different results.

Thanks for stopping by!

~ ellen.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Altered Manila Folder


A few months ago I altered a whole collection of manila office folders to bring some of my artsy life into my work life.  Click HERE, HERE, HERE, or HERE to see some of my prior folders.  I had a need for a new folder at work and realized that all my "pretty" folders had been used up, so I decided to make another one.  I'll be slowly building up another collection over the coming weeks and months.

This folder has a background painted solely with a brayer, with several layers of color.  The ultimate background turned out to have a definite Fall/Autumn color scheme.  I used two of my PaperArtsy stamps (washer stamp and mini scratchy circle) as well as two stamps from my "had them for AGES" collection (both from Stampin' Up! Sanded scratchy background, and the sketchy leaf/flower stamp).

I decided not to stamp the leaf/flowers on the back of the folder, since it would rarely be seen.  Here's a few close ups.

Once I stamped the leaf/flower stamp across the front of the folder, I extended the stems with a fine-tip black pen, and then painted in each leaf with an off-white paint.  This provides a nice contrast with the background.  But then I did something very unusual (for me)... I added Stickles!  I'm not usually a glitter kind of gal, but for some reason a little hint of sparkle sounded just right for this folder.

Hope you like the folder - I had fun making it, and you'll be seeing more soon!  Have a great day.

~ ellen.