Thursday, January 31, 2013

Repurposed Cabinet

We've all seen the slogan, "Reduce. Reuse. Recycle."  I think recycling at home is very important.  And we are so lucky that our local vendor takes all types of plastic instead of just the 1s and 2s. We recycle our newspapers, magazines & junk mail, plastic bottles, glass jars, tin cans & cardboard boxes. 

There are a lot of ways that crafters can re-purpose plastic, glass, wood, metal, and paper in our art.  But today I'm going to talk about giving an old dirty cabinet a new life.  For a few years now my cousin and I have each fantasized about getting a big industrial map cabinet to hold our rubber stamps.  Last summer I decided it was time I did something about that dream.

I found an old cabinet on Craigslist.  It had been stored in a barn which was owned by a fireman out in rural southern Michigan.  The cost was an incredible $250.00.  I felt like I had won the lottery!  At first I thought that I would get it home as fast as possible, wash it up and fill it all in a weekend.  I could have done that and I would still love it.  But I didn't.  I decided to paint it pink and make it the focal point of my craft space.

Let me tell you - this piece of furniture is BIG and it is HEAVY!  And it took me a very long time to get it done.  We left it in segments, hosed them off and dragged them in to the basement.  Each drawer and cabinet section was scrubbed with Brillo and then sanded before they could be painted. 

Fresh off my husband's pickup truck - they all had to be hosed down to get rid of the barn dust & any bugs.
It started out the typical beige - and filthy!
 The room looks so cute now that it is complete and in place but I lived through 6 weeks of chaos.  I couldn't get to my craft table or half of my bins and everyone who had a birthday in the summer months got store bought greeting cards.  The cabinet now houses all of my image stamps and has given me a lot of surface storage, too.  Sadly, I ran out of space and my word stamps are still in the plastic bins.

My space before the map cabinet.
The bins all had to moved out of the way while the cabinet was being completed!
Cabinet body sections took over my laundry room.
The fifteen drawers were propped up everywhere space would allow while they were painted.
Over-sized hardware had to be purchased online.
My flowers & trees together in one drawer for the first time.
The cabinet helps form the back "wall" of my craft space.
And here it is!  My pride and joy!  Well worth all the hours of work!!

Have you ever re-purposed furniture?  I'd love to hear about your project or what you think of mine.  Drop me a line some time!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Did I make THAT?

Sometimes I think there is another woman named Robin sitting in my seat at the craft table.  She looks like me, sounds like me, drinks my coffee and uses all of my craft supplies.  But she obviously doesn't think like me, because I would never make a card like this.  Would I?

It's happened before.  I was quite ill a few years back and couldn't do any crafting because I couldn't sit long enough at my table.  The first card I made when I was starting to feel better was for my aunt.  I decided to use one of the stamps that I had purchased and never used before.  It is a very sunny design and I like it, but it is an off size for a standard panel so I could just center and layer.  I thought to myself, the best way to treat it is angled.  I added a few touches from another copy of the same stamped image and a couple of punches and came up with this.  Oh, I like it.  But is wasn't "me".

Well, this other Robin sat at my craft table again a week or so ago and do you know what she did?  She played with my new mica tiles!  I've always found these tiles fascinating and so I bought a package in my effort to branch out and try new things.  I have watched videos from USArt Quest and I've seen cards made by other stampers but I really didn't know what I was going to do with them. I can't decide it this makes a better Valentine or birthday card.

The floral background was a sheet of white card stock that I stenciled and then sponged pink.  The leafy accents are from USArt Quest.  They are sticky on both sides and I coated them with Mica D'Lights.  The small square of art canvas was stenciled and stamped.  The little purple dots are more mica.  I stamped "Bliss" with Brilliance ink and them dipped the edges in PPA and into some gold mica.  The flourishes are glitter puffy stickers I picked up at Michael's ages ago.  Because they are glitter instead of mica they are a little shinier.  I added a couple of amber gem stones to try and bring the gold to the other side of the card.

I have moments where I like the result of stepping out of my comfort zone and moments where I think the design is way to busy.  Either way, it's not typical of the old "me".  And that's a great thing!

I'd love to hear what you think.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Stuck for ideas? Try a sketch!

I've been in several different stamping groups over the years.  I was even a moderator in Yahoo back when they were Clubs instead of Groups.  I love seeing the different variations that we all come up with when presented with a theme.  One of my favorite places to look for inspiration is in a sketch or pattern.  Left on my own to create, I'm a pretty balanced person.  A stamped image in the middle balanced out with embellishments or a saying.  I like the way an off-balance card looks.  I think there is so much interest in giving your eye different levels to look at, but I just don't usually think that way.  When you're presented with a sketch, you use your stamps, papers & embellishments to fit the pattern...and that can be both fun and challenging!

Open yourself out to new ways to layer things on your cards or scrapbook pages.  You may be surprised at yourself.  And if you can't think of a way to get started, just try a sketch!  They make a great jumping off point.  You can find sketch designs in a lot of rubber stamp magazines and online.  Or create your own!  Take several plain shapes and lay them on a card at random.  You can close your eyes or ask your husband or kids to help you come up with something.  Whatever pattern ends up on the paper is what you'll create.

I posted one card a week ago that I made for a sketch challenge right here on blogspot for The Robin's Nest.  I made two more this morning.
Soft and feminine.  To give the flowers a little more impact I used 5 different colors of Dew Drops.

I love the silhouette garden stamp.  And the dark purple glitter paper was fun.  It can be overpowering if you're not careful.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Growing, trying new things

I have to laugh at myself.  I tell you all that I'm a rubber stamper and then post my new projects ... which don't include stamping.  I really am a stamper at heart.  Honest!  But I've been trying to broaden my horizons.  I have been attending online demos every week by Terri Sproul, who teaches mixed media techniques.  I've been attending the Saturday Crafts Fair and I've made lots of new friends on Facebook.  I've discovered craft companies I had never heard of.  It's been fun and it's been rejuvenating!

I've always liked learning new things and Facebook can be awesome for that if you let it.  I'm hoping that you will all enjoy my journey with me and like seeing the artwork I hope to create along the way.

You may have noticed that my new favorite project involves napkin collage.  Joe Rotella has an awesome YouTube demo and I just had to give it a try.  Today's projects are all gifts.  I completed one frame and the other two projects I had intended to do today are almost done.

I still need to work on adding finishing touches to my collages.  So far, it's been just adding a dusting of fine glitter.  I'll get there.  Like everything else, I'm going to have to hold my breath and dive right in.

Maybe tomorrow.

Wooden frames & birdhouse with a coat of acrylic paint.  All ready to go!
For Linda
UPDATE: The Day After

Here are the other projects I worked on yesterday.  A couple of them were unfinished and a couple were still drying last night when I made my post.
These are all gifts.
And look - I took the plunge and added embellishments!!
Robin's Birdhouse - the original
For Donna
Making art to share with friends and family.  What a wonderful way to spend a Saturday!

Practice Random Acts of Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Goodies in the mail

I feel like it's Christmas again!  I've gotten three packages of beautiful new things to play with this week.  First was a new craft mat and a couple of stamps from Altered Pages .  Then on Monday I received my January challenge kit and several bottles of Dew Drops from The Robin's Nest.  They are my new favorite embellishment!  I made a card to enter into their blog contest.  You can make scrapbook pages, cards or mixed media projects.  I haven't scrapped in so long that I drew a blank looking at the layout, but projects aren't due until Feb. 15th so I may join that challenge, too.  And today I received my gem kit from Sakura and a couple of Terri Sproul's mixers.  I'm going to try my hand at making a couple of pendants this weekend.  What fun!  It's all part of my decision to spend more time being creative.  Here's my card for the sketch challenge.  Let me know what you think in the comments below.  I'd love to hear about your art projects, too!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Not all crafts (or crafters) are created equal

I've just spent the last two days watching a live feed from the CHA convention in San Diego.  It's a convention for vendors to see and order the new products coming out.  I can't even believe some of the products out there!  I'm basically a rubber stamper.  Although I enjoy trying my hand at other crafts, that's where my passion lies.  I have bins and drawers full of art supplies and embellishments.  I thought I had a pretty good idea of what supplies should be in my cupboard.  HAH!  My head is spinning at the variety of products out there that I have never even heard of.

Today I watched a demo about making jewelry with a "cold enamel" process.  I didn't even know that the traditional method required heat!  Pretty interesting and absolutely beautiful. I saw scrapbook kits, adhesives, die cuts, rubber stamps, paper, clothing, jewelry supplies, etc.  Even though I think it was all super cool I know that I won't be good at everything I try.  And, quite frankly, I can't afford to try everything that looks interesting.  But that's not what crafting is about.  It's not a contest to see who can be good at the most things.

I can't sew - I can barely thread a needle.  I can't weld, solder or make pottery - the thought of handling anything that gets that hot or deals directly with fire frightens me.  And I'm pretty sure my city has ordinances prohibiting my owning a forge or kiln in my garage.  But I can make cards.  I like making greeting cards for my family and friends because I like the idea of making someone smile. Just a friendly little reminder that they are in my thoughts.  We all love getting mail that isn't just bills and sales flyers, right?  And if it's pretty mail...all the better!

So try some things and find the outlet that makes you happy.  You don't have to try every technique or have "all the toys".  You just need to keep an open mind and find what makes you happy.

"Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life." - Picasso

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Cards for a cause

It seems most everyone has some kind of collectible they like best.  I have a lot of different owl figurines, jewelry and wall pictures.  My husband likes die-cast cars.  My cousin collects pigs.  If you are a collector, you know how fun it is to find something new and different.

Friends of mine are active in their local ferret rescue shelter  And in an effort to help them raise money for the care and feeding of foster animals, I have made cards for the owner to sell.  I don't know how how much she charges.  I've never asked and I don't really care.  It's for the animals!  And even though I've never held a real one, these furry little clowns make me smile.  And I'm not the only one.  Her supporters love the unique hand made cards.

Here are some from over the years.  The ferret stamps are from Rubber Hedge Hog.

Stamped on blue paper, embossed in black and then bleached.
I like monochrome cards  This little guy's face jumps right off the card.
Hey, that's not your popcorn!
I guess the handyman should have kept that toolbox closed!
Who doesn't like to frolic in the leaves?

I've made a lot of collages with this shadow stamp. He fits really well!

Whatever craft you happen to prefer, consider donating your art work to a local cause.  Nothing beats the warm fuzzy feeling of knowing you have helped someone.  Even if that someone is only a few inches tall.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Camouflage and the art of decorating

Like a lot of other home artists I had to create my own personal space for crafting.  We don't all have actual studios.  A lot of us use spare bedrooms or the corner of our dining rooms!  I'm very lucky that we have a large basement and I was pretty much able to grab most of the usable space (thanks, honey!).  It's my own little corner of the world, so to speak.  It isn't perfect.  I don't have four walls, a window to the outside world or even a door.  But it's mine. 

I share my space with our storage shelves.  That's okay because I've arranged them to help define my space.  But just because I have to be near our cardboard boxes doesn't mean I have to look at them!  This big ugly metal shelving unit is hidden away behind a plain window curtain.  Check your your local resale can get them really cheap.  I just used a tension rod and slipped it back behind the metal uprights on each side.

The curtain farthest away is the big shelving unit.  The close one is a shower curtain, which is camouflaging another stack of storage boxes.

After that, I hung an owl needlepoint picture that a friend made for me to mimic a wall.  You can get as creative as you want!  Don't like white?  Go for color!  The point is to make your craft space comfortable and pretty - even if it's in the middle of a basement.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

My lastest napkin collages

For the past six months I've been trying to make my craft room prettier, as well as more functional.  Let's face it, I spend a lot of time at my table.  I bought some secondhand shelves and a new desktop shelf.  I painted the old spice racks and wrapped all of my tin cans in scrapbook paper.  Now the room is white, hot pink & lime green.  It's so much prettier!  That's why I chose the napkins shown in my first post to cover my little wooden knife box.

I've taken it one step further.  I have a couple of different "R" decorations in my room.  One of them is from the 70s and was originally gold plastic.  Throughout the years it has been spray painted in various colors to match my bedroom.  I have another that sits on a shelf that I got at Michael's in the dollar bin. It is chunky and was originally shiny black.  Both of them have been collaged to match my craft room.  One step closer to making everything coordinate!

Here are a few photos of the project:

First, each of the pieces was painted in a light neutral acrylic paint.

Lots of pink flowers and yellow butterflies in the pile of napkin pieces. 

On the wall hanger, I knew I wanted lighter colors at the top so I started there and worked down.
Wall Hanger
Shelf Sitter

My first cards

My first play date at my cousin's house was fun but I was a little overwhelmed.  I knew she made beautiful cards because I had been receiving them on birthdays and holidays.  I didn't expect to see the "huge" collection of stamps she had.  Well, I thought it was huge!  I think I had all 3 or 4 of my stamps with me.  She had been stamping about 3 or 4 years so there were a lot to choose of course I had no idea what I wanted to do. 

I sat down and wondered what to stamp. My husband had just said to me the night before that we needed to go shopping because there wasn't much in the cupboards.  When I saw this Mason jar stamp I decided to make a card for him.

I thought I was so clever to draw that can of's too bad I don't possess that type of talent.  I just can't draw to save my life.  But I love crafts and I can color anything.  I punched each of those little green circles, too!  Inside says, "Then it's time to go out to eat."

Okay, it's NOT great art.  I still have the same quirky sense of humor I did then and it tends to show up in my cards quite often!  I guess it's true that with age comes wisdom, because I'm smart enough now to know better than to try and draw my own pictures! I just search high and low looking for the perfect stamp to add to my ever-growing collection. 

I made a couple of other cards on my own right after that first trip to my cousin's craft corner.  I loved her embossing technique but didn't have a heat tool so she showed me how to emboss using a toaster.  That memory still makes me giggle.  I think I burned as many pieces of paper as I didn't burn.  It didn't take long to take that trip to start buying the right tools.  These were my other first few cards.  I still like the bunny.  She's just so darned cute!

Oh yeah, I drew the carrots and bees, too.  **giggle**

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Welcome to my blog!

Hi there!  My name is Robin.  Wow, a blog.  It's a little frightening to just plunge right in and start posting.  I've been a greeting card artist since the mid-90s, thanks to my aunt and cousins who persisted in encouraging my creativity even though I resisted in the beginning.  They all make beautiful cards and I'm very lucky that they took the time to show me the ropes, so to speak.

I've always had rubber stamps.  Always.  At first they were an alphabet set that we used to play school with (and that I really wish I still had now that I'm all grown up).  I had some art stamps that I used to use on the backs of my envelopes in my grade school pen-pals days.  When I passed the test to move from temporary to full-time clerk at the library, my present from one of my co-workers was a kangaroo stamp.  You get the point...I love my stamps.

I have only recently begun playing with projects other than just greeting cards.  My first attempt at a napkin collage was to decorate the bare wooden box my knife set came in.  I like the results.  First a thin coating of off-white acrylic paint.  Then I used three different patterns and US Art Quest's PPA matte finish adhesive.  Here are a few pictures from my project.

These are the two cards I made at the same time.

In the end, I made two boxes and two greeting cards with these same napkins.  It was easy and fun.  I've got more ideas for the napkin collage.  This is my new favorite technique.  I wonder what I'll learn to do tomorrow...