Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Secret Garden Redux

I've done 2 pieces very much like this one in the past. This one is the smallest I've done, however, and I've had it sitting around for awhile, so I thought I'd finish it off and impress you with my seemingly high creative output.

The stone work is made with egg cartons and the rest is simply moss, flowers, ivy, brass charms and a garden sink from Prima, dabbed with mushroom alcohol ink and filled with glossy accents and microbeads. 

These are impressive pieces to look at but really easy to make. I'm not sure if this qualifies as an atc but it's a lot of fun to make. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Infinity Queen

What red-blooded girl doesn't secretly love Marie Antoinette? 

Even me...the make-up hating, hair and nail neglecting barn troll will get ALL giggly and bright-eyed at looking at her shoe collection for the millionth time or tear up looking at her jewelry and dress collection. 

My GOD that woman was just....just....a QUEEN. That's right. A QUEEN.

Who really wants to sit around reading about the 'everyman' royalty. The King who wants to be like his subjects or the Queen who wants to 'relate'. 


The only good stories are the ones like...well, MARIE'S. She knew what being a queen was all about and acted like it. Of course, the peasants didn't care much for it, but they were peasants and not really contributing much to society anyway. And Marie saw it and knew it and STILL tried to be nice to them. And to show their thanks, they had her beheaded. 

Let them eat cake?? 


She never said it. 
She SHOULD have said it....I probably would've. I mean, really...when people hate you for being exactly what they wanted you to be, you're not going to win anyway. So let the peasants eat each other, for all I'd care. 

You think the peasants had it tough with Queen Marie? Well, they'd better be glad they didn't have Queen CARMEN to contend with! 

Now...on to the ATC

I started with layering white, victorian velvet and lemonade distress stains onto hot press watercolor paper. Three layers was enough to get the color look. Then, I used crackle embossing paste and a stencil to give it the look of wallpaper. When it dried, I sponged it lightly with victorian velvet and vintage photo 

I really wanted to bling this thing OUT. You have no idea the restraint it took to stop. Every time I work with Marie, it seems natural to throw every bit of sparkle and gold I can get my hands on.

But I love this picture for its simplicity. And I felt it had enough impact on its own. Not to mention I see a lot of Marie all blinged out and wanted to take a different route. So I made do with a flower spray at the bottom, painted leaf gold on the edges and left it at that.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Stained-Glass Geisha Triptych

I had a good friend call the other day. She said she'd been meaning to call because she gets my blawg updates, and she wanted to tell me how much BETTER she thought I was getting at my art. 


Anyway, she went one to tell me how she felt I'd made a huge jump-not only in technique and process, but in output.

"My LORD", she exclaimed. "I don't see anything but once a month, if that, and all of a sudden, I'm getting one-if not TWO-of your blog emails a day!"

I told her it was clearly a case of growing as an artist, and the creative process being blah...blah...blah...blah.

But, in reality, none of that means anything. 

The REAL reason for these changes can be summed up in one word:

Flower Geisha

That's's too freaking COLD to move from my 'studio'. 

NOTE: Yeah,'s a craft room. But 'studio' sounds much more professional (read: 'snooty') and I LIKE it. So there. 

I'm not kidding. I don't even go out into the garage to get a bottled water. Which, I might add, is staying colder in there than in the fridge. And don't think I get my own water, either. That's what God made children-and husbands-for.

Normally, when it's above 50 here in North Carolina, I'm out at the barn. My horse is at a full-board stable, so when I go out there, I'm usually grooming (health permitting, of course) riding or mucking out her stall AGAIN (it's the OCD...I choose to pick my battles with it) or scrubbing her feed and water buckets with bleach. Or, working with a yearling filly named Fenari (Finn) who has finally gotten to the point where she stopped trying to kill me and simply settles for a good nip here and there. 

Needless to say, I can stay as active as I can without setting off this damned disease (Dercum's Syndrome...long for my post if you're interested...or know someone diagnosed with fibro who is in more pain than average) and in doing that, I feel like a better person. But it's taxing and, after an our or two out there, I come home to little or no Art. Hence, the sparse art output and posting.
Fan Geisha

But at 49 degrees and below, this NC girl puts on her fleece, eats endless grilled cheese sandwiches and "arts" her butt off. Mostly because the only other option is relating to my children, and since they've already sold their souls to video games, there's not much work to do there.

The BAD thing about weather-related artistic mania, is that with lots of sitting comes fat. About 10 pounds worth of fat. And might I add that, with this happening, not only do you get to wear leggings all the time, you are ALSO able to discern who your true friends are. Two birds with one stone, my friend. Two. 
Crane Geisha

You see, your TRUE friends are the ones who tell you that they can't tell you've gained, when it's obvious that my chubby thighs are rubbing together hard enough to spark friction fires. 

Sidenote: Ever seen leggings burn? Of course not. They don't burn. They melt. Don't ask me how I know this.

Anyway...THAT'S a friend. 

The OTHER people will tell you that you 'look different' but they 'can't put a finger on it'. 

Flipping passive-aggressives. 

I usually like to have fun with these people by saying "Is it my hair? I got it colored." or "I wonder if it's my nails. I haven't had time for a mani in the last decade, or so."

By this time, they start to get frustrated that you haven't copped to gaining weight, so they try to get more specific. "No...No...not that. Have you been working out?"

"Everyday!" I say with a smile. "I'm thrilled you can tell the difference!!"

They usually leave in a huff, after that. 

But I digress. Again.

It's cold. Therefore I art. As to the weight, well, I'll get it off again when it warms up. I know that the family will be thrilled when THAT happens...especially since one of them made the mistake of telling me that when it's cold, the body's metabolism goes up, therefore we burn more fat without trying.

I have to admit that Arting in a bikini isn't the easiest thing...for any of us...but a (chubby) girl's gotta do what a (chubby) girl's gotta do.s

Dresden edging and width

Laura Carson at has a glass slide tutorial HERE. This is the technique I used for these ATC's. Using stamps from SU! Kimono and Oriental Brushstrokes, along with an unidentified stamp, G45's Birdsong, brass ephemera, dresden scrap and flowers finished them up. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Bee and Butterfly Batik ATC's

This was a technique I learned from Ellen Hudson's In the cLASSroom and altered to make it work for me.

Using the sticky canvas, I dry sponged 2 colors of ink on the background. Using my MISTI (which, I can absolutely agree that it is the "Most Incredible Stamp Tool Invented") I repeatedly stamped this Penny Black collage stamp until I got a solid image. Taking the same dry brush, I began laying color on the images. At the end, I hit it with my mister and as soon as the colors started bleeding, I hit it with the heat gun. You can always keep adding color if it's not strong enough. I didn't get as much bleed as I wanted, but I still love this effect. The tiny, brass butterfly on the pink and the bee on the blue-both on the flowers-gives them their names.

As you may be aware, we are experiencing-for NC-a veritable blizzard.

On a side-note, I lived in Minnesota for three years. Weather like this-combined sleet, ice, snow and inhuman cold temps-was called "September through June".

But here in NC, it's weather we are simply not equipped to deal with. Having 2-3 snowplows-for the entire state-there's just simply no way for us to clear everything up so that we can get out of our houses. We have truck and dualies that could slog through the Everglades. But snow? Nope.

Even if we could, we don't have the clothing (we THINK we need) to keep us warm. Seriously...did you think that the scene in a Christmas Story (where Randy couldn't put his arms down when he was stuffed in his snowsuit) was a joke? The ONLY inaccurate part was that he had a snowsuit! We were swathed in layers of socks-on feet AND hands (why would we buy gloves???) as well as our grandmother's shawl wrapped over our heads and tied behind our necks. We had to put on a pair of thermals under jeans and our grandfather's coat (because we couldn't fit into ours, such was the bulk) before being kicked out of the house to roam about resembling extras on the set of the Walking Dead.

PAM (pre-adderall moment)-My Great-Uncle Denson used to say that Southerners had a hard time with cold because we have 'thin blood'. I told him that was not the case...besides, the South extends a good ways up north. Having lived for a short time in Indianapolis, 2 blocks from the Mason-Dixon line, I argued the case for our Southern kin north of us. But Great-Uncle Denson was no fool for 'history'. He disputed my claim with cold, hard facts.

"Now see hyar," he'd say,"Ain't no southerner gonna intentionally declare some place in Indianner (translation: "Indiana") the place where the South ENDS. Ever-body knows that north of Richmond (Virginia) is where the food gits bad and them yankees sit around bein' loud and talkin' funny".

Great-Uncle Denson was a great one to expound on Southern history. Especially when he'd been fully hydrated by the sweet tea he always carried with a flask.


Back to the weather.

I'm not sure if our blood is really 'thinner', but I DO know that I tolerated the cold in MN a heck of a lot better than I do here. Perhaps it's because it's common up there and no so much here. But I've come to think it's a genetic thing. As Southerners, we simply cannot function in any inclement weather. Be it rain, fog, snow, sleet, or any day that isn't 85 and sunny. It's best we stay indoors.

Let me amend that's best we stay indoors AFTER we descend on the grocery stores in order to buy up all the bread, eggs and milk. heard me correctly. Bread. Eggs. Milk. In that order. And that's it. Nothing else. Not even liquor. Mostly because every Southerner has a relative that makes hooch, so we're never out of that. Trust.

I've never understood why we HAVE to have those three items in a weather emergency. We could be stocked up with beans, soup, meat and snacks, but you'd think we were on the verge of weather-related starvation if we didn't have bread, eggs and milk on hand. The only thing I can think of that takes all three of those ingredients are French Toast. And who's going to spend their captivity...I mean, 'time'...with their family, eating nothing but French Toast??

But back to the stores...don't believe me? Just google it. There are plenty of pictures showing grocery stores in the South with bread, eggs and milk areas resembling war zones.

At any rate, with the sleet and snow, we may be in our homes for awhile. Most of us praying for a break in the weather to get the kids back in school, sometime before June.

Or at least before we run out of Benadryl to spike their French toast with.

Circus Memories

Ahhhhh.....circus memories.

When I was 16, I ran away with the circus.

No. I'm not kidding. Seriously. I totally ran away with them, was found to be 16 after a week, and was put on a greyhound bus for home. 

I know!!! You STILL think I'm kidding!! You think I'm making up the selling of cotton candy yelling "Yum, Yum...who wants some?" and I climbed up and down stairs at the opening, intermission and closing of the show!!! But I'm not! I swear!

It was the year that Ringling Brothers claimed they had a unicorn....remember that? It was a goat thing with a horn. I know this because I showered with it.

Sigh. I think I'm getting to the point where I'm not sure whether to believe my OWN stories!

But it's true.'s how it happened.

The circus came to Greensboro, NC, where I was working as an usher for the Greensboro Coliseum. All of you who have read even a MODICUM of my blawg posts know that I have a little issue with ADHD, OCD and impulse control. If you DON'T know this, you've not met me or read any blawg posts, save this one.

I totally got caught up with the whole circus life, made some friends who invited me to join out with them (NOT join 'up' circus lingo, it's 'join out') and so I took off. 

NOTE: My poor mother. It would've served me right to have all 3 of my boys to be carbon copies of me. I'm surprised she draws breath at all, nowadays, never mind looking as amazing as she does. To be fair, in the 80's, no one knew what ADHD and OCD were. It was assumed I was a wild child who couldn't be controlled. Which I was and you couldn't...but at LEAST now we know that a great deal of it was chemistry. My mother STILL tries to blame herself for not knowing these things but NOBODY did! She's a great mom. A REALLY great mom. Trust. :)

Each circus concessions person 'owned' their own business/stand. They were commission only. It was a HARD life. I rode the train to Virgina, marvelling at the tiny spaces the workers, and low on the totem pole performers, occupied. Gunther Gebel-Williams, the world-famous trainer, was still with the circus, I think (this would've been 1984) but he and his family had their own car on the train. I only saw his son (who was 12 or 13, maybe) who yelled at me when I stopped for a few moments to look at the tigers. I wasn't offended...I didn't speak German and knew I could kick his butt if necessary. heh heh

While taking a shower in Richmond, Va. in the coliseum's 'locker rooms' or whatever you'd call them, I heard a 'clop, clop, clop'. Know that the shower area was one of the open ones and I want to say it had at least 10 shower heads. Looking over my shoulder, I see the female handler of the goat/unicorn leading the thing into the shower, ostensibly to bathe it. 

She glared at me and erupted in a blistering invective in some language I didn't recognize. Again, I wasn't offended. I knew I could kick the goat's butt. 

Hers, not so much. So I cut the shower short.

Richmond was the only circus I 'worked'. The manager of the slum sellers (the group out in front that want to sell you all sorts of stuff) told me he knew I was only 16 and to go home. I'm not too sure I was totally upset with that.

It was an interesting experience, but one I never wanted to repeat. The truth is that the circus workers, and many of the 'supporting staff', were dirty and dangerous people. Many had criminal records and, keeping on the move, kept them away from authorities. Looking back, I'm glad that nothing untoward happened to me. 

OR to the Gebel-Williams son and the goat. 


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Woodland Fairy Lair

I'd originally planned to submit this to atcsforall monthly contest, under the theme "Woodland Creatures", but was told that it didn't fit the theme. I guess I always thought of fairies and gnomes as living in the woods (not to mention I've cut enough dang deer, bird and rabbit diecuts to last me til' June!) but oh well. At any rate, here's my girl!

It was a fairly simple card...I ran cardstock through on PTI wood embossing plate and used distress inks to color. Using the little masonite gothic window, I decided to take the easy way out and score the 'hinge' instead of attaching a real one. Mostly because I'm not very good with hinges and I doubt this will be used enough to compromise the paper. 

I used mounting tape to attach the glimmer paper to the back and more to attach the fairy. I used a few rhinestones and stickles on her, glued some moss, fake greenery and mushroom and it was DONE!

I'm off to play around with a circus and fabric atc. We've got this huge winter storm that's going to hit tonight (I'm in NC...our 'storm' constitutes a little ice and an inch of snow. They cancelled school for tomorrow at 2pm today-HAH!) so it's either stay in the craftroom and keep my sanity, or feed the kids enough benadryl to keep them sleeping til' Monday. ;)


Monday, January 18, 2016

ATC "Window Wishing" and Blawg Stalking

Let me just start by getting this out of my system.

I, Carmen, am a stalker.

Granted, I don't follow my fixations around town or do creepy things like sniff their mail, or whatever  real stalkers do, but I'm still a stalker.

Albeit, a very lazy and unmotivated stalker, but a stalker nonetheless.

 Well, maybe not a stalker...maybe more like the movie where the girl wanted to be the other girl and the next thing you know the scary girl was murdering people and wearing the other girl's Manolo's! (which was the REAL tragedy, there)
 Yeah! That's what I am! 

Fine...maybe with the exception of dressing like my obsession and the whole 'leaving the house to murder people' thing-I mean, really...I get my own groceries delivered, people!...But I could totally be that girl.

After reading what I've written so far, I've come to a disturbing conclusion. NO...not that I've put way too much study into the whole stalking/crazy life-stealing, Manolo-snatching, murdering girl's the fact that I'm really not even qualified to BE a good stalker! I don't have that kind of focus! I'm even MEDICATED to help me focus, and I STILL can't bring myself to do the whole 'be the best stalker you can be' thing! 


Well, if I can't do right as a stalker, I can at LEAST share her blog and technique for making this incredibly awesome ATC card.

Laura Carson at did an incredible ATC card of a girl sitting in front of a transparent stained glass window. The tutorial is HERE

I've wanted to do this card for ages. But my printer wouldn't print on transparency film. So, I did what anyone would do! That's right...I went and bought a new printer. 

I found the stained glass online and downloaded it. Changing it from a jpg to pdf ( programs all over to do it in seconds) I transferred it to MS Word and resized it to ATC measurements. Printing on transparency film, I touched up the color with Copics on the back (that's the rough part the image is printed on). 

Here's where the magic comes in...using Versamark and clear embossing powder, I covered the FRONT (the smooth part that you did NOT color/print on) and carefully heat embossed it. That's where you get the cool stained glass effect. (TY LAURA!!)

 I cut the frame from chipboard. Dresden on the sides and bottom and a brass finding at the top was tinted with copper gilder's paste, and the woman and swan were cut from collage sheets. I put white feathers on the swan, which totally breaks the whole ATC measurement rule if you care, which I don't. 

It's hard to see just how transparent this is so I placed it over some white cardstock to give you the idea of how awesome this project is. 

I'd like to offer my apologies to Laura...she's talented enough to deserve a first-rate stalker: something I'm just too lazy to be. But I will continue to stalk her blog and throw her name out as if we're BFF's, when talking to crafters of note, and hint around at a totally imaginary collaborative project that we may or may not be working on together. 

At the end of the day, I really feel that she knows that I totally respect and admire her talent and body of work. And that I'm grateful for all I've learned (which has been significantly more than EVERY class I've EVER paid to for FREE from her. Thanks, Laura! 

And if she DOESN'T know that, well, at least it'll actually be HER signature on the restraining order!!! OMG!  ;)

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Tim's Tags 2016 #2

This year, I swore to myself that I would be more daring, more original, more versatile and thinner. 

I realize I might as well as sworn to be a billionaire and President, as they're just as likely to happen as the other four.

But hey! I can always try!!

AND buy lottery tickets. 

I've never done Tim's tags in their entirety before...this year, I'm going for it. I'm really digging mixed media and want to incorporate a lot of it into the 3D work I'm currently NOT doing at the moment. And with that non-existent 3D work, I'd like to transfer the texture ideas to the jewelry that I'm also NOT making. By the end of this year, I suspect I'm going to be an absolute genius in all of these areas in which I'm doing nothing.

I'm telling you...I'm TOTALLY rocking the nothing this year!! 

Anyway...I cut self-adhesive foil into sections and attached it to the top and bottom of the tag. After running it through an embossing folder, I covered it with distress paint and wiped some off to show the pattern. I stamped the robot in versamark and used winter white antiquities ep. I covered it all in chalk and wiped it off. The best part was finding the gears and little compass to 'assemble' him with. His eyes are the little dew drops, of which I have a couple million.

Side note...dew drops are something you MUST be careful with. Not because the kids or pets might swallow a few, but because they secretly mate when you're not looking. Then, several weeks after you've purchased a small bottle of 100 or so, you have 10k of them spilling over the containers, onto the floor and ready to give you a heart attack when you vacuum over the suckers and they make a racket loud enough to make you think you've taken out a wall or something.

Sorry. Back on topic.

I found this lightweight chain in the trim dept. of Hobby Lobby and sloshed some black alcohol ink to damp down the bright silver and, using a gear and long brad, attached them to the top. That'll look cute on a kid's birthday gift, don't you think?? 

Dang. I totally JUST broke my vow to not lie. Because I would NEVER put this in the hands of a child who will throw (what ends up being about 20 bucks and 5-6 agonizing hours of work to put together, photo, upload and write about) in the trash.  No way. Not even my OWN kids will get something like this.

I finished off with some gears on the legs and taking a wooden embellie that I embossed with silver ep, I took the sentiment from Tim's Small talk book, cut it in half and flipped the word 'original' upside down. Because leaving it intact made me feel that it would look like I TOTALLY did NOT get the message to begin with.

I glued a small wrench charm to the edge and called it done.

And cannot ask WHY I would have a wrench charm in my stash. Mostly because I have no idea. 

Although, I wouldn't put it past those %$&#*(&$( DEW DROPS having something to do with it.  

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Tim's Tags 2016

I know that I'm the LAST person, it seems, to jump on the Tim's Tags train, but I am absolutely delighted that I did!

Mixed media freaked me out. There were just too many choices and the product selection was overwhelming. Not to mention that it was hard for me to just 'play'. I was ALWAYS feeling like I had to finish everything I started.

So, I grabbed a pack of cards, started back in 2008, and started making tags. Or the tag backgrounds, that is. Smartest thing I ever did. I had this background made by cutting adhesive backed foil and laying them on the tag. Using a ballpoint pen, a card and craft pick, I made 'rivets' and 'seams'. I washed it in black and used steel wool to lift most of it off.

I cut an extra set of fan blades (after using the embossing/chalk technique on the stamped image) and popped them up on mounting tape. Using 2 gears and the chain clip from Tim, I hung a fragment with a rub on. An extra long brad, also from Tim, and crystal accents held all of that in place.

I ordered the stamp set of robots and they should be here tomorrow. I'm totally seeing a second entry. I never thought I'd like the whole 'industrial' look...but I'm digging it!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Love, Anniversaries and OTHER things that go bump in the night...

Let me start by saying 'yes'...I know I posted two pictures. 

One has a white background and the other, black. My OCD couldn't use one to out-nitpick the other, so I just threw them both on here to just get on with it.

I had a piece of colored foil left over from by butterfly (see previous post) so I decided to make an atc card. 

Since Valentine's Day (or "VD-Day" as my 1st grader once yelled to me-do NOT see the previous posts for that story...I'd just soon forget that one) is right around the corner, I decided to use that for my theme. For my inspiration, well, that's going to take a little 'splainin'. 

I'm not much of a movie/TV watcher. Unless it's Outlander. Then I'll watch and rewatch (and watch a THIRD time, but just the dirty parts) until I get all that Alexander James Malcolm McKenzie Fraser out of my system. Great....I have no idea what I was talking about. Happens every time. I start talking about Jaime and Claire and then I'm out scratching at every rock I can find. Sigh.

Ok...movies/tv. Don't do them very often. But if one of my old faves comes on and I just happen to pause, I'll stay to the end. Which is what happened to me yesterday, and which I decided to use as the art inspiration for this Valentine's ATC.

The movie was Predator.

WHAT???? Predator is a GREAT movie!! It's has great dramatic tension, a truly terrifying villain, and it's the only movie in which Arnold Schwarzenegger has a whole bunch of lines and delivers them as if he's a real actor!!! 

When the scary Predator thing hides in the trees like a chameleon, well...that's what my inspiration was for this ATC. I debossed the card, embossed the cupid, ran the archival ink over the cupid to highlight the embossing, cut another cupid in black and offset to give just a hint of shadow/separation and cut 'Love' in black 3x, glued together and coated with glossy accents. And it worked!!! 

Certainly NOT as cool as Predator, but I'm digging it. So there we are.

I'm sort of getting into this ATC thing, so I'll check in with you later. Unless Outlander is on...then it might be awhile. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Butterfly Effect

While visiting Dina's blawg here, I saw she got involved in a wonderful project called The Butterfly Effect...Be the change. 

Volunteers would be sent wooden butterflies to decorate and then hide...using clues and pictures posted to social media, others would find the butterfly and then have 250.00 donated to a charity of their choice. 

Go here to volunteer or read more.

Those of you who know me, KNEW there wasn't going to be any cutesey stuff going on with MY butterfly. The most important thing was that SOMETHING on this was gonna MOVE.

I embossed 2 long sheets of Tim Holtz's foil adhesive with different folders. Then I cut them in pieces and stuck them on at random. Then, I took an archival ink pad and ran it all over the front to highlight the embossed areas. A large piece of Dresden and a clock mechanism and BOOM! I was done. Well, OCD kicked in and I had to take strips of dresden and glue it around the outside edge to finish it off, but it came off well, I thought.

Yesterday, Jan 10th, was my drop date. I took my pictures and posted my clues and the thing was found within 12 hours.'s Burlington, NC,'s not like we have a lot to do.

Congrats to the person who found it and thanks to The Butterfly Effect...what a WONDERFUL group of people! Check them out! 

And while you're at it...BE THE CHANGE! 

The good change...not the one that serves as a cautionary tale. Like most of my changes. 

heh heh