Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Reading Pledge 2012 Update

I know it must seem like the bulk of the time I spend on this blog is book related - at least recently.  I would give excuses but it's part of my personal project to get back to the things I love most.  I'm right on time with my pledge at this point and am in the process of reading two books.  I've made it a habit this year to have at least one fiction book and one non-fiction and/or creative book in progress at any given time.  It's been working out pretty well and I'm loving it. It's nice to be reading more again.  So what's going on now...

Like many avid readers, I have jumped on the Fifty Shades trilogy band wagon.  I'm about two-thirds of the way through the final book and I'm really feeling the need to disembark or throw up in my mouth a little bit.  Really, I'm pretty fed up with the mind-blowing sex with the tragically naive, beautiful (and she doesn't even know it) girl.  I'll finish the trilogy.  I've put in the time but it's really pissing me off right now.  I think I'm going on my third week of not reading this book - wasted time indeed. 
If I had the physical book I would have tossed it across the room on several occasions.  Unfortunately this is not possible with the ereader.  One strike in its favor I tell you.  Who knew almost 1000 pages of reading about the hot, damaged guy in love with the innocent, vulnerable girl could make me start looking for sharp objects?

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Moving on...I started reading Imagine by Jonah Lehrer in preparation for the upcoming podcast on Paperclipping Roundtable.  I've had the book for a while and am LOVING it.  It has a similar tone to the lovely works of Mr. Malcolm Gladwell.  His books are little bursts of knowledge and I just soak it up like a sponge.  Loving the opportunity to read about creativity and imagination.  Loving the opportunity to become acquainted with another amazing non-fiction writer.  I also am enjoying my time away from the red room of pain.  Reading Fifty Shades is turning into my red room of pain.  I exaggerate...slightly.

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So that's it for today.  If you're interested in joining in on the book club read for the podcast, hop on over to the Paperclipping blog.  The podcast panelists are all reading the book and will include the regulars (Noell, Nancy, and Izzy), Ali Edwards and Stacy Julian.  I cannot wait.  They will be taping the episode next week.  Yay!  

Today: I plan on writing my summer manifesto inspired by Ms. Ali Edwards.  I'm only running a few weeks late.  I also plan on coloring more than ONE image today.  I have exactly 16 days to finish 55 cards - which roughly evens out to three to four cards per day.  I also plan on treating myself to a big cup of coffee, blueberry muffin, and possibly finishing at least one book.  Hope everyone's having a lovely Tuesday.  Until then...

P.S. For those of you that LOVE the trilogy - you know who you are - I'd like to apologize for my remarks.  I hope this doesn't take away from your own reading experience.  Please don't let my views deter you from reading the books either,  remember you're dealing with a girl who pinned this and is wondering if she can make a sign for when she leaves the house.  Nutcake, indeed. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

New Marker Love - Spectrum Noir

Today's product love is brought to you with a big smile and a lot of hope.  This product is actually not something I'm lusting over (shocker)...but something that lives in my home as I write and breathe.  Actually - it's 72 things...72 Spectrum Noir markers to be precise.

I've had these markers in my house for almost 72 hours (this is totally unintentional I assure you) and I'm learning slowly.  I bought the basic packs (12 packs with six markers) which covers the colors of the rainbow, neutrals, and skin tones (which they call pale hues).  I had literally never heard of this marker before I bought my first 36.  I just roll like that - I'm a nutcake as my mother would say!

How did I come to learn about these markers let alone buy 72?  It's a funny story (please feel free to skip this paragraph if you are uninterested).  I was actually going to buy Copic markers.  I had sat down with my paper and determined which markers I needed and then went to the booth with the lowest price.  Now - this should have been easy enough.  However - the vendor had made the brainy choice to place their markers next to their purchase line.  The line was incredibly long and I couldn't get to the markers.  A very nice woman waiting in line gave me a quick tip - these markers were cheaper around the corner.  I had scoured the whole place so I wasn't quite sure which booth she was suggesting - but like a good girl I went looking.  It turned out the booth had sketch markers, not ciao, putting them way out of my budget.  So...I knew it was going to be a waiting game to get the markers at the busy, unorganized previous booth.  I started wandering around and found myself in Bee Creative's booth.  One of the nice ladies doing a demo was talking about the markers and giving some basic information.  I looked at the deals and quickly realized I could get 36 markers instead of 16.  I was sold instantaneously.  I noticed the specially formulated paper but could not afford it - so I moved on with my new pack of six markers.

That night I came home and played using mixed media paper from my Canson Mixed-Media Pad.  I had watched a few videos and knew the markers were "juicy".  I did my very best not to be heavy handed.  I quickly realized this paper was not going to work...

I actually liked the color palette - but the bleeding was too much of a distraction.  I also realized I was not blending the colors as suggested on the charts (more on that later).  The numbers were difficult to read on my packaging.  However...I could see these markers were going to work and would be a fine replacement for my budget at less than $2 per marker.  Please note: I did not have the foresight to record my color choices.

The next day all I could really think about was getting back to that booth and buying the rest of the colors and the specially formulated paper.  So what's a girl to do - in reinforcements of course.  I talked to my special benefactor - and she gave me the money for the additional 6 sets!!!  Since I'm working on cards for my sister and parents - she was more than willing to help out.  Thanks Ma!!!!  So I headed out and bought the remaining sets and paper.  I was ecstatic.

Once I got home, I reorganized my marker stash banishing my ultra fine tip Sharpies to a basket to be taken to work when summer school begins.  After I was happy with the new arrangement...I started to play using the special paper and here's what I got...

Right Image: Shirt (CT4, GB5, OR1), Pants (IG1, IG2, IG4), Two Bags - same color (BT1, BT2, BT4), Boots, (CT4, GB5, GB8); Left Image: Shirt & Boots (CT4, GB5, GB8), Two Bags - same color (BT5, BT7, BT9), One Bag (TB3, TB5, TB6, and TB9), Boot strap (EB8)

Sorry for the big picture - but I thought it was a better size to view my "findings."  My first attempt is on the left.  Using the Indie Chic Nutmeg line as my color inspiration, it became clear that blending the three warm colors was creating an orange effect - something I definitely did NOT want.  Also - the bags weren't the right color and just weren't dark enough.  So I substituted the orange color for a light brown on the boots and liked the finished effect.

I then moved on to the image on the right using my new found knowledge.  The yellow color of the shirt and boots worked wonderfully.  I alternated coloring different parts of the image to minimize the amount of bleeding.  I was worried it would make blending more difficult - but it didn't.  I then moved on to the bags and really liked the darker blue green colors.  Then I moved on to the last bag and really broke the bank.  I used far too much ink covering up a lighter blue shade that just wasn't working.  In the end, I have the colors I want - just in a juicy form.  So I separated out the colors and made sure to write each blend down for later reference.  My plan is to start cranking a few of these out today sans heavy bleeding.  I'll keep you updated on how it goes.

In the meantime, I wanted to leave you with a few resources I have found helpful if you choose to try out these markers.

  • - Do a search for Spectrum Noir markers and a variety of videos are available.  There are even some videos comparing different alcohol based markers.
  • Trena's Stamp Headquarters - She has a lovely blending chart she has created (which I downloaded to my iPad).  She also has a blank chart to allow for your own play time.  It's a really great source.
  • Spectrum Noir Blog, Video Tutorials, & Downloads - there is a lot of good information here, including blending charts and a coloring chart to keep track of the colors in your stash.  
I hope you find this very long post helpful.  I hope you're having a wonderful Monday.  My day is looking to be a rainy one with isolated thunder storms - my favorite (NOT!).  Here's to a productive crafty day and to you.  Until then...

Sunday, June 10, 2012

10 Things on the 10th: Tackling the Big Projects - Updated

It's been quiet here on the blog.  It's that time of the year - the time when I try to recover from a full school year - no matter how much I love it.  The time when I try to reignite my creativity.  It's a tough job - but this year I basically have no choice.  I've offered to make thank you cards for my dear sister's upcoming baby shower extravaganza.  It's one of the variety of craft projects I'm taking on for the big day.  I'm pretty excited.  So I thought I'd put together a little something to show how I'm approaching the job of making 40 cards for my big sis.  I know 40 cards might seem like small potatoes to many of you - however, this girl has never tackled a project quite so large before.  So without further 10 things on the 10th inspired by the lovely Shimelle Laine...

1.  Choose a color scheme. In this case, mine was chosen for me based on the nursery and shower color schemes.  Yellow and gray were the words plus a touch of blue for my sweet baby nephew!!!

2. Choose a stamped image. In this case, I collaborated with the mommy to be and came up with a great image from My Favorite Things.  My favorite thing about these stamps (no pun intended) is the variety of skin color choices available with an image of this kind.  It's a real plus for me.

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3. Determine if you want to use the same design for the whole project.  I opted for more than one design since there is only one image.  Color, paper, and design are the only areas for any kind of variety.

4.  Choose the paper. Again I collaborated with preggers and came up with three lines with similar color families and completely different patterns.  I'm a bit of a paper whore (some say enthusiast - I prefer the former), so this was definitely one of my favorite parts of the process.  I chose the following three lines...

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5. Play with coloring options.  Match the colors as closely as possible to the patterns you have chosen.  I just became the proud owner of 72 spectrum noir markers - the basic set. I also recently purchased the full set of distress markers.  I've spent a lot of time on this site learning the fine art of water coloring.  Gotta love YouTube.

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6. Decide if paper piecing is an option. I absolutely love the look but it's a true pain in the ass to make happen.  The question is how much do you value your sanity and/or how much do you like the client.  I'm still on the fence here.  If I do decide to go with paper piecing - it will definitely be with this paper.  I just love it.

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7. Decide on a design.  This is a time when I scour my books, magazines, binders, and favorite challenge sites.  I also like to look at card galleries and my favorite blogs for further inspiration.  I am a huge advocate for card lifting.  I save the images on to my smart phone and iPad and keep it close when I'm crafting.  Last but definitely not least, check out the Pinterest boards for more inspiration.

8. Test the image and markers on a variety of mediums, both ink and paper.  Archival and Staz-on inks work best for water coloring.  Memento inks are advised for alcohol based markers.  However I have found sites that recommend Brilliance and Colorbox Pigment Inks.  In the case of alcohol based markers - it is usually helpful to heat set the inks before doing any coloring just to be safe.  If all else fails - try heat embossing your favorite ink.  For the stamping, I'm using special stamping paper from Crafter's Companion specially formulated for alcohol ink markers.

9. Plan, plan, plan.  Make sure you have your designs picked out with the number of cards per design.  Try and know your dimensions to get the most out of your paper. Give yourself a deadline and designate the number of cards to complete daily.  Be sure to stay on track.

10. Relax. Have fun. Take breaks. Be You. Be true to your style. Remember someone chose you based on the quality of your work. Embrace your own style including (no, especially) the imperfections.

I hope this is helpful.  It is my largest project/order to date. I have a smaller order from my father - 15 total.  There are no specific themes so the size of this order allows for changes in stamps, paper, etc. - this kind of project makes me incredibly happy.  I'm a little nervous about the thank you cards.  Honestly, I just want everything to be perfect.  I need to let go of that need and just embrace my own style with all of it's accompanying flaws.  Flaws are what makes us human and beautiful.  Right?  So here it goes...I'm off to get started.  Hope everyone is having a wonderful Sunday.  Until then...

Update: Several people asked to see photos of the finished products.  I thought I'd add an in process photo here (below) and link to the final post.  Thanks so much for reading.

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