Design team member of Alpha Stamps, moderator at Craftster, lover of ephemera and junk.

Welcome! Grab a cold one, kick off your shoes, and have a look around.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Mermaid Garden

We're having some fun with mermaid paper dolls over at Alpha Stamps this month! There are all kinds of fishy things to play with: from articulated chipboard mermaids, to a collage sheet of heads that perfectly fit those dolls, to sparkly sequined seashells. I made a fancy little mermaid and decided to create an undersea garden in which she could live. Here's an extra large photo of her home. I'll break some of the details down in smaller photos below. Doesn't that blue scalloped at the bottom of the shrine look 3D? It's actually an image from the mermaid head collage sheet!

There's a lot going on in this garden: whispy fronds of seaweed, bright red corral, crashing waves, and a sassy mermaid who has crowned herself with sparkly seashells. The paper doll mermaid is supported in the middle of the shrine with a bamboo skewer, which is inserted into a bead glued to the floor of the box. The skewer is painted the same blue that was used to paint her tail fins, and partially hidden behind some coral. A fish placed in front of the skewer also helps to hide it. To stabilize the figure, the elbow of her raised hand is attached to the side of the box with a little dab of white glue.

The back of the box features a scene from the Sea Green Mermaids collage sheet. I couldn't resist adding a few more swimming fish, which are attached with dimensional foam glue dots to give the scene some depth. A rusty bottlecap and two fancy fish decorate the top portion of the shrine. To pull a little more red up to that area, a Copic marker was used to give those fish red eyes.

The Arched Shrine shadowbox is nice and deep; you can see in this photo how I curled and inserted the two sets of waves. They almost stayed in place by themselves, but just to be sure, I ran a small bead of white glue along the bottom edge of each of them. You can see how busy that right side is; the better to hide that stick! Isn't the mermaid's pearl necklace lovely? Those pearls serve to hide the edge of her paper neck where it meets her body.

Here's the back. I kept it simple.

And one more photo for the road. I hope you enjoyed the Mermaid's Garden. For a list of supplies, click here.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Little Garden Book

I enjoyed using the Alpha Stamps Hidden Drawer Book Box in my The Little Book of Men
project so much that I asked Leslie (Queen of AS) if I could have another one just for fun.  I got a brightly colored paper pack and was inspired to do a Spring Garden theme. An image from the Women and Flowers collage sheet was the perfect size and had all the right colors for the cover of the book.

I love how this "woodgrained" paper looks almost like book pages. Here's the spine and top of the book:

The Little Book of Perfect Men held ATC cards, but this book has a secret that's a bit more fun: a tiny garden and a tiny gardener, plus a pretty songbird and a sweet little bunny.

I used some Leafy Green Underbrush for a grassy lawn, and a stick from my yard for a tree. Some tiny leaves from some Miniature Coiled Leaf Stems were glued onto the branch with a little dab of hot glue. The bunting and the birdhouse were cut from the paper that was featured on the sides of the secret drawer, and the pennants in the bunting were attached to the back with dimensional glue dots to give them some depth.

I thought this would be a great playset, so the rabbit and the peg doll are removable.
Now you can take a little garden with you wherever you go! For a complete list of supplies, click here.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Fun Time, a Framed Shadowbox

This month at Alpha Stamps, we were encouraged to do some art representing our passion, our craft room, or something we collected. I'm not much of a collector, but I do love toys, especially vintage toys. When I mentioned that to Leslie (Queen of Alpha Stamps), she said she would make a collage sheet with some of my favorite toys on it if I'd supply her with photos. Heck yeah! Bonus, she ended up making two collage sheets: one, some general toys, and two: circus themed toys. She even added a few fun toys that I now wish I owned, like the Happy Hooligan tin toy, which you can see in oval frame in the upper right corner of the photo below. Here's what I made with those collage sheets, plus some fun dollhouse sized frames and a wooden crate. I like to think the little boy below is visiting a toy museum, filled with toys I love. These toys are so fun, they are practically bursting out of their frames!

The small frame shadowbox is just deep enough host a few real toys in front of the wall of art.

Here's the back of the Fun Time museum. With the shadowbox alone, the frame will stand on its own, but it will lean a bit. I wanted this piece to sit flat, so I added a wooden block to prop it up. Works like a charm!

I liked the way the shadowbox fit exactly inside frame if you decide not to forego using the glass. Included in the kit is an extra piece of cardboard that the tabs on the sides of the box fit into. That's great to use if you want to use the glass on your work, but I chose to not use it in this piece. I used an exacto knife to cut off the tabs on the front of the box so it fit more snugly. It would have been better if I removed those tabs before I had partially glued the box, but hey, live and learn.

Here's a closeup of the inside of the shadowbox so you can see the toys better. The black plastic alien and the rubber duck are tiny, and just fit into the miniature fruit crate. The dog is an old Cracker Jack toy, and the train came from Alpha Stamps. The toy metal phone in the bottom frame is one of my favorite toys. It sits on the table next to my sofa, so I can make and receive important imaginary calls.
I hope you enjoyed the Fun Time museum. For a complete list of supplies, click here.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

"Don't Forget" Altered Tin

I got some new Tim Holtz paper doll cutouts, and thought it would be fun to decorate an Altoids tin. These sisters were just perfect for the front of the tin, and I gave them a little dog, because he's just too cute.

I used a red colored pencil to outline the figures, and after inking the edges, dotted the border with white paint.

A little bit of lace and a vintage button around the sides, and I have a tin to hold things I don't want to forget. A key? Some tiny treasures? A lucky penny? Who knows; I'll think of something!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Little Book of Perfect Men

Ever wish you had the perfect man? What would he be like? Perhaps a little like the perfect men in this perfect little book! This month, Alpha Stamps is featuring men- wonderful images from the 50's and 60's. They're perfectly sized for ATCs, and the ATC sized Hidden Drawer Book Box is the perfect place in which to store those cards portraying that perfect guy.

I was lucky enough to find the perfect scrapbook paper for the pages of the book. It almost looks real. I used stripey scrapbook paper for the front and back cover of the book. The inside of the cover and the secret drawer of the box are painted with paint I mixed to match the color of the stripes, and then  ink from an almost-dried up ink pad was applied with a stiff brush to get the distressed look. 

Here you can see the secret drawer, opened and filled with ATCs. The red ribbon is attached to the bottom of the box, which makes it easier to remove the cards.

To access the cards, just lift up on that ribbon and they pop right out.

You can see here how the ribbon is attached at one end of the box, and then is threaded up to the top so that the cards lie on top of it.

Lots of these guys look like they might enjoy a nice smoke, so I colored a pipe from the Dapper Gents shape set and glued it to the back of the tab.

I used precut Chipboard ATCs to make the cards sturdy. They were on the large side of 2 1/2" by 3 1/2" and fit too tightly, so I trimmed about 1/16" off of two sides. They're still the correct size; they just hit on the left side of the ruler line. I also used a punch to round the edges. I found it difficult to punch the corners when the scrapbook paper was already on the blank, so I punched out the blank, adhered the paper, and then punched the corners again. Easy peasy!

I had so much fun going through my collage sheets finding perfect men and imagining what sort of things they might say. Here are all my perfect guys together. #1 is the ultimate perfect guy for me; that's actually my husband there, saying "Here, let me bring you a drink." No, that's not his real hat: it's from the 50's Floating Heads collage sheet.

The little book comes flat in pieces, but it's very easy to put together. Using the photo below, #1 is the front cover, and #3 the back. There are three pieces that fit in the slots on the back to form the pages of the book. #4 shows the tray of the drawer, and #2 is the spine of the book. It is glued to the long edge of the inside of the drawer. I used Aleene's Tacky glue to adhere all the pieces and they are nice and sturdy.

To make sure the spine of the book was in the right place in relation to the covers, I put the already painted drawer into the constructed book, and then added glue. I did not paint the sides that will be adhered together, thinking that might help with the bond. 

Once the spine was lined up correctly, I gently removed the tray with the spine attached and used clothespins to hold the spine in place until the glue set.

Little tip for doing a collage: I used three different images of men for the front cover of the book. To get an arrangement I liked, I cut out several images and played with them until I got something I liked. I took several photos during this process. Here is the "almost right, but still not quite" photo. Ack, too many men! Once I decided to keep it to three, things looked better. Having reference photos of your work in progress is great in case you decide to go back to a previous look. Once I settled on the three men for the front cover, I used tracing paper to trace the men in position. This made it easier to glue them on exactly where I wanted them.

And here they are, my perfect men. I will say, they are certainly a handful!

For a complete list of supplies, click here.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Arches of Mardi Gras

Did you ever just get a weird idea and decide to run with it? Here's what happened to me when I got the March kit from Alpha Stamps. I fell in love with the color of the G45 papers and the images on the Costumes collage sheet. The arches seemed like the perfect place to host a costume ball, and what do you know? A slew of Mardi Gras babies decided to crash the party!

On the left is a dashing gentleman, a self-described "dreamer". He's offering a flower to the girl of his dreams, but which one is the lucky lady? It's impossible to tell. This fellow's fancy costume was a little clashy with the background, so I used some Copic markers to make the green and red colors of his outfit lean more towards orange and turquoise. After all, clashing with the decor is so uncouth! 

Copic markers helped out the masked woman's costume as well. The poster on the wall was cut from the scrapbook paper. It perfectly set the mood of the party. The "floor" of each panel is a contrasting paper, simply torn so the white edges show. Isn't this woman so fancy with her bronze fan? The ribbons are a couple of strands of embroidery floss.

Here's the lady on the right. Is she going to be the lucky one who receives that flower? Obviously she feels worthy, carrying around that "beautiful" sign. I have to admit that she does look lovely in her harlequin dress. No Copics were needed for this outfit; the colors in her frock were already perfect.

The panels are hinged on the back with strips of coordinating paper with rounded edges. Nothing fancy; I just freehanded the cuts. Let's talk about those babies, though. I guess they caught wind of the planned festivities and just had to join in. I'm kind of fond of this back view, where you can see them all scaling the wall. Cute, or something from a horror flick? Probably leaning towards more horror, especially considering that the baby on the far right of each panel had to suffer a bit of an amputation to get its legs to fit. I nipped a bit off of their left legs with a wire clipper. I can't say I feel good about that, but art requires sacrifice, yes? The climbing babies are each attached with a dab of hot glue.

I got those little naked babies at a party store. For a complete list of all the other supplies, click here.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Big Red Circus Wagon, with Lion Cage tutorial

The circus is in town!
I can't help but be a little sad that the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus will be closing for good this year. I have always loved the circus, and making circus art. It just so happens that the Alpha Stamps mini 3D Cinderella Coach, with a change of color and adornments, makes the perfect little circus wagon for little peg people. It's been almost two years since I made my Tiny Peg Circus, and it was time for those little performers to have a means of reliable transportation.


The wagon is just the right size to hold six members of the circus. For safety reasons, no one wanted to ride with the lions, so I constructed a little cage to tag along with the wagon. I'll show you how that was made at the end of this post.

Before assembling the wagon, I painted the body red, and the front and back pieces brown. The front seat was painted black, and given tiny gold "buttons", tiny circles which came from Dazzles gold stickers. Some striped paper went behind the seat, and lots more of the Dazzles stickers were applied around the window and doors and along the roof line. Metal stars, leaves, and filigree pieces add a lot of circus glitz.

The back of the wagon also has some stripes, plus a "wooden" painted platform that is just the right size to carry the strong man's barbells.

Here's a view of the back, without the barbells.

The lion cage is tiny, but large enough to comfortably carry a couple of felines. The cage was constructed with cardboard and part of a set of chipboard gates. Those gates made the perfect fancy bars for the cage.

To make the cage, use the smaller gates from the set. Remove the long side of the gate, seen on the left gate below. Figure out how large you want your cage to be. The walls of this one are 2 3/8" tall, and the front and back are 1 5/8" wide. You'll need four slim pieces to fit on each side of the bars for the front and back of the cage; these are 2 3/8" tall by 3/8" wide.

Paint the front and back bars of the gate gold with a paint pen, and paint the remaining cardboard red. Using Aleene's Tacky Glue, glue the narrow pieces right up against the bars, and then glue on the front and back at 90 degree angles. Working quickly, glue the bottom of the cage into place. Using an x-acto knife, carefully cut the bars flush with the bottom of the cage. Keep the part you cut off; you'll use that later. Attach the back of the cage, which consists of the bars with the thin strips attached, and then cut those bars off, again, flush with the bottom of the cage.

Using the gate parts you just trimmed off, cut the excess bars off as shown below, and then remove one of the finials so there are six remaining. These will now fit the front and back of the wagon. Glue into place along the tops.

Glue into place along the tops, as shown below. Wrap a Dazzles sticker around the top of the bars and the bottom of the cage, and glue stars on the front and back corners. Use E6000 to attach the tiny ring handle, decorate the back, and add a flag if you're feeling festive.

To attach the wheels, add a piece of cardboard to the bottom that's slightly smaller than the bottom itself. This will help stabalize the included rounded pieces that will hold the axles. Glue them in place as shown. Thread the axles through the holes, and put the wheels on. If the wheels tend to slide around, take some masking tape and roll it around the axle. That will keep the wheels in place. At the left of this photo, you can see the trailer hitch. It's simply a piece of cardboard with a hitch fastener punched through one end.

I hope you enjoyed seeing my circus wagon even half as much as I enjoyed making it. Let's all wave goodbye to the circus as it leaves forever.

For a complete list of supplies, click here.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Sewing Queen

I learned to sew when I was around 11. I used to sew lots of my own clothing, and when my girls were small, I used to sew most of their clothes. Now I generally only pull my machine out occasionally, sewing things like pillow covers or fabric bowls. I still enjoy sewing, and often wonder why I don't do it more. Here's a little shrine to those who still sew frequently. To me, you are the Sewing Queens.

This piece was made almost exclusively from Alpha Stamps supplies, with the exception of some vintage buttons and an old button card. Because the buttons are "American Maid Pearls", I gave the Sewing Queen a pearl brooch and a pearl-encrusted crown.

Vintage buttons on the sides.

One of the Queen's besties appears on the back. Don't you just love those tiny thread spools and all the little pairs of scissors? The wooden star button at the top was tied with a bit of baker's twine, and than glued onto a vintage white button before attaching it to the shrine. Two small scissors are at the bottom. A Queen needs her scissors!

The roof is shingled with pieces of a vintage pin strip.
Here's how I made the niche at the top of the shrine: the sewing machine is a bit heavy, and also 3D, so there are not many points in contact with the back of the niche. The bottom of the machine was adhered using E6000 glue, and then a stitch of black thread was taken around the hand wheel on the right of the machine. The thread was both glued and taped to the back of the niche, and the machine is securely attached.

I really liked the round frame with dragon, so the first step was to determine placement. I used it upside down, electing to use the dragons as "scrolls".

Make the niche that the sewing machine will fit into: glue some scrapbook paper to a piece of shirt cardboard. Using a circle template, trace a circle onto it that is just a little smaller than the outer edge of the chipboard frame. Cut it out with scissors.

In this photo, you can see the circle that will be the back of the niche, next to the as yet undecorated frame. At the bottom of the photo is the "wall" of the niche. The flat part of the wall is scored with a bone folder to the desired depth of the niche, and tabs are cut to the fold line.

Bend all the tabs up, and then wrap them around the back of the cardboard circle, forming sides. Glue in place. Add another circle of scrapbook paper to the back. This will not show, but will help assure that the tabs stay adhered. Attach the sewing machine to the back of the niche as instructed above.

Make a support to fit under the niche so it doesn't sag! Measure the depth of the interior of the shrine and using sturdy cardboard, create the support like so. Add a piece of scrapbook paper to the side that will show when the support is in place.
  
Here's the niche with the machine adhered, glued to the top of the shine and sitting on the cardboard support.

Now decorate your frame with paints, colored pencils, and pearls, and glue it on top. Done! Don't forget to add those adorable scissors to the apex of the roof.
 
Here's to all you Sewing Queens out there. Happy stitching! For a complete list of supplies, click here.

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