Thursday, December 31, 2009

And so it goes....

This year seemed to go by fast, yet at the same time seemed to last forever.  Waving goodbye to 2009, looking forward to great things in 2010 - and hoping the same for all of you!

Dare I mention my dividers again?  Most of you who check in here know I have been trying to come up with interesting monthly dividers for my art journal all year.  So here's a little "Year in Review" for your viewing pleasure.

Okay, I tried to embed my video here, but two hours later, something is not working.  Maybe I put in too much fading and zooming and music.  Anyway, instead, go here to see it at Vimeo. 

Journal - Made by DJ Pettitt and bought in 2008
Covers are heavy watercolor paper.  Covers and endpapers made by DJ.
FYI, I love to buy blank books and journals.  This one seemed "too nice" to use, but I finally convinced myself that my art needed a jumpstart this year and that, by golly, I was going to journal in this blank book.  After all, if this did not inspire me, what would.
Front End Paper - I used number punches to punch in 2009, and sewed fabric on the back.
It was not my intention to have this divider challenge each month.  I needed to put something on the blank page, and there was a piece of file folder lying in the remains on my desk.  I stamped on it and thus January's divider was born.
Simple gaffer's tape.  I was without electricity for eight days, and this journal page was done in a hotel room when I gave in and left my cold house for warmth on that 8th day.
Simple clear index tab from an office supply store.  At a stamp convention in Indianapolis in early March, Mike and Chris at Coffee Break gave away unmounted stamp sets of the names of the months.  So, if you want to point fingers, maybe This is where it all actually started to gel!!! hmmmm.
Index tabs with letters stamped on them.
Letter paper clips.
Ribbon with letters printed on it.
Letter beads.
Metal book darts, into which I hammered letters with a metal alphabet set.
Hey, why spell out a long word like September when you can just stencil a 9 onto some canvas!
Chipboard letters, painted and distressed.
Fabric, hand lettered and painted.
Metal tags with stamped fabric circles.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Hunting and Gathering

I'm happy I have a job.  Really, I am.  Truly.  But, honestly, I sure would rather be playing on these cold winter days.  I have been hunting and gathering my papers for the signatures in the book I have been making for the online class, Remains of the Day.  I do believe I have enough security envelopes for the entire planet (but that's not to say I don't want More... it's an addiction!)

But it is taking all my willpower to Not work on those pages. That's because I have to get another project finished first.  And the deadline is only days away.  When intimidated by the blank page, take the book apart.  Works for me.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Thoughts for the Day

I hope everyone had a great Christmas!  My Christmas Day started out with a harrowing drive in a rain storm.

The rain storm cleared with some sunshine for about 5 minutes, then clouds the rest of the day, accompanied by gale force winds the whole way.  When I stopped for gas mid way on my trip in Western Kentucky, it was snowing.  But the convenience store had a coffee machine, and even though I'm not really a cappuccino drinker (plain, good coffee is my first choice)... I could not resist punching the button for a hot cup of "Shock-A-Cino"--"sleep is over-rated" it said below that.  It was just what I needed to wake me up for the rest of the drive, and also warm my insides!

I do love spending Christmas with my family, so the drive was worth it.  These are my special memories this year. 
1.  I got to see the newest member of our family for the first time.  Little Madalyn is one month old.

2.  I love that my mother still puts up our homemade ornaments.  This is when I did cross-stitch back in the 80s.

3.  I love that the courthouse still looks the same after they repainted it the way it used to look many years ago.

4.  I am still fascinated that one of the high schools I went to is now apartments.  But you can still see the separate entrances marked "Boys" and "Girls".  (FYI, I'm old, but I'm not old enough to remember when boys and girls actually went in separate entrances.  Also, excuse the tilted pictures.  I take pictures on the move... they either come out or they don't!)

5.  I absolutely am thrilled that I finally saw a white squirrel in Kenton, TN.  I have been told my whole life that Kenton was the home of white squirrels, but I have never seen one...until today, when I drove through that area for the millionth time on my way home.  There he was.  Just waiting for me!  (I know you will think this is a fake plastic squirrel someone put on their tree, but it's not.  When I first drove by, another squirrel was chasing it.  I had to drive back and forth three times to finally catch it sitting still!)

6.  This one has nothing to do with me.  It's for Paula!  Yes, Reelfoot Lake is still there.  I pass the sign all the time, but have not been there in years and years.  For the uninitiated, Reelfoot Lake was formed by a series of earthquakes back in 1811 and 1812 along the New Madrid fault (where Missouri, Kentucky, and Tennessee meet), when the earth rattled and rolled, opened up to form a lake, rang church bells in Boston, and made the Mississippi River run backwards.  Did too!

And, sorry, but unlike Paula, I know nothing about what kind of fish you can catch, unless you count what's on the menu at the local restaurants.  Yummy catfish!

Only a few more days until 2010.... there is an argument going on about that.  Do we say "twenty-ten" or "two thousand ten"?  By comparison, I never said "nineteen hundred ninety-nine" or "twenty oh one".  I'm partial to "twenty ten" myself.  How about you?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wishes and Dreams

May all your Christmas dreams come true.

(This was taken back when I had a real tree and a real cat.)

P.S. - Happy Birthday, Big Sis!!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Back To School

Have you noticed there are SO many online classes being offered these days?  I have wanted to jump in and take a lot of them, but settled on one as a Christmas gift to myself.  I signed up for Remains of the Day offered by Mary Ann Moss.  Maybe it wasn't such a good idea on my part to start a class the week before Christmas, because my mind wants to play with this fun journal, and my sensibility says I need to be taking care of my other responsibilities.  (However, I will have access to the class for a year, so there is no rush right now.)

The first week we made a cover for our journals.  Here is mine, open and closed.

I had not planned to use a vegetable ribbon for the closure tie, but it sure gave the cover just the right pop it needed!

To see all the other covers posted so far, go here.  Each one is awesome, and I love all of them!

Sunday, December 20, 2009


We had snow.  eeeee... Yep, almost 0.000005 inches. 

We missed the Big  Blizzard, although the eastern part of the state did not.  Good luck to all those people digging out today.

When it snows on my deck, it always snows in words.  :-)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday Fun

I am so glad I'm working this weekend (she said forcefully, trying to convince herself it was true).  Cause I sure don't want to be out in that madness of shoppers, with possibly some snowfall this weekend too.  No, I will be safe and warm inside, with visions of shortbread cookies in my head.

So think of me when you are decorating your tree.

Make sure you keep the little ones from finding those gifts you hid so carefully.

Be sure you are Very Clear with your instructions to the cake decorator about that cake for the going away party.

And keep a candle burning in the window for me.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

More from Christmas Past

Here are a couple more things I made back when time was not an issue.  The card on the left is one I made for a swap from five or six years ago.  The photo on the card is from many years ago (dare I say decades ago).  That's me in the middle, my sister on the left, and some guy in a red suit on the right.  Of the three people, exactly zero of them look the least bit interested in this event!

The little booklet is another massive project I did, this one back in 1993.  It had a Christmas story I had found in a magazine about how the tabby cat got the M in the middle of its forehead.  Even though I lettered it once and had copies made, it was still time consuming making the little booklets, adding embellishments, stamping and coloring the details on the pages.  It's still one of my favorites.  The cover was just lightweight construction paper.  The booklet was light enough to be hung on a tree as an ornament.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Don Your Sunglasses

I can use the word "don" because it's the holiday season, and we're allowed to talk funny!

I'm a member of Those-Who-Love-White-Lights all over the place outside peoples' houses.  So, it's not unusual for me to take the long way everywhere I go at night, just to see how people have decorated.  This year, I have noticed a lot more blue lights.  One house had what looked like those icicle lights but with three different blues (pale blue, lagoon blue, and dark blue).  I'd never seen that (but then, I don't get out much).  I am not describing it very well, but it was very pretty. 

So, I was at the grocery store this afternoon, and they had some blue lights marked half price.  The last thing I need is more Christmas lights.  Well, maybe not the last thing.  The last thing I need might be fruitcake or a flat tire or something worse.  But I don't need lights.  But they were half price.  And they are blue.  They are snowflakes.  Got your glasses???

Did I mention they are LED lights?  And that I am temporarily blind by looking at them so long and taking pictures of them??? 

Whether I hang them on the porch or in my office, they make me happy.  Hope you found some happy today too!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Divider Fail

Last month of the year.  Last "special" divider in my journal.  I thought this would be the best one yet.  I thought there would be great fanfare.  But instead, I've struggled with it.  And I'm not even sure I like it.  My original plan was to make a stuffed fabric tab like I saw in that book I mentioned by Ruth Rae.

But I didn't want my December tab to be long and skinny and stick out that far.  So I made mine more vertical than horizontal.  And I sewed three sides in preparation for stuffing it with fiberfill.  Then I held it to the page to see how it would look.  Hmmmm.  It still stuck out farther than I wanted it to, so I removed some of the stitching from the top and bottom, and removed some more stitching, and removed some more... until it stuck out about the amount I wanted.  And then I realized there wasn't a lot left for stuffing.  So that idea went out the window.

Instead, I took some of my painted fabric scraps, cut fabric circles, glued them front and back to some small tags, stamped the letters for December (front and back), and tied them to the page.  (The stamping seemed a little faded, so I used a marker to outline the letters.)  I have not tightened the knots or snipped off the excess thread.  I'm still not sure I'm crazy about the way this looks, so I can still opt out!  But, I wanted to get something in the journal before the month is half over, so timeliness won out over the wow-factor!

[P.S.  I added a couple more pictures to that last post about the Christmas tree card, for those asking questions.]

Friday, December 11, 2009

Snip Snip Here, Snip Snip There

As I once said, I never get bored.  Mainly because I jump into so many things.  Way back when, I was really into scherenschnitte (paper cutting).  At Christmas, I unearth this angel I made 20 years ago.  Her wings are a little bent, but she has held up pretty well I think.

I also got the hairbrained idea one year around that time to make tree cards to match the Christmas postage stamp that year.  Yes, I patiently cut out three folded trees for each card, cut the cover edge to outline the tree, sewed (yes, sewed) all the trees, used my Gocco printer to print the greetings on the cards (and used embossing powder on the printed greeting).  P.S... did I mention I was not working at the time?  I probably made close to 100 of these cards.  Even I don't believe it when I look back on it!

On a technical note, I think I finally found the setting to allow you to click on the pictures to enlarge them.  That has been bugging me to not be able to do that consistently, so hopefully the problem is fixed.

Go cut something (but no running with scissors!)

[Addendum!] -- Since I had some questions about the tree card, here are a couple more pictures and more about the assembly process.  The paper trees were sewn together first, then glued to the card.  I'm pretty sure I just used Elmer's white glue as back then I had not yet amassed my huge collection of bookbinding supplies.  And I'm not sure if glue sticks had been invented yet (gasp!)  I do know the trees were sewn with just regular sewing thread.  Anything larger would have been too bulky.  And, if you can see the sewing part, the sections above and below the heart in the center were the hardest to sew, because I could only make a couple of small stitches, tie a knot and then sew another section.  Very tedius.  (If I were doing it today, knowing that it is "okay" to sew on paper with a sewing machine, I would just zip from top to bottom on the sewing machine and be done with it!)

Also, this was my prototype card, the first one I made.  I know that because of the little paper squares near the trunk of the tree.  My original idea was to put accordion fold strips between each "page" so the tree would open equally and perfectly.  Well, that idea lasted about as long as it took to actually do that on one tree.  That was just way more work that it was worth.  And if the recipient opened the card too wide, the strips would become detached anyway!  The other picture is out of focus, but you can see the mechanism I was trying to add.  Teeny 1/8" strips attached with doublestick tape that was tedious to cut, as you can imagine. 

The paper for the trees was calligraphy "parchment" paper.  As any calligrapher knows, this paper is Awful to try to write on.  It's great for other paper projects though!

And so ends today's lesson on the History of Past Christmas Cards! 

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Dire Warning

Do you know what this is?

It's a cold, cold sky. A cold, cold sky I say. I wasn't really paying attention to the weather reports the last couple of days. Then something made me perk up. Wind warnings. Wind? I think the forecast of "strong winds - power outages possible" ranks up there as my least favorite forecast. I can deal with rain, sleet, snow, heat, even tornados, since they come and go really fast as a rule. But those long, sustained winds, howling all night, trying to knock every branch onto every power line... please go away.

Okay... on to some loose ends. That last picture of my Christmas journal was taken in natural light. I should have used a flash, because the journal is black. Not purplish black, but jet black. Like this. (sorry... I think this one is a little Too dark.)

See how clever Gaye was. She took a piece of art paper, folded the ends for covers, punched two holes in each cover and threaded a ribbon through the holes for tying it closed. (signatures were sewn in separately.)

And Jan... you have an eagle eye! Yes, that looks Very Similar to your beautiful lettering, but alas it was not yours (see closer picture). However, I do have a card of yours elsewhere in the book. Recognize the trees? Surely you remember. It was only ten years ago! (I shudder to think how many trees you must have cut out that year!)

We now move on to the book review section... I'm so glad Ginny mentioned on her blog that she was notified Amazon had shipped this book. I could not remember if I had preordered it or just thought about it. A quick check revealed I had not ordered it, so I did that pronto. Got it yesterday and it does not disappoint. I can only echo something Pam Sussman said, that anything Lynne Perrella puts together is first class all the way. Lots of artist studios in here, and I never tire of looking at peoples' work spaces (and Pam is in there too!)

I also ordered this book.

I really, really like these word tabs she put in one of her books.

I think I may use a variation of that for a December divider in my journal. Stay tuned (or not!)

Sunday, December 6, 2009


I'm still debating whether to put up my big tree or my little table top tree. (Thinking ahead to the take-down phase, you know!)

Every year I get out one of my favorite gifts of all time. If you can read what it says, it's from 1999, and is a Christmas Journal that Gaye made for me. She knows I love handmade books (who doesn't!)

Back then, I actually did make and send handmade cards and hand lettered envelopes, all carefully made and coordinated. Lots of them. (These days, I'm lucky if I get around to buying a box of 10 cards and sending them to immediate family! Before Christmas.)

This book had pages for attaching cards, and pockets for cards and fun stuff. I filled it with the cards and envelops, with postmarks cut from envelopes, and bits and pieces of wrapping paper and ribbons and tags from that Christmas. I still totally love it!!

When you think about it, every single day is a huge gift. Don't squander it (and I'll try not to either!)

I know this sounds pensive and thoughtful. I have a person named Ann on my mind. She lost her battle with breast cancer last month. She was a member of an online calligraphy group, and for years and years she infused that group with so much life and laughter. She proved the doctors wrong time and time again when they said she would not make it. Now that she is gone, the stories from literally around the world show how many people she touched, and how much she helped others with their own struggles. Years ago, when we lost another calligraphy friend, we all made weathergrams and hung them outside in her honor. Weathergrams are supposed to be made from a strip of brown paper from a grocery bag, usually have a haiku poem, and are left to weather as mother nature sees fit, outside in the elements. This time, we have sent our weathergrams to Ann's family. They will have a memorial service this month. I don't know how many weathergrams they will receive, or if they will hang them outside, but here is what I sent. I sent the one with the red lettering and gold accents to the family (not haiku, just a thoughtful message). I have the other one hanging in my yard. Peace, Ann.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Sooooo... I saw an article in Quilting Arts Magazine (by Enid Weichselbaum, Dec 09 issue) where she used alphabet stickers on fabric as a resist, then painted over them, removing the stickers to leave the original fabric below. I could not wait to try it. She had really interesting stickers from a scrapbook store. Wish I had some of those, but instead I used some press on stickers that were in the "stuff to get rid of in a yard sale some day". Good thing I never got around to having a yard sale.

I skipped most of the instructions (did not wash the fabric first, did not iron the fabric, did not put stabilizer backing on the fabric....) I just put some stickers on muslin and went to town. I got out my now favorite acrylic inks, brushed one color on, then brushed over that with a lot of water. Then brushed on a second color and added more water and blended them until I was happy with it.

You are supposed to let that dry before removing the stickers. I did use my heat gun to encourage it to dry faster, being careful not to hold the heat over the stickers too long. The fun part is peeling off the stickers to see what it looks like... ooooooh

Then I added more stickers, this time using words. I painted over the words, and also added some watered down ink over the white spaces.

I am really into all these layers. I'm not finished yet. Later, I might add some stamping and some hand lettering. I haven't decided yet.

This is not my first piece. The first thing I tried was just simple, single words. Then I put those on painted fabric to make funky tree shaped ornaments. See--they are funky, artsy shaped trees. They are NOT trees that say "I could not make a tree shape even though I drew it out on graph paper so the sides would be symmetrical." Nope.

I used a gold gel pen to outline the letters to make them pop a little.

These ornaments can also be used as a hat.....

Or earrings!
fun, fun, fun!!!