Handmade Card: Off to P

I’ve been working on this card inspired by an “accidental” printing over an already printed photograph.  I printed the photo as is, then accidentally printed a background paper over it lending it a ghost-like blur that I quite liked.. For effect, I then printed a clear black and white version of the same photo and cut out a rectangular portion and put it on top of the bigger printout.  Voila! 

No fancy graphics software or tweaking involved.  Just printing twice over.

Step-by-step tutorial already up in my craft blog: Gothamchick.com

Handmade card: Off to P

Inside, I printed out a quote picked up on GoodReads via Google: 

“You’ve got this life and while you’ve got it, you’d better kiss like you only have one moment, try to hold someone’s hand like you will never get another chance to, look into people’s eyes like they’re the last you’ll ever see, watch someone sleeping like there’s no time left, jump if you feel like jumping, run if you feel like running, play music in your head when there is none, and eat cake like it’s the only one left in the world!”
C. JoyBell C.
 
 

Painting away

Using my Second Grader's leftover watercolor

Crossposted from Gotham Chick

If you’re a mom to a gradeschooler like I am, you would have received the leftover school supplies from the previous school year the past week.  And I’m sure the thought had occurred to you — “What do I do with these school supplies?”

Some of them, like the pencils, can be saved for use next year.  Others, like the broken crayons and the used watercolor set are “barely there.”

Watercolor painting is something I’m trying to learn, and since I have no time for lessons, I do a lot of experimenting.  I find myself oooohing and ahhhhing over the fabulous works of the people who participate in Julie Fei-Fan Balzer’s Art Journal Every Day challenge that I have been trying to get creative to make up for the lack in artistic talent that all of them ooze.

I got myself a set of hardware brushes from the dollar store and picked one of the smaller one (around an inch wide).  How do you create those seamless overlaps of color?  My guess was it was the water.  Sunday evening saw me cooking arroz a la cubana for dinner, and between letting the viand cook on the stove and preparing the rice cooker, I whipped out my art journal pages and started painting away.

Watercolor experiments: Backgrounds Watercolor experiments: Backgrounds Watercolor experiments: Backgrounds

Watercolor experiments: Backgrounds Watercolor experiments: Backgrounds Watercolor experiments: Backgrounds

I have to say I was quite happy with the way it came out for a first attempt.  I experimented with just pouring watercolor on the sheet and letting is flow this way and that, and even splashing paint drops onto the paper.  If it weren’t for the fact that I had to serve dinner, I would’ve painted on and on.  Thanks to the summer heat, the watercolor dried rather quickly, and I pressed the crinkly sheets between the mattresses overnight.  This morning, they were quite flat and should be easier to work with.

I intend to use some for the art journal and some for cards and scrapbook layouts.  I might even experiment with stamping and handprints with Angelo over the weekend.

Hope

I’ve been remiss in sending out the cards and letters I’ve been meaning to all these weeks. (Including half a dozen Christmas cards. LOL) But I am trying to get rolling again, and of course, first off is a handmade card for P. I had done this magazine collage with zentangling even before, then had tucked it away somewhere — losing it in the process. I just found it a few days ago as I searched high and low for a very important picture I’m looking for and it’s about time I got it going on its way to its intended recipient.

I’m trying to keep the ailing post office services of the world busy! There’s something about the written word that still beats the speed of the internet and other wireless means of communication. Personally, I like that cards and letters are something you can actually physically hold and go back to whenever you wanted to relive a thought or a feeling that came with that piece of paper. And when the card, the sender or the message being sent is special, it helps one to “reconnect” in a different way.

I am sending my thoughts, prayers and love home to P — a dear friend from grade school. I am smiling at the thought that this is one person I’ve known practically all my life. (I think we met in second grade when I was 7 years old.) One of the few people on my “people I must see” list every time I go home. And while we did get to see each other, I missed out on having a pic taken. (Must do next time: Pic with P only!) Our classmates and teachers used to get us mixed up despite her lovely, lovely curls and eye glasses. I’m flattered. =) We even made a joke of being related for a while..  (Remember that?)

She still has the same infectious laugh that rings true with joy. Her voice is still as malambing as it has always been.

I miss writing and talking to you, P.  I’m back, though! =)  I am hoping to see you the next 20 homecomings to Manila  AT THE VERY LEAST — and who knows?  You might see me very soon again — more food tripping?  Promise I won’t surprise you this time so we can plan something.

We’ve gotten this far — we can’t give up now.  You continue to be a source of inspiration and strength — and my card says “Hope” not because I’m trying to remind you not to give up — but rather to say you are “hope” personified.  You continue to remind me every day that it springs eternal.

See you soon, my friend.  In the meantime, sending love and cheer down to you the old-fashioned way…

Greeting Card version: Flowers and Henri Matisse

C R E D I T S: Papers used are from Rachel Young’s Summer Slushee Paper pack

As you can see I’ve gotten all paper crafty crazy — I’ve been busy doodling and cutting and creating cards.  I wish there was more time but I’ve turned out one every three to four days which is very prolific for me.

It doesn’t help that there are the goods for my GothamChick stores and my other hobbies.  So yesterday when I posted some 6 new rosary bracelets (!) and one necklace which takes a lot of time considering I need to take photos, edit them accordingly, do the write ups including the measurements of the pieces, price and then review.  I am just so overjoyed that Etsy has put in a new feature allowing sellers like myself to do draft postings and come back to them later.

Jasper Vine Necklace in Antique Brass

Available in my Etsy Shop

So all the more I am convinced that I have to start thinking about my Christmas cards this early so I can be ready to send them out by end November.

The polymer clay research has been going rather well.  (Hmmm… must start a new page on that one.)  The bulk of information so readily available to those willing to do the research and actually read the data available makes most anything “learnable” these days.  Whether it is through blogs, websites or videos, one can actually learn a trade or new skill just by sitting in front of the computer.

It’s scorching hot in New York City today as we hit the 100 degree mark!  I decided to stay indoors instead of braving the heat and all.  Now back to work!

Art Journal Every Day Journey: Three layouts!

As you can see, the weekend was very productive.  Not that I was just sitting around doing nothing, but these layouts were already works in progress before the weekend and which finally got finished before the night was over Sunday.  Happiness, indeed!

For those who are hearing about Art Journal Every Day for the first time, please click on the link to go to the creative inspiration and genius behind this: Julie Fei-Fan Balzer of Balzer Designs.

Angelo, my 7-year-old who often talks like he’s 17 going on 27 asked me why do I like to draw..  The answer was pretty spontaneous — it relaxes me.  I do not claim to be an artist.. I just like to create.  Now, Julie — that’s the artist.  It is just so amazing how she has brought together a group of creative minds, some of who are true artistic geniuses in their own right, by coming up with this project.  Visit our Flickr group Art Journal Every Day (Flickr) and you can check out the different layouts thus far created and shared.  I am in awe.

It’s a means of self-expression — in whatever way or method we can come up with. It may be with the use of crayons, pens, markers, and some are so adept at mixed media art that if you lost sight of the fact that art journaling is supposed to be about you, you would tend to feel small in the midst of these creative giants.

The layout above, “One Day At A Time” had been discussed in an earlier post which became a greeting card as well.  When I do my art journaling, I try to be very spontaneous.  The many mistakes that I commit along the way can be very discouraging at times, and I have around 3-4 layouts left “hanging” for not being finished or for being discarded due to mistakes I made along the way.

I try not to be too hard on myself and just keep reminding myself that this is a spontaneous creation which is true to the way I feel and the thoughts running through my head during the time I’m creating.

And I can’t get over the fact that I simply doodled the word art on magazine pages — targeting red layouts to keep the theme solid.
This next layout was an offshoot of a greeting card I created which was actually inspired by these words of wisdom from Henri Matisse.

I have been working on using my digital scrapbook paper background stocks in some hybrid scrapbooking (mixing digital with actual scrapbooking) — drawing and doodling over them then cutting up the pieces and layering.  (I am still thinking about doing a tutorial on this but am inclined to do it because it’s something easy as pie that one can do — artist or not.)

The background was another experiment as I diluted some water-soluble oil paint in a spray dispenser (the ones you usually use for your colognes or body spray) and sprayed all around the page to create this effect.  Of course I let it dry before actually working on the layout, and truth be told, I had no idea what I was going to do with that page until after I made the card.

The papers I used for this layout were courtesy of The Shabby Princess, available for download from her blog under THE PROMISE COLLECTION.  (Again, I am considering a tutorial, but that’ll be a different post altogether.)

Although you cannot see it in the layout, I messed this up quite badly by attempting to handwrite the main quotation using a calligraphy pen.  Not my first time to use the pen and I was actually confident I could get away with it, but the surface was not quite accepting of the ink so I ended up with a simple do-over which had me covering it up with a yellow strip of paper.  Ta-Da!  Gone.  I opted instead for simply doing handwritten lettering which came out quite well.

This last layout was probably one of the simpler ones to put together but it happens to be one of the most emotionally laiden for me. I was browsing through another magazine that eventually got thrown in the trash bin when I found myself thinking of my Dad.  It’s his birthday tomorrow and the days leading up to it have been very heavy emotionally for me because I miss him so.  (He passed on a few days short of a year ago..)

I just doodled on the words as they came.. top of mind, as they say, not attempting to make any sense.  It was all about “Remembering Dad”.  The cutting took a while but I’m quite used to it, so the words didn’t get all cut up until late Sunday evening.  Again, everything was pretty spontaneous.  I laid out the words and tried to fix them up as best as I could, including that heart collage I did before the weekend.  I ended up discarding only one word, “lost”, but not including it, to my mind, doesn’t detract from the whole piece.  Another dilemma was whether or not I would use a background or if I was going to work in a background somehow.  While I was trying to fix the placement of the words, I thought of putting in a newspaper background but I decided it might end up ruining the piece.  I thought about zentangling the empty spaces but when I saw the final layout, I decided to leave it as is.

There is so much of me in these three layouts that inspires me to go on with this journey in art journaling.  Forget that June came and went with nary a layout.  I’m in a good place as far as I am concerned with my personal goal of trying to put my thoughts and feelings in an art journal entry.

Sending a whole lot of love your way


Papers used from “SO CHARMING”, a purchased kit from littledreamerdesigns.com*

CREDITS:
– Red background paper by Michelle Coleman
– Frame border assembled from scalloped strip by Michele Filo
– Frame mat background by Julia Makotinsky

The paper for the hearts used this collage was taken from the freebies given by ScrapGirls. (Hand cut and punched to allow for three hearts to be strung together.)  I had wanted to give credit to the designer who contributed this to the newsletter but she doesn’t seem to be a part of the designer pool of ScrapGirls anymore.

Adler font used for the word art.

* LittleDreamerDesigns seems to be on haitus as of this writing but I have always been a fan of the quality of their digital kits.  Do visit when you get the chance. 

Our 2010 Christmas Card

So the greeting cards were sent (most of them, at least) — and although I had gotten caught up in the holiday frenzy and ended up sending my cards a tad bit late — from the looks of it, they made it to those I managed to send one.

The Gonzalez Christmas Card 2010

(Apologies to those who didn’t get it this year.. next year, I’m making the cards in October!)

I had made up my mind a year ago that I would use this snowman artwork Angelo had done in Kindergarten, but typical of such long-distance planning attempts, I forgot.  That is, until someone picked up the artwork in Flickr and asked for permission to include it in drawingdreams.org’s display of children’s art.  I was floored.  It was but an innocent attempt of a proud mom to showcase her little boy’s masterpiece.  I was very, very proud.

As of today, Jan. 13, Angelo’s snowman can be seen here.

I have been making my christmas cards off and on for several years now.  There is something different about actually taking the time to make them, no matter how elementary they may be, and then sending them off.

This year I decided to do a collage of sorts, pulling five different elements together and then arranging them on the front of the card in different ways.  The card to the right is one of the set, each one unique.

I used digital scrapbook elements and cut them up in rectangular shapes in more or less uniform, but not exactly uniform sizes.  I then picked up a snowflake paper punch from Martha Stewart’s collection of paper punches and cut up leftover red and gold giftwrapper. (I even used some from a gift I received.  What a waste to just throw away those gorgeous gold and silver and sparkly red gift wrapping!)

I used my favorite paint swatch chips from your regular home improvement store which I printed with either Happy Holidays, Maligayang Pasko and later, Happy New Year, but instead of pasting them directly onto the collage, I attached them to the whole collage via mounting tape to make it “float” above the graphic.

I was also fortunate enough to have come across a roll of laser cut MERRY CHRISTMAS red ribbon at the dollar store (!) which I cut up and used as the greeting on the front.

I don’t have a picture of the inside here, but I rendered the snowman in washout mode and then typed our message on it, with the URL for Angelo’s snowman typed up for the free plug. (Proud Mom, I told you!)

I would have used buttons and more embellishments, but I had so little time!

View a selection of the cards I managed to photograph here to see how I created one-of-a-kind cards using the same set of embellishments and elements over and over again.  No two cards were exactly alike which added to all the fun.

Credits for the elements used in the card:
* Red and white stripe: Journalers from Designer Digitals by Katie Pertiet
* Paper Dots and Striped Paper from the Happy Go Lucky Freebie download by Shabby Princess

Craft Experiment: Paper Beads from old newspapers

I’ve always wanted to experiment with making beads from recycled paper but didn’t want to end up doing the usual rolled paper beads most crafters used.  I also in the process of experimenting with doing hand-crafted paper but I need to go through the stuff in the attic to find my old and discarded blender because I can’t use my working one which we still use for the kitchen and for food.  (Number one rule in crafting: do not use any equipment used in crafts to cook or handle food.)

A few days ago, I chanced upon a post which pointed me here: A Storybook Life where there was a different way to create paper beads and which I have done in two batches over the weekend.  Below you will find photos of my beads after drying:

Paperbeads from newspapers All dry: Paperbead from newspapers

I expected the beads to be darker but the procedure where boiling water is poured over the torn bits of newspaper and allowed to sit for an hour or so causes much of the ink residue to separate (literally) from the paper.  The two batches were necessary only because the first was a means for me to gauge how big I want the shreds of paper to be and how big a size of lumped wet paper makes how much of a size of a bead.  I added my own variations to the method, particularly in mixing in the glue.  Instead of mixing it in with the paper as a whole batch, I added liquid glue per bead I rolled into a round between my fingers.

I used two full spreads of a section of the New York Times, and I found that the smaller bits are necessary for smaller size clumps or beads.  (I wanted to produce smaller than 10mm so I tried to rip the paper into 1-2cm bits.  Ripping or tearing them apart as against cutting them allows the paper to be more maleable and adheres to other paper more smoothly.  I used two cups of water to fully submerge the bits of paper and let it sit.  I poked the clumps of torn paper in my metal pan and saw the ink particles separating from the paper.

I grabbed the paper by hand and squeezed the water out before putting it in a wire sifter.   The two full spreads come up to around a cup of clumped wet newspaper bits.

I cut out bits of the paper clump and squeezed the excess water out, and I found that although the water got squeezed out, it sometimes stuck to your fingers and it was more efficient to actually squeeze and rest your fingers squeezing the clump of wet water on a paper towel.  If your clump is too wet, it will be very difficult to mold it into a bead, glue or no glue.  Some of the moisture will continue to be “squeezed out” as you roll the beads.

I then spread open the tiny clump of wet paper and put enough glue on it to cover the surface and then squeezed and mashed the clump together.  The glue actually helped to smoothen out the outside.  I used my fingertips rather than my palm to roll the ball to as close to a round bead as I can.  After it had dried, the shrinkage was approximately 5-10%.

The original instructions gave instructions to “sand” the bead to a smooth finish, but my next project is to try to decoupage the round base BEFORE putting a beadhole into it.  (More to come…)

The beads came out rather solidly and are very light.  I’m already excited by the different possibilities!  Part II soon!

Waiting for the snow to start falling…

It’s 10pm and I just finished washing the dishes, cleaning up in the kitchen, plus I even managed to wash one of my self-knitted scarves and Angelo’s beanie.  I have been using a silken ladder yarn scarf but I now realize I need more protection from the elements when the temperatures take a dive.  I have not bought scarves for the winter for a couple of years now because I have taken to knitting my own.  I’m no expert knitter so I tend to experiment with sizing (oversized stitches given a yarn thickness) and then I add trim.  For some of the scarves, the embellishment or “arte” lies in the kind of yarn I actually use.

But paper is what has kept me preoccupied of late.  I opened another store on Etsy dealing primarily with paper — recycling paper in particular and creating gift tags and gift cards, and eventually — hopefully other paper products.  I am researching making hand-made recycled paper and just today, came across a tutorial on making paper beads.  (Talk about combining two of my current passions!)  I even have the paper cut today which caused me to wash with one hand in a latex glove.  (One reason I don’t throw away those disposable gloves that come with your shampoo-in hair dye.)  That’s nothing compared to the multiple cuts my hands suffered from some 14 months ago when I experimented with resin domino pendants.  Hmmmm.. the pendants are still in the experimental stage so no, they haven’t exactly been something lucrative.  At least I have the many lessons I learned in the process.

Snow.. I know I ought to take comfort in the words of my favorite weatherman that it won’t be as bad and as much as the blizzard. Uhm, just 3-5 inches (!) of snow.. I wish I had the same optimism.  Anything beyond a light dusting is cause for frustration.  Then again I must remind myself I live in a part of the world where cold winters like this one are the norm.  (Lightbulb in my head… reminder to self: note to Donna.)

I braved the cold today to walk to Rockefeller Center to take pictures of the Christmas tree.  It was lovely but very cold.  Am I surprised that I seem to have caught a bug?  Nope.  I came all wrapped and snuggly but it looks like it wasn’t warm enough.  (Nothing my throat spray and lozenges cannot handle..)  Christmas in New York is not quite like the all around Christmas spread in Manila, but it has its own charm.

It brings me back to Manila where we all spent Christmas last year, and where Angelo and I had our first New Year’s Eve, me after 9 years of having spent that night in New York.  It was also our first spent apart as Alan had left earlier for home.  I opted to stay behind because Dad was sick.  I extended once and was ready to extend another time, but the flights were full.  I had work and Angelo had school.  So on the 7th, we bid our goodbyes and that was that.

So back to the snow.. =)  At least it’s a Friday, and hopefully, I’ll get to go home early enough.  Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…