Tuesday, April 30, 2013

May Stamp of the Month Blog Hop

Close To My Heart's May Stamp of the Month is called "Pinwheels" which will surely be a fun one for summer scrapbook layouts and for virtually any card-making occasion. The set contains several pinwheel images and celebratory phrases, with a few Cricut cuts to match as well which makes creating super easy. You can view all the images in this set in the righthand column of my blog all month long.

It's a Blog Hop which means over 60 CTMH consultants are participating and sharing their creations, so you're sure to get tons of inspiration with this great stamp set. If you're already hopping along, you came here from Beth Naumann's blog. At the end of this post I'll show you were to hop to next.

But first, my card...

5 x 7 on Whisper cardstock. I wanted to do something completely different than expected on this, so I opted for more of a monochromatic look using papers from the "For Always" paper pack and adding shades of gray (not exactly 50, wink-wink) with pops of silver and black embossing powder and a little glitter paper for added texture.

The stamp set has matching Cricut cuts from the Artiste cartridge so it makes stamping and layering a breeze. A silver brad in the center of the pinwheels and a light inking around the edges gives the pinwheels a finishing touch.

Layered stamping with black and Whisper here with a glitter paper star added for dimension. When cutting CTMH's new glitter paper on the Cricut, I simply set my blade to 6 and did a Multi-cut to make sure it cut through cleanly. Worked like a charm! I cut a few more stars at different sizes for the wave trail across the card.

I think this would make a perfect graduation card, don't you? 

Now, let's continue on the blog hop and check out what Lalia Harris has created next.

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Have a great day!

My Official Ranger U Recap

I've been back in Florida less than 24 hours and I've been dying to write this post, but first it was hugs to my kid and dog, then dinner out with hubby, then a visit to my father-in-law in the hospital (pneumonia again), then to above-mentioned kid's awards banquet, sleep in my glorious own bed, then a lovely pelvic sonogram this morning and a stop at Starbucks to reward myself for that last one.

Now home.

So here goes from start to finish. Ranger University 2013.

Thursday morning, April 25th, I am sitting in the Orlando airport waiting for my flight to New Jersey. I'm early and enjoying a big cup of Starbucks checking e-mail and Facebook on my iPad. Then I see it. Graphic 45 has made their announcement of the 2013 Design Team. I am shaking. I tap on the link to their blog, I scroll through the first name, then the second, then O-M-G my name is there! Third on the list (alphabetical) and I gasp. Then I cry a bit. My hand is over my mouth. Then I'm smiling through tears. Then I'm speed-dialing my husband. I want to scream out loud and jump up and down in the airport, but consider this a bad idea in this day and age. So he puts me on speaker phone with our daughter and I'm quietly screaming into the phone that I made it and I hear them yelling and cheering for me. And now the tears are really flowing. People must've thought I was a whacko. One minute quietly sipping coffee, the next I'm a frantically happy lunatic on my phone. What a way to start my weekend heading off to Ranger U.

Now back to that...

My flight to Jersey, thanks to the sequester, began with about an hour in a plane full of people sitting still on the runway. I could care less! I've made the Graphic 45 Design Team and am going to Ranger U. Nothing's gonna bring me down at this point. The flight went well and I was finally on my way.

Marjie Kemper (fellow eclectic Paperie design team member and enthusiastic fan of all things creative) very generously picked me up at the Newark airport on her way from New York. We chatted it up all the way there, making a stop at the delightful Scrapper's Cove, met shop owner Chris who had attended Ranger U herself a few years ago, and couldn't resist picking up a few goodies. Dyan Reaveley's art journal to name one. And incidentally, this is MY first art journal ever, but boy-oh-boy after this weekend it will certainly not be my last. More on that soon.

Right across the street from Scrapper's Cove was Shanahan's...

so of course we got a slice of Jersey pizza. Delish!

Since it was too early to check into our hotel, we took a drive to the shore. It was a bit chilly, but for this Florida girl it was interesting to see a northern beach like this. We saw quite a bit of the aftermath from last September's storm as we drove around. Lots of rebuilding and construction going on.

We went to the hotel but before checking in, got a quick photo of Ranger Industries' mailbox. The only indication that this was Ranger. No signs on the building or anywhere else in site otherwise. We stayed at the Courtyard by Marriott which is so close I could throw a baseball from one building to the other. 

Equally as close is an Applebee's where we met up with some fellow Ranger U buddies for dinner.

Zandra Cudney came to visit and have dinner with us (far left). Jim Hankins (The Gentleman Crafter), Ellen Vargo, Marjie and me. Jim, being the gentleman that he truly is, picked up the check for the whole lot of us. I kept trying to pay him back throughout the weekend but he would have NONE of that.

After a not-so-restful night's sleep from the excitement, it was finally time for Day One of Ranger U. Tim said they threw this sign out front so people would know it was the right building. There's truly no markings on the building at all. Funny, eh? Needless to say, I was fired up and ready to go. I'm not always a very lady-like gal as you can see, but holy cow, I was at Ranger-freakin-U! All bets are off.

The excitement in the room was super charged. Lots of quick introductions to one another then Tim got right to business. We went around the room and gave a brief into of who we are and what we do. It was so awesome to meet so many people from other countries there. Germany, Spain, South Korea, New Zealand, and Australia to name off a few. And within the group of 24 we had store owners, bloggers, instructors, beaders, manufacturers, buyers and more.

Next up was the fascinating tour of Ranger warehouse and factory. No photos allowed there. I don't use the word fascinating lightly here. Tim likens it to Willie Wonka's factory, and I agree. It was incredible to see how inks, paints, stains and such were produced and to hear the story of the progress of Ranger over the years. Justin and Alan, owners, split us into two groups and took us on a tour through the facility. Alan (our guide) was a delight to listen to. You could see his enthusiasm for the business, and I quickly came to realize the magnitude of his knowledge of machinery and engineering. This company is sure to continue to grow and prosper for many, many years to come.

Back to the classroom to get busy. First up was Tim with about three hours of Perfect Pearls, Embossing Powders, Stickles, and Liquid Pearls techniques. Then a lunch break right there at the plant (can't even remember what we had now, it's such a blur) then back to the classroom. Next up was the pretty Mackie Mullane with Vintaj. She shared some great techniques with the Vintaj product line like Patina, Faux Enamel, and Etching as we made several stunning jewelry pieces.

Marjie is keeping up fine, but I am getting behind...

...probably because I'm goofing around with my camera. 
(What are YOU looking at, Wendy? Get busy!) 

And speaking of goofing around, Jim is sporting his earrings on his glasses since he has no holes.

"Key" and Hee-Sun (I hope I got those right) are from South Korea and were so DARN cute. They gave out wonderful little cellphone charms to everyone on the first day. Even though they didn't understand much English, the language of Ranger products is evidently universal. They followed along in class beautifully and produced some amazing samples to take home.

The rest of the afternoon was Melt Art heaven. We each had our own Melting Pots and learned some of the coolest techniques using UTEE (Ultra Thick Embossing Enamel) from image transfer, amazing agates, and mold-n-pour to using Texture Treads (I am SO getting lots of these) making shrink mosaics, and stamping into UTEE.

We also learned that a Chicklet melts nicely in the Melting Pot. (You'll have to ask Jim about that one.) All I'll say is that it earned him the nickname "Chicklet."

The first day ended with the traditional Ranger BBQ in the warehouse. Here, Dyan Reaveley is pondering over the mental state of Marjie after along, exhausting, yet glorious day. (More on Dyan in a bit.) The BBQ was delicious and meeting the Ranger family was such a pleasure. Wives and kids where there and the staff treated us like royalty serving drinks and making sure we were all happily fed. 

Day Two started with Jim in a white shirt which he declared a blank canvas for us all to adorn throughout the day. 

Ellen's going for the back.

I sat directly across from him, so I was constantly spritzing, painting, and flicking stuff at him. 

Nice keepsake, eh?

This is how the room looks when we all arrive in the morning. People are having doughnuts and coffee and chatting, then getting settled in for another long, wonderful day.

First up was the talented Claudine Hellmuth who shared loads of techniques using her Studio line of products. Everything from Gesso Etching, several transfer techniques that were SO cool, using Extra Time and so much more. Her Studio paints, I must admit I had never used before, were so buttery and wonderful, I can't wait to break them out again and try some more things with them.

Lunch time again then a quick photo op with my new BFF. It's amazing how connected you get so quickly with people in this industry. Jim was such a pleasure to be table-mates with. I felt like I had known him for years only after a few days. Such a perfect gentleman all the time. I surely hope to connect with him again soon.

Back to work, class! The lovely Marjie showcases the towers of Adirondack ink pads we're about to use. Which meant we were back to Tim as our educator. We learned how these water-based ink pads are different from Distress and experienced their properties and capabilities through several great techniques.

The moment I had been waiting for finally arrived. Dyan Reaveley and her Dylusions line. I say this because this area was the most foreign to me going into the weekend. And although I've owned most of the Dylusions sprays, I quickly learned that I had NOT been using them properly and because I had never done any art journaling, like I mentioned before.

Dyan began her portion with a bit of her background then opened herself up to us with a very touching confession of her struggle not only with her hypersonic rise to fame in the crafting industry but also with Rapid Cycling Bi-Polar disorder. You can get a much better sense about that in her post back in 2011 here. I was touched by her willingness to expose herself and the confidence it must have taken to do so. And it made me instantly like her.

She was such a delight, so easy to follow, and very quick-witted. I thoroughly enjoyed her. Although I had looked forward to learning about Dylusions and art journaling techniques, I honestly came into this thinking that this might not be my cup of tea. But, oh my goodness, I was hooked from the very first technique she showed us and cannot wait to make my first journal and share what I learned with you and my local students. It's a whole new world and I am officially addicted to it.

Just look at those lovely inky fingers. Glorious way to end the day!

Dinner was on our own, so a bunch of us walked across the street to the local Chinese restaurant, then a handful of us returned to the hotel lobby for a night cap and more chatting. It was great to exchange ideas and questions with these folks. So inspiring.

Day Three. I'm running on adrenaline at this point. I'm not sleeping really deeply and class moves at an intense pace, so you simply can't be a slacker or you'll fall behind. Luckily our hotel has Starbucks coffee so I am fueled up and ready to roar by the time class starts. Here is just one wall of samples in the Ranger classroom. Incredible pieces of art like this surround and inspire us all day.

At one point in the day, we got this excellent photo opportunity with the Fab 3 Ranger designers. It had to be quick because all 24 of us wanted to take this photo and Tim was keeping us on track with the schedule.  So when I say quick, I mean once the photo was snapped, Tim was giving us a chummy shove-off with his hand to our back so the next person could quickly get in place. Watch your step, whoosh, off you go!

Today's agenda: Distress Overload. It was all about techniques using Distress Inks, Distress Powders, Distress Crackle, Distress Stains, Distress Paints (a new addition to the Ranger U curriculum), and finally Distress Markers. Fabulous!

The final day ended with a big group photo (which I will eventually get a copy of) and then a huge box of goodies for each of us. 28 pounds of Ranger goodness, to be exact. Although I packed an extra tote for the trip home, I had underestimated the generosity of the folks at Ranger. So I wasn't surprised when I got that suitcase up on the scale at the airport and it was six pound over the limit. After yanking out my heavy jacket, I was close enough and they let me go without an additional fee.

The flight home was smooth and speedy and I was back to my cozy comforts by 4:15 in the afternoon. Now it's a new day and while I SHOULD be unpacking, doing laundry, grocery shopping, and cleaning up, I've been blogging to you for several hours and also...

...admiring this.

More in the weeks ahead on the techniques learned at Ranger U. I promise to share my samples and details about them. I thank you for stopping by and congratulate you if you read this entire post. Have a great day!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Coming to you from Ranger U

I've discovered that iPad and Blogger don't get along very well, so I apologize for not blogging any updates from Ranger University. Promise to do that from home this week. Today is our final day and it's bitter sweet. I will hate to see it end, but can't wait to get home and start planning classes and blog posts to share all that I've learned. It's been beyond amazing, learning so many techniques and making fast friends. So stay tuned and I'll share everything so you can get an idea of the wonderful experience of attanding Ranger U.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

EP Blog Post - USA Banner

I'm over at the eclectic Paperie blog today with a fun USA banner project, so be sure to hop over there and check it out when you get a chance. I've used lots of Tim Holtz goodies (the new Pediments die, new tissue tape, and new Collage Mini Stash 8 x 8 papers) along with Art Parts from Wendy Vecchi, and more of that great "Just Because" paper from Little Yellow Bicycle (remember my teaser a few days ago?). Go check it out.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Artist's Crown

I am Queen of my craft room! Aren't you? Lately, I've had this idea in my head to create a crown to hang in my creative space. Initially, I thought of a chandelier but it wasn't practical with my set-up. (I'd be banging my head into that thing all the time.) So instead, I opted for a half-crown that can be mounted to the wall.

Here she is...

Right now, she's propped up on a vase but I will be adding hardware to the back and hanging her on the wall in my room. To give you an idea of the size, she's about the size of a traditional round birthday cake. (around 10 inches).

The base of the crown started with a paper mache hat box lid. (I will be teaching this project to my All Things Tim Club in May, so I will be using the box as well as the lid.)

And since it's a half crown, I can supply four students a base form from one hat box.

To create a backing in which to attach hardware later, I hot glued a thick chipboard panel to the back. I added masking tape to stabilize it the panel to the base, then added decorative paper to cover the tape and add more strength.

I added paper to the bottom as well. This is important, since my crown will be hanging up high on the wall and people will see the underside. (This paper is from the Vintage Shabby stash. I still have SO much of that lovely stuff.)

Onto a full sheet of grungepaper, I glued a 6 x 12 piece of script paper from the French Industrial stash. To be efficient, I cut strips from it at 3 x 6 inches, then ran each through the Vagabond with two of the Sized Arches Movers & Shapers dies. It will take a sheet and a half per student for their crown.

Even though my photo shows five of the smaller size, I actually cut six of each of the two sizes. On the larger ones, I rubbed Antique Bronze Distress Stain and the smaller ones with Brushed Pewter Distress Stain. All the back sides got Brushed Pewter Distress Stain as well.

Around the edges of all arches I dabbed Brushed Pewter Distress Paint for a more opaque silver edging.

From pink Kraft Core card stock I used the Iron Fence On the Edge die to cut three strips then sanded them lightly and sprayed them with Perfect Pearls Pearl Spray.

With hot glue I adhered the large arches to the base first with 1/8 inch of space between (I started with the front center one and worked my way back. I don't have a photo of the side view, but I had to cut the last large arch in half and use both halves to fill the remaining space) then I added the smaller arches. 

Next are the iron fence strips, overlapping to create one long wrap-around.

Below the iron fence strip, I hot glued the flower trim which I had sprayed with Perfect Pearls Patina spray beforehand and let dry. From the Stacked Artful Words strip die, I cut the word Artist from more of the Vintage Shabby paper and pounced some Iced Spruce ink on it. I cut another Artist with black for added stability and to serve as a drop shadow. 

Ooh-la-la. I love this Fleur de Lis die and matching Texture Fade. First I stamped the die-cut shape from white card stock, stamped a pretty design with Iced Spruce, then put it in the texture fade plate and ran it through the Vagabond to emboss it. I inked some more Iced Spruce over the raised areas and then a final inking with Vintage Photo. While the inks were still a bit wet, I quickly spritzed the piece with Perfect Pearls Pearl Spray and watched it do its magic. The stamping blurred a bit and the inking blended beautifully. Wish you could see this in person, it's so pretty.

Now you can see the cut off edge on the side of the crown in this photo. I created three fleur de lis's and cut one in half to put on both ends. I added some pearl from the Baubles using hot glue. A bit tedious, but they seem to be holding just fine.

A few adhesive pearls adorn the smaller arches.

I used every single one of the Baubles in the package added to some chain from the craft store to the bottom of the crown. I used a sharp piercing tool to create two small holes through the base and craft wire to connect to the chains. 

Now it's time to hang it on the wall....

just as soon as I get back from Ranger University!

If you're following my on Facebook, I'll be sharing my experience during the weekend there and will blog about it when I return.

Thanks, and have a great day.