Although autumn won’t officially begin until this Friday, already I am seeing signs of my favorite season. The days are gradually shortening, the temperatures are beginning to drop, and the leaves on the trees are crinkling and yellowing. School is once more in session, so mid-afternoon I see middle school and high school students traveling in packs as they walk home. The craft and fabric store aisles are filled with fall merchandise . . . orange decorative pumpkins, orange-and-red-and-gold silk florals, fabrics in warm harvest colors, friendly scarecrows for your front lawn and welcome signs featuring crows. My spirit lifts, and I feel renewed energy to finish projects that have resided in the UFO (UnFinished Objects) pile for months and sometimes years, and to start new ones.
For this week’s 52 Weeks Challenge, I completed a fall-themed candle wrap for a customer who needed one for her four-ounce jar candles. This crocheted and felted wool candle wrap is actually one of my Java Jackets that I sell at JN Originals on Etsy, but my buyer had a wonderful idea about an alternate use. I think I need one of these myself, since we always have a candle burning when fall begins. Can you smell the cinnamon?
Although creative expression is usually its own holiday for me, those of you who follow this site likely noticed that I took a holiday from posting. It has been 2-1/2 months since my father passed away from a long bout with lung cancer, and 2-1/2 weeks since my husband and I returned from a month-long stay in Germany, where we visited my father’s side of the family. During our travels in Germany I did keep a travel diary, but did not post online because I did not want to announce to the world that our house was unoccupied. If you are interested in what we did and what we saw, you can read my back-dated posts that will begin appearing on Word Walks, my family life blog, very shortly. You can also read a little bit about my father HERE.
We are now starting to get back to our own priorities, finding a new “normal” (whatever that is). Part of that process is picking up old threads and weaving them back into the fabric of our life. Those threads include writing regularly, making and selling handmade goods, and participating in online challenges, such as the 52 Weeks Challenge that I joined many months ago but left behind me as my father’s final days approached.
Next month I am selling my paper-crafted goods at a local craft show, so the coming weeks will be busy as I create stock for my booth. Among them is a redesign of the Post-it Note® Mini Clipboards I make for my online shop, Mister PenQuin on Etsy, shown below. It is also this week’s entry for the 52 Weeks Challenge.
It’s that time of year again, when high school and college seniors walk up the aisle and receive their graduation diploma. Among those making the graduation list this May and June are several family members and a friend. Since this special day doesn’t come around every year, I couldn’t bring myself to buy a commercial card. Instead, I decided to adapt the layout of a spring card I made in a recent Archivers class called Painted Petals. I used graduation-themed dimensional stickers from Jolee’s Boutique, self-adhesive gems from Bazzill Basics, paper art flowers from Hero Arts, and card stock from Best Creation and Boxer Scrapbooks.
After I was finished, I needed an envelope big enough to contain the dimensional card without crushing it. To do the job, I used my Martha Stewart Scoring Board to make one from white letterhead. I have decided that this is one of my favorite tools, since it facilitates the process of custom envelope-making, allowing me to assemble an envelope in just a few minutes. You cut your paper, score it, fold it and adhere the flaps, and ta-da! it’s finished. You can see the finished card below.
The above card accompanied a gift to a graduating friend who is bright and creative. The gift? A journal focused on creativity. The fabric cover owes its style to Sue Bleiweiss, a fiber artist from whom I took an online journal making class some years ago. Inside are three hand-sewn signatures, with the last page of each signature containing a surprise pocket. One pocket contains 10 handmade tags, another contains “Creative Play Cards” from Violette Clark (you can get them if you subscribe to her newsletter, Violette’s Creative Juice), and the third pocket contains “100 Ideas” to exercise your creative muscles from Keri Smith, the author of Wreck This Journal, This is Not a Book, and Mess: The Manual of Accidents and Mistakes. If you’ve ever felt creatively stuck, Keri’s books will get you moving again.
Every time I make one of these journals I like to customize it for the person receiving it as a gift. In fact, I often don’t know what will be inside the pockets until I get to that part of the process!
Fabric cover with satin-stitched edge
1st pocket with 10 handmade tags inside
2nd pocket with Violette Clark's Creative Play Cards
While I love the Stone Etching Flower design itself (and at 99 cents it is very reasonably priced), I wondered whether ordinary clip art might not serve the same purpose. True, it is a little more work to size and print your images, but the benefit to doing so is that you have a much larger range of possibilities. Besides, what else are you doing with that 10-year-old-plus clip art CD?
I dug into my stack of clip art CDs and discovered some wonderful Dover Clips. Next, I inserted a selected image into my favorite word processing program, which happens to be WordPerfect, and sized the image to match the needs of the note card. To tell you the truth, however, you could use any other software program you prefer, such as Microsoft PowerPoint, since it is so commonly available.
If you watch Shari’s video below, you’ll notice that she includes a text strip on the front of her card that I have chosen to omit. My husband, who likes the look of the card without it, said that he would prefer to write his own message inside—and he thinks that makes the card more universal. Also, Shari uses Earth Designers Papers card stock with overprinted text, but I chose instead to emboss card stock with an embossing folder.
Here, then, are the steps I followed. If you make this same card, I would love for you to include a photo link of your finished card in the comments below this post.
1. Gather your supplies and tools, as follows, to make a set of 4 note cards in A2 size:
Favorite clip art CD
Card stock (4 sheets of 8-1/2 in. x 11 in.)
Letterhead (2 sheets, ivory) – optional
Walnut Stain Distress Ink and applicator
Embossing folder or texture plate
Adhesive foam dots or squares
Adhesive tape runner
Adhesive rhinestones, adhesive pearls, or brads (your choice)
2. Using your paper trimmer, slice in half 2 sheets of card stock so that each piece measures 8.5 inches x 5.5 inches. Fold each piece in half so that you end up with 4 note cards measuring 4.25 inches x 5.5 inches.
4. Choose a square design with a round “layered look” motif from your favorite clip art CD, and print the following on card stock. I used 2 sheets of Archivers “Kraft” card stock, and chose a Dover Clips design.
12 large squares (about 2 inches x 2 inches each)
Border Strip 1: 4 columns of 4 medium squares (about 1.5 inches x 1.5 inches each)
Border Strip 2: 4 rows of 7 small squares (about .75 inch x .75 inch each)
5. Using scissors or paper trimmer (whatever works best), cut out the designs as follows:
Set aside 3 large squares for each card. (Do not cut apart at this point.)
Set aside Border Strip 1 (1 column of 4 medium squares) for each card.
Set aside Border Strip 2 (1 row of 7 small squares) for each card.
6. Use the applicator to apply Walnut Stain Distress Ink to the designs as follows:
Apply ink heavily to 1 large square and lightly to 2 large squares (for each card).
Ink the edges of the Border Strips.
7. Cut apart the large squares. Leave 3 of them intact as “whole” squares, but cut out the circular motif from 3 of the large squares, as well as the motif centers of 3 more large squares. Apply an adhesive rhinestone, adhesive pearl or brad to the motif centers.
8. Layer the 3 pieces comprising the large squares, from smallest to largest, using adhesive foam dots or squares.
9. Take Border Strip 1 and Border Strip 2, and set it on top of your card in an upside-down cross shape to get a feel for the layout of your card. When you are satisfied with the appearance, adhere both Border Strips to your card.
10. Using adhesive foam dots or squares, adhere the large layered square to the intersection of the Border Strips.
Optional: If desired, cut a 5-inch x 8-inch rectangle of ivory letterhead to insert on the inside of the card. Fold in half, and apply to the inside of the card with adhesive tape runner.
I’ve been a stranger to my Web site during the last 3 weeks, not because I wanted to stay away, but because I’ve been tied up with projects, one of which took my husband and me to Wisconsin to paint a basement.
Tale of a tornado
Right after Iowa’s state tournament for Destination ImagiNation®, the program for which John and I volunteer, I found myself e-mailing Global Finals-bound Team Managers with support information and uploading related documents to the state Web site, run by Students for a Creative Iowa. I learned by e-mail about the plight of one of Iowa’s teams, which is advancing to the Global Finals competition being held at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville on May 25-28. This team is from Mapleton, the town that was hit hard by a wedge tornado on April 9th, the evening of the state tournament. The team, which consists of four high schoolers, performed at the Destination ImagiNation tournament, then left early to participate in a school play. Five minutes into the performance, the town’s tornado sirens howled, sending everyone to shelter in the locker room beneath the stage. Others hid in the school’s boiler room, hoping for the best. When it was all over, 60 percent of Mapleton, a small rural town of 1,200 in northwest Iowa, was flattened.
When our state Board heard this news, we knew that the Mapleton team that had qualified to advance to Global Finals would face a special challenge in raising the $5,000-plus needed for its journey, which includes room and board, transportation of team members, chaperones and props, hotel stays, team T-shirts and trading pins. After some discussion, we decided to award a special distribution of $500 to the team from the Kitch-Eilerts Memorial Scholarship Fund, established in part to honor the memory of an Iowa Destination ImagiNation participant who was killed when a tornado swept through his Boy Scout camp in 2008. Two Ames, Iowa teams, also advancing to Global Finals, decided to make trading pin mats for the Mapleton students, and offered to split the earnings from busing restaurant tables with the team. A local Mapleton farmer who wanted to show his appreciation for students who had cleared his fields of metal debris from the tornado came up with a $600 donation. In short, many folks who weren’t exactly affluent themselves dug dig into their pockets to help the Mapleton students.
As I write this post, I do not know whether the students will reach their fundraising goal by the payment deadline, but if you are interested in helping them do so, you can follow the instructions I posted in Globals-bound team comes home to tornado. You might say that this was my completed challenge for Week 15 of the 52 Weeks Challenge.
The paint job that wouldn’t end
The next week (Week 16 of the 52 Weeks Challenge) my husband and I spent in Wisconsin, painting my father’s basement. His house, which is up for sale to support his care costs, had developed structural issues over the 40-plus years in which he lived there, shifting 2-1/2 to 4 inches off the basement foundation. Two corners of the basement wall collapsed, and there were holes in the cinder blocks wide enough in which you could shove your arm. The drain tiles failed a water test, and the sump pump had to be replaced. Needless to say, all of this spelled out water issues in a big way. The basement needed work before the house would sell. Fortunately, our realtor helped us locate a contractor who was willing to take on this job, which involved digging an eight-foot-deep trench on all sides of the house, straightening the walls and shoring them up with supports, replacing the drain tiles and installing not one but two sump pumps, rebuilding parts of the basement wall, replacing four glass block windows, and gutting the interior of the basement. The contractor completed the work this month, leaving behind a straightened, repaired foundation, but also a basement with ugly gray-and-green patched walls that looked like something out of a horror story. Over the course of five days, John and I used up 7-1/2 gallons of primer to paint the entire basement, including 65 (I counted them!) floor-to-ceiling support beams. I do not think I want to see a paint brush, paint pad or roller brush for a while.
Coming home to ants
As you might imagine, when we returned to Iowa we were bone tired but glad to be home. The temperatures had warmed up and there was just enough rain so that everyone’s lawns had greened up. Unfortunately, these are perfect conditions for ants to hatch. Imagine my horror when I walked into my paper studio and found ants swarming all over the desk, wall and window frame—likely the entry point for the little critters. Fortunately, half a dozen ant traps and two days later, we took care of the problem. Meanwhile, I stayed out of the paper studio and took my crochet hooks and yarn into the family room to be productive. You can see below the headwarmer and scarflette I completed for Week 17 of the 52 Weeks Challenge while keeping the ants at bay. Somehow I don’t find nearly as cute as I did before picnic cloths decorated with ant trail borders!