Tempest Tossed

On one hand, I feel like I should be running down to the airport, with my signs and my fist in the air;  not only is it the right thing to do, but I know that I would feel energized, and hopeful, and frankly, American.  But, the bottomline is, this President just doesn’t give two shits.  He doesn’t even give one.  Instead of saying, I hear you, he points fingers, and signs more executive orders, and with every day, gets closer to crowning himself king.

But, I go to my crafting to escape, and if you’re actually here, this place is an escape too – because you can find politics anywhere you look on the web, doesn’t have to be here.  So, if you’re curious, and you want to know the process, not the product, here it is.

I downloaded an image of the statue of liberty.  I cut it out, and stuck it to my paper with repositionable tape.  The first time, I watercolored, and inked around the statue.  Then, I pulled the mask up, and voila! An outline of the Statue of Liberty.

After I botched the first try, I used this as a draft to figure out where the writing was going to be.  If I had to do it again, and I guess I could do it again, since I splotched up the f in “lift” by sticking my wrist in the wet ink when I went back to cross my t’s – uch!  Muffed up right at the last second, when I was just about to call it done.  But, if I were going to do it again, I’d probably go back to the watercolor, and skip that purple ink – it just didn’t blend well, even with my Tim Holz blending pads.  And, then, after I hung my statement on the wall, where at least I care about it, I moved on to my new watercolor stamps.

I don’t know about you, but in between being horrified by the nightly news and my social media feed, I mindlessly watched CHA video after CHA video, or Creativation as they’re calling it now.  It’s a trade show, it wants to suck me into buying things, and I’m good with that.  New paper! New dies! New stamps! oh my!  The biggest time suck was the Blitsy swag giveaway.  Blitsy filmed 3 days worth of mini segments at a dozen or so booths.  At the end of every segment, they gave you a secret word, which was access to a giant swag giveaway.  I think it was during one of those videos that I discovered Art Impressions Stamps, well at least the watercolor stamps, because their line of strange heavy set lady stamps are a little bizarre to me, but there’s something for everyone I guess.

The watercolor stamps are watercolor painting cheaters.  You stamp the image with watercolor marker, or whatever water soluble product you have, and then you add some color, pull out more color with a wet brush, and you too can look like a watercolor master.  Well, close.  Well, closer than I would have without the stamp.

Because I was just experimenting, I bought the cheapest set on Blitsy, the mini- barn set, which I think was just about $9.  The bigger sets run between $17-and $20, at full price.

As you can see the set comes with three unmounted cling stamps that are just basic outlines of the images – the barn, the tree, and the fence.  Huh, I guess I should have taken a before photo, but no matter.  Trust me, you can do this! The image looks like the outline on the top of the packaging.  Because I have one package of Tombow Markers that’s missing the brown marker, I stamped in black, and then used my set of Koi watercolors to color in the barn, and the trees.  If you have a good assortment of watercolor markers, you can just add more color to the stamp.  You really don’t need to get out your watercolors at all if you really want to keep it simple.  Anyway,  I stamped the barn first, and then I masked it, so I wouldn’t stamp over the barn with the trees.  There’s a good video of how to do this on the  Art Impressions youtube channel.  Art Impressions uses a masking paper, which has a sticky substance on the back.  I just used repositionable tape, just like I did the Statue of Liberty.  So, you stamp the barn on scrap paper, and cut out around the barn any place you don’t want the stamp to show – so that the trees are in the background.  Then you position the scrap barn over the good barn, and peel it away when you’re done stamping the trees.  Or if you want to start with a tree, you can stamp the tree, create a mask for the tree, stamp the barn, and then create a mask for the barn, and then stamp the background trees.  The idea is, start with the image that’s closest in the foreground, and work your way back.  If anyone wants to see photos of how I did this, just leave me a message in the

And, of course, since I’m getting read for InCoWriMo2017, I turned them into easel cards:

Basically, these cards stick up like an easel – there’s a foam stopper covered with patterned paper that you wedge the card behind, but the card can also be folded flat to go in an envelope.  Of all of the Crafter’s Companion card tutorials, this is by far the easiest one.  You just take a sheet of 5 1/2 x 11 paper, fold it in half, and then fold a gatefold on one end, then you tape a 5 1/2/ x 5 1/2 square on that gatefold flap.  Apply foam, done.

Of course, I forgot that my ink was going to explode on the watercolor paper – should have just just lettered in the card stock.  Oh well.

Now that I know I really love these stamps, I ordered another set that has a flower stamp, it’s a mailbox with a bird and some foliage.  I definitely have ideas about combining the two sets.  I originally thought the flowers came with the barn based on the packaging, but they don’t.  You have to be careful when you buy these stamps to make sure of what’s actually included – sometimes you get more than you thought you were getting (there’s one set that has a barn on a cliff, and the set also comes with a lighthouse), or less (mostly foliage and flowers – there’s a separate foliage set, flower set, and tree set, but some of the projects do come with flowers).  And, of course, there are new sets coming out that debuted at CHA, although to me, they pretty much look like the old sets, although I think some of them have critters now, like a bunny or a squirrel or something like that.  They also have this pretty cool die that’s coming out- it’s a 3d frame, with an easel, so you can stand up your watercolor masterpieces.

So, that’s all for now.  Next, I’ll share my latest nonpolitical obsession, to fountain or not to fountain, that’s the question.


Happy Handwriting Day!

Had you asked me in 6th Grade if I would ever find myself wishing anyone a happy handwriting day, I would have not doubled over in laughter, I would have stared with incredulity.  Handwriting and happy in the same sentence, in an exclamation of joy and good wishes?  Not possible.  Not possible, at all.  The only thing more torturous than handwriting practice, to me, was the monthly reaping for the kickball team.  Yes, I was always last – or perhaps second to last, and therein a debate ensued between the competing captains about who was a worse kickballer, me or my friend.  True, handwriting was less painful than that, but not by much.

But now, handwriting finds me in my happy place, in my craftroom, with my inks, and my pens, and my stamps, and my watercolors, and when I get a letter right, I’m tickled, and when I get one wrong, I’m ok with it – practice practice.  So, I’ve taken this childhood near malady, rife with slop, angst, twisted wrists, and visual word vomit, and kicked it’s ass.  Take that, Mrs. Singer and you’re dreaded red pen, that would circle every malformed r, or s or q.

Right now, I’m just following along with the #showmeyourdrills challenge on Instagram, practicing full quotes with the #literaryletteringchallenge, and watching some classes on #Skillshare.  Here are a few of my literary quotes:

One thing I’ve learned is that for any particular job, you need the right tools, and I do not have the right tools.  I’ve been using crappy paper, and it shows.   The splotches and puddles are not because I’m not using my pen right (although, since I don’t have a teacher hovering over my shoulder with a red pain, I can’t be exactly sure I’m using my pen right), but because regular old computer paper, and low quality cardstock may as well be a paper towel in how it absorbs the ink.  And, while watercolor is fine with absorbtion, since I have the bumpy kind (hot press? cold press?  I always get them confused), my nib gets caught in the bumps, and that causes a leak, or an extra lump of ink.  So, right now, I’m looking at my ink messes as design elements, but I do intend to get myself a nice pad of Rhodia paper, the paper most sites recommend.

This last quote I wrote over scrap paper that I used to test out my new WRMK CMYK stamps.  They’re pretty neat.  There are four layers of each stamp, and each one is stamped with a corresponding color to get the old timey printer quality of CMYK printing.  They actually look better photographed than they do in person, but I’m pretty happy with how they turned out.  The tool underneath is a Misti Stamp Tool.  The tool is like the WRMK Precision Stamp Press – you place your paper on the bottom grid, and place your stamp where you want it to go.  When you put the lid down, the stamp sticks to it, and when you pull the lid back, you apply your ink, press it down, and stamp – voila! your stamp will always be in the same place.  So you can do some mass production stamping – for those holiday cards.  Or, you can stamp the same stamp twice for those times you don’t get a good impression.  And, you can use these layering stamps.  If you youtube the tool, a lot of useful tutorials will come up.  The only thing I don’t like about this nifty tool is that it comes with a New Testament Bible quote across the top, and I don’t know why that’s necessary.  But, since I use mostly clear stamps, there’s a foam insert you put in anyway, and it covers the quote.  Had I noticed the Bible quote before I put it on my Hanukkah list, I probably wouldn’t have put it on my list.  But, it’s a really useful tool, and it came in handy this weekend when I was stamping 3 x 4 project life cards.

So, what do I intend to do with my newfound handwriting love?  Continue to practice, surely.  But, I’m thinking of doing InCoWrMo , International Correspondence Writing Month, which is February, and involves sending correspondence every single day during the month of February.  I don’t think I can actually do that.  But, I think I probably could do it during the week, if I prepare.  I’m still mulling it around.  To commit, or not commit, so say ye word of the year?

Stay tuned!

Doing the Drills – Handlettering Practice

Two days in, and I’m good to go with my commitments!  I’ve journaled in my Techo 2 days in a row, and I’ve worked on my handlettering every day for a big fat week!

Here’s where I was, doodling with my Sharpie at my desk, waiting for the work bell to ring:

And, then I practiced.  I wrote words repeatedly:

I did drills:

I dabbled with some watercolor:

And, I tinkered with the Instagram challenge, #literaryletteringchallenges.  I love quotes.  When I was in high school, I kept a book of quotes – it was kind of  a smashbook of quotes.  Some were neatly printed in block print, some were typed, some were in my friend’s crazy handwriting, as she would often borrow the book, add to it.  I think she must have ended up with it, or else I’d have it.  I can’t believe I would have thrown it away.  The literary lettering challenge is a bit above my skill level – it’s a lot of work to slowly draw all of those letters.  Writers are never brief, are they?  Although, I’ve recently become intrigued with something called Flash Fiction, micro short stories, tiny little nuggets of character, language and strangely, space in minutia.  What I mean is brevity can be quite expansive.

Anyway, here’s my first challenge – Emily Dickinson’s Hope is a Thing with Feathers –

I penciled this first, and finished it up with a Tombow Fudensuke hard brush tip pen.  Unlike the large Tombow brush pen we all know from our local art stores, the fudensuke is a fine point, that is really sensitive to the light upstroke, hard downstroke.  The above was just made with up and down motion, not the more familiar faux calligraphy, where you kind of color in the down strokes.  I love this new pen.  I’m not the neatest colorer – and I really appreciate being able to make that downstroke with one motion, much neater for me.

The next day was Paul Coehlo.  I decided to use my dip pen for this one, and I made the mistake of using my sumo ink on my low quality watercolor paper –

Eh, you live and you learn.  All was not lost.  I just put a piece of vellum over top, and traced my pencil sketch.

I can definitely see the progress I’ve made in just one week. A lot of practice, and I’ve really been slurping up Skillshare, with my 99 cents for three months. There are a number of handlettering/calligraphy classes to choose from, and while they’re pretty basic, I’ve had plenty of a ha moments. I’m definitely getting my buck’s worth.  I’m definitely having problems with consistency – in attempting to bounce my letters, I’m not always using the same letter form each time.  And my loops aren’t quite the same size.  But, I’m working on it, and will continue to do so – because I’m committed!

Hope everyone’s New Year is off to a good start.  The Rose Bowl wasn’t so good last night, but it’s just a game, gotta keep things in perspective.  Right.