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My name's Jen. This is the place where I share my love of art with the world. Please stay a while, and leave a comment if you wish :)

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Guess What I Got for Christmas??

I have the greatest husband in the world! We've been mostly happily married (nobody's perfect) for almost 24 years, even though he's not much of a crafter and thinks art is the guy who ploughs our driveway in the winter, life is good.
I am sort of a chatterbox at home, well everywhere, but that's where I talk to him the most and sometimes I think he really doesn't listen. Well, apparently, I am 'wrong'. There dear, it's in print for the whole world to see - just be aware this is a one time deal!
I am a HUGE Suzi Blu fan and I have been talking about about wanting to buy her new book," Mixed Media Girls", which by the way is an amazing book, for the past several weeks. Well, what do you think I found under the tree on Christmas morning? Not only was he listening and bought the right book, but he managed to keep it a secret and wrapped it all by himself! Way to go dear, you knocked it out of the park this time!
Mixed media is something I really enjoy and if you are interested in it as well, I highly recomment this book. Clear instructions, tons of colour pictures, lots of tips that are totally new to me and it comes with a DVD featuring Suzi Blu demonstrating her techniques. F.Y.I. - Suzi Blu has just launched a line of rubber stamps featuring her 'girls', you can check them out at www.bluemoonscrapbooking.com.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

A Fishing Creel for Kyle

Kyle, my oldest daughter's boyfriend, has been a part of our family for the past 4 years and knows how much I love basket weaving. He asked me a few months ago to make a fishing creel for his father for Christmas. I was delighted to make it, and here it is!
I shaped it so that it is flat at the back and has a rounded 'belly', it looks like a capital 'D' with the lid open. I used chocolate brown twill tape for the strapping and all the findings, clips etc., are an antique brass finish. I turned the basket upside down and traced it to make a pattern to cut the lid. My friend Jeff Sylvester, who is a local cabinet maker, cut the lid out for me. He did an outstanding job! Thanks Jeff!
The front closure is made from a piece of willow that I carved and fastened with jute through a hole I drilled in the lid. The hinges are brass, and the whole basket, lid included, is stained with Minwax, Provincial colour.

The Cat's Meow

The Shaker Cat Head Basket is one of my all time favourite baskets to make. This is a fairly large Cat Head, measuring about 10" across the base, and is woven from 1/2" and 1/4" flat Rattan Reed. I have been experimenting with dying reed lately, and although the picture doesn't do it justice, the weavers of this basket are dyed a rich chocolate brown, achieved using Cocoa Brown Rit Dye powder. I have tried the liquid and have not been happy with the results, the colours are not as vibrant as the powder, and I don't recommend it. Not sure yet if I want to stain this basket, I'll have to live with it for a while.
The handle is a commercial push-in swing handle, available at most basketry supply companies, in a variety of sizes, this one is a 10" handle. They are easy to install, and after a light sanding accept stain beautifully.
I am currently working on compiling my basket patterns into a book about basketry. I hope to have all the patterns ready this summer. I'll keep you posted on my progress.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Four Snowmen, One Stamp!


"Do you guys smell carrots too?" Sorry, just had to do it! Each Christmas, like most card makers, I add to my collection of card designs. This is one of this year's creations.
I originally saw the idea for this card on Youtube in a video by Fran, from Stampendous. The awesome snowman stamp is called, "Stretchy Snowmen", #SSC1057 by Stampendous. When you apply the stamp to your stamping tool you can stretch it to make a tall skinny snowman or 'squish' it to make it short and chubby.
To make this card use an"M" or "W" shaped card base and stamp the snowman progressively taller and you move to the back of the card. The last snowman is stamped on a separate piece of cardstock then cut out and applied to the card. Cut out the first 3 snowmen about halfway down their bodies to reveal the snowman nesting behind it! I own several 'stretchy' stamps from Stampendous and I would give them a 'thumbs up'! and recommend them! Happy Holidays y'all!!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Whas' Up Gnomies??

Whas' Up Gang?? I am back!! I have enjoyed my 5 month break, but it's time to get the lead out and get back to work!
I thought this pop-up/pull-out card would be appropriate for the occassion.
There are a few card makers whose blogs I follow, and one of them is www.paperpunchaddiction.com. That's where I found this awesome little dude! This gnome is part of a paper punching 'package' that is available for purchase on  the site. It's called "In the Garden", and comes with instructions to make several punch art garden themed characters, this little gnome being one of them. The whole package costs $6.00, and is sent to you by email. *You do have to own several Stampin' Up! paper punches to complete the projects. I didn't have them all, so I ended up drawing the beard and hat freehand, using the picture as a guide.
The instructions for the mechanical portion of this card can be found in the resource section of www.splitcoaststampers.com. If you are new to card making, this site is the BOMB!! Loaded with ideas, samples and other yummy card making stuff!! Check it out!

Friday, 6 July 2012

About Face

I have recently discovered a new fun thing to do - face painting! My youngest daughter went to a fun fair at one of out local elementary schools a few weeks ago, and came home with a beautiful butterfly painted on her face. I was so stunned when she walked through the door, the painting was gorgeous! I immediately decided that I had to learn how to do it - so I did!
I did a bit of research on face paint and ordered a beginner kit from a company called Diamondfx which sells quality non-toxic face paint and supplies. I checked out a few face painting videos on Youtube and voila, a face full of butterfly!
This is my first attempt at painting and I have to say that it is much, much easier to paint someone else's face than your own! The lines are a bit 'jiggily', but like anything, practice will improve my technique! I contacted our local hair styling school and they gave me an old hair stylying 'head' to practice on, so I can stop pestering my family and friends to sit still while I experiment on their faces! I have to recommend that if this is something you would like to try, it is worth investing in quality face paint, good quality brushes and facial sponges.This type of face paint takes very little water to moisten and has a smooth creamy texture that makes painting much easier, and it washes off very easliy so little faces won't be irritated by scrubbing with soap! As well, keep your brushes and sponges clean by washing them in warm soapy water and if you are painting more than one face, a little hand sanitizer between faces would be a good idea. Have fun :)

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Happy Anniversary !

I made this anniversary card for my friends who are celebrating 25 years of wedded bliss! It features a mutli-layer vellum flower. According to wikipedia, vellum comes from the latin word 'vitulinium' which means, 'comes from a calf'. Real vellum is made from animal skin that has been scraped smooth so as to let light passs through it. It's actually really thin parchment paper. Thankfully, modern vellum is made from plastic and cotton. I would feel terrible giving someone a card with a real calf skin flower on it!!
To make this flower, I stamped several five petal flowers onto vellum using Stampin' Up! White Craft Ink, then cut them out. The top layer has a touch of Diamond Stickles added for a bit of sparkle. The sentiment is from Teeny Tiny Wishes, by Stampin' Up!, stamped in black, then punched with the SU! Word Window punch. Sentiment backing is silver card stock which was punched with SU! Modern Label punch. The centre of the flower is also silver card stock and is dotted with Champagne Liquid Pearls. Happy Anniversay!

The Wednesday Night Weavers

I get together with a couple of friends every Wednesday (a.k.a. Humpday!) evening to basket weave. These natural ribbed melon baskets are the fruits of our labour so far. The basket rim, handle and ribs are made from Willow which I cut about two weeks ago.  When weaving with natural Willow, it is important to let it dry and shrink before you weave with it. If you use it too soon, it will shrink and your weaving will come loose. Ask me how I found this out!! My friend, a kindred crafting spirit, added lovely beading to the rim of her basket. This is the first basket she has ever made and I have to say she certainly has got the hang of it! It's a gorgeous piece of weaving!
I made the other basket shown along side the group to demonstrate the weaving technique. It's also made from Willow and I used #2 round reed, dyed black, as an accent. The one thing about this type of basketry that I really like is the 'God's Eye' that holds the rim and handle together. No nails, no glue needed! This type of basketry is hundreds of years old, and is still as pretty and useful as it was in the pioneer days!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Unfrogettable You

Ya either love frogs, or you don't! I do. I made this little frog circular penny roller card using two Spellbinder dies which I taped together, then ran through my Bigshot using Stampin' Up! Bashful Blue card stock. The stamp set is a retired SU! set that I was lucky enough to buy from ebay.ca. The name of the set is 'Unfrogettable' and the featured frog on the card is the one of the main characters. One word of advice when making circular penny rollers is to use the small 1/4" size foam dots in your penny sandwich. If you use the larger ones, the mechanism doesn't run smoothly. This little guy whips around the card, spinning as he goes, wiggling his beady eyes! Cute as a button, and quick to make! Have an unfrogettable day!!

Monday, 25 June 2012

The Strawberry Social

My youngest daughter, Ellen, was lucky enough to get an awesome summer job this year working at The Champlain Trail Museum in our hometown, Pembroke, Ontario. This past Saturday they held their annual Strawberry Social, which is one of the museum's big fund raising events. Ellen is studying Public Relations, so being able to help with events like this is great experience. We are very thankful to the museum for giving Ellen this opportunity, thank you Angela!!
The museum asked me if I would be willing to do a basket weaving demonstration during the event, and of course I was delighted to take part!  They had several other artisans demonstrating arts and crafts that are part of our Canadian history. I particularly admired the hand carved wooden toys and games. I stood and watched the children play with them for several minutes and was amazed by how engrossed they were. No bells, whistles or electricity and yet the children were delighted and entertained. Gave me food for thought, maybe simple is better sometimes! Anyhow, I had a great day, sold a few baskets and got to talk for hours about something that I love to do! Remember to stop in and check out the museum when you find yourself in the area, it's worth the visit!

Friday, 22 June 2012

First Basket of the Season

The willow is beautiful this year, a bumper crop so far! I cut the willow for the handle, rim and ribs for this basket about two weeks ago, and it has already cured from bright green to vanilla bean black.  Willow is the perfect weaving material as it stays flexable long after it has dried and the colour just gets deeper and deeper as it ages. Northern Ontario, where I live, is loaded with with all kinds of weaving material such as alder, dogwood, elm, birch, cedar and of course the over 35 different varieties of willow that grow here. The rule for selecting twigs to weave with is simple, if you bend the twig into a circle and it doesn't crack or split it's suitable weaving material. Basket weavers of the past and present often use whatever grows locally to create their baskets. Anything from seagrass and pine needles to wood splints made from ash trees. Can you guess what the Inuit, who live in the Arctic use? They create breath taking woven works of art from whale baleen. Baleen is the 'strainer like' material many large whales have in their mouths instead of teeth! Now that's creativity!
Did you know that there has never been a machine invented that can weave a basket? Every single basket you see in every store has been hand woven by someone. Most are made by young girls and women from developing countries, often earning very little for their hours of hard work. Human beings have been weaving baskets for about 50,000 years. To put that into perspective, the last ice age was only 10,000 years ago. Basketry pre-dates pottery by thousands of years and is also the only art form we share with birds and other mammals. A bird nest is definitely a basket, in fact, not only do birds weave but they do it without verbal instructions and no hands! I can't figure out how they manage to do it. A bird nest is a true feat of engineering! I remember how frustrating it was to make my first basket, I can't imagine trying to do it with no fingers or tools! Many primates such as gorillas weave a fresh sleeping mat to sleep on each night. They carefully select palm frawns and tear them into strips with their teeth and create intricatley woven mats. So next time you see basket, stop and admire it for a minute, because each and every one is hand woven by someone, somewhere :)

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Happy Graduation Class of 2012!!

It's hard to believe another school year is coming to an end. My daughter has a few friends graduating tomorrow, so of course she asked me to make her a few grad cards, the day before she needs them! Oh well, I am happy to do it and glad she asked! This grad card is a 'spring pop up' style card which suits the occasion perfectly. I used a Cuttlebug die to die cut the numbers and Stampin' Up! Teeny Tiny Wishes to stamp Happy Graduation. Tassle is made by winding embroidery floss around a scrap piece of cardboard, then is sandwiched between punched black circles to fasten. I placed a writing surface in behind the cap as this card doesn't open in the traditional manner, so writing your message can be tricky. Congratulations to all the grads who have worked so hard to make it to this day! Well done!!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

A Stitch in Time

Last month when 'The Friday Night Girls' met for our card night, one of the girls (Hi Nicole!) requested a quilted card design for our next get together. Seeing as it's a bijillion degrees outside, I spent the afternoon in my nice cool craftroom and created this design. Canadians are never happy about the weather - it's either too hot or too cold!!
I am an avid quilter as well as a card maker and this card is made from an actual log cabin quilt pattern.  This style of piecing, whether fabric or paper, is called foundation piecing.  It's a type of quilting where a paper pattern is used as the base to attach pieces to, rather than cutting shapes out and sewing them together. I wasn't sure how the technique would translate to card making, but I really like how it turned out and am going to dig through my foundation piecing patterns to what else I can find!! I used an assortment of stamps to stamp the buttons, tomato, thread and measuring tape, then colored and cut them out, and added a stamped sentiment. See you next Friday girls!!

Monday, 4 June 2012

Silly Little Monsters!

Hey gang! Sorry I haven't written in a few days, but my arthritis has been terrible. I am much better today though, and spent the morning in my craftroom making silly monsters! I am having a group of young card makers over to my house this Saturday to do some paper crafting and thought these cute little guys would be fun to create. The gift tag opens with a scored hinge to make it easy to write a birthday message and fastens to the bag with ribbon ties. It's topped off with a glitzed up crown and several different sizes of circle punched shapes create the face and beauty warts. The bookmarks are made from a folded 6"square of paper and love to munch the corner of a good book! I love crafting with kids and these projects will give them a chance to experiment with different tools and learn a few new techniques. From what I hear they are as excited as I am to get crafting! See you guys on Staurday :)

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

It's Basket Weaving Season!!

The willow is finally ready!! I went to my favorite willow cutting place over the long weekend and did a big cutting to make baskets over the next couple of weeks. Actually, my husband did the dirty work, gotta give credit where it's due! Thanks dear! The willow is really nice this year and the mosquitos weren't out which was a relief!
If my arthritis co-operates, I will be teaching several different baskets this season including: naturals made from willow mixed with commercial rattan, Shaker cat heads, market baskets, hanging weed pouches and a mail basket. If time and the strength in my hands allows I will add a few more designs.
If basketry is something that you are interested in and you would like to give it a try, you can contact me by email at, craftiepants123@gmail.com. I like to keep class sizes small as it is a hands on craft, so seats are limited. If the weather is nice we will weave outside. (Basket Weaving is a little messy!) I'll post the pictures as the summer progresses and share what we are making. Happy summer :)

Sunday, 20 May 2012

What do you think?

I just received an order from Stampin Up! which contained a new Whisper White Craft ink pad. The craft ink has a longer 'open' time so it's great for embossing as the powder will stick to it while embossing with a heat gun and it can be used for regular stamping so it does double duty. I noticed that the ink pad was made of foam rather than the hard fabric type I prefer. After reading the SU! website I discovered that they are switching all of their ink pads from fabric to foam. I have used foam ink pads in the past and find that they overload the stamp with ink and cause 'ghosting' because the ink gets all over the edges of the stamp.
I know Stampin' Up! would never introduce a new product without copious testing and consumer input, so with an open mind, I inked a stamp and tested it out. YUK!! I got ink everywhere even though I was very careful not to over ink. I've been practicing with it and can stamp with about a 50% success rate, but it is very frustrating and wastes a lot of paper. I would never use it to stamp directly on a card front and risk smudges and smears.  I emailed Stampin' Up! and let them know about my lack of success as did my SU! demonstrator. What do you think about this product change? Do you like foam or fabric? I would love to know your opinions.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Wobble Birthday Blast Off

While craft shopping a few weeks ago I saw an intriging new product - Wobbles. They are a plastic spring with peel and stick adhesive circles attached to each end so that you can mount things like stamped images to your card front and to make them wiggle about. They are a little expensive, so you know me, I made my own version. I bought some 28 gauge wire from the Dollar Store and wrapped a piece around the end of a paint brush to create a spring. Then using Scotch Tape, adhered punched cardstock circles to each end so I could attach an image and mount it to a card front. It worked beautifully!! The little rocketship (SU! Pun Fun Stamp Set -retiring) wiggles about when flicked and really adds a layer of interest to the card front. Sorry the pics are a little blurry, my camera has a temper! Give this technique a try, it's quick inexpensive and fun. Doesn't get any better then that!!