Saturday, August 11, 2018

New Paper Crafting Tools

I’ve picked up some new tools to use for my creative paper crafting projects. Over the last few months, I’ve added a ‘few’ new cutting dies to my collection. Okay...perhaps more than a few, mostly Halloween and cat themed ones so far. And let’s be honest here, I’m sure that I will be adding many more down the road. I had to come up with a way to store them so that they are all in one place, and loosely sorted by category.

The metal cutting dies are now all on magnetic sheets in page protectors in a couple of binders. The initial cost for setting this up was a bit high but now I can just add more pages as needed. It seems to be working really well for me. How do you store all your dies? Let me know in the comment section below. I’m always willing to look at a better way if there is one.

One tool that I’m very happy I purchased is the WeRMemory Keepers glass craft mat. It gives me a nice, firm surface to work on and it is easy to clean up any paint, marker or glue residue when I’m finished. I’m not sure that I would have paid full price for it but with a 50% off coupon at Michaels and a gift card from my daughter-in-law for Mother’s Day, it was a good investment. I highly recommend this for all paper crafters.

I went to ScrapFest in Kitchener this April. That was a big mistake for many reasons, first and foremost the crazy ice storm that hit southern Ontario that weekend! My friend, who joined me there, fell and broke her ankle in the parking lot also. Plus the ONE item that I went looking for, a fuse tool for making shaker pockets, was not available from any of the vendors who were there. I white knuckled the four drive home (normally a two hour drive) and ordered it on Amazon that evening. I should have stayed at home.

Another item that I purchased at Michaels with a 50% off coupon is a Fiskars mini paper cutter. I have a large, office style one for cutting out chipboard for artist trading cards, but it is too cumbersome for the smaller jobs. It was another good investment and I used the rest of the money left on my gift card to get it.

One more thing I acquired from Michaels with a coupon is the WeRMemory Keepers Tab Punch Board. I was toying with the idea of joining in some of the MemoryDex card swaps on YouTube and Facebook and saw some videos on using the tab punch board to make them. My problem now is that the Heidi Swapp hole punch for the MemoryDex cards has been discontinued and is not available anywhere! So, the tab punch board is still in its’ packaging for now.

I know that I will eventually get to using the tab punch board and the fuse tool (which is also still in its’ original packaging). It is nice having them for the time I know I will want them. My Sizzix BigKick die cutting machine sat in a corner in the box for over a year before I even opened it. It gets used constantly now. The day will come for the other new tools.

What is your favourite paper crafting tool? Or what did you purchase and have NEVER used? Let’s start a dialogue in the comment section below. Thank you for your input.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

I'm Never Going To Do That!

Yes, we've all said it sometime in our lives...I'm never going to do that! Well, let me tell you from experience, that as soon as the words come out of my mouth I am somehow launched on an unconscious path to do that very thing.

Shabby Chic ATCs
Take, for example, artist trading cards. When a friend of mine first shared with me that she was creating these miniature 'works of art', I thought she was crazy. I mean, why would you want to waste your time making these things? It made no sense to me.

Two years later, I discover the world of mail art and I finally 'got' it. I start making ATCs to swap and trade with others. I now have several large binders FULL of artists creations from around the world. 

Then, let's move on to pocket letters. When I first came upon these through a Facebook group I belong to, I could not see myself EVER doing them. I was a bit intimidated by the thought of attempting one, in fact. It was a trendy fad that would fade as quickly as it appeared, I thought. A friend continued to work on me, in spite of my protestations, trying to pique my interest in them.

Winter Themed Pocket Letter
Once again, about two years later, I decide to give it a shot. What the heck, why not? The more I learned about pocket letters, the more appealing they became to me. I watched a lot of YouTube video tutorials and I thought it was finally time to experiment with one.

Big sigh...I got hooked again! Now, I am participating in multiple pocket letter swaps and I have a couple of regular pen pals that I exchange with too. I'm having a lot of fun sending and receiving them. Check out this video to see a Valentine's Day pocket letter that I sent to one of my partners.

Thank You Card for Swap
Let's move on to greeting cards. The lovely cards posted by others on Pinterest amazed me, but I could NEVER create anything like that. I was convinced of it. I'm simply not talented enough for that, I told myself.

I resisted for a LONG time, until just recently, when a friend tricked/bribed me to join a greeting card swap on a group we both belong to. I foolishly took the bait, and signed up for it. Now, I want to make lots more greeting cards for every occasion.

You know, now that I think about it, it was the SAME friend who got me interested in ALL of those things! She's had a diabolical plan all along, hasn't she? YOU know who you are, friend. 

Monday, January 1, 2018

A New Year Begins - Welcome 2018

Every year at this time we look back on the year past with fondness or regret and begin to plan for the twelve months ahead with an anticipation that rarely lasts past the end of January.

We often set ourselves up for failure with goals loftier that we can reasonably achieve. Then when we do not succeed our enthusiasm wanes.

I'm trying not to do that this year. I believe that my list of goals are reasonably achievable. I wish to make some simple lifestyle changes to make it easier for both my body and soul.

I want to focus more on taking care of myself and not worrying as much about looking after everyone else. That strategy only wears me down and does not leave enough in me for self care.

My decluttering project will continue, not in a mad flurry, but a little at a time. By the end of the year, I anticipate a major improvement in my house and my peace of mind. I want to downsize my way to a happier, more fulfilled life. Here is my motto for the year, Don't put it down, put it away!

Crafting will remain a big part of my life. I am happiest when creating and sharing my art with others. I've changed my main focus from artist trading cards to pocket letters over the last couple of months, although I will continue to participate in a few ATC swaps. That includes the annual 31 ATC Halloween swap and a monthly swap with a group in Alberta.

I have several pen pals across Canada that I am exchanging pocket letters with now, and hopefully, building lasting friendships. I was introduced to this fun way to send happy mail a couple of years ago but I did not realize how much I would enjoy it. To learn more about this new trend, do a search on YouTube and you will find tons of tutorials. 

What are your plans for the upcoming twelve months? Whatever they are, I wish you great success and much happiness. Have a great year!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Making Rosettes

All paper craft artists have boxes, bins, drawers or piles of paper scraps left over from various projects. I wonder sometimes if I will EVER use all these bits and pieces of paper that I've been saving, in the off-chance that I can utilize them 'some day'. 

Faced with that same issue this past weekend, I came up with a plan for a few of those scraps. Several 12" X 12" pieces of patterned card stock had been cut down into 2.5" X 3.5" size cards for pocket letter inserts. What I was left with were several scraps that were approximately 1.25" X 12".

I remembered a tutorial that I'd watched on YouTube some time ago and decided to try to use up those odd shaped pieces to make rosettes. I scored each piece every 1/4", then folded along the creases accordion style.

After gluing one end to the other, I manipulated them into the round rosettes and glued them in place with a punched out piece of card stock on the back side. On the front, I glued another circle piece of card stock, then added the chipboard sticker on top of that to finish them off.

They are going to make fabulous gift toppers. I may even adhere a magnet to the back of them so they can be used a fridge magnets. And the best part of all, they cost very little and were fun, easy & quick to make.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Clutter Collectors

Have you ever noticed how practically every horizontal surface in your house or apartment ends up being a clutter collector? This includes kitchen tables, dressers, nightstands, coffee tables, end tables, chairs, desks, countertops and even the bed in the guest room if you have one. There are many other surfaces left unmentioned too.

These platforms seem to attract all kinds of stuff; from paper to books, dishes to clothing, and piles of other bits & pieces too numerous to mention. And piling MORE stuff on top of the other stuff is so much easier than actually putting it away in its proper place.

But wait, shouldn't that the first part of this equation? START BY ASSIGNING AN APPROPRIATE PLACE FOR EVERTHING, making sure that these spots are as easy and obvious as the surfaces we are currently leaving them on. Isn't that an interesting concept? (sarcasm intended)

However, once you are overwhelmed by the surface clutter, how do you escape from it? The problem looks so huge! The situation seems so bad that we often give up on it. That is where I have been for a long time now, stuck with those terrible feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy. I don't like feeling that way. Have you been there too? I imagine everyone has been at some time in their life.

I've reached the point where I am resolved to 'fix' it. I'm ready. One way or another, I want to eliminate the stress associated with an untidy home. I'm tired of feeling guilty about living in a messy space. I'd like to be able to invite friends over without being embarrassed about my surroundings.

The key to success, I believe, is to take baby steps. It’s easier to have one goal than many, so I will stick to clearing one surface at a time until it's done, then moving onto another one until the whole job is completed. It doesn't matter how long it takes as long as there is continuous progress made and no regression back to the way it was. 

It did not get to this state in a day, it will take more than a day to clear it all up. I will set aside one or more 15 minute blocks of time each day to tackle the clutter. No more excuses! Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night will stop this woman from the completion of my appointed tasks. I'm determined! Wish me luck.