Friday, August 24, 2018

Crafting Is My Refuge

Why do I craft? First and foremost, it makes me happy. It helps me combat the loneliness and depression that often sneaks in. On a really stressful day it helps me to relax and unwind; put the rest of the crazy world behind me for awhile. It is also a very useful tool in my pain management arsenal. An active mind and busy hands push the pain into the background, instead of front and centre.

When I am creating art there is no one else standing over me, watching my every move with eagle eyes, negatively criticizing everything I do, eavesdropping on every word I speak and generally dragging me down. Crafting transports me to a better place full of fun and laughter and it is a great place to escape to when I am able. It keeps me sane (although some may dispute that).

My world suddenly became much smaller a few years back. The end of a relationship separated me from a lifestyle that I loved and friends that I cherished. Along with that, my increasingly challenging mobility issues keep me fairly close to home these days. So, crafting is my refuge, a safe space for me retreat to from the anxieties of my everyday life.

I’ve always had that creative urge, dabbling in many different things over the years; knitting, quilting, weaving, and jewelry making to name a few. Paper crafting is my current passion, from artist trading cards to art journaling, pocket letters to greeting cards and more. Who knows what will come next? What new crafting adventures lie ahead?

My mother was always a crafter too. She was into knitting, crocheting, quilting, flower arranging and more. One of my earliest memories is of her sewing doll clothes for a local company. They recruited home sewers, provided the fabric and patterns, and paid them for each completed piece. The doll clothes were then packaged in cellophane bags with printed cardboard toppers and sold in department stores. It was exciting for me as a young girl seeing my mothers’ work in the nearby Woolworths store.

Why do you craft? What motivates you to create art? What benefits do you get from crafting? Please share your thoughts and feelings about, or experiences with, the creative process in the comment section below.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

The best laid plans often go off the tracks, don't they? I purposely stayed up until midnight last night to get all of the 31 ATCs that I made for a mega swap scanned and processed. My plan was to put them on a USB key and take them to one of the photo printing kiosks at Walmart this morning to get wallet size prints of them all.

For starters, three of the four kiosks were out of order. So, I loaded all the files onto the one remaining station. But their kiosks will no longer print wallet size photos, which is what I wanted for my October Daily. I was NOT amused!

Time to formulate a new plan. When I came home, I booted up the computer. I inserted and re-sized all thirty-one files into a Word document. My next step was to go to Staples Print Services online, load up the file, select the options I wanted and send to be printed. 

I think it 'should' be ready for me to pick up before the end of the day but the way my luck is going so far, I'm not counting on it. I will call later to enquire. The silver lining in this whole thing is that doing it through Staples is going to be much more cost effective. So in the end, I won, right?

The pages for my October Daily did get cut out yesterday as planned and the holes have been punched in them. I think that I will have to incorporate some marigold coloured diecuts on each page or the clash of colour between the pages and the planner binder will be too dramatic. Perhaps I will punch out marigold reinforcements for all of the holes also. That might work. What do you think?

In retrospect, perhaps the darker, more monochromatic Moonlit Manor paper collection might have worked better with this planner binder. I obviously had not thought that far ahead. No problem, I will find a way to make it good. It can be whatever I want it to be.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Planning My October Daily

What is an October Daily, you ask? It’s a cross between a daily diary, a scrapbook and an art journal to document the month of October. The main theme throughout the book is Halloween. I LOVE Halloween! Anyone who knows me can verify that. This was a trend started about 3 years ago on YouTube. It will be the first year I am participating.

You can find an October Daily 101 blog post here by Serena Bee, who has one of my favourite YouTube channels, Serena Bee Creative. It is full of tips and ideas to get you started. She also has a list of daily prompts if you cannot decide what to document each day. Use them in order or randomly as needed. There is a video associated with this blog post that I highly recommend watching if you are interested in trying this.

I will be using my marigold coloured, Carpe Diem, A5 size planner binder for the project. With that in mind, I went to Michaels last night to see if they had their 12” X 12” Halloween cardstock paper pads out yet. A few people had posted photos on Facebook of what they found at their local locations, so there was a 50/50 chance that mine had them out too.

Hurray! There was a small, Halloween papercrafting display in one of the middle aisles that included what I was looking for. There was also some themed stickers and washi tape available. Michaels has two paper collections this year. One is called Hocus Pocus and the other is called Moonlit Manor. The latter one is very monochromatic with primarily black, white and shades of grey only. It did not really appeal to me although I know that some people really like that dark and gloomy look.
Single Sided Paper Pad

I preferred the Hocus Pocus collection using mostly black, white and orange, with very vintage looking images and icons. I purchased both of the 12” X 12” paper pads in the collection for 50% off the regular price. One is double sided with a different design on each side and the other pad is one sided with ‘treatments’. That means that some of the images are slightly raised and glossy, while the rest of the page has a matte finish. I will use the one sided paper for Halloween pocket letters, greeting cards and ATCs.

Double Sided Paper Pad
The pages for my October Daily will be cut out from the double sided pages. Pre-planning is crucial for a project like this. Everyone who has participated before advises it. Having a lot of the design work done for each day will make it quicker to pull together in October. I do have some ideas of what I want to include on the page each day but I can always include more things as I progress, adding extra pages if required. There is a Facebook page (Halloween & October Daily Inspiration) you can join for ideas and encouragement if you want to try this. 

First step will be to pull out the big paper cutter and get the pages cut out. Each page will be 5.25” X 8.25”. Next, I will punch out the holes so they will fit in the planner. I may also punch out reinforcements in a contrasting cardstock and glue them on to make the holes more durable.

If I manage to get that much accomplished today, I will be happy. As I move forward with this, I will post updates on how it is progressing. Stayed tuned!

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.