Sunday, January 15, 2012

The papercraftlab is moving!

My One Little Word for 2012 is REDUCE.  And one of the things I'm reducing is my blogs.  I've been blogging at House of Peanut since 2005, and I've put a lot of effort into it.  So I've moved all of the papercrafty posts from this blog over there, and tagged them as 'papercraft' so they're easy to find.

I know I don't have a ton of traffic here, but figured I should officially redirect everyone there.

Happy crafting!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Project Life 2012: Getting Started! Yay!

I am NOT a scrapbooker.  You might be surprised to know that given the sheer volume of scrapbooking STUFF that lives in my craft room.  I love the supplies.  But put a blank 12x12, or even 6x6 sheet in front of me and I freeze.  I just don't know where to start.  There are too many possibilities.

In high school, I had a couple of photo albums where I diligently saved memorabilia and photos and captioned everything.  I still have them, though they're a mess, and they were done on those sticky-page albums that are probably eating away at everything inside.  But I was almost kind of obsessive about putting stuff in it.  I'm thankful for that, because when I look through them, I find events I don't even remember, or memories I thought I had forgotten.

So maybe I have the mind of a scrapbooker, but the "art" side of it intimidates me.  That's why I started small by making cards. 

When I read about Project Life, a kit by Becky Higgins, I knew immediately I had to have it.  Not just for the big box of super cute patterned cards and stickers, though that was definitely attractive.  But because I could document our lives in a sort of "fill in the blank" way, and still have it look nice, unlike my crazy high school albums.

cultivate a good life by Becky Higgins
It's basically a binder full of clear sheet protectors divided into rectangles. You fill those different-sized rectangles with photos, captions, memorabilia, etc. The kit itself comes with cute patterned "filler cards" to make the pages look pulled together and artsy, without the pressure of creating a whole scrapbook page. More adventurous folks can create their own little art pieces to put in those squares - basically anything flat, and the right size, will work.

The geeky side of me appreciates the orderly, regular look of the pages, kind of like a grid or mosaic. But I also appreciate that it is fairly easy, if you keep yourself organized, to spend just a little time each week reviewing it and dropping things into the little slots.

I bought the Turquoise kit, because the design and color scheme appealed to me - it's not too "girly" and it's got lots of circles, words and letters as design elements.  I also bought the matching cardstock in case I wanted to get crafty with some of the pages, a box of assorted divided page protectors, monthly dividers, and a large 12x12 binder to hold the project.  Not exactly a small outlay of cash, but for a 1 year crafty project, I'm willing to commit.

Trying to find links to these items on Amazon now, and failing, because they're all sold out, makes me glad I bought these back in October!

I was apprehensive (and also sick!) so I put off setting up the binder and pages. And then I realized it was already January 2 and I needed to be photographing and capturing the stuff we were already doing in the New Year. So a few nights ago, I opened everything up and got started.

Rather that doing a traditional 365 (or 366, in the case of 2012!) project, where I'd have the pressure of getting a decent photo every day, I decided to do this weekly, so each 2-page spread would cover a week in our lives. If we have a particular exciting event, the whole spread could just cover that. Otherwise, I'll have bits and pieces from what we do that week, even the mundane stuff like taking baths or eating jellybeans. (Both on deck for Week 1!)

There are several established scrapbookers who do Project Life and share tips, and one of them was using post-its to label what goes in the squares (brilliantly simple!). So I did that for the title page, and for the first half of the Week 1 page.

Here's what I've got so far:

not pretty yet, but at least I started it!

I picked out some filler cards, but the nice thing is that since none of this is *stuck* on paper, I can swap things out if I get a better idea.  But it forces me to put *something* there.

I'm still working out how to print the photos for each week.  My home printer isn't good enough for something I hope we'll keep for a long time.  There's an option to print from an online gallery to a local Target or Walgreens, so I'll probably look into that.  I'd like to stay "caught" up so I'm not working on more than 2 weeks at a time.

I'm really excited about this, because I think it'll be really fun to work on as the year progress, and because it'll be so awesome to look through it when it's done.  And the heavy page protectors mean that T can look at it as well!

If you're doing this too, let me know!  I'd love to see what you've got, and share tips on how to make this easy and fun.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Yay - Submission to CARDS Magazine - Experiment 8

One of the categories for the June 2012 submission call to CARDS was "mini cards".  I figured that might be a good one since I was pressed for time.  After all, the smaller the card, the less "stuff" you need to put on it, right?

As I was falling asleep after making the first card, I had an idea for the second one.  Let me tell you a little story...

My college roommate K was most certainly cooler than I was (still is!).  She let me borrow her clothes, especially when we went out and I needed something edgier to wear.  One of the items I frequently borrowed was a black tank top.  But not just any black tank top - it was styled like a corset, with satin ribbon lacing.  Since it wasn't an *actual* corset, it didn't have those annoying straps for garters and whatnot, and the lacing was in the front rather than the back.

At some point, K realized I was borrowing it for pretty much every outing, and she just gave it to me.  I wore it out.  In fact, I just recently gave it away (finally!).

I wanted to make a card inspired by this corset lacing.  I have a ridiculous amount of ribbon in my supply stash and struggle with how to use more than a few inches at a time as a border or small accent. 

This was an idea I needed to try first, to see if it would really work.  I measured and punched a few paris of holes in scrap cardstock and tried lacing it up with 1/8" ribbon.  It looked pretty cool.  

In a recent Craigslist score of a sticker binder and a bunch of miscellaneous supplies, I found some super-cute Basic Grey patterned paper that had already been matted onto white cardstock.  Two of my favorite color combinations are dark pink and acid green, and brown and acid green.  I found some Stampin' Up cardstock in a delightfully acidic green that looked perfect for the card base.

Since this was a simple card, I needed the circle with the sentiment to stand out.  At first I wanted to stamp and emboss it with the new opaque white ink I bought, but realized quickly that I don't have white embossing powder, and the clear powder didn't make it stand out enough.  (Another thing I'm glad I tested on scrap cardstock first!)

So I settled on letter stickers instead.  But the white chipboard stickers looked a little too plain and had some imperfections on them.  What better way to fix that than with glitter?  Oh, I love me some glitter.  I grabbed my Zig glue pen (OMG love) and my Martha Stewart super fine glitter and got to work.

I put in a silver eyelet to strengthen the hole in the circle and give it a more finished look and tied that piece on with a simple knot.  All in all, it was a pretty quick card to construct, but the trial and error of figuring out the mechanics was what took longer.

Tips and Tricks
  • When using embossing powder and a heat gun, you'll want to stop before it's done.  Don't - there's a very definite point when you'll see the powder melt and get shiny.

  • For both glittering and embossing, you don't need a fancy tray to collect the excess.  Just use a clean sheet of white printer paper.  Then you can bend it and pour the rest back into the jar.

  • You can remove extra bits of embossing powder and unstuck glitter with a small paintbrush.  Be gentle so you don't screw up the wet parts of the design.

  • For projects requiring a LOT of ribbon like this, cut twice as much as you think you'll need.  You can always use the scraps later if you cut too much, but if it's too short, it'll just be frustrating. 

I submitted both cards to the magazine online in the wee hours of 12/31.  It was an awesome way to ring in the New Year, especially since the Hubby and BabyT were both asleep well before midnight... 

Thoughts?  Critique?  Should I have put eyelets in the little holes to make it look more finished?  Too plain?  Too busy? 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

I've Got Sunshine - Submission to CARDS Magazine - Experiment 7

Happy New Year!! As I mentioned in my last post, one of my Mondo Beyondo dreams is to get a papercraft published in a magazine.  My top choice is CARDS Magazine by Northridge Publishing, because it is so darn pretty. 

I spent some time wishing I could do this, without taking any concrete action. Not surprisingly, it's very difficult to get published without actually *making* and *submitting* an item first.  So during this long weekend, I finally printed out the submission guidelines, and found out (eek!) that the submission deadline for the June 2012 issue is TODAY.

They listed several different categories, including Father's Day, Friendship, and Mini Cards.  Each month they also have a "style challenge" which gives you a few colors to use and a theme.  They also have a "sketch challenge" which has a schematic drawing of a card layout that you use as a starting point.

Since I only had 2 days to work on these, and my whole regular life to attend to in the meantime, I set a reasonable expectation of making 2 cards for this Call for Submissions.  (Sounds like a scientific conference, right?)

The Style Challenge looked like fun - the theme was "clouds" and the colors light blue, navy and yellow.  I figured the obvious choice would be to do some kind of cloudy sky scene with a big yellow sunshine so I tried to find a different approach.  I had some of the lyrics to "My Girl" running through my head - "I've got sunshine, on a cloudy day..."

I took that as inspiration and thought about what else could be yellow, and came up with a couple of things:  a big happy balloon, a bird?  And then it came to me - an airplane!  It had a more techie vibe and I thought it might stand out a little better, since a lot of the cards they publish are very feminine in theme.

First, I cut out the clouds and airplane on my wonderful Silhouette SD diecutting machine.  I wanted the airplane to look "metallic" so I found some bright yellow glossy cardstock which worked well.  I also used vellum to give the clouds some additional translucence and dimension.

I struggled a bit with the actual layout.  I had all the pieces I wanted to incorporate but got a little "stuck" on where to put them. So I turned to my talented Design Consultant, aka TJ, and he made some suggestions that were excellent.  In fact, it was HIS idea to stack up the cloud pieces so they looked more "fluffy" - his exact word.  Dang, he's good.  (Am I ruining his street cred now?)

Nearly all the cards in the magazine are matted - they have an extra piece of paper on top of the card base to "frame" it, which makes it look more professional.  But I didn't want to cover up most of the lovely silver cardstock.

I had a brainwave to make a HUGE cloud out of the navy polka dot paper, which contrasts really well with the super-bright airplane.  And the new metallic tissue paper I bought from Target's post-holiday clearance section made a perfect set of "windows" for the plane.

This was a really fun project - I loved having some contraints to work with.  It let me jump right into problem-solving and idea generation, rather than being paralyzed by the sheer volume of what I *could* do. Yes, I'm a total nerd.

Tips and Tricks:
  • I've said it before, but it's worth repeating A LOT - do not glue ANYTHING down with permanent adhesive until you are absolutely sure of your design.  A pencil can help mark placement, or you can use high quality removable adhesive for a temporary layout.

  • Remember you're working with paper, and it shows wear very easily.  Try to handle each element as little as possible and don't move them around a ton, esp if you're using removable adhesive to test layouts.

  • Buy special invisible tape for vellum.  I thought I had some, but turns out I didn't and needed to make a small design change to use silver brads instead of just taping down the "HELLO!" sentiment.

  • Pigment ink stays wet for a long time (the metallic stuff seems even worse) - hit your stamped image with a heat gun tool to get it to dry faster.  Do not handle it more than you need to.

  • If you're going to ink/trace/chalk paper edges, do it before you glue it onto something.  So much easier and cleaner that way.

  • Spend some time thinking or sketching the look you're trying to achieve BEFORE dipping into your awesome supplies.  Craft supplies are great (I should know) but also very distracting.  If you're not careful to stick to your vision, you can get sidetracked and end up with an incoherent design that looks like your embellishment collection vomited.  (Not that this has ever happened to me...)

  • Projects always take twice or 10x as long as you think so if you're under a tight deadline, start early and scale back your expectations of how much you'll get done. 

I may depart from my usual "Materials and Methods" section in my posts, because I realized it was making me *not* want to write about my projects.   It was starting to seem like a chore.  I like writing about the inspiration for the card, who it's going to, and of course, what I learned from doing it.  If you have questions about how I did something or what supplies I used, please let me know in the comments and I'll be happy to answer!

I'm proud of this card, even though it likely won't get picked for publication with the hundreds of submissions (from far more experienced papercrafters than me!).   It enabled me to get started with the process, to practice using the Silhouette a little more, and use someone else's defined parameters to make something uniquely mine.

But, maybe, just maybe, there's a teeny tiny chance.  And if you believe that, then please keep your fingers crossed for me ;)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Super-Easy Christmas Craft - Simple Paper Covered Tree

I used to be addicted to magazines.  I liked having reading material that was easy and fun, and showed up every month. I started in college with Glamour and Cosmo, then progressed to InStyle, Oprah and RealSimple. I think that's code for "I got old".

In recent years, I've been drawn to crafty magazines. But not Martha Stewart Living, for some reason.  It just doesn't inspire me.  I can't put my finger on exactly why. Maybe it's that her crafts and food are so time-consuming and scream "if you can't be perfect, why bother trying?". I don't need that kind of discouragement! 

I recently made an exception to my no-paper-subscriptions rule to buy a year's worth of Cards magazine, which is just LOVELY.  It's stunningly-photographed handmade cards, one per page.  It has a little bit of how-to content, but is mostly just a GREAT idea book. In addition, it's so inspiring and gorgeous that I'd love to get published there someday.  It's part of my Mondo Beyondo list.

Craft magazines are RIDICULOUSLY expensive when you buy single issues (if you can find them at all). I guess they have such small circulation, with a specialized audience that will pay. So I try not to indulge very often.

I picked up 'Paper Creations' last month because it had a really cool-looking paper Christmas tree on the front.  I had about 2 minutes to make my selection before Trillian started toddler-mauling all the nice magazines at Barnes and Noble.  So I grabbed it and we left.

It turns out the magazine is not really my style.  Lots of overly ornate cards and crafts, with a more vintagey, "busy" feel.  I'm more of a simple girl myself.  Also, the production quality isn't as nice as cards, but for $6 vs the $20 single issue price for Cards (!), I guess that's why.

All was not lost, though, because the Christmas crafts on the cover were neat-o and super-easy.  I loved the paper-covered tree on the front, and found a variation of it inside. 

So the next time we went to Jo-Ann Fabric & Crafts (a regular occurence when they send me xx% off your total purchase coupons!), I bought the (minimal) supplies needed.

And a couple of weekends ago, I got my craft on, while BabyT played nearby, and occasionally came by to ask "What Mama Doing?"

I had originally wanted to make the tree on the cover, with the looped bits of paper, but realized that would be hard to store after Christmas without crushing the loops.  So I chose to make a tree that was covered in flat paper instead.

Materials and Methods
  • Styrofoam cone shape (these appear at Christmas time), about 12" tall, but any size could work
  • Cool Christmas or winter-themed patterned paper, preferably not cardstock but lighter weight
  • Quilting pins with pearlized ball ends (longer is better, I chose 1.5")
  • Sequins or little beads (optional)
  • 1.25-1.5-inch circle cutter or automagic die-cutting machine like the Silhouette

1.  Cut out a TON of circles with your circle cutter or die cutting machine, no bigger than 1.5" diameter.  Cut out a lot, then cut some more.  Nope, more than that.  I needed about 100 to cover my 1 foot tall "tree".

2.  Get into your zen mind.

3.  Start pinning paper circles to the Styrofoam tree shape.  Start at the bottom, and stick the pins in the middle of the circles. Overlap them slightly so that you cover the Styrofoam.  You may have a few gaps which you can fill in later, but should be able to get pretty good coverage if you overlap them by about 1/3. 

4. When you've gone around the bottom, start another row and overlap the bottom row to achieve full coverage.  Do this some more, and then some more, until you've covered up the whole thing.

5. Fill in any small styrofoam gaps by pinning large sequins or beads onto the "tree".

6.  That's it!  You're done!  Join hands and dance around your cool little tree.  Or not.  Just kidding.

Tips and Tricks
  • Plan the rough order of circles in advance.  I had only one piece of the evergreen tree photo paper, so I interspersed it with a shiny red pattern to look like "ornaments" and then had to finish with some white glitter paper at the top to look like "snow".  Of course, you don't have to make it look like a tree - people will get the idea anyway.

  • Lighter weight paper will curve around the tree better.  The glitter cardstock I used at the top is pretty but shows more creases and was less forgiving, especially when pinned at the narrow top of the cone.

  • Remember that you're working with paper - make sure your hands are clean and dry and that you don't handle or reposition each piece of paper more than absolutely necessary.  It'll start looking grungy pretty quickly otherwise.  But you can move circles around if you're careful.

  • If you have a die-cutter, use it.  Punching all those circles by hand was NOT putting me in the Xmas spirit, that's for sure.  But I needed to do it where I could keep an eye on T so the die cutter wasn't an option.  Learn from my mistake :)

  • Older kids would probably dig this craft.  Younger ones will probably poke their eyes out with the pins.  Be safe, yo.

  • The volume of a cone is 1/3 times the area of the base times the height.  You don't need to know it for this particular craft, but it might come in handy some other time.
Um, if you're out there in Internet land, could you leave me a comment?  I'm just curious if anyone is reading :)  Extra credit if you make your own tree.  Super-duper extra credit if you post a link to a photo of your tree.  Minus points if you spam me.  :)