Wednesday, December 26, 2012

things to remember

We stayed home Christmas day and ate leftovers for all three meals. Doesn't sound much like your Christmas, I don't suppose, but it suited us perfectly. Among other things, I made another digital collage. I'm really enjoying the digital thing and am determined to get significantly better at it in 2013.

This layout was made entirely with elements from a free kit the AJC13 participants were given when we signed up. It's by Lorie Davison and when I first saw it, I doubted I would get much use from it. It just didn't seem like my sort of thing but then I kept seeing other people's work done with the kit and decided it would be a challenge for me to create with it.

The background is 3 different papers, layered and duplicated, and with different blending modes.

I hung the gems from the tree, attached the twist key to the bird's back, put the eye inside the globe, attached the chains, etc. Lots of shadow and blending work so that the various elements would have depth and be harmonious as far as color intensity, brightness, etc.

The text says: things to remember for 2013...     practice patience...      stay curious...     see more of the world...      swim upstream more often than not

It isn't a kit I ever would have purchased but I love the page and that's one of the cool things about this class - it will provide me with prompts and kits that will move me outside my usual way and style of doing things.

Mabel the Christmas cat

This was as close as I could get.
About a month ago, we noticed a cat skulking around the back lot at work. She'd meow mournfully in the morning, and so I bought some food and stuck a bowl around the back of the building. Pretty soon she was out there waiting by the bowl when I got to work.

We couldn't get a hand on her but she didn't seem totally feral, and after a wet cold weekend where I worried about her a fair amount, I decided to catch her and bring her home.

So began Operation Catch A Cat.

Getting to know each other.
On the 22nd, I dragged Maggie's dog crate to work and lined the bottom with an old towel. I stuck it out back near her food bowl and waited for her to show up. About 11am someone buzzed me and said she was there so I dashed out and put some food in the bowl and put it just inside the cage door.

Meantime, I had tied a string to the door and ran it thru the top bars and over the back, so that we could yank it shut after she went in. It took about 20 minutes of moving the bowl further in after she took a piece, but finally she lifted that last hind leg in and we had her!

Ostrich cat.
Carried her into my office to cheers from the other employees. She meowed for a while but soon settled down and watched people come and go. Steve stuck his hand in the cage and had her purring in about 3 minutes so she must have been a pet who got dumped since there's no houses within a couple miles of here. If I could get my hands on the people who do stuff like that...

I put her in the guest room since it isn't in use, so she has a soft bed to sleep on and a windowsill to watch the neighborhood from. I blocked the door so she can come and go but the dog can't get in. Maggie was thrilled to have a kitty in the house, but Mabel swatted her right off the bat and now Mags scoots past her well out of paw range.

So far, she much prefers her suite of rooms to hanging out with us, so we go get her in the evening when we settle down in front of the tube and she'll sit on our laps and get petted for a couple hours. Last night for the first time, she came into the family room on her own but dashed back out after we spotted her.

The Great Face-off of 2012.
She's pretty small and one of those cats who weighs nothing at all. It's like picking up a very soft bag of feathers. She doesn't have fleas but her breath is atrocious so I'll get her to the vet this week and have her checked out.

Right now she's lying at the top of the stairs and I can just see her ear and eye peering down at me. Hopefully she'll get used to everything and become part of the family. It's nice to have a kitty around again.

Happy purring kitty in her bed.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

I'm featured!

Remember that post I did a day or two ago about using a digital template for the first time in a program I was unfamiliar with?

Each week one of the designers at Scrapbookgraphics chooses her favorite layouts and posts about them on the SBG blog.

Guess who's layout was the very first one?!?

Can you guess? Huh?



It's a small feat in the general scheme of things but it was such an unexpected thrill to open her post and have my own work pop up. Very cool.

not this year, thanks

I took the Christmas tree down this morning.

I got up about 6:20 and went down stairs. Looked around the family room and decided I was over Christmas for the year, so I took the ornaments off and put them back in the box that was still sitting on the chair from when I'd put the tree up last week. Took the lights off and bundled them into another box.

Then I carried the tree out into the cold, quiet, dawn-lit garden and sat it where the peach tree used to be. See it sitting there in the raised bed? Maybe the birds will use it.

I'm not sure why it bothered me so much this year. We bought it on a whim while at Home Depot, and then it sat, unadorned, for a week and a half while I did things that had more appeal. I should have known then to just take it out back, but I decorated it one afternoon by myself while Steve was out. Most evenings we didn't even plug in the lights.

December has been a strange month for me for many years now. We have an uncomfortable relationship, December and I, like an ex-boyfriend who shows up unannounced to sleep on the couch. While I realize it has to come along every year and I dutifully begin to write "12" in my dates on 12/1, I think my best strategy is to stand still and let December flow past with as little disturbance as possible.

Except for the cookies.

Monday, December 17, 2012

digital collages

One of my (loosely set) goals for next year is to get pretty darn good in Photoshop, altho I'm switching over to Elements 11. Photoshop is too darn expensive and like most really complex programs, I'll use about 20% of it. By playing with a trial version of PS CS6 and Elements 11, I've convinced myself that Elements will work just fine for me. It also has some cool home-user type stuff that looks like fun. Luckily most of the doodads and commands are very similar if not the same, so it shouldn't take me too long to get at least back to the level I was at in PS CS2, the ancient version of Photoshop that I've been using for the past several years.

A marvelous place for all things digital is Scrapbook Graphics. I forget how I first found them but they have a great line up of designers (altho I mostly buy from just a few whose work really appeals to me) and an active online community with monthly challenges, contests, classes, tutorials, etc, that I'm participating in more and more.

One of the challenges for December is in the section they call the Launch Zone and this month the challenge was to use the provided template (first image). I'd never used a template before and didn't have much of a clue what to do, so I printed off the tutorial they linked to, opened up the trial version of PS CS6 that I'd just downloaded and went to work.

Talk about a learning curve... new program, new technique. Oy. Made my head hurt. But I fired up the Keurig, made a hazelnut cappuccino, and struggled thru the first twenty minutes until things began to make sense enough for me to move right along.

So the 2nd image was made in PS CS6. The photo is my great grandpa around 1895, dressed up like the town dandy, posing in a photo studio.

I made the 3rd image in Elements 11 using the same template. I figured doing the same exact task in both programs would go a long way to reassure me that I could do just fine with Elements and save the PS CS6 money for something else, and it did. I left most of the template elements intact because I wanted to see the program difference between the two pages when I was done and not be distracted by different elements. I like them both altho the colors in the blue one appeal to me more.

credits: template - Rosey Posey, flying bee - Lorie Davison Quieter Than Daylight kit, all other elements - AJC12 and AJC13 by Tangie

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Art Journal Caravan 2013

double click to see it BIG
Tangie Baxter of runs a really neat online workshop every year. It's called the Art Journal Caravan. It's primarily digital-focused but you could certainly use the vast majority of it for paper-n-glue mixed media work in a journal.

I signed up for it last year but never made a single layout. Not real sure why, I just couldn't seem to get going, but this year, since I'm in from the beginning, I'm more motivated. In the week since I signed up, I already made one layout using a lot of the goodies in the starter kit that comes with the class.

Each week she posts an Itinerary - prompts, questions, a theme - to use as you like in your work. Once a month there's an Adventure Quest, another batch of things to get you thinking. I'm going to try real hard to do a layout a week. Not sure how that will go, but that's my intention. Yes, yes - the road to Hell is paved with them. Whatever.

Monday, December 3, 2012

one row lace scarf

When the weather cooled off, I dug thru my in-progress knitting/crocheting projects for something to work on. I keep each project on a shelf in one of those little handled paper gift bags (this scarf was in a Starbucks bag from one of my too-many-to-count cinnamon scone purchases last summer) so that I can grab it and go if I know I'll be stuck waiting somewhere or meeting a friend for coffee and knitting.

This scarf was about a foot long two weeks ago and now it's done. It stretched way more than I thought it would when I blocked it so it's about 7ft long now, including fringe, and about 4" wide.

I hadn't blocked anything in a while, since Julie was here in August with her shawls that needed blocking. Yes, she travels clear up here from San Diego for my mad blocking skilz, such as they are. Anyway, I'd forgotten what fun it was to watch this soggy pile of knitting blossom into a lacy scarf. Making all that sometimes tedious knitting worthwhile.

It's knit from Patons Kroy Socks FX in colorway 57242 on size 9 needles. The pattern is One Row Lace Scarf by Turvid, a knitter from Norway who was kind enough to put it up free on her website.

I don't like real wide scarves so I cast on only 16 stitches and it came out just like I wanted. It's light and airy, but warm from the 75% washable wool yarn (and the fact that it goes around my neck about 5 times). And I love the colors in it - green, teal, blue, a dash of dark red, and some orange for contrast. The colors are most true in the top shot.

I was sort of thinking about using it for an Xmas gift but now I'm more thinking about keeping it... That's the problem with making things you really like yourself - it's tough to give them away. So I'm not sure if it'll go or stay.

If you want a quick knit with a very simply one-row pattern that comes out looking great and can be done by Christmas, look no further than this scarf. Assuming you know how to knit, of course.

Thanks, Turvid!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

duct tape journal swap

I love swap reveals. So fun to see what went out and what came back.

I already posted about the duct tape journal I made for this swap. Here is the one I received. It was made by Malinda J, primarily a jewelry maker, who really cut loose for this swap. Every page is hand painted in a marvelous variety of colors and techniques.

The paint is smeared, scraped, swirled, brushed, and I don't even know what else. Then she did some random stamping, stenciling, splattering, and splushing.

I L.O.V.E. this journal. I can do every single technique she did, but when someone else does it, it's so much more interesting than your own work, at least for me. I love swaps for that reason. Sometimes you get schlock back, and sometimes you hit the jackpot, like I did this time.

Thanks, Malinda!

Love the left hand page a LOT.
I must admit that I made a new cover for it. It came with a perfectly good cover of scrapbook paper on cardboard, but I had an old book cover that was just the right size and really needed a home. It was the perfect complement to these handmade pages. I split the papers into 3 signatures and tied them with a sparkly ribbon that I've had for ages.

I'm using it for my calendar journal, a la The Kathryn Wheel, that I wrote about in this post.

This is a lovely spread, isn't it?
To the left is the inside of the old book cover I added, and the
great pink paisley duct tape I used for the spine.
The leaves are from a recent dog walk around the block.
The cover I made. Love the fancy worn corners.
The ribbons stick out to the left normally.
I laid them over the cover when I put it
on the scanner.

Fall Fearless & Fly Dec 2012

This is the left side of my spread, with a little bit
that flips out to the side. The journal I'm using is
 too large to scan both pages at once. I tore bits and
pieces from a wide variety of papers, plus a few
pictures from magazines, and collaged them onto
the spread.
Artists in Blogland began a series of challenges called Fall Fearless and Fly.    There are always 3 prompts - a headline, a color, and a quote. I chose the color prompt - what is your favorite color, now or from childhood?

As usual, I've been watching, not playing along, until now. For whatever reason, the color prompt got me going. I've caught the aqua itch, along with the rest of the country. Aqua and brown, aqua and pink, all sorts of great color combos fill the magazines.

I journaled a bit about a green top my mom bought me decades ago, and how much I'd prolly like that top now, but absolutely hated it then. Teenagers are such shits. At least I was...

The headline prompt was: Lifelong Fan:  What or who have you consistently valued or looked up to in your life?  What lessons have you learned from people you admire?

And the right side. I was surprised at what all
I found in the colors I was looking for -
nail polish, eye shadow, some glitter circles
and of course the gorgeous sea.
I thought about that for several days, sure that someone would eventually come to mind, but no one did. I thought that was kinda weird, but the more I mulled it over, I began to realize that since my late teens I have always relied so much on my own instincts and inner strength to get me thru things, that no one else stood a chance. After enough disappointments and let downs, you learn that you are the only one you can truly rely on. I have no intention of using this blog as a self-analysis space, but that prompt did make me think a lot about why there was no one in my life that I look up to and have learned from.

This is one of my favorite journal spreads, mostly due to all those lovely colors. Click (or maybe double click) on the pics to see the super-sized versions.