Architectural Digest…

As I have discussed previously, I am a great fan and student of architectural symmetry, design and aesthetics. I can sit and look at photographs and books of geometric designs cast in plaster, marble, metals–and be mesmerized by the intricacies of line, curve and shape. One of my particular favorite architectural elements has always been the finial. Finials are typically carved from stone and are thoughtfully used to emphasize the apex of a gable or any distinct ornaments at the top, end, or corner of a building or structure. However, finials have been taken from architectural devices and now grace everything from clocks, curtain rods, and bedposts.

My love of finials is one of the reasons I thoroughly enjoy the Cricut cartridge called ‘Ornamental Iron’. There are so many terrific wrought-iron gates, windows, and architectural elements on this cartridge–and they lend themselves to a bounty of project ideas. The two images on today’s card project are both from this cartridge. Originally, I had two separate projects in mind when I cut the pieces. But as I played around with the design, I ended up loving the contrast of both images on one card. While slightly masculine in appeal, this card is just a great general note card that grabs the eye.

The layered finial piece (which is also reminiscent of a vase or urn) was cut and printed at 4″ with my Cricut Imagine. Using the RGB codes for the Stampin’ Up! color palette, the shadow layer was done in Basic Black (R-0 G-0 B-0). The finial was done in Chocolate Chip (R-111 G-84 B-75). The final decorative layer was done using a pattern from the Cricut Imagine ‘Best Friends’ art cartridge. When I cut the wrought-iron window (which was going to be for a different project), I used Not Quite Navy (R-63 G-109 B-125). But that color was not going to work with the rest of the elements on the final card. So I took a sponge dauber and some lacquer black ink and changed the appearance to a glossy black finish. The decorative background paper is from Basic Grey’s ‘Curio’ line. The base card stock is Stampin’ Up! in ‘Early Espresso’. The interior journaling block paper is trimmed from a piece of Prima Marketing paper from the ‘Annalee’ collection. I used my Zutter 1/2″ Round-It-All tool on the corners of the base cardstock and card mat.

The completed project reminds me of a decor tableau–a giant urn sitting in front of a floating screen in some decadent Moroccan love nest hideaway. Pillows strewn on the floor in front of an intricate wall treatment, with a cadre of menservants feeding me grapes and fanning me with giant maribou feathers. Casablanca, here I come. At least a boy can dream…




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Caged Bird

For my second exploration with Tim Holtz’s new Alterations line, I decided to use the Sizzix Bigz die entitled “Caged Bird”. I also wanted to make a home décor piece instead of my usual card. I have to confess that I’m actually not through with this project, but I was so excited with the results thus far that I couldn’t wait to share it with you. I will be framing this in a thick dark wood frame as it is meant to be a small wall hanging.

The “Caged Bird” steel rule die will cut three pieces when run through your Sizzix Big Shot or ProvoCraft Cuttlebug. You will get the birdcage frame, the bird’s body on a branch, and a bird wing. Instead of working with cardstock (and since this was intended to be a home décor piece and needed to be a bit sturdier), I chose to use a piece of thick chipboard as my base and Tim Holtz Grungeboard to cut my pieces from. The chipboard is a very sturdy piece from a Die Cuts With A View (DCWV) assorted chip board stack. The 4″ x 6″ chipboard is covered on both sides with a textured cardstock in a dusty rose color. The Grungeboard was a 4″ x 6″ sheet as well, though it had a “dots” texture to it. I would have preferred a plain piece when I started, but in the end, the texture added some nice highlights to the elements.

With my Grungeboard pieces cut out via my trusty Cuttlebug, I used some Tim Holtz Distress Inks and my applicator to color the pieces. The cage was colored with Black Soot distress ink. The bird body and wing were colored with Mustard Seed; The legs and branch were colored with Walnut Stain. I was pleased with the look of the cage. The Black Soot gave it the look of an ornamental iron piece that had seen some use and wear. The bird’s body, however, just didn’t pop enough for me with just the inking. I decided my caged bird needed to be a focal point. I used some adhesive and canary yellow glitter to coat the body and wing. After they were completely dry, I used some Smooch ink to accent his eye and his beak.

One of the main reasons I chose to use Grungeboard was for the pliability and dimension of the material. All along, my theme was to have the bird “breaking out” of his cage to leap to his magical flight. That’s why I sort of threaded his body through some of the bars of the cage and made sure his wing was exposed from captivity. This type of manipulation would have been difficult without a material that had some give to it and did not permanently bend or crease. The wing and the cage are attached to the backdrop chipboard using Stampin’ Up! Stampin’ Dimensionals–which again emphasizes the dimensionality of the project.

The die for “Caged Bird” punches out five holes on the bottom of the cage as a decorative detail. In my mind, I had already pictured hanging some crystal chandelier drops from the holes. But as I worked on the project and developed the theme of the bird breaking out of his cage, I though some Tim Holtz typewriter key charms might be a better bet. With the sentiment of “FLY” in mind, I chose three charm backings and used the circular alphabet stickers for my word. Originally, I wanted all of the charms to be the creme color. However, I couldn’t find a “Y” in that coloration and had to use a black sticker. At first, I was disappointed with the look. But upon further study, I really like the off-kilter lettering. Not only does it tie into the cage color, but it sort of identifies that “breaking out” theme by achieving your goal no matter what it takes (like the wrong color letter). Once you place the letters in the charm frames, you use an adhesive acrylic bubble to cover the charm. I used some Tim Holtz jump rings to attach the charms to the cage. For the two holes that did not have dangles, I covered them with rhinestones.


The final touch on the project was the hanging chain atop the cage. Again, the chain is from Tim Holtz. I attached it to the cage with another jump ring. To anchor the chain, I chose a fabric and crystal covered brad from K & Co. to complete the look. I pierced a hole through the chipboard and inserted the brad. I think once I mount this piece in a frame, it’s really going to set off the look. I will try to remember to photograph the finished piece and share it with you later.






Fanciful Flight

Yesterday, I received an order of some of the new Sizzix dies in Tim Holtz’s new Alterations line. I only had time to play around with one of the dies, but I can already tell that I’m going to love exploring the possibilities with these highly versatile cutting tools. Most of the dies introduced are comparable to the Sizzix Bigz line of steel rule dies. (Only the new “On The Edge” dies–which I will explore in a later post–are a completely new size to the Sizzix range.) The casings are a nice tan color with the Tim Holtz imprint on the top (as well as the label) of the dies.


The ‘Fanciful Flight’ die cuts five individual pieces in one pass through your Sizzix Big Shot or ProvoCraft Cuttlebug. You get: (2) solid wing shapes, (2) cutout wing shapes, and (1) body piece. To construct a four-winged butterfly, you will have to cut your pieces twice. I chose to use a piece of decorative paper from the Tim Holtz Shabby Chic paper stack for my solid pieces and a piece of Stampin’ Up! textured cardstock in Chocolate Chip for my cutout pieces.


I used a Zig 2-Way glue pen to assemble my wing pieces. Simply apply the adhesive to the backs of your cutout wing designs and adhere to the solid decorative paper pieces. A rub-on tool or brayer comes in handy for smoothing your layers together.

To assemble the actual butterfly, I found it helpful to use a small piece of Scotch tape on the reverse side to hold all of your pieces together until you get them positioned just how you’d like them to lay.

I glued one layer of the body piece in the decorative paper to the top of solid cardstock piece to give it added dimension. I used Stampin’ Up! Stampin’ Dimensionals to adhere the body piece to the wing assembly. I found some black waxed cording in my stash and cut off small pieces to make antennae for my creature. A knot at one end and I glued the stings to the back of the head layer.
For my A2 sized card, I chose to use a piece of Papertrey Ink Kraft cardstock (5 1/2″ x 8 1/2″). The decorative mat is a piece of SEI cardstock from the Poppy collection (4″ x 5″, corners snipped with 1/2″ rounder).







Don’t be fooled into thinking this is a one-note die. For instance, you can use just the large wings at the middle of the body piece to create a dragonfly. Or use one large and one small wing to create a side profile of a fluttering butterfly. The wings can be used alone to create faeries or accent photographs. Beyond the capabilities of the die itself, explore your materials. Try using grungeboard, grungepaper, clear transparencies and alcohol inks, fabrics, sandpaper, and other materials. When you getting around to playing, you’ll quickly realize these investment pieces are well-worth the addition to your collection. They’ll last for years and the only limit is your imagination.

Until next time, Keep Crafting!

A Compendium Of Curiosities

Yesterday was all about Mr. Tim Holtz for me (and my pocketbook). First, I received my copy of Mr. Holtz’s new book, “A Compendium Of Curiosities”–which I’ll get to in a moment. Secondly, I ordered nearly $200 of his new Alterations line. I am in awe of the versatility of some of the new Sizzix Bigz dies and edge dies he’s come up with. If you haven’t visited Tim Holtz’s blog as of late, I highly recommend you take a look at the set of new videos he posted describing his intentions and examples of the new Alterations line of products. Needless to say, I’m hooked (line and sinker). I’ve always been a fan of Mr. Holtz’s tools and products (a fact my craft stash would attest to in a court of law). I suppose his aesthetic may not appeal to all crafters, but I have to say I love the grunge look of his style and his methods of repurposing objects and trinkets. It’s also one of the few craft lines that is very male and teen friendly (in my opinion). Among the dies I am eagerly awaiting: Caged Bird, Fanciful Flight, Gadget Gears, Tattered Florals, Hanging Sign, Ornamental, Keyholes, Styled Labels, Three Hole Punch, and File Tabs. (The sad part is there are still a few more I want–but they weren’t in stock at the moment. So, I’m sure I’ll be placing another order on down the road.)

But enough about my shopping habits…and on to the book. Can I just say right up front that this book belongs in every crafter’s library. Whether you are a Tim Holtz fan like me or just interested in new methods, techniques, and ideas, this book is for you. The hardcover book (with interior spiral binding) measures approximately 8 3/4″ x 8 3/4″ and has 77 pages. But don’t be fooled by that number. The book is bursting with information and wonderfully rendered color photographs presented with Mr. Holtz’s usual panache and flair.

Beginning with a brief introduction to the man and his studio–as well as a list of products he has developed or helped to develop and their intended uses–the book wastes no time getting to its essential core. It’s broken down into three major sections: Ideas, Techniques, and a Gallery.

In the Ideas section, Holtz explores different elements and embellishments and how they can affect your projects–whether they be layouts, cards, mini-books, etc. Among the topics he discusses and shows examples of:

  • ornate plates
  • foilage
  • corner
  • tags, tokens, & sticks
  • type charms
  • gears, sprockets, & timepieces
  • numerals
  • keys & keyholes
  • adornments & vintage buttons
  • curio knobs & foundations
  • film strip & ruler ribbon
  • fasteners & washers
  • mini clips & pins
  • trinket & memo pins
  • hitch fasteners
  • hinge clips & D-rings
  • swivel clasps
  • ball, bead & link chains
  • tickets & stickers
  • paper stacks
  • grungeboard & grungepaper
  • fragments

    My favorite section has to be the Technique section. In it, Mr. Holtz teaches us to use some of his famous techniques, tips and tricks. What’s clever is that most of them are done is six simple steps with accompanying full-color photographs. Among the techniques highlighted are:

  • wrinkle free distress
  • scribble stain distress
  • water stamping
  • blended batik
  • dabber resist
  • perfect distress
  • inking grunge
  • double distress
  • rusted enamel
  • distress crackle
  • distress powder
  • chipped enamel
  • rusted grunge
  • distress stickles
  • rock candy distress stickles
  • altered metal with paint
  • shabby chic
  • weathered wood grunge
  • alcohol ink monoprint
  • alcohol ink splatter
  • alcohol ink agate on grunge
  • industrial grunge
  • tinted vision fragments
  • altered metal alcohol inks
  • colorful layered fragments
  • masks basics
  • inking and stamping masks
  • distress misting masks
  • extreme masking
  • fragments basics
  • dimensional collage fragments
  • fragment charms
  • grungepaper flowers
  • multi-medium collage
  • design details

    The final section is a wonderful gallery of projects done by Mr. Holtz that incorporate many of the techniques, tools, and examples used throughout the book. What really surprised me was that even someone like myself who has used a lot of Holtz products can still find new information on how to use products that you hadn’t thought of or didn’t realize you could do. I was really excited by the fragments projects (and will be working on some of those in the near future.

    “A Compendium Of Curiosities” retails for $24.99 and, in my opinion, is worth every single penny. I highly recommend this book to anyone with even a faint interest in papercrafting.

  • Destinations D├ęcor

    Recently, I added the Cricut ‘Destinations’ cartridge to my ever-growing library. Currently, this cartridge is an exclusive early release to HSN (available in a Gypsy bundle or as a separate purchase). It should be available in mass retail in December 2009.

    I knew when I first heard about this release, it was going to be a ‘must-have’ for me. (But then again, aren’t they all?) I’ve always loved the history and romance of old steamer trunks, valises, and portmanteaus covered with vintage labels/stickers from varied destinations and travels around the world. From the artwork, color combinations, landmarks, and world languages, they have always inspired and fascinated me. This cartridge takes that concept and gives it a modern twist. Covering locales and landmarks around the world–and cities in the United States–‘Destinations’ is a must for those with wanderlust and travel in their souls.

    After glancing at some of the images, I was inspired to create a piece of home décor alteration. I’ve had a reproduction black steamer chest around my home for many years. It’s served as an endtable, a book case, and numerous other functions in rooms around my house. I’ve decided to take it and decoupage it with 4″ labels from landmarks around the world. While it will be a project in stages and over time, I thought I would show you two of the labels I created that will find their way onto the finished project as an introduction to ‘Destinations’.

    The first cut I made represents Rio de Janeiro (“River of January”), Brasil and features a depiction of its iconic Christ the Redeemer statue. I chose to cut all the pieces out of white corduroy-textured Bazzill cardstock with my Cricut Gypsy and Expression, then color them with my Copic Sketch markers, and finally, adhere their layers with Zig 2-way Glue and Sakura Quickie pens.

    Using the Brasilian flag as inspiration for my color combinations, this is what my finished label looked like:



    The second locale I “visited” was Moscow, Russia and its magnificent St. Basil’s Cathedral (The Cathedral of Intercession of Theotokos on the Moat). Here are the cuts for this project:

    For this label, I had two inspirations for the color scheme. The first was Stravinsky’s ‘The Firebird’ (reds and oranges of flames) and van Gogh’s ‘The Starry Night’ (blues, whites, and blacks of the night sky).



    So two down, only several dozen to go…lol. Hopefully, I’ll keep you updated on this project as the steamer trunk gets a facelift. In the mean time, I strongly recommend you give ‘Destinations’ a “trip”…

    Keep Crafting!

    Cricut Exploration: Home Decor

    I have a horrible confession to make. Over the weekend, I finally took my poor ignored Cricut Expression off the shelf and played with him. It’s not my intent to be a neglectful father. However, my limited crafting space does not allow me to leave my Circut set up for easy use. I’ll admit, it’s a bit of laziness on my part; That, and a combination of being busy using other techniques and ideas.

    This weekend, I decided to explore the Cricut Solutions Home Decor cartridge. After a few imperfect cuts and a blade change, I made a few elements for some card layouts. I really enjoy the modern and fashion-forward look of the cuts on this cartridge.



    This first card features the bumblebee cut at 3″. This card also features an embossed layer using the exclusive Stampin’ Up! Elegant Bouquet Textured Impressions folder by Sizzix. I used Stickles in Fruit Punch to highlight the center of each flower. The bottom is trimmed with the Stampin’ Up! Scallop Edge punch. I enhanced the Cricut cutout with a pair of googly eyes and a bit of glitter pen. But my favorite element is the wings. I used a piece of clear acrylic plastic to back the wings showcasing a design of black swirls and flourishes. I really love the effect.




    The next card uses the stylized cupcake image on Home Decor cut at 3″. The base and mat cardstocks are both Bazzill Bling. The sentiment stamp is Stampin’ Up! The real highlight of this card is the coloration of the cupcake. I was striving for an airbrushed (without actually airbrushing) look using my Copic Sketch markers. Using a lot of blending, I think I achieved a fairly decent interpretation of the coloration.



    The final card features the chandelier cut from Home Decor. I absolutely ADORE this cut. I cut it at 3″ in a yellow Bazzill cardstock. I then used Copic 110 to color in the chandelier leaving the original yellow “bulbs” uncovered. The chandelier is attached to a strip of DCWV Modern Loft cardstock that has been edged with the Stampin’ Up! Eyelet Border punch. I used a Stampin’ Up! clear rhinestone brad to attach the chandelier to the strip. The sentiment stamp is from Unity Stamp Company. The base cardstock is from the Die Cut With A View Downtown Loft Stack. This is my absolute favorite stack of the new JoAnn Exclusive releases.

    Until next time, Keep Crafting!