Awhile ago I wrote about making a planner out of a sketchbook. This helps me keep track of my work because I can take notes and make sketches in the same book that is my planner. I try not to go anywhere without it! I have designed and purchased some rubber stamps to help me incorporate planner pages into my sketchbook.
Over the last several months I have been battling severe depression as the result of an abusive relationship. An ex-boyfriend gradually used emotional abuse techniques to persuade me to think there was something wrong with almost every part of what made me myself – my work, my hobbies, my goals in life, my family, my friends, my financial acuity, my physical appearance, my lifestyle, even how I packed for camping trips. Over time I internalized these criticisms and came to believe I wasn’t worth anything.
I’ve been fighting hard and using lots different tools to combat the depression. One reliable mood-lifter for me has been the acronym G.R.A.P.E.S. Here is what each letter stands for.
Being Gentle with yourself
I read on a depression support web site that you should try to incorporate at least one activity each day that fits into each of the six letters in G.R.A.P.E.S. I’ve come a long way since I counted making it through a day of work in the Achievement category, but that’s how it was for quite awhile.
I’m doing much better now and surrounding myself with people who support me and seem to think I’m ok the way I am. I want to keep maintaining my progress so I have redesigned my planner page to remind me to schedule activities covered by G.R.A.P.E.S. I also included a line to check them off to track my progress.
On the page shown, the left column is for items that should be done some time during the week. The right column is for appointments and scheduling. I used letter stickers to spell “G.R.A.P.E.S.” at the top. The number stamps and ruled line stamp are by 7gypsies and the month of the year and day of the week stamps are by my own Carolyn’s Stamp Store.
1. Download and print out one of the faux postage templates.
2. Tape a piece of acetate over the printed template.
3. Using a metal ruler as a guide and with the self-healing cutting mat underneath, use your mat knife or X-acto knife to cut out the squares on the template. You will cut through both the acetate and paper layers as you do so.
4. Remove the paper from the acetate. Now your template is ready to use.
Make the stamps
Tools and materials
Dye-based rubber stamping ink
Light colored cardstock
Faux postage stencils
Rubber stamps in a spring theme such as flowers and butterflies
Word rubber stamps for backgrounds
Tiny faux postage rubber stamps or other tiny word and number stamps
Decorative edging scissors
1. Tape a piece of light colored cardstock down on your work surface. Tape your acetate faux postage stencil in place over it, hinging it at the top with tape so you can lift the acetate between steps.
2. Squirt a few light analagous colors of rubber stamping ink on a palette. For example, light yellow, ochre yellow and light orange, or light pink and light peach. Sponge these colors inside the openings in the stencil while blending. Try to get the colors lighter toward the middle and darker toward the edge.
3. Lift the acetate (this is so that you don’t melt the stencil) and dry well with a heat tool. Stamp a word stamp as a background in a light taupe or light tan color. Dry the ink again.
4. Outline the inside edges of each opening with an analgous color of colored pencil – for example orange with the yellow inks, magenta with the pink inks.
5. Select a stamp for the main part of your image and stamp it toward the middle of each opening in burgundy ink.
6. Select some tiny faux postage stamps and stamp them in black around the edges.
7. Cut stamps apart with a decorative paper-edging scissors.
Following are the stamps I used in each sample.
The background stamp is by Stampington. Butterfly stamps are from 7gypsies then in black I stamped the following stamps from Carolyn’s Stamp Store:
Here is a card project that mixes an analagous color scheme with neutrals. An analagous color scheme is one that uses colors that are near each other on the color wheel, in this case blue, blue-green and blue-purple. The colors are so close together that it’s nearly a monochromatic color scheme – a design that uses tints and shades of one color. My samples were made as birthday cards, but you can make the card for multiple occasions by changing the sentiment stamp. This card helps you to use up paper scraps!
Tools and Supplies
Rubber Stamping Ink
Waterproof ink in light to medium neutral colors
Pigment or chalk ink in white or very light blue
Dye inks in various shades of blue
Dye ink in black
Clean scrap paper
Freezer paper or temporary palette
Flat sided white eraser like a Magic Rub
Paper scraps in neutral shades and blue shades
Circle punch that is a good size for the center of the flower
Thin navy blue marker
1. Take an 8.5 x 5.5″ piece of cream colored cardstock, score down the middle and fold in half.
2. Using some of your favorite background stamps, stamp in light to medium neutral waterproof ink colors in the four quadrants of the front of the card. Make the axis about three inches up from the bottom of the card so that the lower quadrants are taller than the upper quadrants.
3. Place your folded card face up on some clean scrap paper. With your brayer roll out some very light blue chalk or pigment ink onto a palette or temporary palette made of freezer paper. I only had white ink so I tinted mine slightly with some blue dye ink. Roll the ink over the front of the card several times until designs on the front of the card are subdued by a light blue semi-transparent tint.
If you don’t have a brayer or suitable pigment ink you can make a wash out of acrylic paint or gesso and brush that over the stamped images.
4. Let the ink dry. Most pigment and chalk inks dry slowly so if you have to speed up heating use a heat tool or hair dryer. Heat tools are hotter than hair dryers so use caution. To test whether your ink is completely dry, place a piece of clean scrap paper over it and rub with a bone folder. Lift up the scrap paper. If no ink comes off, it’s dry.
5. Cut out an assortment of 1.75″ x 1.75″ squares of medium neutral shades and different light to medium blues. Stamp backgrounds with an assortment of neutral inks and inks in shades of blue. Leave a few blank. Make more than you think you will need so you can mix and match later on to get combinations that please you.
6. Outline the squares in blue ink by squirting a bit of ink onto an old lid and dipping the edge of your eraser in it. Use the eraser to transfer the ink to the edges of the squares. In the image below, the stamp at the lower left is by Inkadinkado and the stamp at the lower right is by Stampington.
7. Assemble a collection of paper scraps in neutral shades and shades of blue. You can use both plain and patterned paper. Punch out a bunch of flower shapes and circles for the insides of the flowers out of these scraps. Make more than you think you will need so you can mix and match to find good combinations as you’re assembling the cards.
8. Take some of the solid color center dots and stamp on them in neutral or blue inks.
9. Take some of the solid color flower shapes and stamp on them in shades of blue.
10. Lay four squares down on the front of your card and select four flowers and centers that you like to place within the squares. You can mix and match solid and printed colors if you like. A solid piece here and there gives the design a little breathing room.
11. Draw “stitches” with a navy blue marker around the inside edges of the four squares. Do the same with the insides of the circles.
12. Glue the circles to the flowers, then the flowers to the squares. Glue the squares down in the upper 3.75″ area of the card. Place a piece of clean scrap paper over all and burnish with your bone folder so the glue has a nice tight seal.
13. Cut out a .75 x 4.25″ strip of cream colored card stock. Stamp a sentiment in black ink on it. The Happy Birthday stamp I used in my samples is from Carolyn’s Stamp Store. Apply blue ink to the edges with your eraser. After the ink is dry, glue the strip to the front of the card and burnish well. Trim if needed. You’re done!
Optional embellishments: Sew small buttons in the flower centers or add a decorative flower blue eyelet or brad to each flower center. If you decide to sew on buttons, you may want to sew the stitch marks in step 11 instead of drawing them on.
For this past Father’s Day I made my Dad a blank 6 x 6 journal for a trip we took to Toronto and New York City. Dad wrote notes about our activities in the journal during the trip and we are slowly filling the book in with photos. I’ll be sharing some of my favorite layouts as we go.
Because the pages are 6 x 6 inches, I’m using a smaller than normal photo format. Using Photoshop, I am making 4 x 6 inch photo montages that I am having printed at a local drug store. I cut the prints apart and end up with images that are small enough to fit several on a 6 x 6 page. We took a LOT of photos and I’m adding a lot of embellishments, so this book will probably eventually turn into several books.
A client of mine threw out a bunch of old photos and negatives, so I saved some of the interesting ones to use in mixed-media artwork. The tiny negatives shown above have nothing to do with the subject matter of these two pages shown here but they are so small you can’t tell and I was intrigued by them as a design element. I decided to include some on these pages attached by tiny brads.
To unify the look of the pages, I downloaded some free digistamps and altered them into a frame graphic which fit my printed photos. I had the frames printed out on clear transparency film and layered the film over my photos with more of the brads. The “Beautiful” stamp and the decorative papers I used are from 7gypsies and the other rubber stamps are from my own Carolyn’s Stamp Store collection.
Here is a great handmade gift idea for someone in your life that loves to watch birds. A blank journal like my sample provides places for notes, sketches, photos, memorabilia and more. Here is how to make one.
Cut out two pieces of chipboard for covers. Make a collage of bird related images for the front cover. Cover edges of cover with decorative paper. Cover inside front cover, inside back cover and back cover with decorative paper.
To assemble front cover, cut out a piece of acetate and punch small holes. Punch small holes in front cover collage and attach to cover with brads. Make pockets and attach to both inside covers with double sided tape. Cut out a number of pieces of cardstock for inside pages. Embellish with brayered backgrounds, sponged backgrounds, decorative papers, Project Life cards and rubber stamps. Punch holes in all pages and covers and compile together with binding rings. Open rings and add new pages as needed.
Here are some sample page spreads to give you ideas for the interior pages.
I had so much fun participating in a sketch challenge recently that I decided to make an effort to enter more. RubberStampMadness magazine is currently running a Filmstrip Challenge which appealed to me. Above is my entry. There are still a few days left before the deadline if you want to get in on the fun – here are the entry guidelines.
Though I’ve been rubber stamping for well over 20 years, I haven’t done a whole lot of coloring in of rubber stamps. This project helped me to get some practice and was an opportunity to experiment with mixed media.
The first thing I did was to cut out a bunch of 2 x 2 inch and 2 x 3 inch pieces of scrap paper which would become the individual “frames” in the finished artwork. Then I stamped images on them in black waterproof ink.
The next step was to give each section it’s own background color with decorative chalks and old eyeshadow. To apply I used Q-tips, sponge tip makeup applicators and Fantastix by Tsukineko which are a great help in getting color into tight areas around the edges of the stamped images.
Next I sprayed the paper pieces with workable spray fixative to hold the chalk in place, then I coated them with a thin layer of matte medium and let it dry. The workable fixative allowed me to brush on matte medium without the powders smearing and the purpose of the matte medium is twofold – it’s the glue I will use to attach the images and words I cut from magazines, and it keeps the markers I’ll apply later from smearing the black ink that I stamped.
The next step was to figure out words to put in the word and thought balloons I had stamped. It would be a lot of fun to tell a coherent, planned out story with this format but I couldn’t think of any ideas for a story so I did what I often do, I relied on the random and let my subconscious guide me. Cutting out pictures from magazines has been a reliable way for me to tap into the subconscious part of my brain for decades. I picked up some discarded magazines that I hadn’t cut up yet and went through them looking for words that piqued my interest. Along the way I cut out appealing pictures – some I put aside to use in other projects and a few I used for this one. I grouped the words on my work surface into combinations that appealed to me and matched the words or groups of words with images. Some of the results make sense to me, some don’t and it’s likely the ones that mean something to me won’t mean the same thing to others and vice versa. That’s one of the fun things about art!
I then glued the cut-out images and words in place by brushing the backs of them with matte medium and smoothing them in place with an old credit card. One way to reduce the risk of wrinkling the paper is to coat both sides of the pieces with matte medium and let dry before wetting the backs again to apply. It’s extra work but it’s worth it for good results. You can speed up drying with a heat tool so your work session isn’t interrupted. (It sounds funny to say “work session” – this was play!)
If you prefer instead of gluing in cut-out words you can write words in the balloons or use word rubber stamps or stickers.
My next step was to take each section and highlight the stamped images with a little color here and there and add some texture to the backgrounds with stencils from The Crafter’s Workshop. I like the way some of the textures vaguely suggest the “dot gain” effect that you often see in comic books. My coloring implements for this project were Sharpie markers and Prismacolor pencils. Both will color just fine over the matte medium but if you want to use different media, do some tests on scrap paper first to see if the surface will accept the color. I could have made masks to protect the areas I did not want to stencil on but to save work I relied on my eye to tell me where to stop. I only went onto the white word areas on a couple of spots so I decided to touch up these areas later with acrylic paint to disguise my mistakes. If you decide to sponge ink through the stencils you will need to make masks.
I glued the individual “frame” pieces down on a piece of archival cardstock with Yes Glue. Then I got out a tiny paintbrush and touched up the white areas and I liked the way the bright white looked so I added white highlights here and there all over the artwork where I thought it needed it. I liked the effect, it added a little extra “pop”.
The next image shows what my artwork looked like before I scanned it and added digital enhancements.
After scanning in the image, I opened it up in Photoshop and added a layer for a faux filmstrip effect which I made from a couple of these free digistamps. I may print out this “filmstrip” layer on clear transparency film and mount it over the original artwork with brads or eyelets to display it.
In June of this year I took a trip with my Dad to Toronto and New York City. I knew ahead of time that we would be traveling on Father’s Day, so I made a gift to present to him on the trip – a handmade journal for him to write in each day, which he did. The journal was designed so that after the trip we could add photos and ephemera and perhaps write more about our memories. I’m in the process of getting both of our photos printed so we can start working on it. I expect this will be a long term project and we will enjoy the time together that we spend on it and memories of the great trip we had. Below are photos of some of my favorite parts of the journal, as they looked before any content was added. In the future I’ll be sharing some our favorite layouts as we get them done.
Here are some links to products I used to make this journal:
Usually my problem is an overabundance of ideas for new projects, way more than one human being can ever do. Occasionally I need a new idea for a certain specific purpose and I find myself coming up dry. This weekend I was trying to create a new Halloween greeting card design and decided to check out some card sketches to see if anything inspired me. I made a new Pinterest Board, Greeting Card Ideas and Sketches to help me keep track of my finds.
I found a lot of sketches I like on a web site called CAS(E) this Sketch! They specialize in clean and simple designs which appeal to me because a lot of times I think paper crafts that I see out there have WAY too much “stuff” on them. I’m sure a lot of people think my own designs are too spare. That’s ok, we all have different taste.
Making this card helped me get over my creative block and I have some more spin-off ideas that really don’t look much like this result at all, one of them isn’t even for a card, but are things I never would have thought of if I hadn’t done this exercise. That’s how creativity often works!
The rubber stamp images used in this card are from my own Carolyn’s Stamp Store, 7gypsies and Clearsnap. The small bug stamp is unknown. Here are links to some of my stamps that I used:
Yes it might seem a little early to talk about Halloween crafts – usually in early August I feel like I’m just getting used to the summer lifestyle. The Fall 2015 issue of RubberStampMadness is out and I want to let you know about it because my article “Stamping Halloween Postoids” is featured within! If you want to read it check the newsstand at your favorite craft retailer or go to the RubberStampMadness web site to order a copy. My four-page article will guide you step by step in creating your own Halloween Faux Postage stamps to decorate your Halloween mail and crafts.
I also have a selection of Halloween and Faux Postage rubber stamps available in my online shop Carolyn’s Stamp Store. I have complete postoid stamps and parts to help you design your own artistamps. Check out my newest designs featuring skeletal animals, crows, creepy bugs and more!
Last night I listened to a really fun and informative podcast by The Scrap Gals on the topic of Memory Planners – using a planner to help stay organized and also save as a scrapbook-like keepsake with photos, decorative papers and all kinds of other fun things that we associate with scrapbooking. I’ve saved old planners or calendars on occasion because the records in them really bring back vivid memories. Memory planners are a really great idea but I don’t anticipate having the kind of time to exploit the idea to the fullest.
One idea on the podcast that really had me intrigued was the idea of combining an art journal with a planner. This got me thinking. I have kept sketchbooks since 1985 and I’ve saved all of them. They have a lot of thumbnail sketches and notes about future projects in them, and occasionally other things that get in there because it’s the handiest blank paper around – supply lists, to-do lists, hours that I’ve worked for various clients to be transferred to electronic records later, web site notes, class notes, things like that.
A sketchbook could incorporate aspects of a planner. I have rubber stamps in my Carolyn’s Stamp Store collection with months, years, and days of the week – designed for memory crafts, but adaptable for making a planner too. I also have several sets of letter and number rubber stamps and stencils from other companies, some are even vintage. Along with my rubber stamps, I got out a pencil and ruler and started playing around with page layouts.
I used the wall calendar that I keep in my office as a reference and filled in the first two weeks. On this first attempt I tried to include 14 days per 8.5 x 11 inch sketchbook page. Some good things were happening, but I decided that I needed more room for each day. As a result I came up with this second layout:
This is the layout I’m going to stick with for awhile. The month, day and year stamps are from my own Carolyn’s Stamp Store. The large numbers are from ‘Lil Davis Designs and the pointing hand and ruled lines stamp are from 7gypsies. A page like this is quick to throw together. My stamping got a little sloppy there on the numbers but this is pretty much for my eyes only so it’s not a big deal. My plan is to add a new week as needed wherever the next blank page happens to fall in my sketchbook. I’ll write in things like work schedules and appointments and also make a brief note about what I did that day. I went through my rubber stamp collection and picked out ones I thought suitable for journaling and put them all together in a bin with the inks I used on this page so they’ll be handy when I need them.
I’m looking forward to this new way of getting organized and recording my activities. When this sketchbook is full, I may switch to a 3-ring binder and put 8.5 x 11 inch sheets of drawing paper in it, with the flexibility of adding additional pages wherever I want of any kind of paper or cardstock if I want to expand the memory aspect of the planner/sketchbook combo.