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1  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / Reading (and) rainbow bookmark on: September 08, 2019 07:18:21 PM
After I finished cross-stitching this bookmark for Anna.wahnsinn in the rainbow swap, I thought, "This isn't ideal for a bookmark; it's practically as thick as a small book."
...Lightbulb! A bookmark that contains a book.

I botched the finish-work I originally had in mind, so with fusible web I mounted the finished cross-stitch on paperboard that was covered with a painted dictionary page, a little longer than the fabric. Then I used paper bits and washi tape (which was salvaged from either a past swap package or the Craftster Asheville meetup) to make a thin micro-journal, and attached it to the bookmark base, and tied on some little rainbow thingies that wouldn't add further bulk. To add to the meta, one of the papers is a quote about books, which I had pulled out of a discarded book.

I'd been planning to do some kind of full-spectrum needlework for almost a year, but didn't know what it would be. On a lovely autumn afternoon last year I sat outside and put all my colors of embroidery floss in chromatic order (if that's a thing), as well as I could judge.

Eventually the idea of working with negative space started appealing to me, stitching a rainbow background and leaving the foreground as unstitched cloth. But what words or image for that foreground? This phrase showed up a few times around Anne's Pinterest boards, so I went for it. The downside was having "Baby Got Back" in my head the whole time I worked on it.  Cheesy

As a caveat, though I've made some cross-stitched bookmarks I don't recommend using them in borrowed, old, or valuable books, or books with bible-thin paper. The thickness could cause an issue. Now that I think about it, using a higher-count aida cloth would really help in the construction because less thread is required; I was using 14-count, I think. However, if it's your book, do what you want and use bookmarks that make you smile!  Smiley

Here is the chart I made, in case anyone wants it. I added up the total number of colors I had, and then adjusted letter height and spacing to make sure there was a sufficient margin around everything.
2  UNITED STATES / Maryland / Mid-Atlantic Meetup! October 26, 2019, Charles County Maryland on: July 25, 2019 01:09:52 PM

It's happening! You're invited to my place for a bit of crafting (by the fireplace if it's cold, out amongst the oak trees if not), tea, and autumnal snacking in my little 1830s cottage in Charles County, Maryland, on Saturday, October 26th.

Arrive as early as you like, and then at noon we'll go have lunch - indoor if the weather is bad, or else picnic at Piscataway National Park. Piscataway Park is home to the National Colonial Farm, where the Stitch 'n Time volunteer group (both run by the Accokeek Foundation) will be meeting from 1-4pm to process wool from the farm's heritage-breed flock of sheep. This group does all kinds of heritage crafts so there may be other activities going on as well, and you're welcome to join in to learn, share your knowledge, spin some yarn, or just be excited about making things!

This will be a very low-key, unstructured day, in terms of my hosting. Smiley Feel free to come and go, join us whenever, feel no pressure or obligation. I would be doing these things even if no one showed up! But regardless, if there's a good chance you'll be there please RSVP by sending a PM to calluna, even if you're only planning to join us for the afternoon at the Farm. The volunteer coordinator for the Stitch 'n Time group (who you're going to love) is super excited we're coming but she needs a rough head-count ahead of time.

Further notes (check back here closer to the event in case there are more things added):

  • You're welcome to bring supplies or projects to share or swap, but you don't have to bring anything, just money for your lunch! No admission fees at Piscataway Park.
  • Please carpool if possible. Bring a friend or significant other if you like! Piscataway Park is on the Potomac River and has a fishing dock on the Potomac River, if you want to bring a fisher.  Smiley
  • I'll send address, phone, and directions to everyone who RSVPs once we get closer to the date.
  • The larger property (on which I rent this little cottage) is on the National Register of Historic Places and is the remaining 20 acres of what used to be a massive tobacco plantation dating back to the 1700s. I am still slowly working on learning the history of the place and who lived and was enslaved here (no books have been written on it, as best as I can tell). Rather than any specific events, the architecture of the remaining structures is what historians have found most notable on this property. Both houses are private residences, and as such the property isn't open to the public. So, come visit in October to see some yet-to-be-explored history!
  • Living in a space this old means things are rustic, and not always in a charming way. I do have electricity, WiFi, and running water, but  I'm telling you right now that the toilet looks disgusting even though it is clean.  Cheesy The house's well water is gross and it stains most surfaces; it also gets dark and filmy after exposure to oxygen, so the water sitting in the toilet bowl will make you question whether the last person flushed. They did. Also, my toilet is upstairs, and the steps are unusually steep, so be aware of that if you have mobility concerns.
  • I highly recommend bringing a camping chair--even if we aren't outside very much, I don't have a great deal of seating at my place, and I think all the seats at the Farm are wood benches.
  • One of the really popular elements of past meetups has been workshops; I don't think there will be sufficient time at my place to hold one and also just hang out, but the afternoon will be all about fiber processing (for those who choose to do that), so maybe that will count? I'm open to suggestions and changes.

Attendees so far: Averia, LadybugsAndBumblebees, thanate, underthemountain + Lana
3  PAPER CRAFTS, SCRAPBOOKING & ATCs (ARTIST TRADING CARDS) / Paper Crafts: Completed Projects: General / Big nature book on: May 06, 2019 11:24:00 AM
I was wholly inspired by The Raging Sloth's nature walk assemblages, and decided to make her a book in hopes of keeping her going with it (and sharing pictures of what she creates Wink).

Short accordion folds for the spine, with 12x12" heavy scrapbook paper glued to each surface and signatures sewn into some of the valley folds.
This project started about 10 years ago but I tucked it away and forgot about it since I couldn't figure out the purpose of the final product or how to cover it. It need hard covers because the spine is flimsy and the structure is so large. The inspiration finally came via the Bookbinding Craft-along thread.  Smiley
After no luck searching for bookboard in my local craft stores, I took apart an uninteresting thrifted hardcover book with the right dimensions for the covers. Then I covered those with adhesive cork, and glued on some pressed plants I'd collected in Utah last year. I crocheted "rustic" edges with twine (both to go with the look and to avoid spending money on  more supplies). I would have liked to add more decoration but I'm leaving the finish work and artistic contents to The Raging Sloth to create.

I'd found this lovely moss-covered chicken wire on clearance and wrapped it around the book as a closure (the rest of it is on my wall with clorhespins as a narrow bulletin board). It makes a mess of moss crumblies but I still love it.

The spine itself has a print of an owl, made by an artist I used to work for, and because it was "imperfect" she was throwing it away; she let me keep some discards but didn't want attention drawn to them, so the owl just peeks out a bit here:

The book I, erm, destroyed was of nursery rhymes and one was about an owl, so I glued in that page to go with the spine owl.
4  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / Cosmic infinity skunk prayer flag on: May 06, 2019 11:13:15 AM

This prayer flag was a surprise for a skunk fan (who I won't name, to keep it a surprise) and I think it went missing in the mail...but even so, I like the thought of someone in the postal world someday finding it and being puzzled by it.  Cheesy
5  FIBER ARTS / Felting: Completed Projects / Bellyrub dog on: January 28, 2019 03:39:57 AM
This little critter doesn't photograph well, but wants you to rub the belly nonetheless.

I can't read the sign in the uploads (it looks fine on my phone; sorry), but it says Belly rubs, please.

I made this for Onyxnox in the Little Good Things Swap, because we both have dogs at the top of our list of goodness in the world. I love dogs' shameless, trusting, demanding rollover-for-belly-rubs. Smiley

There's a magnet inside so this guy can stick to a prominent surface and attract more attention (leading to more belly rubs, since that's what matters!). I figured that in those situations that lack the presence of a real dog, rubbing this belly sends the good vibes to the dogs who need it.  Cheesy

Beads for the eyes and nose...And some squishy jowls...
6  PAPER CRAFTS, SCRAPBOOKING & ATCs (ARTIST TRADING CARDS) / Paper Crafts: Completed Projects: Reconstructed / Life and the Library and the Forest: Altered book for my year in Yosemite on: January 06, 2019 05:51:45 PM
For my final semester in library school, I moved to Yosemite to be a full-time intern at the Yosemite Research Library. After the semester ended, I got hired to work at the bookstore in the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center, and once the busy(est) season started winding down, it turned out the library had enough grant funding left over to bring me back through the end of the year. I wrote a blog about it, as part of my school requirements, but I had also hoped to create an altered book about the experience.
I kept delaying posting this altered book because it remains so incomplete. There is so much more to say and draw and express about the sacred, ever-changing Yosemite and my experiences therein! However, as some-bo-dy once told me, the years start coming and they don't stop coming, much like new projects that distract me. So I'm just going to share what I have since I don't know when I'll ever come back to filling out this book.  Smiley

It is an old volume from an outdated Time Life Books series that exists in practically every library I've been to, but which nobody wants. I picked it up from a library book sale for maybe $.25. Adding a few words to the cover (and putting tape over them), and covering pages with gesso, I had my starting point.

I prepped a lot of it before I arrived in Yosemite, and I was so busy working and just LIVING and soaking up the place that I didn't really want to slow down to pull out my traveling art supply kit. In hindsight, I should have at least colored more of the pages in advance, but at least they were gessoed.

There's a story connected to Yosemite behind everything in the book, whether it relates to how I received it or what it represents. The sticker was part of a gift package that came from a concessions staff member I'd only briefly met once, whose name I didn't recall; she had wrapped up dozens of packages of stickers and chocolates and was delivering them at Christmastime to any office or individuals she'd worked with throughout the year. Everyone who works in Yosemite Valley deals with so many hundreds (if not hundreds of thousands) of people every year that her thoughtfulness and generosity stood out all the more; not to mention park concessions staff make practically no money and are worked to the bone, so to give and hand-deliver gifts to so many people meant a lot. I hope she is thriving, wherever she is now!

I found a good-sized photo of Half Dome, and after gluing it to a page near the back of the book, cut the shape out of several preceding pages so the view could continue through much of the book.

For Earth Day I had a little workshop station where visitors could make journals out of scrap paper, with old Yosemite calendar pictures on the covers. I prepped tons of images beforehand to make the process faster for participants, and several scraps I cut out were still indicative enough of Yosemite's beauty for me to hold onto them and stick them into the book.

One of the simple pleasures I found in working for the bookstore was punching holes out of the ever-popular stickers  all tourists insist on buying. Once I discovered the punched hole pieces were also stickers, I started sweeping them up and collecting them to use in my book instead of throwing them away.

When you deal with hundreds of people every day, they really all start to look the same. Rather, there are a number of types you keep seeing over and over and over. I sketched out the primary types on my phone's sketch pad, but have only copied a couple of them down into the book so far. Grumpy, husky white guy with goatee in the camo or fishing/hunting t-shirt and baseball cap wasn't one I saw every hour, but he was the easiest to draw.

A friend sent me the greeting card on the right, without having seen where I was living that summer, and it was uncannily similar to the reality of my yard. There are smiley-face stickers relating to an interpersonal sore-spot in my library experience that I'll refrain from sharing here; it will suffice to say that I'm not into extrinsic reward systems.

Great image from a librarianship magazine; I still want to add more text to the page, though.

It didn't take long for me to realize that my goal of keeping a full-fledged nature journal just wasn't going to happen. Instead, I used sticky notes to listd animal species I encountered, with one per location (there are many, many areas within Yosemite).

I was trying to keep a long-distance relationship going at the same time, so on many of my weekends I went back to Central California by car or train. I embroidered the route on this California map.

Monochrome page of findings.

Though I didn't fill the page, this was my one attempt at taking the journal out on a hike and capturing what I experienced. It's a good practice, but it takes discipline that I hadn't developed. Plus, in the world of hikers and outdoor adventurers that I'd wandered into, books and art supplies are considered too much weight to bring on the trail. I thought that was preposterous at first, but then I started hiking and figured out what all the "travel light" hype is about! A big book is a no-go, but a pen and a few sheets of paper are still a good idea. There's no telling what inspiration might strike in the wilderness.

I'll add more or edit once I eventually come back to working on this book. I spent several amazing months with the National Park Service again more recently, in southeastern Utah, and I didn't even consider doing a book for that, knowing how far behind I am on this one! I hope I can keep finding ways of incorporating what I've loved about these parks into some kind of art.
7  HOME SWEET HOME / Interior Decorating: Completed Projects / In loving memory of past crafty homes - much shorter Santa Barbara edition on: January 06, 2019 04:32:33 PM
(Sorry about photo orientation, I will come back and fix when the photo hosting bug is repaired!  Embarrassed)

I shared my previous little home in Bakersfield, and that one had tons of photos because I took the time to document some of what I loved about it. For my other crafty yellow cottage, this one in Santa Barbara, it will be a much quicker tour because I was running around nonstop while I lived there and didn't spend enough quiet time to properly document what a neat spot it was. Partly because I knew photos wouldn't do it justice.

Welcome! (umm, welcome to my 2017-2018 home, rather, as I don't live here anymore!  Smiley) Though I'm kind of hogging the frame, I was trying to take a "this is me and my life" kind of photo for my online students.

First, a bit of backstory: When I first found Craftster, I was getting ready to move away from Santa Barbara, leaving most of my belongings behind with my ex, and my life in shambles. Though I occasionally drove in to briefly visit friends, I didn't like being there if I couldn't call it home, and I doubted I could ever be in a position in life to afford moving back. Fast-forward ten years, past the Bakersfield house and an endless line of lessons learned and craft projects begun (and some of them actually finished Cheesy), I got to return to Santa Barbara for a temporary library residency position, as a newly-minted librarian. I was making plenty of money to spend a year living there. Full circle!  Grin And while I was still too busy to craft as much as I wanted to, this time it was because I was doing what I loved and also enjoying a satisfying social life and enjoying being outdoors.

Thus, though this little place wasn't home for long, for me it represents success (my own definition of it). Whatever else would follow, I made it that far in life, and that would be enough to keep me celebrating and grateful. (With that chapter now behind me, life keeps being awesome in new ways . Smiley)

It really was part of a regular-sized house, but I love how in this photo it's just alone in the universe. The best thing of all was having the hammock out front, pulled in far enough to shade my face from sun and rain.

This picture is kind of a chaotic Where's Waldo, but I'll try to explain it...

This is looking into the kitchen and living area from the front door. The front door is directly lined up with the bathroom door, which is terrible feng shui. To remedy this, I put one of my higher shelving units out into the middle of the room (with a kitchen cart stored within it as extra counter space), which obstructs the view of the bathroom and theoretically blocks the direct line of chi between bathroom and entrance.
Though I've been a Latin Americanist for ages, Mexico in particular has become a big part of my life the last couple years since my mom moved there. I have been picky-choosy in the decorations I have purchased in Mexico, but they tend to be things that stand out--like the turquoise striped blanket. It makes me happy to look at it, but I wasn't sure what to do with it, so I draped it over the refrigerator. That kept it out of harm's way and provided a pleasant visual texture instead of coming in an looking directly at a plain white appliance.
The high shelves have calavera/skull garlands I made for Day of the Dead, plus some pom-pom strands I purchased. On one of them I attached various small, colorful items I'd received in swaps but hadn't had space to display in a long time, using mini clothes pins that I probably also received in some long-ago swap.  Smiley In this photo I spy crocheted chicken appliques from BigBangMomma, a bookmark from Nooo, and an embroidered hermit crab from LeapFeetFirst.
On the other side of those shelves was my dry-goods storage. When I first moved in, I hadn't had a proper kitchen space in quite a while, and I was really excited to embark on more new-to-me food experiments, making more things from scratch, and buying raw ingredients in bulk. I loved having rows of mason jars full of healthy things (many of which were dirt-cheap) that required preparation, since I was actually doing it, rather than running out for fast food. Using up the contents became a fun challenge that motivated me to cook when I didn't always want to.
My big marbled art paper mounted on an old canvas came with me, and it went up in the kitchen. Though not a direct view from the front door, I wanted another pretty thing to divert attention from the bathroom door. Having the bathroom and kitchen side-by-side wasn't ideal either, but not much could be done about the plumbing arrangement. At least it was a pretty door, but I put some mini prayer flags up over it just to be extra apologetic.

In both my houses I had an altar area set up on a multi-tiered corner shelf.

There are various treasured swap items throughout...

As a basement unit, I had a sunken entry, which meant the garden beds were at chest height. That also allowed for this little outdoor dining nook, which was just the right height for the barstools I'd lugged around since 2001.

The tiny indoor table and chairs were always covered with projects, so that space ensured I had a proper spot to actually eat.

Despite the fabulous climate, my garden did not do well! I tried growing two established milkweed plants for the monarch butterflies, but couldn't keep either of them alive, in spite of the fact that "weed" is in their name. Oh well. I used a wine bottle as a potted plant slow-waterer, which is great if it is disguised within the growth of plants but now I realize it just looks like I got drunk out in the dirt and didn't clean up after myself.  Cheesy

Well, I wish I could give a better tour, but I can't find any better photos!  Undecided
8  HOME SWEET HOME / Interior Decorating: Completed Projects / In loving memory of past crafty homes - Bakersfield edition - excessive pics on: January 03, 2019 03:26:57 PM
(Sorry about sideways pics; will fix once the photo hosting bugs get remedied)

Since I left most of my stuff behind when I moved cross-country last month, it's about time I honor the two places where I made homes out of that stuff.  Smiley In most of my life I haven't had my own space, but I had two yellow cottages interspersed in that time, one over a garage and one in a basement (though it still had good natural light on one side). Both were private living spaces and they both had gardening space. And by all accounts, they were magical.

This was the first one, a sweet little place that I truly loved. The main living area/entry:

I wrapped the floor lamp and the wooden rim of the papasan chair in sari silk yarn. Ikea Ivar shelves held books and craft supplies, while also serving as a side-table.

I made beaded garlands and hung them all over the place. When throw pillows weren't being used, they were stacked on one of the shelves (one of the pillows came from a swap). Woven scarves and shimmery tapestries were draped over anything that wasn't already spectacular. And I bought a bike for the first time, used from a bike advocacy organization, which lived inside with me because a) it was guaranteed to be stolen if I left it locked up outside, and b) it's such a nice color, and cycling was making a very good impact on my life, so I enjoyed looking at it.  Cheesy

Zooming in, I crocheted a little vessel for whatnots that sat on one of the shelves, which I decorated with henna and stained.

I had a cabinet against another wall, which held this little treasure trove of crafty delights:

There are various tiny books, my not-yet-traded ATCs, a Bambi tin I've had since I was a baby (which now holds jewelry), my collection of 4x4" chunky pages, my jar of buttons, some handspun yarn (which has since been swapped), bottles of my favorite perfume, a special framed photo of my late grandma and me, and sheepBlue's rabbit art (which I brought with me and am now planning to frame).

Above it, the bigger books that I wanted out for anyone to view (I kept textbooks stored out of sight). A beaded window valance covered the front, and two sheer curtains along the side, helped the open shelving unit look more enclosed, without reducing the amount of light flowing through.

I found a red Ikea Malma mirror at the thrift store, and wrapped sari silk yarn around it too (I could not get enough of it!) -- then drilled some brown cup hooks into the bottom to make a key and bag-holder next to the front door. I think I filled the tiny crocheted plarn bags with potting soil and plant clippings, and abandoned them for someone to find.

My bed area was pretty small, on the opposite side of the room partition, but I fit my bedroom set in it and hung up a mosquito net. I made the bedspread on a knitting loom, with crocheted borders, and it's meant to be the four elements.

Looking back up at the bed, the headboard is mirrored and I added a set of chakra prayer flags. My friend gave me the big pothos plant, which has since been adopted by another friend. I acquired ripply throw pillows from my mom (who changes up her decorating all the time), and in addition to being the same lovely color as my bike they brought in a good water element accent. I didn't want to risk something dangerous falling on my head in the night if there were an earthquake, so putting pillows up there seemed like the best option.

Next to the sleeping space was a closet with accordion doors, which I turned into my office space (I was taking online classes at the time, but after getting home from work some days I couldn't take looking at any more computer screens, and so it was nice to be able to shut it away), with more craft storage. Clear ATC sleeves are affixed around the visible part of the wall, and I kept a rotating display going. The frog on the shelf is a cushion I made with my grandma when I was really young.

I crocheted a rainbow cord with handspun and reclaimed yarn, and strung up my prayer flags on it, and those were draped across the doors when I had them open. Here are a few that were relevant at the time...

(I was trying out the law of attraction for bringing the right person into my life, with the blue fish one. I got some of what I was seeking, but having someone else in the space really killed the santuary vibe.)

This is just a large sheet of paper affixed to a used canvas, with chunks of dried moss glued on the edges from some other project gone wrong. I have done a couple bookbinding projects with this paper, and I love it so much I figured I may as well put it on my wall.

Now, the outside! This was sitting at the front door, looking up at my plant life. I lived here during the time I created my drought book, but I tried to create a little pocket of semi-drought tolerant, lush living greenery to walk through each day, and which the world outside my tall fence below could enjoy as well. I made the mossy succulent planter with the guidance of an awesome little nursery down the street. It took a lot of time, but it's essentially damp moss wrapped around a heavy wire frame, with holes poked through for succulent stems.

Looking up at that spot from below now, I grew some vines in pots to weave through the metal railing, put smaller potted plants on some steps, and added bright lanterns to the posts.

This was a narrow patch of bad dirt (I can't exactly call what was there "soil"), which I tried to improve. I added some tufts of a drought-tolerant grass, and my stepdad built me some planters out of scrap plywood, which I then stained. I covered bald spots with bark and mulched a bit, and gathered river rocks from around the region to line it. In the process, horsetail and Santa Barbara sage grew fantastically, and I got a few potted vegetables to do okay there as well (not well enough to reach harvesting, but that's okay).

The sage got out-of-control after a while...

This serene spot was where I would sit and have tea before the summer hit and I killed off the lawn. A friend gave me a bunch of succulent cuttings from his yard, and they did well for about a year, until I really cut down the watering.

If the house is already yellow, overbearing color that it is, why not add more yellow with a huge pot.  Cheesy Actually it came from the estate sale of a really neat woman who was moving into a retirement home, and she had painted it herself, so it wasn't a premeditated decorating choice. I liked it, though. The bushy greenery on the right was some kind of tree that kept growing on its own, no matter how little I watered and how much the landlord's gardener kept hacking away at it.

And in spite of the ground being hard and dry, I grew white sage in abundance! I'm still finding bundles of it, after I thought I'd given it to everyone.

Plus, the passion flower vine grew wonderfully on the trellis, and I trailed it over the entry gate. Alas, the butterfly/caterpillar population grew too big to sustain the plant. But on one of those days when I was feeling pretty down and useless, I happened to look out my car window at a ditch half a mile from my house and I saw a passion flower vine starting to grow there -- the work of the birds who ate the fruit, and neither that bird's snack nor the new plant itself would be there if I hadn't tended to my own garden.  Smiley  

There was more to the place, but not especially decorated or crafty. I did start to make a labyrinth in an empty lot next door (which backed up to a rather unpleasant alleyway), but it didn't look good enough to photograph. Smiley

Now I'm starting fresh, in a very special and historic little house. It's going to look entirely different, and I'll share photos once I have created something whole! But first I'll get around to posting a few pics of my other yellow house.
9  PAPER CRAFTS, SCRAPBOOKING & ATCs (ARTIST TRADING CARDS) / Paper Crafts: Completed Projects: Reconstructed / Drought/replenishment art journal: 2013 or 2014 on: November 28, 2018 06:09:45 PM
Sometimes you're not just too busy to remember to post things, you (meaning I) get worn out just thinking back on those things and those times. Uff...and then the years pass.

It was yet another sweltering and scorching Central California summer of drought, and though my life was getting markedly better I was still stuck there in purgatory, having a hard time holding out hope for my long-term success and for getting to move on to a region and job that would be a better fit for me (cut to now: I'm far from there, happy, healthy, believing in myself, and about to start my dream-job Smiley).

I discovered how deeply I am affected and influenced by the state of nature around me. Other people's coping mechanisms (shutting out nature entirely by staying in windowless rooms with air conditioning, putting scarce water into lawns and non-native landscaping, or surrounding oneself with fake representations of the water and greenery we didn't naturally have) didn't help me.

What's more, the extreme and ongoing drought around me mirrored what was going on within me. The regional emphasis on water/resource conservation, given the obvious lack, seemed to match my state of scarcity and not asking for or receiving enough emotional/spiritual nourishment.  To sum up, I was running on empty for too long, and couldn't find anything in my surroundings or community to help get refilled. I was so utterly exhausted and depleted--which was kind of my normal way of life, but something had to change quickly to keep my head above water.

I scheduled a day off from work, to start working through this stuff in a creative way. In the days leading up to that day off, I gathered some images that spoke to me and did some paint/stamping backgrounds. And then on that "personal care" day, I wrote out the thoughts and concepts that bothered me so much, and mixed them with imagery. I knew I couldn't narrow down what I was experiencing to a few sentences, if any; I needed to create a whole book, with less words than feelings.


All of the pages and the cover were scraps of paperboard and folders, with other materials adhered to them. I also located a bunch of little vintage summer-themed pieces that were originally intended to go onto an altered art banner that hadn't come together, and I folded those into the book.

I spent most of the day just pouring out what I could and seeking/grappling, on a number of separate unbound folded sheets. When I returned to the project over the weekend, I realized it was within my sole power to start shifting the narrative and, thus, my reality. I honored that I'd needed to feel/express the negative, but I could take all of that and surround it--on the page and in my being--with blessings and an expression of what I wanted to manifest differently.

After I bound the pages together (two-hole sewn binding with one thick signature, plus many pieces attached through other means), I wrote a list of the specific things I could and needed to start doing right away to improve my wellbeing during that difficult time.

I really like this project, but it is very unpleasant to think back on the stage of my life that prompted creating it. The nice thing is I was trying to stay positive, and create a better outlook and outcome, so the book ended up much more colorful and happy than I felt. It started out in self-pity and processing complex emotions, and turned into cheering myself up and visioning a better life and world. I value the book now as an essential reminder of what I've come from in recent years, so I don't take things for granted now that I'm out of that life and place.
10  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Completed Projects / Ten-year throwback: Calendars up the wazoo on: November 27, 2018 07:21:58 PM
Since it's been over a decade, I thought it would be fun to look back at a set of things I made for a swap in 2007 but never posted.

It was the 2008 Handmade Calendar Swap, and it was a lot of fun. Each of the 12 participants crafted a one-month, 12x12" calendar page and sent that month to every participant, so that in the end we each had a full year calendar. I tried to tailor each page to the tastes of the recipient. There were two cat-people, a goth-lover, someone who was into beaches...etc. I honestly don't remember what inspired the Candyland page, but it's still one of my favorite creations, ever. There are far more ways to create a monthly calendar layout than I had previously imagined!

(character images were cut out of the instructions for the 1985 board game, but the rest was drawn or collaged)

(red velvet, black lace, couched black tulle, embroidery, fabric paint, stencils)

(faux finish bronze patina on plain paper with vinyl wallpaper samples attached with brads; there was a sticker, image, or words under each panel)

(scrapbook paper sample images from the cover of my dollar-store paper packages, with vintage cloth side-tabs)

(real bark and couched twigs, with silk flowers to make the scrapbook paper design more dimensional)

(every Richard Scarry cat image I could find!)

(crafty cats, because this page went to a member called TheCraftyCat)

(stickers, woven paper strips, bead cords, gel pens)

(paper scraps and gel pen on what was probably a blue food coloring experiment)

(real shells, stamps, and pen on scrapbook paper, mounted on paperboard for sturdiness...I hope)

(cross-stitch, probably mounted on paperboard)

(all kinds of madness and substances...fence posts made from toothpicks, silk flowers, vinyl wallpaper samples, textured paints, days of the month written in any open space I could find)

So much has happened and I've learned so much since then! I wouldn't say I'm significantly better at mixed media now, but I do some things differently now that I've been here in Craftsterland a while...

  • I don't as readily use copyrighted images/art in the things I send to people. I became a librarian in the past few years and that really helped drill in the importance of intellectual property (and what a messy topic Fair Use can be). I still really value how previously-created content gets remixed into new creations, though, and I still use magazine images for a lot of personal/noncommercial purposes that copyright purists might frown upon. Children's book images are still some of my favorite imagery.
  • I don't think I even own 12x12" scrapbook paper anymore, I just have smaller scraps. Most of the pages I used for this swap were in packets from the dollar store, but eventually they stopped carrying it, and the price of scrapbook paper elsewhere started blowing my mind. When I went to a specialty scrapbooking store and found that their going-out-of-business clearance price for individual sheets was about $3 each, I knew it was time to seek alternatives. As much as I like the look of many of the brands out there, I've been trying to redirect myself to homemade and second-hand decorative paper designs, figuring out what I can DIY.
  • It was also far too easy to justify spending money weekly at Michael's, usually on scrapbooking doodads, with the 40% off coupon that always came in the mail. My annual crafting expenses are maybe 25% of what they were in the late 2000s. The reduction in swaps has curbed my purchases and expenses as well.
  • Unlike now, I tended to take in any craft-related materials others didn't want, instead of letting them go to a thrift store and trusting that they would find good homes without my intervention. I see a number of materials in these images that I shoehorned into the projects, trying to get them used up. Now, if supplies don't delight me or hold great potential in my mind, I don't acquire it in the first place. That's not to say I don't love free stuff and serendipitous creations, but I've dabbled in enough crafts and mediums now to know what I do not need.
  • I try not to send out chaotic messes that I believe have some redeeming value. I now tend to plan the space/layout before I begin, and practice handwriting and drawing on scratch paper, along with testing pens and markers before committing them to paper. Likewise, I tend to put away tentatively-finished items for a few days and then return with fresh eyes, to find out if there's anything in need of improvement or clarification. If I botch something, I may very well start over from the beginning, if a suitable workaround can't be found. If I have a great idea but know I'm not able to execute it, I'll try to share it with people in hopes that someone else will make it happen. While I still want to craft all the things, I don't want people to be stuck with all the things I craft.
  • Whenever possible, no more flatbed scanning of 3D objects! (Ok, I just did this last year on one occasion, but I've almost learned my lesson!) All I had access to during most of this swap was a scanner, so that's what I used; it's still my preferred option for 2D art, but for me it's not worth owning the equipment in a small home. My new phone's camera sucks, but soon I'm going back to using a proper digital camera.

It's been quite a decade! I have been pretty scarce here since late 2012, but having Craftster helped me get from where I was to the awesome place I am now in life, while learning all kinds of new skills and techniques along the way!
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