Tag Archives: craft

Rule #1 Process NOT results

An art journal should be a safe place to explore feelings, ideas, art techniques, educations, your belly button and everything else in your life. In your art journal you should be free and feel free to do that. If you are focusing on the end product you lose the point of keeping an art journal and that is to explore all thatI listed above. What the page looks like at the end doesn't matter as much as getting it to that point and HOW you got to that point. Don't approach the page thinking of how it's going to look at the end. Start working on the page without thought.

Do What feels right.
Do what feels wrong.

Try new things in your art journal. No one else needs to see it, unless you want them to. Be happy. Be sad. Angry. Melancholic. drunk. Introspective. Think about yourself. Your family. The world. Politics. Mass Media. Hysteria. Your friends. People you don't know. Think it out. Write it down. Draw it. Paint it. Doodle. Scribble. Wax. INk Stamp Charcoal. Scrub. Brush. Sand Emboss.

Try things.

What I’ve done with the Spray Ink

Holy crap balls. I love the spray ink.I love the spattered effect you can get when you press the sprayer down partially, I love the fine mist I get when I press hard, and the layered effect and mixing when wet. It's all very very cool. Experimentation is key to learning how to use these. I learned that the ink reacts differently on raw paper versus gesso'ed pages or pages with acrylic on them. The colors are transparent (except the black) so whatever is under them shows through. this can make for some very cool effects.

On thing I learned through trial and error is that alcohol based inks ALWAYs lift through my gesso (Liquitex basic brand) so I always get a ghost. So how to fix that? It would lift through progressive layers of gesso or acrylics too. I have a solution which I'll share at the end of this post. First I'm going to share some recent pages from my journal.


IN this image I had gesso'ed and painted the left page, the written on it in sharpie. The black was really sitting on the surface and less of the image than I wanted. So I sprayed it with purple and blue ink and a squirt of plain alcohol, Then moved the inks around. Here I learned that even fully dried acrylic and gesso will soften a touch when these inks are applied heavily. (the right side is the completion of my gesso over sharpie post)


This page doesn't use any spray inks but an over lay of watercolor crayons wet down and wiped off and sand papering. I was going for a  dirty look on this page- dirty to express my rage…


This page started out yellow-green. I used some Tim Holtz masks, I'll write more about these at the end of this post. I sprayed over them with green, blue and a touch of black spray ink. I also used some rubber stamps with embossing powder. On the right I took on of the masked out shapes and used liquid embossing paint and heated it until it bubbled, burst and dried. I then added some spray ink, watercolor crayons  and colored pencil to give the gear shape a distressed rusted up piece of metal look. The blue black background was too dark to write on, so I hit it with a thin fast application of gesso. No blending and applied with a bristle brush. I used a texture tool to make some marks and stamped on lines for writing and wrote on the gesso with bright green sharpie. I sprayed the sharpie with plain ink, a lot to soften the color and blend it with the background. Then I wrote my entry and sprayed that as well. I then overlay some green and blue spray ink and let it completely blend on the top layer.


This page started out with a burgundy acrylic base that had been coated with black and brown watercolor crayons and wiped down for a distressed look. I then hit some areas with sand paper to further weather the page. I've used Tim Holtz masks on this page as well. There are several collaged elements and lots of spray ink and gesso. You'll notice it's shiney… I'll get to that in a minute.


This page started out with a background that was bright red in the center and burgundy around that. I drew on an anatomic heart with sharpie. I used rubber stamps and embossing power around the perimeter. I masked the heart out with post it notes and then put down some Tim Holtz masks. I sprayed the background with purple, blue and black spray inks. I sealed around the heart ( more on this later) and then brushed some gesso and yellow to give it that mandala/ mary look. 


This page started out gessoed and with acrylic. The colors I can't remember but I think burgundy. I glued on my collage elements, added gesso and sealed the elements I didn't want to get colored with the spray. I sprayed  a variety of colors and then manipulated then with water, alcohol and a rag. I wrote with a sharpie. I used some sand paper, added some little punch outs and then sealed the whole thing.

Okay so the sealant I'm using is something I had around the house, is pretty cheap, and is easy to use: Minwax Polycrylic. Yup. I had a can left over from a project I'd done a year ago and thought I"d give it a try. It looks like the acrylic varnish I have in a small squeeze bottle (that was a lot of money $4 for 2 oz), goes on milky but dries clear. I have semi gloss and it adds a nice shine to the page, the alcohol inks don't lift through it and can be scrubbed off of it with a little work and alcohol. Gesso sticks to it well, as to acrylic paints. Sharpie glides over it. The alochol inks if applied heavy lift while the polycrylic is wet but not once dry so you can see the kind of dragging muddy effect you can get in the next series of pictures.

Here's a pic with can, you can get it at Home Depot for about $5 for this half pint can (8oz).


Oh and the best thing about this stuff, is that as of yet, once it's dry, it doesn't seem to stick to itself. SO you CAN get gloss in your art journal without sticking pages!!!


This is the page after using a stencil with black spray ink, orange and yellow. I sealed some of the page and then brushed gesso over the whole thing. After it was dry I used my fine sand paper block to distress it and move through the layers a little. It will also give me a super smooth page to write on. While not glass smooth I could write on this page with a fountain pen with ease.


Okay a quick note about Tim Holtz masks. They come in super cool
shapes-cobwebs, music, nice french curves, flourishes and gears, didn't I just tweet about wanting rubber stamps with
gears? These masks will have to be close enough. I really like them.
But the glue holds really well to raw paper but not to paper with
acrylic paint on it or gesso. Also while made to work with alcohol inks
they really don't like to sit in it or swim in it. I ruined the glue on
one by dousing it in a heavy coat of spray ink when it was on a gessoed
page. 🙁 No worries I have spray mount and will fix it. But if you do
get some of these be aware that the glue doesn't like a lot of alcohol
AND doesn't stick well to gesso or acrylic. But the effects you can get are so cool. They aren't too expensive and are infinitely reusable, just pic up a can of spray mount when you buy them and save some heart ache.

Spray Ink How to

Initially I got this idea from a youtube, I can't remember the name, her video was about alternatives to Tattered Angels spray inks. At $9 for a bottle the inks are expensive. I found some walnut spray ink for a 4 or 5 oz bottle for the same price. That's pretty pricey to me. She used an assortment of alternatives, Kool-Aid, ink etc.. What caught my eye was her use of stamp pad refills.

You'll need the following:

  • 1 bottle isopropyl alcohol, I got 91% but you could go 70% ($1)
  • 6 Hand Sanitizer Pocket Spray bottles. Mine are Walgreens brand but any with a removable top will work ($1.50 each) Each container holds .75 ounces of liquid
  • 1 package Posh Impressions Inkabilities 6 pack refill inks ($15) I got the Earthtones set. Adirondack Sells 3 packs for $10 with larger bottles in a greater range, either brand will work. I liked the selection for the price of the Inkabilities
  • PLEASE keep in mind that isopropyl alcohol is FLAMMABLE. It would not be a good idea to have an open flame while using these as the spray will light up. THIS IS A FIRE HAZARD. I Do not take any responsibility if you do something foolish and burn down your house or apartment.

What to do:
First empty out the hand sanitizer spray bottles. I saved mine in an almost empty bottle. I don't use the stuff, but Christie does. Wash the bottle in warm water. I rinsed until I could no longer smell the stink of the sanitizer.
Then I cleaned the sprayer out. To do this I filled one of the bottle with alcohol, and squirted 3 pumps through the spray head. Then I pulled the spray head out and sprayed until it ran dry. Good enough.
Then I filled each container half full of alcohol.
To this I added about 20 to 30 drops of ink to the alcohol*. twist the cap on tightly. Really tight. Shake.
Spray. Check intensity after the ink dries. Add more ink 5 drops at a time to get the desired intensity.
Now spray to your hearts delight.
My intent is to get some spray paint effects and increase my love of hand cut stencils…Tell me in the comments what you think and link to pages where you use it!

Some pics:






You might be wondering why I'd choose to use a hand sanitizer bottle instead of the Ranger little spray bottles. The hand sanitizer bottles are 2 for $3 regular price. I've seen them on sale at CVS for $1. The Ranger spray bottles are 3 for $5. It's a 16 cent difference to the regular Walgreens price, whcih isn't much. But I also know that the hand sanitizer spray bottles are pretty robust, designed to spray a gel in a very fine mist. That fine mist is what I'm looking for. The Stampington spray bottle I've used spatters, I think it's supposed to but I find the effect annoying. I also wanted to find a new use for something a lot of people might already have around. I know a lot of people use these spray bottles. They are designed to be tossed around in a purse so I know they are sturdy and don't leak as long as the cap is on it. Also as something that is designed to hold something that is alcohol based I know it will stand up to the abuse well. Not everything will tolerate the abuse of alcohol. Also these little hand sanitizer bottles only hold .75 ounces of fluid.




Also, thought not pictured I mixed a 50/50 mix of alcohol and india ink in a Stampington spray bottle and holy shite it's awesome. Anyway, everyone should try this. the total cost for me was about $25 for 6 colors not including the india ink.

Somethign else that is great that you could get extra spray bottles and mix colors- 10 drops yellow, 20 drops green for yellow green or 10 drops glue and 20 drops green for blue greens. You could create a completely individualized line of colors for your journal. ALSO you can remix fast and easy. It would take a long time to go through those refill.

*Do this step in a place where your floors are an easy clean up, becuase if you are like me and knock over your RED sprayer before you get the cap on it, it makes  a god awful mess. I can't image what it would do to grout. This stuff stains. However as it is alcohol based alcohol and the saved hand sanitizer does a great job of lifting it off hardwood. Trust me I know, it came off my oak floor very well. I'm really glad I have down a vinyl sign as a safety mat for my slobbery.

Les Calepin de Lapin and Issuu

I found this gem of a sketcher's blog via doodlers anonymous's twitter(@doodler). I really like this person's style, quick sketchy but over layers of background and just wonderful coloring. It's just a sweet bi-lingual blog. Also I found the site Issuu through them which is a site that lets you publish a book free online, particularly nice for sketchbooks, because it lets you almost thumb through the sketchbook and see each set of pages just like you'd look at it in person very nice, better check out Lapin's stuff on there, it rocks.

Dude! Craft

Sometimes I find a art and craft bog that embodies all that I want to be in a blog. You know, great content, great writing and way cool shite scoured from all over the internet. It's rare that  I find such a super cool blog. But I have, and via Twitter no less. It was through twitter that I stumbled upon DudeCraft. Sure the name might scare some shy chicks out there, worried (esp coming from me) that it's all about greasy motors and industrial design. But I swear DudeCraft is all about really cool crafts, I've yet to see any greasy motors (I know I know I love my greaasy motors and I'm all female) and lots of really cool links. So head over to dudecraft it's got my stamp of approval and follow the site on twitter.

What about my needs? Who’s going to meet them best Etsy or Artfire?

So through this whole Etsy debacle I’ve been thinking a lot about
what I want out of a selling website. I went through this with eBay. I was with
eBay early in its creation. I like to be on the ground floor of something.
Every website goes through some growing pains as it grows and brings in new
customers and stretches its base audience from a few die hard users to a more
casual set of users. If Etsy were truly shifting itself from the standard
business base model of bottom line growth they would not do this. But let’s
face it Etsy is a business as much as eBay it. The issue with its growth is
that it’s a community of sellers administrated by a hierarchy. The problem is
that the community sees themselves as independent and needn’t answer to a
hierarchy. The issue with any business is that for it to run smoothly it must
have a leader, and that means a hierarchy. Here we have the fundamental issue
with the Etsy system: a hierarchy over independents. It’s the same issue that
eBay had as it grew. The larger the system the more control the hierarchy needs
over its system. When you’ve built that system over independents it’s hard to
gain control.

Let’s face it Etsy did a crap job of it and has across the
years. One of the things I’ve learned as I’ve worked in the retail world as a
grunt, a supervisor and now from the HR side of things is that there are styles
of leadership. There is the do-as-I-say where the leader barks out orders and
the grunts follow them and if they don’t they are disciplined back into order.
Here the grunts are miserable and have little investment. The other style of
leadership that is applicable to this discussion is where the leader discusses
the orders and listens to the grunts. The leader says “here is what I want done”
and leaves it to the grunts as to how it gets done. Grunts love this style, it
invests them in the outcome and allows them freedom to think. You can tell a
new leader because they all start out as “do-as-I-say” types, barking orders
and having employee issues. After awhile someone tells them about the
communication approach and they see it works.

As I see things I think this is where Etsy went wrong, as a
young leader they don’t inform the grunts of changes in advance, they make them
and don’t bother telling the grunts. If they told their sellers of changes in
advance most of us would have rode the wave out and seen what happened on the other
end. They could have had more useful and meaningful conversations with the
sellers over issues they were having by opening a thread in the forums titled “what
have you noticed since the SEO changes happened?” They would have had thousands
of unpaid watchful eyes taking note of changes. This data could have been
invaluable. Instead Etsy left it to the sellers to discover the issue and post
rants and raves in the forums. So rather than having an intelligent discussion
on the issue, we were left with angry forum posts full of piss and vinegar.

I’ve seen the young leader approach a dozen times before,
when questioned they invariably come back at you with “I know best.” Sadly it’s
not always the case. Opening up a dialog with the sellers opens up a lot of
information and it’s too bad Etsy didn’t go that route.

The thing is that I need that form a sales location. I need
open and honest communication. I’ve rarely seen a successful leader that hasn’t
employed open and honest communication. It goes with the territory. I’m not
saying that Etsy HQ need to post to the blog or forums every time they get a
new desk or chair but when something comes through that they think MIGHT have
an effect on their sellers they should open up a discussion or send a
conversation to us, or put something up in the heading on the sellers page.

I would love to see Etsy increase its customer base, believe
me I love that they are interested in growing their sales, I know they don’t
care who gets those sales, the bottom line dollars are bottom line dollars.
Funneling buyers through the hard to use search ont eh front page isn’t going
to help. It’s going to lose them. The search function works marginally better
than it used to but it’s still rough and makes me unhappy. As a seller I need a
search function that works and the best way for them to fix that is to take
some of those millions they are grossing (what are Etsy’s net profits anyway?)
and hire a team of tag investigators that do nothing but investigate miss
tagged items as reported by the sellers and buyers. I’m sick and tired of
miss-tagged items on Etsy. It drives me insane.

So my needs from a sales site are as follows:

  1.  Open and honest communication about changes in
  2.  A fix on the search function
  3.  Miss Tagged items taken care of, in a timely
  4.  A more democratic front page

For the record I’d still be with eBay if it wasn’t skewed
for the big sellers and resellers of stuff. In the end after eBay and PayPal
fees I ended up giving up something like 15% of my item price to eBay.
Currently Etsy fees are about 6% on a $9.99 item (not including paypal fees).
ArtFire is a flat rate for a month the more sales the less it will be
percentage-wise for me.

I hope Etsy uses this to wake up and move from the do-as-I-say
leader model to the communicative mature leader model it’s time for Etsy to be
grown up and learn top down decisions with independent sellers don’t pan out
well for them.

I meant for this post to be more about Etsyhacks.com I don’t
have the money to support them right now but once I start selling again I will.
They have some greasemonkey scripts for FireFox that make using Etsy so much
easier and enjoyable. Head over and check it out.

quality matters so represent

Here is something that bugs the hell out of me: when people
put badly done work out there. I was searching on Etsy and came upon a seller
making Coptic bound books. The covers were fantastic. So I looked at a bunch of
their work. I found several books in their shop that I’d have been embarrassed to
list myself. Why? Loose and sloppy stitching, crooked stitches, and spines that
were lined up with the holes in the books and not the spine edge of the cover. This
was selling for top dollar too. The seller had listed it with the rest of their
listings as if it were the same quality.* ARGH.

I have 2 main issues with this practice by sellers. First it
gives sellers of handmade goods a bad impression. By selling that book that
seller is making all bookbinders look bad in the eyes of the buyer. As sellers
of handmade goods we have to remember that we represent ALL the other makers of
the same goods. When that book fails it will leave a bad taste in the mouth of
the buyer. That seller is looking to make a quick buck but ultimately will
tarnish his/her image.

Here is my second issue: Its bad customer service. Pure and
simple putting out a subpar product will only damage your image in the eyes of
your buyers. Craftspeople have a hard enough time selling our goods without
people selling badly done work. No matter where it’s sold it doesn’t matter
when you put your work out there you represent your work and all the other
people who make something similar. Buyers who learn through use and looking at
other handmade items will soon learn the flaws of a poorly made item. They will
be unhappy. They will not be back. They will feel scammed.

A note to buyers: If you’re looking for some Coptic bound
books where the seller has pride in their craft, does great work and has some
spot on design skill? Check these sellers out:

KateBlack.Etsy.com Her books are amazing, well designed and
well made

MyHandBoundBooks Very well made and fun books

Kristincrane.etsy.com Well made fun and funky and a lot of

Additionally, buyers should feel like they can ask a seller
questions. ASK questions of the binder. Ask how long they have been making
books. My suggestion ould be to not buy books from anyone who been making them
less than 6 months. Bookbinding is not an easy to learn craft and one that take
patience and practice to get good at. I’ve been binding for close to 10 years
and when I take a break from a particular binding style, I always make a few
screw up books, and Coptic is one of those styles you foul up on. Even when I
am making them on a regular basis I screw up regularly.

So for those of you who are sellers, if you must sell a
piece please label it as a second, list the quality faults, be honest with your
buyers and represent all of us well.

 *One could argue that perhaps the seller didn’t know that
this was a flaw, but before going on my tirade I looked at the rest of the shop
and found several books made properly and many books with different designs.
This was obviously a seller who knew better!

Buyer Beware

I have been going through quite an
ordeal with my sewing machine. The original sewing machine was a
hand-me-down from my mother because she upgraded to a newer machine
for her quilting. It was and is a Singer workhorse; a fantastic
strong machine. Well it decided it had enough of sewing paper. It
needs a tune up in the worst way and just can't handle, well, how I
like to abuse it. So I looked on Craigslist for a sewing machine,
something used and industrial. I found someone advertising just that,
after looking at 100 different pictures and descriptions I thought
I'd found the ONE and I emailed the seller. We worked out a date and
time. I drove out after work to a town far away.

I took one look at the machine and
instantly thought to myself I don't think this is the one in the
picture. I tested it and it seemed okay, with a strong motor, didn't
skip a stitch and looked good. I told myself that I was being
paranoid and that the machine I was thinking of was from a different

I get home and attempt to wind a bobbin
only to find that the winder works but not well. I can't figure it
out. I left the light on and got a cup of tea. Came back later to
find oil all over the case. The case was oozing oil from every seam.

After that it started to skip stitches
and has issues. I got conned by the “sawdust in the transmission
case” trick; the oldest resale trick in the book and I got caught
in it. The sewing machine itself is great, a real workhorse, a 70's
singer all metal case, metal gears, strong motor and a great machine.
But when it had been serviced it looked as though an entire bottle of
light machine oil had been dumped into it. I took it apart and there
wasn't a single area that the machine wasn't dripping in oil. They
had drenched it in so much oil that the timing belt on the bottom was
skipping, hence the skipped stitched. Oil and belts don't mix. Sewing
machines aren't like cars, they use light oil for a reason. If one
part is off it affects everything. So I figured lesson learned.

The machine is fixed and does what I
need it to but it wasn't what I expected. So I decided to sell it and
start fresh, I looked again on clist. I found a different ad
different location similar offering. I responded. We worked out
details. I was set to pick up when she gave me the address.

It was the same address I had bought
the over oiled machine from. I queried her, asking her questions, are
you the same person? I went through my emails and found the emails
from the first purchase, email address was different, name was
different but the physical address was the same. I questioned her
again mentioning the specific machine, wrote we'd talked for a long
time, mentioned specifics from the conversations we'd had. She

I couldn't do it. I wrote her back said
I was skeeved out by several things #1. Different email addresses.
#2. Different names. #3 Her refusal to acknowledge I'd bought a
machine from her in the past. As well as the misrepresentation of the
item I originally bought from her. I never heard back from her. But
if Kayla had emailed me back and said, “oh you must have bought one
from my sister Kim,” and explained the situation better I'd have
felt better. I'm someone who can write the machine off as a business
expense I wanted a good machine, yes for as little as I could spend,
but I can't do it with someone who has cheated me once. For instance
if they had told me the original machine would need work, it had
been oiled and would need work I wouldn't have been cheated, I would
have gotten into it knowing that I'd have to buy new belts and have
the machine serviced.

Anyway, I have the sewing machine I
bought tuned and working specifically for making jotters. It does
okay. Because of the original snafu I'll probably be listing several
bulk seconds sets.

(If you are in the North Shore of Mass, feel free to email me for the 2 email address and the physical address of the persons running the scam. I'll write publicly that the persons are in Methuen, MA and claim to have inhereted a closed sewing machine repair shop from their father.)

Back on track

The weather here is miserable and has
been on and off since the middle of December. As a non-essential
member of staff I am often able to work my schedule around the
weather and today is one of those days. Thank god, the idea of
driving anywhere in this garbage is pretty bad.

My father has been hard at work on the
sewing cradles on the farm in Maine. He has a bunch finished and you
can find them in the supply section of my shop. Each fits perfectly
into a USPS Priority Mail Shoes box. They now fit a 12inch high sheet
of paper and he has rounded the bottom edge for a smoother look. He's
kept the basic design and simplicity of the item. They still come in
a simple linseed oil finish, rubbed on. The linseed oil finish is
used instead of a slick hard finish so that paper will not slide
around on the wood but he natural grain and texture of the wood will
hold signatures in place while they are being punched.

I've also made a ton of matchbook
notebooks. They are 99% recycled, all the paper and covers are
recycled but the staples are a virgin material. (Many staples are
made of recycled steel but I am not sure about the heavy duty staples
I'm using.) I've switched to a 6 pack for $5.99 and will give
discounts for bulk purchases. You can find them in the recycled
section of my shop
. Say I love you AND the environment by getting
someone special some recycled journal for valentines day!