Thursday, December 17, 2009

Taking a Break...

In paper crafting that is.  This year, I've completed an unknown amount of scrapbooking pages, cards and other assorted projects.  And before the year's up, I've got more to complete.  I've simply burned myself out.  I've kept this an open ended blog; not so much exclusively scrapbooking and papercrafting, but I had the foresight when I created this blog back in July of 2008 to keep the possibilites open for showcasing some of my other talents.

In addition to papercrafting -something I only started back in 2003- I have interests in other crafting mediums.  For my 9th birthday WAAAY back in 1994 -I do realize some of my readers are chuckling at that statement- I was given my first sewing machine for my birthday.  I don't remember the model number (I do believe the numbers involve just zeros and ones, and the letters H, I or J) but I do remember that it was a Babylock.  I was quite fond of that Babylock, and is currently with my dad in Virginia.  Then in 2005 when I was pregnant with Zoe, I had the fanatical desire to purchase another sewing machine, and I got a Brother sewing machine on eBay.  It wasn't in the greatest of shapes; honestly it was worth every bit of the $15 dollars I paid for it, and not a penny more.  Eventually though, it ended up on it's last leg, and I replaced it with my current machine back in October of 2007.  Because I had such fond memories of my Babylock, I went back to the brand and purchased another one.. this time buying a Babylock Xscape.  It's portable and is actually a little smaller than most machines -it advertised as being 2/3 the size of a standard machine- and only weighs about 13 lbs.. even came with a bag to carry it in!  I was also lucky enough to get it during a good sale, and ended up saving myself roughly $299.  I won't tell you how much I paid for it, and how much the original price was.

Around the time that I got my first sewing machine, I also gained an interest in yarn crafting, something I got from my Aunt Mary.  She's one of my dad's younger sisters and was probably one of my biggest influences into creativity and crafting.  I remember watching her crochet, and being absolutely fascinated with how quickly and nimbly her fingers worked the yarns and crochet hooks.  I wanted to learn.  Unfortunately, I'm left handed and she's right handed -like 90% of the world's population- and all I managed to learn how to do was a chain stitch.  Years later, when I was a sophomore in High School, during my lunch break I discovered a book in the school library.  I don't remember the title of the book; I just recall it being very light and small and was excited to discover it had crocheting patterns in it!  And even more so, I was finally able to make sense of what my aunt was trying to show me 6 years earlier.  And just for good measure I grabbed the book next to it or nearby and taught myself how to knit.  I had difficulty casting my stitches onto the knitting needles, however; I met a very nice lady at a crafting fair not too long after that and learned how to cast stitches properly.

So there you have it.  For the next while, I will be focusing on going back to these crafts.  I will occasionally do cards and whatnot; but my main focus will be sewing, knitting and possibly crocheting.  I do hope that my followers that enjoy seeing my paper crafts will come back and follow my blog still as I journey back into knitting and sewing.  Of course, I will occasionally do some paper crafting, but that will become the exception, rather than expected.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Cabbage Roses

A while back, I was planning on making myself a sash belt with cabbage roses on it to wear with a dress I purchased but ended up having to return because it was too big.  That happened after I had already bought a sash, something I no longer really need, but that still did not put a damper on my interest in creating cabbage roses.

So today while conversing with my friend about sewing, I had the urge to sew one, and ended up making two.  I used some fabric I had bought over 4 years ago when I made Zoe's baby bedding, and because of how careful I ration my fabric, I ended up with a respectable amount of fabric left.  Some time ago, my friend had found me this link, which I bookmarked and I pulled it up today to figure out how to sew these flowers.  It's a great tutorial; however if you're left handed like me, it's got a bit of a learning curve, because I tend to work clockwise, while right handed people tend to work counterclockwise.  I ended up having to save the files and then reversing them so I could follow the directions, however my flower didn't come out quite as well as I'd like, however for a first timer attempting to work in reverse, it came out alright.

The center stabilizer is actually a pearl.  As you can see the flower is worked around clockwise, which for some reason I find aesthetically pleasing.

Then I of course decided to try again, and this time without the stabilizer bead and I added a second piece of fabric between the folds and sewed that together to give it a different look.

This one is done without a center stabilizer, and it's also got another piece of fabric.. and it's quite a bit larger as a result of using longer length of fabric. And it also goes counter-clockwise.

I'm not sure which one I honestly like more, since they are both pretty and unique in their own ways.  However, I cant wait to experiment with different fabrics as well as different finishes.. the instructions suggest to hide the raw cut edges of the fabric, but I think I want to try this with the raw edges showing... there's just so many possibilites with this one set of instructions!  You can also do this with ribbon and other types of fabric.. satin, organza.. as long as it's not too thick it should work!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Working With Vinyl

One thing I've always wanted to do with my cricut was cut out vinyl and then use it to decorate.  And I finally did!  I've done two projects.. and with a bit of fustration and I do have to admit.. a little swearing, I got them done!

This was the first one I did with Zoe's help.  On Monday, we purchased the wooden plank at Roberts, and then painted it bright orange and let it dry overnight.  Then the next day we went to a local place and I went a little crazy and bought a bunch of vinyl sheets.  Then we came home and put this together!  The ghosts and tombstones were from Paperdoll Dress Up, and the "Happy Halloween" was cut from Lyrical Letters in the Jack Sprat feature for the "Holidays" cut (page 67 of your handbook).  I was thinking to cut it it at two inches, but that ended up being way too small, and so I loaded it up on my mat and hit the 'fit to page' feature, and as a result it was cut at 4".  The Ghosts were cut at 2" (lower right) and 1.5".  And the tombstones were cut at 1.5" and 1.25"... I think.  I used a black sharpie to accentuate the eyes and mouths for the ghosts, and then did the same for the tombstone's features.

I made this one yesterday.  I believe the material of the board is MDF, and I learned that MDF painted with regular craft paint doesn't work very well.  You can't get an even coating.. as you can see; however it is not as noticeable in person.  If I do another one of these, I'm thinking I will need to buy either spray paint primer and use craft paint over it, or I'll just buy smaller sized cans of spray paint and paint it that way instead.  I do have to admit though, the paint is quite old and I think it had seperated at some point so that may have had something to do with it not coating evenly.  Anyway, after I applied two coats and let it dry, I took a dauber and with my "Spring Leaf" CTMH ink pad, I daubed the beveled bits to give them a bit of color.  Of course, I HAD to use my least juiciest ink pad, so I foresee a CTMH order with a reinker included...  Anyway, I used brown vinyl and used Lyrical Letters "Loop Dee Loo" font and cut out "The Hayfords" at 2.5" and everything else at 1".  My inital plan was to have "EST 2005" above "The Hayfords"; however the board wasn't tall enough to do so, and therefore I improvised.  The silver flourishes -they may be a bit difficult to see- were cut at 1.5" and they are from the Home Decor solutions cartridge.  And I love the saying I added onto it.. because Jeff and I are both gamers, and I know if we did not have that in common, our relationship wouldn't be as good as it is.  My biggest beef with this project isn't the paint, but the fact that some employee stuck the price tag on the FRONT AND CENTER part of the board!  The paint didn't want to cover it very well.  And again, I'm pretty sure that spray paint would solve my even coat issue, but nonetheless, I'm happy with how it turned out!

I really enjoyed working with vinyl.  My only word of advice, if before you cut it out, test the cuts on paper before you load your vinyl up.  This way, you'll know how it'll come out on the mat, and this will also let you know how much you'll need exactly; rather than eyeballing it or cutting out a full sheet of 12x12.  This way, you can cut off what you need and save the scraps!  And I think next time too, to save myself the headache, I will be investing in 12x24 mats so I can lay it out in design studio, and then lift it off the mat with the contact paper, versus trying to do it piece by piece by hand.. VERY frustrating with those curly letters!  I still had fun though!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Work in Progress

Well, I haven't worked on much lately.  However, today I felt inspired to go into my craftroom and create something, so create something I did!  Unfortunately, I've hit a brick wall with my project.  I feel that it NEEDS something else, but I can't figure out what!  Any suggestions?

It's not the best picture, but at least you can get a general idea of what it looks like.  And yes I know, it would have looked better if the picture was in either black or white or sepia, but I didn't think I would do this particular project when I had the picture printed.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Color Blocking Tutorial

Once again, I participated in a Digital challenge, and last week's challenge was to use eight or more photos in a layout.  Here's the link to Diane's blog entry to see the challenge.  I initally had some hesitation to participate in this challenge, because I didn't think I had enough pictures of one event to do the challenge.. then while I was looking through my pictures, I decided to do a layout from Easter!  It worked out perfectly because Zoe and I colored eggs, and the girls also got easter baskets, so I took pictures of those that I ended up including in the layout.  Here's my layout.

And one of the lovely ladies pointed on the FCTSC message board pointed out another tutorial was needed, so here I am, making another one!  And just for the record, I do not mind!  I LOVE learning about photoshop and learning new methods and techniques and I'm more than happy to share my knowlege.  This tutorial will be covering the techniques used in the bottom right picture, and the top right picture.  As you can see, the eggs are in color, but the rest of the picture is not.  I'm also going to go off on a tangent here and this tutorial is... NOT going to involve fish or fishing trips.. YAY!  Before I start though, I want to explain a bit about how I initially started using this technique and why.

When Zoe was a baby, she had the BRIGHTEST blue eyes I've ever seen -at that point of my life anyway; since then I've seen bluer- on a person, and I LOVED how blue they were.  I said 'were' because they turned a green/hazel color about a year or so ago.  Anyway, I would color block -the term of this technique- her eyes in pictures and then do the rest in black and white.  Here are some early examples.

Anyway, I eventually got brave and tried larger objects or subjects, which resulted in this:

However, for simplicity, and ease, I will be demonstrating this with a simple object with very good contrast; that is contrast between the subject and the background.

Here's my drinking cup, please excuse my screen, I didn't realize I need to clean it off!  Obviously, the green is very contrasting with the black and white and brown of my desk, the bag of baby wipes and my wall.  BTW, that book you see is a chipboard album I covered in zebra minky fabric, and have yet to finish it up; since I'm not sure what I want to do with it yet.

Anyway, the first thing to do is obviously open the image up in photoshop!

The tool you want to start with is the magic wand.  Here's a closeup of where it's at.

As with everything in photoshop, it's extremely important to use layers.  However, this time we're doing layers slightly different.  Anyway, use the magic wand to completely select the cup (in my case anyway).

Once your object is completely selected, it'll have this black and white line going around it.  Keep in mind, sometimes it is easier to select the area AROUND the subject -for example you were trying to colorblock a person standing up against a solid colored wall- and then inverse the selection to get your subject.  To inverse, you go to "Select > Inverse" and it'll inverse your selection to whatever is not selected. This is very much like my first tutorial about digital elements; however we're taking it a few steps further with this one.  Anyway,  the next step is to copy the selected image.  It's also important to work with the largest file size possible in terms of how many pixels it is wide and tall.

You do this by going to "Layer > New > Layer via copy".  And at that point, you'll have a second layer, and it should look something like this in your layers box in the lower right corner -that is if you left the default locations for everything as it is-.  The next step is to make sure you have your background layer selected or highlighted -opposite of what you see in the above image- and then deselect your image by going to "Layer > Deselect".  This is to ensure that none of your background is selected, because the next step if not done correctly will result in your object being desaturated, rather than the whole background.  To desaturate, you go to "Image > Adjustments > Desaturate".  This will remove all the color from the selected layer, and turn it into shades of gray.


 The next step after this is to merge your layers.  You do this by going to "Layers > Merge Down" (this works if you have the top layer selected) or "Layers > Merge Visible".  Then once you are happy with the image and how it turned out, adjust the size of the picture -if you want- and then save it as a .jpg file!  For some reason in photoshop, if you work with layers, it'll try to default save it as a psd (photoshop) file which won't work because most webpages don't recognize the file as a psd, and it won't show.

Keep in mind too, you'll almost never get a perfect selection of the object; this is okay, as long as you try to get MOST of it.  Keep in mind too, if the background color of your image is too close to the color of the subject -like a couch that matches too closely to your wall color- , it'll most likely not work with what you want to do.  If you plan on doing this with a particular object or person in mind, be mindful about the closeness of the shades with the background and such.

Hope that helps, and if anyone wants a tutorial on how I did the "black box with color inside over the desaturated background" like you see on the carton of eggs, or the four eggs with our names on it let me know!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Quick Photoshop Tutorial

I've joined a new message board called From C to Shining C, or FCTSC.  Anyway, there's a section where members of the board create once a week challenges for the other members, Monday-Friday.  My friend Diane who manages her own blog as well, has generously donated her time, creativity and talent in doing "Digital Challenges" on Thursdays.  She uses a program made by Creative Memories, and wanted me to do a quick tutorial for those people who do digital creating in Photoshop for yesterday's challenge; you can see it on her blog.  I said that I would be more than happy to help her out.

Yesterday's challenge was to "Make your own digital element from a photograph".  Basically, take a picture of any object -or even a person would work- and turn it into a digital element.  Diane cleverly used a gingersnap cookie to embellish a digital 'layout' with the recipe of gingersnap cookies on it.  And I'm going to give basic steps on how to create digital embellishments in Photoshop!  (You can see the blog post by clicking this link)

First step.  Go through your pictures and decide which photograph you want to create an element out of.  Unfortunately, my selection on a good quality picture of an object were limited... that is to say it was not blurry, cut off or low quality in anyway.  I did have a picture of some fish my husband caught in 2007, so that's going to be my digital element!

Here's the picture.  Seeing how the tail of the bottom fish is cut off, I decided to use the top fish instead.  I use Photoshop CS3; for those who use another program it should not be difficult to follow this tutorial since I'm just using very basic instructions, nothing too fancy.  I resized this picture, however; I'm not going to resize the screenshots of photoshop too much so you can see in detail what you have to click and use.

First step, crop the picture down to remove as much of the picture as possible, and so you can have just the object being turned into a digital element.  You do this by selecting the crop tool (in the red circle) and by making sure that there are no numbers in the "Width" and "Height" spaces, that way you can freehand the cut rather than be limited by ratios.  If you are not satisfied with how you cropped the image, you can just undo it, and then redo it again.

Next step, you need to select either the background or the item itself, by using the wand tool (blue circle).  I did the background as you can tell, but if you decide to do the item, make sure after you select it that you go up to "Select > Inverse" in the toolbar and inverse the selection, so your item is not selected, but everything else is.  Then go to the erase tool (green circle) and just erase everything that's selected.  Once you've erased everything, but if there's still stuff that you were not able to select (as you can see in my screenshot, I had that problem) deselect it by going to "Select > Deselect" and then carefully use your eraser tool -making the eraser smaller if you have to- and erase the extras.

Once you do that, your image should look something like this.

The white and grey checkered background means that there's nothing there in the background, and if you were to put it over something, there will be just the fish (in my case).  If you are going to save your image and use it for later, make sure that you save it as a Photoshop image, or in PSD format.  If you save it as a JPG image, what it will do is put the background as solid white; and that will create problems as using it as an element later in a layout.  My other recommendation is that you save it as the largest size possible; since you can always shrink it but you lose quaility if you try to increase the size after a reduction in size.

To use it as an element in a digital layout or creation, first reduce it to the size you want to use it at.  Then open up the new image, and keep the orginal open, select your "move tool" (the very top one) and then click and drag your element onto your digital layout page.

As you can see here, when you click and drag the fish over ot the digital layout, it automatically creates a second layer where the fish is it's own layer.  And you can also see that the fish is still in it's orginal image; it does not cut and paste, but simpily makes a copy of the image.

One thing that I've learned when using Photoshop; layers are your friends!  It makes mantipulating individual elements that much easier.  You can switch around the layers to create a different effect, you can adjust the opacity of one item and keep it completely solid with another one... possibilities are endless.

Well, except in my case; I'm not sure what I'm going to use this fish element in...

Monday, March 23, 2009

New Background and Swarm Pictures!

As you can tell, I've got a new blog background!  I've moved away from 'abstract' digital design to an actual scrapbook oriented background.  I had alot of fun designing the background, and was able to do so by following a tutorial found here off of The Cutest Blog on the Block.  I really do like their work, but I wanted to have something orginial and so I followed the tutorial.  I didn't use it so much because I had no clue how to use photoshop, but because I needed to know the exact dimensions that my background elements needed to be.  I spent about an hour or more doing the green background.. it was extremely time consuming because of the size of the file and how large the background was.  Then I created the branch and the owl by taking screenshots of design studio and turning them into vectored images and then went from there.  However, I'm unsure how much of them you can actually see, but here's a better view of the owl and branch.

Anyway, I went to the Swarm on Saturday that was graciously organized by Tomi Anne from the CMB.  I had alot of fun!  It was great to put faces and voices to the people on the CMB, and while I was probably the only person who did not stay the entire 12 hours, I will definately plan on doing that next time!  Here are some pictures.

The first picture is a candid picture of Tomi Anne explaining... something.  Then the next picture is of all of us posing with our swarm shirts on.

I participated in what's called an ATC swap; also known as Artist Trading Cards.  Basically it's a card that's 3.5" by 2.5" (or the other way around depending on how you wish to orient your card) and you make a specific number and then trade them with other people.  Only five of us participated, but that's okay!  From the top left, it's mine, then Tomi Anne's, Ronny's (Red Hat Lady on the CBM), then on the bottom row is Lynn's (Lynn on the CMB) and the last one is Jason's (scrapindad on the CMB).  Yes that's right, one of the most active participants and the person who organized our make and take is a GUY!  He's a really talented scrapbook and creator, and he was super patient with me when explaining to me one-on-one on how to correctly do the make and take; I was on the other side of the room and I couldn't hear him very well.
I'll take pictures later and post the make and take, and what I created with the goodie bags that Robert's provided for us.  I really should have taken a picture of the kits they gave us BEFORE I started gluing together the pieces and layers.  They also provided a second goody bag, in which I got a chipboard album, some clip thingies, a container of prima flowers and some foam letter stickers.  I never thought to use prima flowers until the swarm, but I can tell you they are AWESOME!  Funnily enough, I went with the intention of getting scrapbook pages done and I really didn't get anything done; kind of sad really.  I did create a mesh in Design Studio, and used vellium and chalks that was graciously loaned to me by Karen (Chiddy on the CMB) and I got hooked on chalks as well!
I really had a blast chatting and creating with everyone around me and my only regret was that I didn't stay longer!