Wednesday, September 28, 2011


I began creating ATCs in 2009.  The book Artist Trading Card Workshop: Create, Collect, Swap by Bernie Berlin had been, and still is, a wonderful resource.  The book contains so many ideas, techniques, and is a wealth of inspiration.  I even used some of the ideas for greeting cards.  There is a local scrapbook store near me that hosts monthly ATC swaps where I had participated in swaps in the past.  Isn't that the whole idea behind ATCs?  Create the cards, swap with others (don't keep them!) and collect other participants' work?  I really want to return to swaping.  Here are a couple of favorites I have made. 

The image comes from a picture that was in the newspaper.  I lightened it with a watered down layer of white gesso then filled in with details!  It's a lot of work.  The wording is from an old book of short stories that I am altering.  When I tear pages out of the book, I save them for other projects.  It's funny how I am not sure what I want an ATC to say, but then I look through the extra pages and words just pop out at me.  Does this happen to anyone else?  This card is waiting to be swapped when I return to the group one day, hopefully soon.

Don't we all have a dorky class photo...or two?  Yes, admit it!  We all do!  I combined a photo from a newspaper with one from a magazine.   I printed the "Class Photo" wording out on tissue paper using the Courier font.  When I first designed this particular ATC, I found myself a little freaked out at the image (I wasn't planning it to resemble a class  photo), but I also laughed out loud.  Sure she is smiling, but she doesn't appear to be comfortable with herself, with the skin she is in, what traits she was given.  She seems a bit expectant and maybe anxious.  I no longer have this card, but whenever I look at this photo (I am so glad I have a photograph every card I have made), it makes me smile and laugh a little.  Oh, those awkward years... 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Haunted Dollhouse: Dining Room Picture Window

Today I worked on the picture window rather than the chairs.  I need more balsa to finish the chairs.  I googled "spooky trees" and found an image I liked.  I judged the size of the window and re-sized the picture accordingly.  Also, when I had googled "vintage Halloween photos" last week, I found some of cute kids.  I cut out the image and glued it to the spooky trees image and then positioned the "window" on the back wall.  I cut out balsa strips and painted them a dark gray and glued them to the window to frame it out.  Here's a photo of the window almost complete. 

I found remnant fabric at Jo-Ann's.  I chose a gauzy yellow-gold for the drapes.  I judged the size, cut 2 panels, and doubled the length. I folded the panels in half and glued the ends and glued on trim. 

For the curtain rod, I used another strip of balsa and decorative wood knobs left over from another project.  I painted the wood antique gold but it didn't look aged so brushed the rod with watered down dark brown paint. 

To make the drapes appear old, I watered down dark brown paint and painted the curtains.  If an area had too much paint, I just added water.  I hung them over a long handled paintbrush to dry.  Once dry I rubbed the curtains with sandpaper to fray.  I realized nothing has to be perfect, it's okay if they don't hang evenly or if the trim hangs unattached in areas.  I didn't even measure, I just eyed all of my cuts.  The drapes just need to look as if they have been hanging in the window for years, maybe even decades, and are deteriorating with age and sun and water damage.  I tacked down the drapes here and there so the trick-or-treaters can be seen peering through the window. The drapes are a bit pouffy but will probably settle with time or maybe they give the appearance of billowing from the wind through an open or broken window.  Don't all haunted houses have open/broken windows?   I know I would jump with fright if I saw trick-or-treaters looking through my window!  There is just something eerie about vintage costumes, especially the  homemade ones.  Trick or Treat...!

"Hey lady, open the door!  We want our treats!"

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Haunted Dollhouse: A Dining Room Table & A Character

I am so happy I finished the table and even a person.  For assistance I viewed the tutorials at Artful Affirmations.  I didn't have any dark stain so I painted the balsa with raw umber craft paint.  The witch was found by doing a google image search for 'vintage halloween photos'.  Some of the returned results are a bit creepy...  I swear, a couple of them gave me a chill down my spine; yet, I do have plans for some of those as well.  I am working on the dining room chairs and the picture window.  Hope to have a new post soon.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Haunted Dollhouse: The Dining Room

I finished the walls, ceiling and floor (just have to glue down the carpet) of the dining room!  At Jo-Ann's I found sheets of suede with the scrapbook papers.  Never notice them before and thought the dark red would make nice carpeting for the dining room.  For the ceiling, I painted it ivory and stained it with Instant Age Varnish by Delta Ceramcoat.  It's with the craft paints in the same type of bottle.  I bought it years ago, and I don't have much left.  I hope they still make it!

The piece of balsa wood I am planning on using for the table top.  My goal is to finish the table this weekend!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A B-Day Card ~ Nuts!

I did not get a chance to work on the dollhouse this weekend so I thought I'd share a card I made for my mom for her last birthday.  Since she was born on Christmas, I give her something nice for Christmas but try to make her birthday gift clever, funny, unique...

I covered the inside and outside of a card with scapbook paper.  Then I cut peanuts in half and glued them to the card and added glitter and wrote "NUTS!" with dimensional paint.
The inside:
Yes, the cat gets to sign the card too!  The gift was an assortment of nuts, as many different types (peanut, almond, cashew, pecan...) and flavors (spicy, chocolate covered, toffee, Parmesan...) I could find. The idea came to me last summer, and I started shopping for the nuts then. Every store (Jewel, Piggly Wiggly, Walmart, Big Lots, Marshalls...) I went in I would check their selection of nuts.   Mom loves to snack on nuts so the gift was well received.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Haunted Dollhouse: The Beginning...The Gathering...

From the moment I opened "Mixed-Media Dollhouses: Techniques and Ideas for Doll-size Assemblages" by Tally Oliveau and Julie Molina, I knew I wanted to make a dollhouse of my own. I love how imaginative they are! The possibilites are endless.  I wondered, What type of dollhouse would I like to make?  Many thoughts flew around in my head.  Then I stumbled upon the blog Artful Affirmations.  The fairy schoolhouse is beautiful!  The tutorials are very helpful (especially the one on making furniture) and provided more creative thought.  I had visions of multiple dollhouses...a street...a town...  But, of course, this all starts with one single dollhouse.  I really like the castle and gothic dollhouses in "Mixed Media Dollhouses" and also thought about a fairy dollhouse.  Since it is September, the beginning of fall, I decided to start with a gothic or haunted house.  Which is funny because I hate horror movies and the emotion of being scared, but I think a haunted house will be a fun way to start, a haunted house that is more fun that scary.  I don't have much faith in finishing by Halloween, but I will give it my best effort. 

I gathered some larger and heavier shoeboxes.  In "Mixed-Media Dollhouses", they suggest cigar boxes or wooden photo boxes.  Size doesn't matter--different heights or widths are fine and look great stacked together.  I just have a hard time planning this out in my head.  What room should be which size?  Which box? Should different sized boxes have figures, furnitures and fixtures scaled differently?  I always like to plan everything in my head ahead of time.  Then I took a trip to Jo-Ann Fabrics.  They had cardboard photo boxes on sale 2/$5, reg. price being $3.99 each.  I bought four to start with.  I like the idea of having all the rooms the same height, width, and depth.  If I need a bigger room, I can always take out a "wall", which they show in "Mixed Media Dollhouses".  If things go well this time, maybe next time I will use the shoeboxes.  I went through my craft supplies and gathered scrapbook papers, fabric and glitter.  I've considered what would be a good fit for a haunted house.  Not sure how to fit glitter in to the mix, but I'll figure something out.  There has be glitter somewhere!  I also found some interesting clip art.  If you have any ideas for the glitter, please let me know!