More Than Just A Snowflake

Hey guys!

Two weeks ago I did a Periscope version of a Mid-Week Create Break (MWCB).

What’s a MWCB? Well, back when I lived in Tallahassee I’d invite some crafty friends over on Wednesday evenings, put out snacks and beverages, pop in a movie, and my friends would bring whatever project they wanted to work on and we’d hang out and craft. It was a lot of fun and I miss it. It’s just not feasible for my Tallahassee friends to come up to Thomasville on a weeknight and I haven’t met many folks up here, yet. In time, I’m sure I’ll be able to restart it here, but until then I’ve decided to try a virtual version.

Which leads us back to the Periscope.

An old cake decorating colleague had this rule where, if she was going to buy a specialty pan or tool, she had to come up with as many uses for it as there were dollars in the price to fully justify the purchase. It’s a good rule, or at least a guideline if you’re waffling over an upcoming purchase. Since the stencil in our Winter Whimsy kit retails for $6.99 and the snowflake use is built-in, my goal was 6 more ways to use it.

The stencil in question...

The stencil in question…

I spent 45 minutes coming up with non-snowflake-y things to do with the stencil in the Winter Whimsy kit and the materials leftover from the 20 cards I’d already made with the kit. If you’d like to watch it, you can see it on Katch (though I warn you, the audio and video aren’t syncing worth a damn).

The funny thing is (to me, at least) that the one idea I had for sure about the stencil turned out not to work at all. But I did manage to come up with 6 more designs that could be accomplished with the stencil that weren’t winter-centric.

Then, after the Periscope was finished, I set about figuring out what I could turn those uses into.

"Leftovers" remade into new and fun things!

“Leftovers” remade into new and fun things!

So far I’ve turned the little diamond shapes into mini to-do lists which I turned into a pocket weekly planner. I want to revise one thing about it and then I’ll post an actual project for it because I think it’s pretty doggone nifty!

Then I used the snowflake “arm” that I stacked and stamped into evergreens along with the random dot pattern (created by ignoring the snowflakes and just inking the filler dots on the stencil) to make the night sky card front. The border is made of nesting frames cut out of the striped pattern paper (on the back of the snowflake paper) with the middle frame rotated a half turn to turn the stripes into chevrons.

The smaller snowflakes were a cinch to turn into flowers embossed onto vellum, and some of the more spindly snowflake “arms” made good filler. With a strip of that and a little bit of all the leftover papers I made a bookmark with window and flowerbox.

Finally, I decided one of the snowflake patterns reminded me of jacks–as in the kids game–so went with that for a simple top-fold card.

There’s one last use that I haven’t decided what to do with–the accidental gears I discovered from the tiny starbursts. I’ll come up with something, I’m sure!

I certainly had fun coming up with items from the “leftovers” in the kit, and I hope this encourages you to take another look at your tools to see what else you can make with them. It’s creative “problem” solving at it’s funnest!

I’ll be giving the Periscope MWCB another go tomorrow night. You’ll find me at 9pm EDT @thecraftybrach. I hope you’ll join me!

Beyond the Kit | BOUND Mini Art Journal

Hey, did you know that March is National Craft Month? If you didn’t, now you do!

Of course, at TCB HQ we’re always looking for and making time to be creative and do something crafty, and last night I created this art journal spread in the little lay-flat album made from our BOUND & Determined kit.

"The Invisible Artist" by Jennifer "Scraps" Vanderbeek

“The Invisible Artist” by Jennifer “Scraps” Vanderbeek

It turns out that the little hardcover, lay-flat album is pretty much perfect for art journaling! Not even something I’d really thought about when I included the instructions in BOUND. (I figured it’d be good as a photo album for instagram prints, since the pages are 3″ square.) But in trying it out last night, I realized three things:

  1. Each page is actually a double layer of cardstock. A lot of art journalers (journalists?) reinforce the pages of a sketch book or journal by gluing 2 or more together so it can stand up to wet media. Since the construction of this mini-album does that already, you’ve all set!
  2. The lay-flat binding allows you to work across both facing pages without having to fight the natural inclination of a book to close up on itself. Sure, you get that with spiral-bound books, too, but the lay-flat album does it without a gap between the pages for seamless creating.
  3. The small size (3″x6″ per spread) is perfect for a quick project being just slightly larger than an index card and way less intimidating than a full-sized blank canvas. The spread above took less than an hour to complete, start to finish. Plus, the small size means you can tuck it into a travel bag with a few chosen supplies and be able to create on the go without a lot of bulk!

A few things I did take into consideration with this layout was that, because it’s a bound book, I didn’t want to add too much bulk. While I did a little collage, I kept things pretty much flat for this layout. I may choose to add thicker elements on future spreads (after all, it’s not the end of the world if a book doesn’t close flat), but flat worked just fine, here.

I snapped some quick cell phone shots while I was working:

Prepping my pages.

Prepping my pages.

I may not have needed to reinforce my pages, but I always like to start with some pattern tissue torn and decoupaged to my surface. The lines from the patterns add a little something to the background (if they show through–they don’t always by the time I’m done) and the torn edges and inevitable wrinkles add texture.

I used to use Mod Podge or Helmar’s Decoupage and Craft Paste for this step, but I recently picked up a jar of Matte Gel Medium and finally see why all the artists love it so much! Not only does the gel medium glide onto the page much easier than traditional decoupage pastes, the surface it leaves behind is far more workable.

And to speed things up, I used my heat gun to dry each layer. If you have more time or are crafting in between other tasks, you can certainly stretch out the project by waiting for it to dry naturally. I’m impatient.

Laying down color.

Laying down color.

I had my tube watercolors still out from the gift canvases so I used Ultramarine Blue to paint over the tissue layer. The thinned paint did a great job of tinting the page all-over, but then I used some of the more concentrated color along the corners and edges to create a vignette effect.

The focal image.

The focal image.

While I suppose I could have (and often would have) flipped through a magazine for an image to add to the spread, this time I sketched out my figure and painted the entire shape with opaque white acrylic paint to create a neutral background for the oil pastels since my background was on the darker side.

"The Invisible Artist" by Jennifer "Scraps" Vanderbeek

Finishing touches.

Again, I could have cut words out of magazines or even gotten out my old Olympus manual typewriter, but I was in the groove, had a couple strips of paper laying around, so I just grabbed a pen to write out my message. See, that’s the thing about art journaling, there are plenty of options and no right or wrong way to go about it, you just get in there as see what works.

The words are applied with more gel medium and then edged in black watercolor crayon (they worked better on this layer than the oil pastels). I also added some metallic Sharpie details to my figure–the dashed lines remind me of how the illustrator of the Casper the Friendly Ghost books I had as a child emphasized that he was there but not there, since he was a ghost and all.

This spread was all about visibility–do the people around us really see us for the creative beings we are? And if they don’t, is it their own preoccupation blinding them or are we flying under the radar intentionally? That’s where the power comes in: the power to surprise, the power to selectively share those vulnerable parts of ourselves with others (or not), and the power to create without the expectations of others weighing us down with all their shoulds and can’ts and don’ts.

Or maybe it’s own expectations and can’ts that keep us from creating?

In honor of National Craft Month, our own ongoing mission encourage you to create more, and because I had so much fun with the last giveaway, we’re going to have a contest this month. It’ll be announced tomorrow on our Instagram feed (if you’re not down with the IG, it’s okay, we’ll do another contest on another platform another time, or you could use this as a reason to sign up!) so make sure you’re following @thecraftybranch to be able to enter and win!

Wishing you creative days!