Wednesday, April 29, 2009

WhooHoo! Altered Altoids box completed

And here it is! I call it "Gulls Just Wanna Have Fun".

It was a real blast to do. I started out with the three bathing beauties picture, from my ephemera and old photos collection. The design kept morphing as the ideas kept swarming. When I saw those little beachy buttons at a local craft store, I grabbed them so fast I left little whirlwinds in my wake! The other papers were junk mail, and the big starfish on top came from my Home for Abandoned Jewelry Orphans AKA "Sharon's big stash of broken stuff that might be useful someday".

This is for a swap on Altered StART, so I don't get to keep it. Sure does stoke me to do some more themed tins, though.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Creating in tiny spaces: Pt. 3

Or, "All I ever needed to know on the subject I learned at kindergarten."

Many years of working with kids via church, VBS, and the like, not to mention raising my own, taught me one of the best ways to win over space crunch--a trick every teacher knows: Set up work/play stations. In our little nest, I have several spaces set up outside my main crafting area that I can use when the mood hits, or when working on various projects at once.

Once again, the secret to living happily with a non-artist type is the ability to camouflage these areas.

Our common room is set up for three distinct living functions: eating, office, and relaxing. Thanks to my upbringing as eldest daughter in a family of 12 kids and never having much personal stuff or space, I have developed a keen eye for making every corner count. And thanks to SuziBlu, I like to fool around with drawing. Over here in the relaxing/viewing portion of the room, I keep all my drawing pads and accessories available yet hidden inside this cheapo ottoman I picked up on clearance at a discount store. Since I can never just sit there and watch a movie, I grab a pad and pencils and doodle to my heart's content.

Or I can take out cross stitch, hand sewing or embroidery, which I keep next to the couch in these nifty baskets. (The red one was Freecycled.)

Or I can pull out these trays which I keep under the sofa, and piece together backgrounds for ATCs or cut out pics and magazine letters for collages.

My next "sandbox" is a tray table set up in a corner. Once again, this is mobile and ready to move around. A vintage linen keeps it looking neater (or it would, if I'd iron it).

I like to peruse craft magazines and books for ideas while sitting up in bed. Once again, my tote fetish comes in handy.

I also keep small projects in another bag which can fit into my purse when I go out.

Thanks, Mrs. Shannon! Class dismissed, and don't forget your lunchboxes.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Creating in tiny spaces: Pt. 2 UPDATED

When space is limited, storage becomes at once a priority and a pain in the tush. A single person can have their space any way that suits them. But what about the artist who shares living quarters with a neat freak left-brainer who doesn't enjoy seeing craft clutter spread out all over the place? Ah, there's the rub, as The Bard once said. It's time for the delicacy of diplomacy and compromise.

In our case, it came down to moving the dining table to our large common room from the eat-in kitchen, which then became my main crafting area. Christmas before last I got a nice adjustable art table. You really don't want to see the top of it right's a bloomin' mess with about 6 projects happening and the debris of a few others still to be put away. My compromise is to cover it with a gorgeous tablecloth some friends sent from Ireland. Hey--why shouldn't even my cover ups be beautiful and inspiring?

No, don't want to look under there! You don't!! Trust me!

All right, if you insist...but remember, you were warned.

Told you so! Okay, moving on.

I started gathering (read: scrounging) plastic storage bins and stacked them on one side, with baskets and more on top. Nearby I tacked up a makeup travel kit bag with see-through compartments, wherein I store ATCs in progress, small cutout pics I want handy, and the like. Next to that I hung my paint shirt.

Over to the left is a great little unit I found at Costco on closeout. Above that is my favorite all-time embellishment "file"--a fishing tackle box. What a wonder! I have separate compartments for different colored buttons, beads, shells, broken jewelry, and whatnot--all within reaching and, more importantly, remembering distance. (Isn't it annoying to forget what you have because you can't see it?)

Speaking of which, down under is where I keep folders containing stickers, vintage photos, ephemera, and such. Old pickle and pasta jars keep trims and miscellany handy. A castoff tote holds my Quick-Kutz die cutter and accessories (got those on slash-and-burn sales, too!) and a hanging bag contains my glue guns and sticks.

Amazing what you can store in a small area!

Check back for Pt. 3: Take a tip from pre-school

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Creating in tiny spaces: Pt. 1

So you don't have the art studio of your dreams. In fact, you don't have a studio at all--you live in a dorm or cramped apartment; or with your parents; or share space with a spouse, kids, two cats and a dog. That doesn't mean you can't make art. In my square-footage-challenged domain, I work with what I've got. Today and continuing through the next segments of this series, I'll show you some of my ideas.

First, let me introduce you to my Porta-ArtSpot:

Yup, my new "BFF", an old picnic basket I picked up at a garage sale. It can go room to room or in the car to wherever I might want to create--such as my friend's house for our monthly "art play date" or even to the local coffeehouse. I can change out the contents easily, and even close it and use the top as a footstool while I'm working on something.

Think of your lack as a positive rather than a negative. It's a challenge! Look around at what you've got, and find creative solutions. It can actually be fun, and stir your imagination in other ways.

Back tomorrow for Pt. 2.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Brighten those corners--pay it forward!!

Do not wait until some deed of greatness you may do
Don not wait to shed your light afar
To the many duties ever near you now be true
Brighten the corner where you are.

~Ina D. Ogdon, 1913

I love that old hymn because of its message: Don't wait till you're "rich and famous" to make a difference, even with your art! The only time we have is right now.

This fabulous idea is from Diane Evans via Dot/Dabbled via Piggy in the Puddle, and I'm adding my own stuff at the end (out of italics):

Then I headed over to one of my friends blogs and found this wonderful idea of paying it forward....this is all with something creative.....

Here's how it works....

The first five (5) people to respond to this post will get something made by me.

This offer does have some restrictions and limitations so please read carefully:

1. I make no guarantees that you will like what I make. Whatcha get is whatcha get.
2. What I create will be just for you, with love.
3. It’ll be done this year (2009).
4. I will not give you any clue what it’s going to be. It will be something made in the real world and not something cyber. It may be weird or beautiful. Or it may be monstrous and annoying. Heck, I might bake something for you and mail it to you. Who knows? Not you, that’s for sure!
5. I reserve the right to do something strange.
6. In return, all you need to do is post this text on your blog and make 5 things for the first 5 to respond to your blog post.
7. Send your mailing address - after I contact you.

IMPORTANT: This offer is null and void if I do not see you post your own blog to pay this forward.
This text was used from

So then--everyone clear on how this works? Hope to hear from you! And yes, I will gladly send outside the USA.

MSCE 4/21: Altered Altoids tin, in progress

I'm doing this for the current swap at my very favorite Yahoo Group of all time, Altered StART. The assigned theme is "By the Sea", and I finished the inside lid today. That's real German glass glitter in there--oh, Ilove that stuff!

Still tweaking the rest of the tin, and will post as it gets done. I have to have it mailed off before a week from this Thursday, so stay tuned!

Monday, April 20, 2009

CBL featured at Polymer Clay Tutor!

This certainly was a pleasant surprise at the end of my day! Cindy Lietz is a very accomplished polymer clay artist and instructor who might even get unwieldy me to try again (if indeed I can be trusted! HA!) Her site is incredibly interesting and jam-packed with helpful information and artful inspiration. You don't have to be into clays or beading to get a lot out of it--evidenced by her April 9 post about my favorite art form, mixed media--but if you are, I guarantee you'll be in Polymer Paradise! She even has some free introductory videos to get you going.

Many thanks for the thumbs-up, Cindy! I'll be spreadin' the word to all my crafty friends about your great site.

MSCE 4/20: 2-minute paper clip recipe holder

Today's idea was inspired by my two favorite muses: excess and need. I inherited three huge boxes of colored paper clips from a kind Freecycler and since I'm not really going to clip thousands of papers together, am always looking for ways to use them. I also like to tear out interesting recipes from magazines. Trouble is, if I then stick them in a box or drawer, I completely forget about them. I thought it'd be fun to have a cute and colorful paper clip chain hanging on the side of my microwave, with my latest finds displayed where I can see them when I'm making up my grocery list. A couple of magnet clips from my Dollar Store stash and it was good to go.

Gee, ya think?

Your rainbow is shaded red.


What is says about you: You are a passionate person. You appreciate energetic people. You get bored easily and want friends who will keep up with you.

Find the colors of your rainbow at

This was amusing...I am definitely a Red.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Free is better! --Public domain images for collage on Flickr

You absolutely must not miss this! Thanks to Robin on Altered StART, I have discovered Free Collage Images on Flickr and may not ever come up for air again. I might have to get another hard drive just to hold the ones I want...and want...and want...nope, just kidding! The idea is to save lots of money on materials so I can get the tools I really want.

*Note to self: Hold out for the laser printer and the Dremel instead of that cheaper handheld drill!

Cool beans!

My jewelry disaster post of last Tuesday was picked up by the wonderful new blog Craft Fail, and also merited a comment by none other than The Crafty Chica herself, Kathy Cano Murillo! Me so happy!

Friday, April 17, 2009

MSCE 4/17: Photo Fun

I don't have Photoshop and my knowledge of such things would fit into Thumbelina's thimble. However, I do have a basic photo editor, (the apparently now-defunct) Microsoft Picture It; and Google's wonderful Picasa--both CBL-certified 100% FREE of charge and idiot-proof--so I decided to play around with one of my own pics and see where it landed. My Cool Thing today is this (drumroll):

I might find it a little on the edge of creepy. I kind of like the misty, foggy look and the way my eyes pop. My husband liked it, too...he actually used the word "dreamy". (Thanks, Honey! I think you're a keeper!)

Next time, I'm gonna try because I read on Kim Komando's excellent site that it has an easier learning curve than Photoshop or Gimp, which I tried once but gave up after weeks of staring at in bewilderment.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

MCSE 4/16: Yay goody! A new toy!

This one is just way too much fun and, best of all, free! Next time you feel like escaping, instead of playing MahJohngg or Free Cell till your brain turns to limp cabbage, go on over to Wordle and make something COOL!

Here's the thumbnail of mine:

There's also a clickable image over in the sidebar--scroll down a bit and you'll see it. In case you wonder, it says, "I am creative and no one can take that from me."

Wordle lets you put whatever words you choose together in all sorts of configurations; just upload to their public gallery, or print out your new work of word art and use any way you wish. Cloud computing is coming, so let's mount those creative flying ponies and get on up into the atmosphere!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to make bad jewelry

It's refreshing to find crafty gallows humor like the ones listed over there in the sidebar of that name to the right. One of my new favorites is Craft Fail, a sort of True Confessions of creative attempts that should just never have been unleashed.

In the spirit of that and of, well, just laughing at myself because I need to today, here is where I spill on...ME! I now present three projects, each with potential in the conception phase, but woefully lacking in execution. (Hmmm...execution...gallows humor...pattern here?)

EXHIBIT A, Filed under "WTH": Plastic bead that just ate it, but not before exacting bloody revenge

Who in the world could mess up these? I mean, how easy-peasy can something get? I followed the instructions. Don't ask me how, but I ended up with what appears to be a green inner ear bone. No, wait--it's a deformed miniature coffee mug! No, wait--it's The Leaning Tower of Teeny Tiny Plastic, with two micro-ropes attached to keep it from hitting the ground! I have no idea what it is, but it sure the heck is not a bead.

Being the optimist Queen of Denial I am, I thought hmmmmm...maybe I could wear it as a funky ring!
Yay! Cool idea...until I put it on my finger and promptly impaled myself with the sharp point inside. Yeeowch! As if that weren't enough, I then realized I hadn't even taken all the stupid soda bottle label off. Tacky, tacky!

EXHIBIT B: The absurdly impractical cuff bracelet--now with random EXTRA glitter!

Happy, happy! A castoff leather cuff bracelet, just begging for a Crafty Bag Lady makeover...all mine! All I had to do was find a new embellishment for it. There were dozens, if not hundreds of possibilities in my stash. Inexplicably, I chose a green pottery rose--not for a moment considering its complete unsuitability for the purpose.

My next hurdle: an adhesive to stick ceramic to leather. Because of the rose's dimensions, I couldn't clamp or put anything heavy on it, so I reached for my good friend Gorilla Glue and thought the problem was licked. Not until it dried did I notice the unsightly yellowish glue halo all around the rose. Ever tried to peel that stuff off of leather? Ever tried peeling concrete off a sidewalk with a spatula?

OK, so I was stuck with it (sorry; corny pun genes in my family.) So then I thought, What's cuter and covers more crafty sins than glitter? Aha! A very Crafty Chica solution! I am so clever! Except that the glitter didn't hide the glue halo as much as draw attention to it like a flashing neon CRAFT DORK sign.

Oh, but I'm stubborn. I would hold my head up and wear my glitter-enhanced gluey green rose and leather cuff and wear it proudly! Except that the weight of the rose constantly pulls the cuff down, snap side up. I am always having to watch that the delicate rose doesn't get chipped, and I can't get the rose off without busting it up. I can't wear it anywhere. It's's haunts my jewelry rack as a reminder that all that glitters is not crafty gold.

EXHIBIT C: Cheerios, pepperoni, and mouse droppings necklace

This is my most infamous handmade-gone-toxic. And like brown eyes, big feet, and a funny-shaped thumb, it is with me till the day I die.

It was the 90's and Fimo was all the rage! Everybody who was anybody was buying the stuff and churning out mountains of intricately designed beads and other gorgeous adornments. Me too! Me too! Can I come into your playhouse? See, I bought some clay of my very own! Cinnamon and beige and black--isn't that an interesting and fun combination? Hey, I'm an artist, just like you! And just look at this classy polyester string! Cool, huh? Huh? And I'll even do nice little knots between the beads as spacers...'cuz I'm so artsy...

Ba da DUMB.

The beads are misshapen and not funky enough to be cool but not nice enough to be acceptable. The knots are tied too far away from the beads. This necklace is so bad that it's been through three garage sales and I haven't been able to unload it for 25 cents. I tried to give it away once; the erstwhile recipient declined. I even put it in a Freecycle box and I swear, the thing actually came back to me! Accckkk!

Thus it is destiny, the necklace and me: together forever, forever together, till death do us part. And I've never touched Fimo again.

Monday, April 13, 2009


I was so proud of the Facebook application I made. Carefully chosen graphics enhanced witty, sparkling text. Following every instruction to the iota, I took an extra half hour just to tweak it to perfection. I couldn't wait to post it here--I was that proud of my very first such effort!

Finally! The click of submission into the aether! Now it was just awaiting the fruit of my efforts. Whoooo--creative me!

Except...the gremlins, obviously bored with their usual routine of causing world upheaval and head lice outbreaks, decided on a course of action: Now wouldn't it be soooooooo funny to eat up Sharon's project! She's such a dork! Wheeeeeeeeee!

Crash, bang, freeze...DANG!

And the worst part was, I'd already eaten all the chocolate.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

MSCE 4/11: Recycled paper Easter basket

Considering I was making this between errands, coloring my hair, and getting ready for a combination Easter/first birthday party for my grandson, it's not half bad. Every bit came from the recycle bin (shopping bag, bottom of card box, used paper plate for the cutouts, tissue paper for the grass) except the green bow, which I snagged from a cookie tin. Anyhow, the kids liked it.

Friday, April 10, 2009

MSCE 4/10: A writing and reuniting kind of day

This was one of those very busy-busy days in which I had lots of great ideas and no time to implement them--for instance, a beloved niece with whom I've been out of touch for way too long (not by choice) found me online and we had a fantastic reunion. She and I share a birthday, and I've missed her keenly. Naturally, I spent the time with her that I would have given to making some foofie or other for MSCE--and happily so!

However, I did create something this morning before the day got away from me: a Good Friday poem which I shared on my other blog and will reprint here. It's a contemplative expression of my faith, but also of the hope of new life that Spring represents. Tomorrow I'm doing some cool Easter things for my darlin' little grandboys, and I'll be sure to post them. Happy Easter, everyone! Life is beautiful!


Before the Glory is revealed
There is suffering and scourging
Spitting and cursing and untold shame
Bloody betrayal and no companions who remain
Not overcome by presumption of misspent faith
And terror of complicity.

Before the Glory can be seen
Before lilies can burst open, rejoicing
And transformed men forget their own lives
And disconsolate women see past their own pain--
One being no less miraculous than the other--
Life must turn its face away
And disinherit all hope.

A grave-lust must be satisfied
The seed fallen in darkness and forgotten
And shadows, prematurely triumphant,
Swallow Light alive
And crow in celebration
At the presumed victory.

Before the Glory sunrise brings,
First comes the stone
Of Reckoning.

© 2009 Sharon L. Shannon All rights reserved

Floral divider courtesy of Webweaver's Free Clipart

Thursday, April 9, 2009

MSCE 4/9: Cutie-patootie card earrings

Using the 7 of Diamonds from that 50-cent teeny deck of cards I mentioned before, I whipped up today's offering. I just cut the card diagonally, then covered all sides with clear packing tape. A few jump rings, earring hooks, and seed beads later, I got these:

Aren't they just the cutest?

Free is better: Dover samples

Sign up for the Dover email newsletter and get beautiful sample images every week! I've built up quite a collection of these. The Dover folks are legendary for their vast pool of vintage and other images. Their books are amazingly affordable--and we all know, cheap is great!

Welcome to my kitchen

It's a galley, too small for more than one person to fit in at a time...a happy little nook of clutter. Yep, those are dirty dishes in and around the sink, and clean ones in the drainer that need to be put away. I'm too busy writing in blogs, updating on Facebook, soaking in grandbaby love, and fiddling around making stuff. Who's got time for spotlessness? I do love to cook, though--meaning, seeing what's in the cupboard and putting it together. The fun is in the challenge. Plan ahead? Not much. Whatever ingredients are on sale/in season in any given week end up in some humble but (I like to think) tasty dinner presentation at Castle Shannon. In 34 years, I've only had one memorable failure: As a newlywed, I tried mixing sauerkraut, hot dogs, and mushroom soup. Not recommended!

Tonight I think it's chicken thighs with soy sauce, peanuts, and and peaches. The King will have a nice baked potato and my side will be a yam with pumpkin pie spices. A simple salad will tie it together.

Here's what hangs over my stove:

Words to live by!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

MSCE 4/8: Button & tassel hair clip

I found this wonderful blog and this one, too, last night and signed up right away for Make Something Cool Every Day. Here's my first entry:

Hair clip: On hand
Tassel: Salvaged off an old fridge magnet
Button: From collection

A little hot glue and (as we say around here) VIOLA! Simple but fun. I'm wearing it right now: