crafts

5 Fun And Easy Ways To Use Decorative Paper!

5 Fun And Easy Ways To Use Decorative Paper!

I’ve been looking for a piece of decorative paper to add to the black and white gallery wall I’m putting together.  I found this great printed piece at The Paper Source for $4.95 on Friday.  It is a pressed handmade paper, with a cotton-like consistency.  The piece was very large- 20X30 inches.  I really only needed an 8X10 piece and I was thinking, gosh, I hate to waste it.  What else can I use if for?  So, I challenged myself over the weekend to find other ways to put it to good use  and I easily came up with five fun and easy ways.

First, I cut the 8X10 piece that I needed and put it into the white frame you see here at the very left.  I took a wider shot so you can get the idea of where I’m going with this.  I’m using a combination of printed paper, fabric, and watercolor that I’m doing in black and white.  It’s definitely a work in progress.

I had a gift to wrap this weekend, and I thought, why not?  I only needed a small piece.  I wrapped it up, added a gold bow, and viola!  My second use is as a super high quality gift wrap!

When I cut the paper to wrap the gift I ended up cutting off some smaller pieces.  So, I decided for my third project to play around with slicing some additional thin pieces and burying them in some layers of encaustic medium for a 3 dimensional effect.  This piece isn’t finished yet.  I only put it in this frame to get an idea of what the finished product will look like and I definitely think it needs some additional interest.  I put it aside to work on when I have more time.  Art is definitely an iterative process.

The fourth project required me to break out my stamps.  I made a 5X7 decorative placard with some watercolor paper as the background and the decorative paper.  I used a stamp (I already had) and embossed it with gold embossing powder which you can read more about here.  (I am totally addicted!)  I added some metallic gold around the edge of the stamped paper with a Gelly Roll pen, let it dry, and put it in an inexpensive frame (Home Goods $7.99)  I think this would look cute in a dorm room, don’t you?

For my fifth project, I thought I’d try the paper on some greeting cards.  Again this is just water color paper and decorative paper, stamps, ink…and of course…the glasses are embossed;) I like the yellow borders on the first card, and although it doesn’t translate quite as well here, it really pulls out the gold in the decorative paper and makes the card look “happy”.  I was going to make the outer edges of the second card in black, but I liked the way the gray looked -just a little softer.  After trying to make some valentine cards for the guys a few weeks ago, I though this could be a good card to send to a fella’!

 

Here is a bonus project. (I bet we can easily come up with five more ideas!) I used a small piece behind a photograph I had in a modern picture frame.   I like it the way it gives the photo a more defined framed look.  I still love the pattern, but it might be a little busy for my family room.   Oh, no…it might be time to go back to Paper Source to find another piece of decorative paper.  Hmmm….I’d better put that on the calendar for next month…or I might never stop this challenge.

 

This was so much fun!  What projects have you done with decorative paper that you enjoyed?  Please share:)

XO

Kate

 

 

Time for Change…

 

A quote was dogging me for months last spring.  I know you’ve heard it,  “The secret to change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new. – Socrates”  Over and over it appeared.  I felt like it was everywhere.

At the time I’d been volunteering for years with parents and teachers, trying to improve our large urban school district.  Unfortunately, anyone involved with public education today knows that means spending a lot of time in a “negative space”,  often speaking at school board meetings, and to politicians, who look at their computers while you’re talking, and pay more attention to parliamentary procedure than to the students and parents they represent.  It can be aggravating and disheartening – but students are important to me.  So I kept working.   And the quote kept appearing.  By October of last year it really had my attention.  I  committed it to memory.

I started to wonder if it was some kind of sign.  Maybe it was encouraging me to build something new in education? But what?  We had tried so many things in the past six years.   It was always one step forward, two steps back.  Ugh!  I call it the dance of educational frustration.

Then, a few chance meetings.  The first last summer with an artist on a trip to New England, and another, the following month, with a freelance writer while discussing an article. The positivity and excitement I felt during those discussions were so refreshing!  I started to wonder if it really might be time for me to make a change.  Maybe I needed to stop working in education?  But I had put in so much time and effort.  Part of me didn’t want to stop while another part was eager to work with such optimistic people in an encouraging space.

I can only imagine what I was feeling at this point was something akin to what it feels like to be in an abusive relationship.  I wasn’t happy.  I was tired of banging my head against a wall,  and yet I didn’t know how to quit.  I wanted it to work out.  In my case to make a positive difference in public schools in Georgia.  In my mind I think I knew it was time for change, and yet I kept showing up, hoping things would improve, knowing full well they wouldn’t.  I’m sure I’m not the first person to have felt that way.

Leaving started making sense to me, but I didn’t want to let people down.  I spoke to a few close friends about how I was feeling.  All the while that silly quote was bouncing around in my head.  How could I possibly focus on building something new and positive and when I was spending all my time trying to get school board members, who refused to listen?  I think at one point I actually said out loud, “OK. Talk universe. I’m listening.”

In my personal life my mother has been living with Parkinson’s Disease for the last 19 years. It has been a difficult and emotional journey.  Those of you who are helping to take care of parents who are ill while bringing up your own children (the sandwich generation)  know it can be stressful, especially when you don’t have siblings around to help share the burden. (I have to say here my husband and my kids have been amazing and patient and helpful.  I am very blessed.)

I have sadly, and sometimes angrily, watched my mother’s health deteriorate in more recent years.  Due to this, living a positive and creative life has taken on more importance for me.  I know life is short and precious. My mother, who is now  in a wheel chair,  often says I rush around too much. “You’re so busy! Just slow down!”  But, because of my experience with her disease I feel a sense of urgency about life.  I need to do things now, because someday, hopefully a long time from now, I may not be able to.

So during this time of raising my children, volunteering in education and helping take care of my mother I’ve spent any free time  I had working on creative projects.  Being creative has always been the way I recharge my batteries and renew my spirit.  It somehow allows me to think through even complex problems and come up with new solutions.  Maybe it’s just getting away from the actual dilemma and turning my analytical brain off for a bit.   I had always loved the ability to think outside the box and create something new.  And then it hit me… like a lightening bolt.  “The secret to change is to spend all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”  I had been building something new every time I had a spare moment.  In those moments I always felt positive and uplifted and I often wished I had more time to spend on it.  Ok, universe I hear you.  But, what was I supposed to DO with this knowledge?  Was this a path I was supposed to take?  And if so, how?

So I started by connecting with other creative women and asking questions and I’ve discovered that women are truly born creators.  For goodness sake we have the ability to bring human life into the world;)   Whether it’s having children, creating a home or pursuing a career -making something new is a part of who we are.  It’s in our DNA.  I think we all have it whether we believe it or not.  And there are countless ways to express it.  The creative moms I’ve met are filled with an energy and positivity that is catching and encouraging.  I never felt that dealing with school systems and governmental bureaucracy.

As I embrace this new path I’ve realized that being creative somehow feels like breathing to me.  I’ve found that some creative endeavors have been easy while others have absolutely taxed me.  I think the feelings we have are a kind of emotional roadmap.  Maybe it’s our soul, or some kind of divine spark,  trying to lead us in the right direction.  I know others feel the same way.  While I’ve moved on from some things I’ve tried,  I’ve become even more passionate about others, and I feel encouraged to dive deeper.  At the center of everything I have felt drawn to over the years has been the  manipulation of color and texture and making something new that didn’t exist before.

Being creative is a passion for me.   Even if I go a few days or a week without putting a brush to paper or wax to a board,  I find myself thinking about an idea, making a sketch, or noting some colors or patterns I’d like to try together.  These days I’m spending a lot more time on it.   I primarily work in encaustic and watercolor right now, although I still like to play with acrylic on canvas from time to time, and I’ve committed to making at least one quilt a year;) I’m sure there are other mediums I haven’t yet discovered that I will try at some future point.  (Ceramics maybe?)  I just know that somehow I’m on the right path.  I no longer feel negative and frustrated.  I look forward to getting up early in the morning, even on the weekends, making coffee and seeing what my day holds!  What I am spending my time on feels right. It makes me happy and I hope I will remain healthy enough to do it for a long time.

So, this year I not only hear Socrates words, I am embracing them.  I will “spend my energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new” and see where it takes me.   It’s a totally new venture for me, and I’m equally nervous and excited to explore it.  I’m committed to being creative every day  – whether that means creating a piece of encaustic art, or watercolor, making greeting cards for my mother to sign to keep in touch with friends,  creating a new cookie recipe, building a headboard, or blogging about this creative life.  I’m going to focus positive energy on building it.   I hope this will allow me to connect with more women who are finding themselves on a new path.  Maybe we can encourage each other to build something new.

Below is a photograph of an encaustic piece I’m currently experimenting on with several types of ink.  I’ll let you know how it comes out in a future post;)

I wish you good health and creative thoughts!

XO

Kate

Easy Spring Note Cards

My daughter called me from Boston yesterday to say, “It’s SOOOOO C-O-L-D!”.  I said, “I bet!  It’s cold here too.” She replied, “No. You don’t understand.  It’s 16 degree cold.  It’s like minus 2  degrees with the wind chill!”  “Uh, yeah,” I said.  “It’s definitely not that cold here. I bet you can’t wait for spring!”

It seems like it’s been an unusually cold winter this year, even in the south, and I know lots of us are craving a little spring at this point.  Well,  I can’t really do anything about the weather, but I figured I’d send my daughter a card to assure her spring will come;) (The warm weather is just going to take a bit longer to reach her in Boston than to reach us in Atlanta.)

So, I broke out the new Fishers X-Large Fern punch I bought at Joann’s last week (They were 50% off- $7.99)  and some chartreuse and green paper I bought to try with it.

I love the way the ferns come out with this punch.  Really nice quality!  It takes a little effort, but if you’ve used a punch before, you’re ready for that.  Still, it totally beats trying to cut out the little suckers!

I cut a few pieces of 5X7 card stock and then punched randomly.  Once I had punched a few pieces I decided to see what they would look like if I put another color underneath the cuts-and used them as a kind of “relief”.  And you know what?  I liked it.  I mean, I liked it with just the plain white underneath.  I even liked the one I did that had some of the punches going off the side of the page.  Nothing I ever do seems to be simple, but this was so simple.

I used an Elmer’s extra strength glue stick and mounted the green paper to some white card stock I had.  I like the clean modern look these have.  I used both colors and punched just the bottom of one and then all around the sides of the other.  I think I spent 15 minutes total on these cards.  I realize I could have made them a little more perfect…but honestly I kind of like that they are imperfect.  Handmade is imperfect;).

Well, it’s a balmy 27 degrees in Boston today…but whoa…only 9 in Oklahoma at OU! (I can’t even think about that wind chill.)  I think I’ll send one of these to each of my kids with a Starbucks gift card.  Which, (how lucky am I?) will coordinate with the colors.  That way they can stop on their way to class and grab a cup of hot cocoa or coffee to warm themselves up – a hug in a cup;)

Above are the four cards I made today.  I hope you’ll find a minute to break out a punch you might already have and make some spring cards.  I’d love to see what you make! So, please feel free to share your creation here:)

If you like the punch I used you can order through Joann’s here .

Stay warm everyone!  Think spring!

Simple Modern Quilts

I decided to teach myself to sew a few years ago.  I started with pillowcases, receiving blankets and simple children dresses and pants. My favorite part was always the fabric! A few years ago I had the opportunity to try quilting. I really enjoyed it, but needed to really get more skill with the techniques used. My best friend and I decided to take a class this past summer and we have been absolutely hooked ever since. Sewing with a friend has made all the difference because we kept each other on track.  We finished our quilt for class and immediately started on a second quilt (the one you see above).  We are now thinking about fabric for our third.  I’m not sure I will have time to finish another one until spring, but it’s fun to be looking at ideas and thinking about colors.  We share pins we find and shop for fabric together. We push each other to get things done each week.  well.  I will post some of our quilting endeavors here as well as patterns and fabrics we love. Hope you enjoy this little corner and will share your quilts and fabric love!

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