Long time, no post and bargains galore

Just an update to let you know why you haven’t heard from me in months …

First, I closed up my retail business. I just had too many irons in too many pots and I something had to go. As soon as I finally put that behind me, my hand started acting strange.

You may know that I retired from teaching Copic classes earlier in the fall because I was no longer able to color at a professional level. I couldn’t seem to stay in the lines and my blends were uneven. I could still color good enough for personal use, but not good enough to teach.

That little problem spiraled out of control in November when my hand swelled to twice its normal size. I thought perhaps I had sprained or pulled something and went to the ER. After several appointments, X-rays, a steroid injection and a few wrist braces, we are still unsure what is going on. The swelling is gone and the pain is manageable, but my fine motor skills are gone. I can barely hold a pencil and the more I write, the worse my writing gets. Picking up small things like buttons, pennies or pieces of paper is slow and painful.

The good news is my doctor assures me it is fixable, once we pinpoint the issue. The bad news is I haven’t been able to do any sort of crafting since November. All of my classes have been put on hold since I haven’t been able to make any samples.

At this point, I have no idea how long I will be out of commission. I have a test next week see if they can pinpoint the nerve damage and then we’ll go from there.

Until then, I have decided to clear out some of my stash — namely stamps, papers, dies and embellishments. I try to always work with the newest products and I figure by the time I get going again, there will be new stuff to use. So, I’ll be participating in a huge New to You Sale on Saturday, Feb 17 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the American Legion Hall in Swartz Creek.

I will be selling some discontinued and duplicate dies, paper packs that were never opened, stamps that were never used, as well as lots of leftover and/or gently used products. If you’re looking for Christmas stuff, I have tons … I overbought to make cards and then wasn’t able to use any, so I have plenty to choose from!

I hope to see you there … and until then, please keep me in your thoughts and show me pictures of what you create. I’m going crazy not being able to do anything and I would love to live vicariously through each of you!

Two New Ways to Mosaic

Normally, my blog only shows the work that I do, but I wanted to share with you two new items Mosaic Moments has created to make page making easier.

First, there is an updated version of the mat … one side looks the same as the one you have.

The other side is designed to cut larger photos without any counting of little squares! Check out the video below to see how they work. (this is by the founder/designer/owner of Mosaic Moments, Tami Potter!)

Then, there is another thing I am so excited about …. the basic die sets (Sets A-E and the die that cuts 1″ squares) are now available in colors!

image1485018425Color matching has always been used to make it easier to find the right die. If you look at the page patterns, found here, you will see lots of blocks of colors. These match the colors on the packaging for the dies and make it easy to see what dies you need. For example, if I see a blue square, I know that is from the A die set. If I see a pink rectangle, I know to grab die set C.

When I put my dies on magnetic storage sheets, I labeled each set with the coordinating marker color, because the dies themselves were still the natural metal color. Until now …

Now the entire set is available in color! So, the A dies are all blue, the B dies are purple, the C dies are pink and the 1″ square die is green — just like the blocks of color on the page patterns. I am so excited for the new look, since it will make it so much easier for people new to the system to grab the right dies.

The colored dies have a few pros and cons … first, unlike the rest of the dies, the colored ones are NOT made in the US. They come from China. But, because they are made in China, they are much less expensive than the US-made dies. And, because they are made in China, you do not have to snip them apart. (NOTE: The rest of the dies will continue to be made in the US)

The new dies are only available as an entire set. They retail for $179.99. I’m not sure I’ll keep them in stock, but I will take pre-orders for them and include a couple extra dies as a thank you for paying when you order. Shipping in the US will be free for these, as well.

You can learn about the new dies, here … 

The un-colored, made-in-the-US dies will still be available individually. And I have most of them in stock.

So, there you have it … great news of new products that make it easier than ever to create amazing pages using the Mosaic Moments system!

Getting Organized

I love my studio … it’s in the living room, so I can watch tv or chat with my husband while I work. And, I have two huge windows for plenty of natural light.

But, those big windows also mean I have virtually no wall space to hang anything.

I do have lots of table surfaces, but they are always piled with stuff and I am always having to move things around to work.

I’m not complaining … I love my studio. But I’m sure people think I am a slob when they come in the door and see my stuff everywhere … It’s hard to explain to non-artistic types that I must work in a mess because 1. I always have more than one project going at a time; 2. I am always adding to my collection; 3. I need to be able to see my stuff in order to be creative; and 4. even if I had a 6,000-square-foot room for a studio, it would probably not be enough room. It is the nature of crafting.

Needless to say, I am always on the hunt for ways to find more space in my tiny house. So, when I saw a little shelf unit at Green Door Studio in Brighton, I knew I needed it. I neglected to take a before pic, but it was glossy black. It looked fine, but I didn’t want something that dark, so I painted it.

mason_jar_shelf_candy_spiegel2My friend, Linda Neff, who owns the Green Door Studio, is always trying to get me to paint furniture. She says it is relaxing and calming. I found it particularly frustrating and tedious. I have decided that any additional projects I need painted are going to her. Four coats of paint and a coat of sealant later, I filled it with my collection of antique mason jars, which hold ribbons, twine, flowers, washi tape, buttons and other bits and pieces I need when I create.

Ignoring the damage on the walls (from the much smaller shelf that was removed), I think my space turned out pretty great.

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I also realized, after putting everything in one place, that I do not need anymore buttons … despite the fact that I was shopping for them last night! I cannot help myself … I love buttons.

 

Mason Jar Pincushion

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For Christmas this year, I made my future daughter-in-law a mason jar pincushion to go with her new sewing machine. The idea originally came from Pinterest, but when I tried to follow those directions, it failed. So I ripped it apart and started fresh with my own way of doing things …

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I found a circle die that was about the same size as the lid and cut out two thin chipboard pieces from it. (I actually used the thin piece of chipboard that was in the fat quarter of fabric I bought. You do not want it to be too thick because then the jar will not close properly — that was the problem I had the first time. I also neglected to use the jar lid this time around in order to make it thinner.)

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Then I used a circle die that was about 1/4″ larger all the way around than the lid. By using it with the Sizzix Precision Base Plate, I was able to cut out the fabric easily with it. (If you have a Sizzix machine and do not have this plate, you need it!)

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Next, I placed one of the chipboard circles in the center of the fabric circle and used Elizabeth Craft Designs’ Transparent Double-Sided Tape to adhere it. (Scor-Tape or Red Line Tape would also work. The initial attempt used a hot-glue gun, but it was messy and thick and lumpy, so I opted for a strong tape the second time around.)

Then, I added strips of tape all along the chipboard circle and folded and pressed the fabric over the tape, leaving a few inches for stuffing. I added a bit of stuffing, and then sealed off that final part.

I added the second circle on top to cover all of the edges and give it a clean, finished look. Since my chipboard was white, I left it plain, but you could paint the circle first, if you liked.

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Finally, I filled the jar with ribbons, fibers and lace (but you could fill with buttons, pins, candy or anything you wanted). Then I put the jar’s ring over the little cushion I made, carefully pulling all of the stuffed area through the center of the hole, and then screwed it on top. It was a tight enough fit that I didn’t feel adhesive on the ring was necessary.

I love how it turned out … what do you think?!

Non-Stick Craft Sheet vs. Best Ever Craft Mat

craft mat review by Candy Spiegel

I love, love, love my Non-Stick Craft Sheet from Ranger. It is one of the tools I encourage paper crafters to buy as soon as they are able.

But then, Ken Oliver came out with the Best Ever Craft Mat and I was confused … what is different about the two mats? Do I need them both?

So, I bought the Best Ever Craft Mat and tested it to see if it was better. I’ll be honest. I do not like it better. I like it differently. Much like a mother with two children, I cannot pick which one is the best. So, I decided to do a compare/contrast on them so you can decide which is best for you or if you, like me, need both …

craft mat review by Candy Spiegel3NON-STICK CRAFT SHEET by Ranger

  • 15″x18″
  • Slick surface so nothing sticks
  • Heat resistant so it protects your table when embossing and can be used to bake shrink plastic or clay
  • Can use as a palette to mix paints, inks, etc.
  • PROS: When paint or glue dries on the mat, it is easy to scrape off. Mat is thin and easy to roll for storage. Can easily be cut with scissors to make smaller mats for little projects. Ink, wet glue and wet paint easily wipe off. Slick surface provides the perfect platform for Distress Inks — allowing you to get a smooth, even color on your project.
  • CONS: Folding will damage the mat. Mat can wrinkle or fold while cleaning it. Projects slide around. Mat curls on edges. If used a lot, this mat will wear out … I am on my fourth.

BEST EVER CRAFT MAT by Ken Oliver

  • 16.5″x15″
  • Non stick and non skid
  • Heat resistant so it protects your table when embossing and can be used to bake shrink plastic or clay
  • Can use as a palette to mix paints, inks, etc.
  • PROS: Projects do not move, which is ideal when working with stencils or a heat gun. Mat does not wrinkle. Mat lays flat. Provides a thin cushion when stamping. Easy to carry to the sink for cleaning.
  • CONS: There is a bit of a texture that seems to pull paper towels during cleaning — no issues when using a rag. Scraping things off of the mat is not as easy. Mat “collects” lint, fuzz and pet hair (but wipes off easily with a baby wipe or wet towel). More difficult to roll and put back in box because it is thick and wants to lay flat.

My personal decision … I like using the Ranger mat for paint, inks, sprays and messy adhesive. For me, it is easier to clean on my desk. I like being able to start inking on the mat and slide right over onto my project. And I love that it easily cuts with scissors to make smaller mats for quick, little projects. (In all fairness, I did not attempt to cut my Ken Oliver Crafts mat, so I do not know if it can be cut or not).

However, I love to use the Ken Oliver Crafts mat for embossing and stamping. I like the grip on my projects. Things really do not move around and that makes it easier to get everything straight!

IMG_1450I, inadvertently, found the Best Ever Craft Mat is also wonderful when working with small, layering dies. The dies stay where you put them and the mat holds your project in place while adhering. It works so well at keeping all of those small parts in place, I will not work with tiny dies without my mat — no more losing an eye or chicken leg!

So, I will continue to use both mats.

If you can only have one, I would ask you what type of crafter you are … if you use a lot of Distress Ink, I would go for the Ranger mat. If you are more into die cuts and only ink edges, I would probably recommend the Ken Oliver Crafts mat. If you are an all-around crafter like me, you NEED both!

FINE PRINT: This is my own opinion … I was not paid (in product or money), nor asked by Ranger or Ken Oliver Crafts to create this post.

 

Welcome to my Studio

I live in a small house originally built as a lake cottage — without a basement, attic or garage. At about 800 square feet, it is the perfect size for two people who enjoy spending time outside of their home shopping, dining out, traveling and doing all of the other things “city folk” enjoy. In fact, we were the first people to ever put a washer and dryer in our house — despite the fact that there was not appropriate space for them. (My husband has to literally climb over the washer to put salt in the water softener.)

But the larger problem is my husband and I are “country folk” who enjoy cooking, growing and preserving our own food. Both of us are avid readers and photographers who are addicted to computers, televisions and other gadgets. We like to go camping, my husband loves fishing and hunting, and I am a bit crafty. It seems every one of our “hobbies” comes with stuff — tents, tripods, folding tables, paper, air mattresses, cords and chargers, huge canning pots, boots, gun cases, scrapbook albums, tackle boxes, coats for every temperature and weather condition, freezers, his-and-hers computers, books, sewing machines, cases and cases of glass jars, drawers full of items to alter, stamps, the list goes on and on … Right now I am feeling more than a little claustrophobic as every horizontal surface, cabinet and closet is filled to the brim.

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This is the second bedroom of my house. It is also home to scrapbook albums, kitty toys, a freezer, Matt’s computer, fishing poles, books, hunting gear, canned goods, and medicines and first-aid supplies for both us and our chickens. All of the totes, display pieces, boxes and ribbons are part of my traveling store. They have nowhere else to go … in fact, I normally have a folding table in here, as well, but it was in the middle of my living room when I took this picture.

Despite the size of my house, I have to have plenty of room for crafting. So I took over a portion of the living room.

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Granted, it is at the front door, so anyone who enters my house, sees my mess, but the lighting is great, I can craft while my husband watches television and I have plenty of space.

I wanted to share my space to show how even those of us who live in small spaces, with no dedicated rooms can store their supplies.

I keep a lot of things in decorative containers right out in the open …

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012And in drawers … 014

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and I use every little bit of space, including the sides of my desk. (My Cricut and quilting mats hang on the other side of the desk)018Inside my cabinets are paper, thin dies, Xyron machines and cardstock.

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On the other side of my living room are matching cabinets that hold books and pictures and decorative items, but also hold my printer and jars of ribbon, wire, straws, paints and other crafting items.

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The cabinets below hold printer paper, ink and labels, alcohol inks, rubber stamps, canvases and a few boxes of photos and memorabilia waiting to be scrapbooked.005

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I keep rarely used items, like specialty adhesives, mists, Copic refills, and other items in the closet in the hallway. My Cricut lives in my bedroom closet. Class supplies go in that overstuffed room. And, I have a dresser drawer devoted to jars, buckets, frames, bottles and other items ready to be altered. But most items are kept in the living room where they are easy to grab when I need them!

I hope you enjoyed this tour of my studio. And I hope it inspires you to find a corner where you can work in your house!

 

Distress Stain Spritz

Tim Holtz recently released Distress Spray Stain. I think this is awesome — I am much more apt to use sprays over the original stain dauber bottle. However, I really didn’t want to buy one more thing.

sprayWhen I saw the replacement tops for sale, it gave me an idea … I wondered if I could pour the stains I already have into an empty spritz bottle.

I e-mailed Tim and he assured me that it was the same formula and it should work to pour them into a spray bottle.

So, I ordered some empty bottles from Ranger and went to work.

misterThe hard part is getting the little dauber top off of the bottle of stain. I used my thumbnail to wiggle it out … working slowly and going around and around the top.

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It is important to work the top off evenly. When I did the Forest Moss, I was watching the birds and wasn’t really paying attention to what I was doing. I lifted one side too high and when the dauber went, so did a lot of stain — on the desk, the floor, my hands and me.

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Fortunately, that was the only one I had trouble with!

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I poured the stain into the bottle. Then I printed off Distress Ink labels from Ranger’s website. You can print your own set, here.

Then, I cut them out and ran them through my Xyron Sticker Maker and adhered them to the bottles.

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Here’s my little collection.

Note: I did not do my metallic ones, since I am not sure how the bottle mixers will work. I decided I would rather buy the spray versions of those. But for the regular colors, it works perfectly!