Saturday, March 31, 2012

No line coloring

This week's Wednesday tutorial by Elaine Hughes at Splitcoaststampers was about coloring in a stamped image without the lines showing. Elaine does an impressive job coloring in one of those cutesy doll-faced images that are so popular with stampers who like to color. Poking around in the gallery, I found Lydia Fielder's tutoral, in which the shading process looks a lot more doable. Before I found Lydia's version, I decided that there was no way I was going to get my Copics to behave that beautifully, and took out my pencils to color this truck.  Look Ma! No lines!
Want a Ride?

I had my first go at using "bling" on a card. The flourish is a sticker that I had a really hard time applying to the card neatly.  I might go hunting for a tutorial on that in my copious spare time.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Masking with borders

When I made the inside of the last card for Georgina, I stamped the border, masked the center and added snow flakes around the outside. I really liked how it worked out, and decided to explore that idea a bit more. I am trying to get a framed effect like that of the stamps from Justrite Stamper designed to coordinate with various Spellbinder dies. The Kindness cling set is a great example.

Here are two cards that I made to show off the results of my efforts. The design for Just-a-Peek Butterfly was inspired by the Splitcoast Stampers technique challenge "Crop it." The butterflies in the purple border were stamped on white paper using a single mini butterfly stamp (I think from Hero Arts in their Itty Bitty series, but I'm not sure).
Just-a-Peek Butterfly

I tried my hand at the technique I mentioned in my previous post for making round cards that open in Wishing You Happiness (and Chocolate).
Wishing You Happiness (and Chocolate)
The yellow-green flowers were stamped on white paper using a background stamp from Inkadinkado. My first round card had a flat edge for the hinge. After I made it, I saw the tutorial by Beate for making an Easter card in the shape of an egg.  It worked like a charm. Here are my bits and pieces, so you can quickly see the idea:

Having those Spellbinder Nestability dies fit perfectly in one another sure makes it easy to line the bits up! I used Justrite Stampers borders and sentiment (and spelling out the "and chocolate" using their cool alignment system).  It took me a dozen tries to stamp the purple border without flaws. In the end, I stamped on top of a piece of craft foam and pressed down on the top of the stamp with the palm of my hand to get a good imprint.

I'm so excited about how well this Border Masking technique is going that I am planning to write a blog-tutorial for it. I took pictures while making the Just-a-Peek Butterfly, so it wont be long.

Thanks for looking.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Card Swap

This paper crafting frenzy that I'm in was partially inspired by a trip to a rubber stamp show with my friend Georgina a few weekends ago (and it seems to be partially fueled by a desire to avoid doing my taxes). We decided to trade cards, using our new tools and techniques. I was very excited to get my first card from Georgina:

Isn't it pretty? I like pink and yellow together, though I've never really selected that combination. I should try that in my beadwork. I also like the popped up look of the central element (adhesive foam squares are now included in my supply box ready to pop). I also hate to admit that that ribbon looks cool. I have zero ribbon, so far, and I'm trying to hold out on that one. I can't tie a decent bow to save my life, despite the many on-line tutorials on the web. Thank you, Georgina!

So I went back to my craft table, to make a card for Geogina, using some of my favorite lacy circles.

Lacy circles and a charm
After I made this, I discovered a better way to make a circular card that opens from another of Beate's tutorials, which involves cutting a folded card as I did here, and then cutting an additional full circle doily and adhering it to the front face. That way you get the look of a full circle, but still have an edge underneath for a hinge.

I love the borders by Justrite Stampers; you can see one stamped in black on the cream colored card above, and I used one in the inside (below).   

I added the snowflakes to the Justrite border by first stamping the Justrite image, and then cutting out a circle large enough to mask the inside edge of the border, but leaving a bit of the outer edge of the border visible. I put removable roll-on adhesive on the circle stuck it to cover the middle of the Justrite image. Then stamped the different snowflakes around the outside. When I took the mask off, I had a snowflake border, with a tidy inside edge. I'm running with that idea shooting for an effect like the Justrite designers get in some of their cling stamps (Here's "Kindness" for example).

In the Spellbinder die packets, the instructions for the Cuttlebug say to first put the A and C plates, and then the die facing up and then the paper and then the cutting plate (B). But it is difficult to align the stamped images that way. I noticed Cheery Lynn dies recommend you flip it over (A, B, paper, die facing down, C), and that worked much more easily.

Tibetan silver is something I discovered last time I dove into paper crafts. It is a zinc alloy that is made into charms and findings in China and sold on ebay for very good prices (though it comes to us on the proverbial slow boat). I bought a set of snowflakes a while ago, something like 50 for $5 in 6 different shapes. I stitched the charm onto the smallest scalloped circle using a seed bead:
1.    Poke two holes about 0.1 inches apart in the cardstock where you want the charm.
2.    Sew from the back of the cardstock up through a hole to the front and pull through to leave a 6 inch tail.
3.    Sew through the charm from the back to the front and then sew through a seed bead.
4.    Sew back through the charm, and down through the second hole in the card.
5.    Tie the ends together on the back of the card, and cut the ends so they will not poke out when you glue the backing onto it.

(The two ornate doilies are Cheery Lynn dies, and the rest are from Spellbinder. The border stamps and sentiment are from Justrite Stampers, and the snowflakes are from a collection of unmounted rubber stamps I bought at a show some years ago from I don't know whom.) 

I hope Georgina likes it!

Monday, March 26, 2012

"Tea Caddy," telescoping card

I'm having a tea party. Want you join me? We're going to drink tea out of huge cups, and cut and paste paper circles.  Nested ornate paper circles appeal to me. They always have. I can remember coveting paper doilies as a child, thought I never knew what to do with them once I had them. Now, however, they have a new purpose in my life: the desire for them drives me to buy more and more crafting equipment so I can make those lovely nested circles whenever I want, in all sizes (stepping up by 1/8 inch increments).

This tutorial for a Telescoping Card from Beate at, and all of its nested circles, continues to inspire me. This weekend, I had both my Silhouette Cutter and the Cuttlebug making shapes for me to complete my own version of the Telescoping Card, "Tea Caddy."
Tea Caddy, telescoping card, closed

Tea Caddy, telescoping card, open
I stamped my images and colored them in using colored pencils (and Odorless Mineral Spirits for blending).  My choice of pencils to color my images was also inspired by a Splitcoaststampers tutorial on shading with colored pencils. They have inspired me to use pencils before; last time, I colored hats, and wrote all about it in my first blog post about colored pencils.

I enticed the teacups and teapot to land in the trucks using a tool I call the Stamp-a-ma-cross, a make-shift Stamp-a-ma-jig consisting of a cheap unfinished wooden cross from Michael's and some tracing paper (Stamp-a-ma-jig tutorial here).  It did work like a charm, but I’m wondering if I shouldn’t just spring for the real thing. There’s nothing like having the right tools.

Stamp-a-ma-cross, a make-shift stamp alignment tool ($1 at Michael's)
I like the idea, paper, shapes and colors I used for this card. As for the execution, I look forward to the time when I can render my paper-crafting ideas in relatively few attempts with a level of craftsmanship comparable to what I manage in my beadwork. Like with my beadwork, for some reason that I cannot imagine, I am always considering ways to go into business. What do you think about a line of rubber stamps with images of things that you put things in?  Like trucks, baskets, carts, wheelbarrows, pockets, a bicycle with a rack, jars, fish tanks, garbage cans, and, well, maybe not garbage cans.

I’m just joining the paper crafting world, but I’m trying to be a grown-up about it, so I’ll list my materials.
  • Dies: Spellbinder's Beaded Circles, Scalloped Circles (small and large) and Classic Circles (large)
  • Stamps: trucks from Recollections; teacups from Hero Arts, teapot from the dollar bin at Michael's (with no markings on it whatsoever), sentiment from Justrite Stampers  (another feeder of my circle frenzy)
  • Paper: Recollections Mosaic Memories stack
I hope you'll come to the tea party. It's going to be BIG.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

I'm teach Proofs 101 in Fall

Farmer Ben only has ducks and cows. He can't remember how many of each he has, but he doesn't need to remember because he knows he has 22 animals and 22 is also his age. He also knows that the animals have a total of 56 legs, because 56 is also the age of his father. Assuming all the animals have the usual numbers of limbs, how many ducks and how many cows does Farmer Ben have?

I adopted a liberal arts math textbook (Crossing the River with Dogs, by Johnson, Herr and Kysh) for my Introduction to Higher Mathematics course for math majors. I love the book; it has loads of figure it out questions and great rhetoric about doing them efficiently that apply broadly to life as well as to higher mathematics. But, I think that, with the exception of those who study at Harvey Mudd College, most liberal arts math students think questions like this are contrived and silly (like, what's the guy going to do next year? Get a one legged duck?), even though the author clearly thought he gave a believable context. I also think that I'd have to work pretty hard to get the liberal arts math students to be willing to sit there and figure out the answers to these funny questions. (Yes, you should go ahead and figure it out. You'll get that satisfied "I did it" feeling that's all the rage these days.)

Math majors on the other hand revel in this sort of thing. They will not be fazed by such a scheme for Farmer Ben to remember how much livestock he has. They probably have an equally contrived method for remembering their own phone numbers.  They also desperately need to recognize math as a creative endeavor, and they need to practice exercising that creativity. My past incarnations of this course were all about how to write mathematical proof, and somehow in trying to get the writing straightened out (which must be done, don’t get me wrong) I focused the students’ attention away from figuring out the tricks and ideas that actually allow us to figure things out.

While the problem of Farmer Ben’s livestock can easily be solved using algebra, that is not the assignment in the text with this exercise. The assignment says draw a diagram to solve the problem. (Yes, you should go back to the problem and work out a good picture to draw that captures the would lead, for example, my brilliant 6 year old to figure it out.) The content in this section includes student solutions to problems in which they had to draw diagrams, giving the reader examples of multiple correct solutions (that actually have little in common), and examples of language they should use to explain their work. The problems in the section are not all algebra problems, but instead are all problems whose answer can be diagrammed effectively. Another example is about the number of high-fives a certain soccer team did at the end of a game if everyone high-fived everyone else.

Probably all (OK maybe this is optimistic) of the students in the Introduction to Higher Mathematics course would solve the problem with algebra and with no difficulty, but choosing a useful diagram would require some thought. Up to this point we have largely asked these students to answer questions that they could solve by copying a process from a similar problem, and they are reluctant to explore what they understand without following such a model.  I have plenty of mathematical ideas that include the high level vocabulary and concepts that my students are ready to study for which “solve this problem by drawing a diagram” is an excellent exercise. 

Other sections in the text include other strategies that are valid at all levels of mathematics, like “Making a systematic list,” “Eliminating  possibilities,” “Solve an easier related problem,” “Look for a pattern,” and so on. My job is going to be to develop assignments that enable them to practice these problem solving techniques while also learning sufficient high-level vocabulary. I will be building that bridge (over the river, so that we can walk across with the dogs without ado) over the summer. We’ll see how it goes!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Hey boys, let's get the stamps out...

I sometimes think that I can do some paper crafts with my boys. I'd get to play with my toys and entertain my kids at the same time. And they do like it, as you can see, but realistically, I don't get to make anything myself.

Mommy can you help me open this? Mommy, where's the freight for the freight train? Mommy, can I stamp on the green and then the red and then on my paper? Mommy look what I made! They did make great pictures, with houses and a chicken on a hill and lots of trains and airplanes. Stuart even wrote a word on the white board easel describing the creative process. See it?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Beadwork Magazine's Beaded Bead Series

In the five issues this year, Beadwork Magazine will publish five beaded bead patterns. The February/March issue included the first, Seeing Stars," by Beadwork editor Melinda Barta. On Cindy Holsclaw's blog, she posted a few pictures of the ones she made. The April/ May issue, featured an 3-paged version of Gwen Fisher's Cube Cluster design (we sell a much easier to read and much longer pattern at beAd Infinitum; read more about it on Gwen's blog).

Gwen's lovely beads even made the cover!
On page 92, they advertise the continuing series of beaded beads and include an image of my contribution, "Stargazer Beaded Bead," which will appear in the June/July/August issue. Beadwork Magazine gave me permission to post images of the design early, in hopes that some of my excitement will rub off on y'all. So, without further ado, may I introduce the Cubic Stargazer Beaded Bead:
Look for the design in the next issue of Beadwork Magazine! This technique creates an extremely hollow though sturdy beaded bead. The cube is the only bead with this technique that I gave to the magazine, but I had to, try to reproduce the idea in several other geometric shapes. My favorite is the dodecahedron, but it is the size of a golf ball.
Stargazer Dodecahedron
The octahedron is cool, too, as you can see four faces at a time, so there are lots of triangles to see at each glance. It is the same size as the cube, so might make some interesting jewelry.
Stargazer Octahedron (left) and cube (right)
You'll be excited to know that Cynthia Newcomer Daniel designed bead number 4 and Cindy Holsclaw designed bead number 5 in the series. I am honored to have my work in such company!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Beaded Parquet Deformations

Inspired by research into mathematical art by Craig Kaplan, I set out to bead a design that morphs from one tiling pattern to another. M.C. Escher's use of this idea is famous in his designs, such as the Air and Water I (from the "Official M.C. Escher Website"). Craig writes about his research into formalizing deformations of planar tilings, and includes images that are beautiful partly because the design is regular, and partly because that regularity is lost as the design varies.

It was the Islamic Parquet Deformations that set me to beading. Here is the result, inspired by the  deformation shown here, from Craig's work.
Beaded Deformation: From Kepler's Star to the Night Sky
by Florence Turnour
6" by 1.5"
In this sampler, I explore techniques in bead weaving that allow me to express subtle changes in shape, and in particular in the "contact angle," that Craig describes. Unlike the deformations shown in Craig's image, the smallest changes I can make are limited by the sizes of the beads. The design travels from the Kepler's Star Weave (on the left)
Kepler's Star Weave (designed by Gwen Fisher)
Kepler's Star Patterns and Kits are available from beAd Infinitum
to the Night Sky Weave (on the right)
Night Sky Weave (designed by Gwen Fisher)
Night Sky Weave Patterns and Kits are available from beAd Infintum
I am drawn into the detailed regularity of these two flat angle weaves, but as I look at the Beaded Deformation I find my eye passing backwards and forwards across the three rows of tiles, finding spots that look like they will be regular, only to discover that they are not.

I may try to stretch the Night Sky end of this so that the end result has even more of a wedge shape. Perhaps then I could combine several such wedges to make a very ornate fan. Back to the bead board!