Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The CUTEST Inexpensive Hand Carved Stamps

So, I'm stepping out of my comfort zone, art-wise. I discovered art journaling about a year ago, but I remember thinking, "Why the heck would I want to make art in a journal when I could put it on canvas and display or sell it???"
Obviously, I was stupid. Well, not really, but I just didn't get it.
Until recently. 
Art journals are a wonderful way to express one's self, but for me, they're a great way to "practice" my art. Now, don't get me wrong. When I create a beautiful page in my journal, I think to myself, "Crap. I could have put that on a canvas." Oh, well.
I'm also learning to let go of my perfectionism. Of course, nothing I do is perfect, but I would like to think it is. I'm trying to let go of straight lines, perfectly washed out brushes, and a pristine canvas.
Enter hand-carved stamps. 
I love them.
Absolutely love them. 
They are fun.
They are whimsical.
And there's no way they could be perfect. 
I started out with my linoleum cutters. This set belonged to my MIL. I'm not sure what she used them for, but I inherited them. Yay for me.
The tips are interchangeable.

I find that for stamp carving, I use the tiny one more often than the others.

I started by purchasing a Speedball Speedy Carve Carving Block. Then I quickly discovered: 
1. I LOVED making them.
2. That I'd go broke soon, and my daughter would have to drop out of college because I couldn't afford to send her there anymore because I was buying too many blocks.
So, I found a much cheaper alternative. MUCH cheaper. Stay tuned....

This was my first attempt with the expensive block. I really like the rustic, non-perfect look.

Then, I read on the "interwebs" (as HubbyDoc would say), that you can use dollar store big erasers. 
Can you say habit score???

I was skeptical at first, but then I took my tools to the rubber, as they say. 
Well, "they" really don't say that.

I love the erasers because I can make about 4 small stamps (2 on each side), and I can use the sides as well. 
I just draw the shape I want and cut it out. I does help to do a little planning, and you can color in the areas that you definitely want to remove (keeping in mind that that's the part that will be light and not inked), but I just eyeball them. 
There are a few things to keep in mind. 
1. ALWAYS cut away from your body and your hands. I just had to say it.
2. This isn't a children's craft, for obvious reasons.
3. The tools are sharp. Or they should be. You should use gentle pressure. If you have to press hard, your tool isn't sharp enough and it's time to buy a new one.

I tend to turn my rubber instead of turning the tool. I think you have better control that way.

Here's one of the slanted ends. I just stuck my small tool slightly into the rubber and twisted it around, essentially gouging it out. See. It isn't perfect. Yay.

Ink your stamp up really, really well. I find that the eraser stamps don't take the ink quite as easily as your regular store bought rubber stamps. So, just ink well.

These stamps aren't super pliable, so I like to press the paper onto the stamp instead of the stamp on the paper.

Here's a sample of the difference. On the right, I stamped the rubber to the paper. On the left, I stamped the paper to the rubber. Of course, I'll still be able to use both. If you're using your stamp on a canvas project, keep in mind that you might end up with the look on the right, which in my opinion, is part of the "charm", as "they" say.

Then after I stamped the flower, I realized the center was too dull, so I changed it up.

I took a piece of cut out chevron plastic from a one of my tag stencils.

Then I traced it with a pen and cut it out of the thick end. You can play with how you want it to look. Think positive and negative space. You could just carve out the lines, or carve out sections. I decided to do sections.

And, here's what it looks like, stamped with some acrylic paint.

If you don't like the "leftover" lines, then just carve them away. I think they provide a rustic look.
Here's a brick wall design. Notice, all I did was carve lines. No rocket science here, Peeps!

I stamped it with distress stain. You can see the chevron on the side. Gotta make use of ALL surfaces since I'm cheap frugal.

Here's a little fox. She was a little more intricate, but I like her. Remember to take away as little as possible, stamp with it, and then you can see what you don't like and take more away. You can always cut more, but you can't UNCUT!

Here are all of my stamps so far. I stamped them with archival/permanent ink onto dried out teabags, naturally stained, of course. The one on the bottom left is a border that I made from leftovers of the key stamp. GOTTA USE ALL SURFACES, PEEPS!!! ;)

I believe this is a new addiction hobby.

Just think of the possibilities! Gesso, molding paste, Gelatos, inks, paints, gouache, etc., etc. etc. You'll be able to actually use all of your crap supplies!
Thanks for stopping by, Everyone!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Watercoloring with Stencils

Hey, Peeps. Now that I've sent the cards and they've been seen by their recipients, I can post pics of them. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season, and if not, I pray that you were given strength to endure whatever you had to go through. 
I am just learning to play with watercolors, and I thought I'd try my hand at it for some Christmas cards. 

I used my Tree Tag Stencil, which you can purchase in my Etsy shop here. If you'd like, check out my other original stencils. My customers are loving my original designs and their durability. 
This particular stencil is great because it's so versatile. You can use it for any season.

I used the stencil as an outline and just watercolored in the opening, using a few shades of green. You really need more than one shade, or it will look too flat and one-dimensional.

I added a little tag with a pop dot underneath, and it was a little plain for my liking, so I made a little heart with Stickles.

Because it was Christmas, I thought the trees needed a little sparkle, so I added some Glossy Accents Crackle. 

Then I applied a little bit of Antique Linen Distress Stain to fill in the cracks and make them a little more noticeable. 

I roped the watercolor paper with a little bit of twine, and slightly outlined the trees and stars with a black pen. 

I hope you enjoyed this little tour. 
Fondly, Tami

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Best Cookies You Will Ever Make

Hey, Peeps. It occured to me that as I do my baking and cooking, I should turn my culinary creations into a blog post, so here goes.

These are my very favorite cookies of all time. We call them Lace Cookies. They're similar to Pepperidge Farm Brussels, only I think they're better. They're somewhat labor intensive, but it's SO worth it.  My neighbors MAKE me bake them for the neighborhood cookie party every year. One year, I didn't make them, and I thought I was going to be lynched. 

Lace Cookies


2/3 c. butter
2 c. quick oats
1 c. sugar
2/3 c. flour
¼ c. corn syrup
¼ c. milk
1 t. vanilla extract
¼ t. salt

2-3 c. semi-sweet chocolate morsels

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line your cookie sheets with non-stick Teflon sheets or parchment paper. 
Heat butter in saucepan over low heat until just melted. Remove. Cool slightly.

2. Mix oats, sugar, flower, and salt in a large glass bowl or measuring bowl. 

3. Stir corn syrup, vanilla, and milk into melted butter. Mix wet ingredients into the dry ingredients in the large glass bowl. 

4. Put glass bowl into a larger bowl that's filled with hot water. This keeps the mixture warm and easy to spread.

5. Use a plastic or metal spatula to spread the cookie dough. The dough must be quite thin. Just a little dollop will do. You can make them bigger if you'd like, but they should all be about the same size.

If your spatula gets sticky, you can just warm it in your water bath, wipe it, and continue to spread your dough thinly on the liners.

I put about 12 on each cookie sheet. They will spread out a little.

6. Bake 7-10 min. until the edges are crispy. Watch them closely until you figure out what works in your oven. I have an electric convection oven and a gas oven, which both vary with cooking times. I prefer to make sure the edges are darker than lighter because these are much better when they're crispy.

7. Cool slightly, then lift off of the liner and place onto foil sheets to cool thoroughly. 

8. Match up the cookies to size.

9. Heat about 2 cups of chocolate morsels in a microwave on low (I find that heating mine for 3 min. on power level 5 works perfectly).

10. Stir morsels, then spread a cookie with as much chocolate as you'd like (about a teaspoon or so), then apply another cookie on top to make a sandwich.

Let cool, then enjoy with a large glass of milk!

The other perk is that you might have leftover chocolate, so mix it in with some pretzels and save them for your cookie tray. Yum.

Thanks again for reading! Fondly, Tami

P.S. If you keep these in the freezer, they keep very well, especially since they're out of eyesight.

I'm linking to:

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Subway Art

This is just a quick post today since I'm going to Longwood Gardens to see their Christmas display, which is always a special treat!

Here's a favorite piece of subway art I did for a friend. She sent me the pic, and I'm so excited that she's enjoying it.

I like how she displayed it with her angels. 

And just for fun, here are some of my paper mache santas that I made several years ago. The facial expressions are so different. They're quite easy to make, and perhaps I will write up a tutorial at some point.

I believe this guy is singing.

And this guy is a little surprised. Perhaps he was seen in the chimney.

And here are some cookies that my daughter and I spent literally all day decorating. It was great fun. We became rather obsessed with making them beautiful. 

One year, we did all pastel colors, which I think I liked the most. 

It was definitely a joy doing these for friends and family. There was definitely a wow factor when they were placed on a cookie tray with some others of our faves...

...including Russian Tea Cakes.

And, this was my organic decoration on my chandelier. My neighbors had some curly willow that I sprayed gold and just stuffed into some fake greenery. It's a little departure for me, but I was happy with the results. 

Again, thanks so much for looking. 
Fondly, Tami