A Collage for My Beloved Beta Babes

 
 

This ZIA (Zentangle Inspired Art) was inspired by a new book, The Beauty of Zentangle, where a sister CZT, Kate Lamontagne, did a piece called “Under the Sea.” Kate was in the same CZT class with me.

To create it, I started by making a blue-green watercolor background. I sprinkled rock salt on the paper to lift the color in areas. When it was dry, I photocopied it so I could try several tangles. Also, the photocopy paper is slicker than watercolor paper, so it provided a surface that would bleed less.

The waves and shells were done with sparkly ink pens. I colored in my waves with pencils, then applied acetone to smooth out the color. I did the same on the sea shells.

The green plant was made by layering green leaves that I cut by hand.

I drew the beta and its fins. You can’t really see how glittery the image is, but the sequins and glitter do add a bit of pop.

Any thoughts?

A Crafty Treat for Dogs

I love owning Bichons. My groomer, Pam, says that Bichons are the only breed capable of real love. (Don’t throw things at me! I’m quoting her!)
 
But Bichons are also prone to a variety of problems, and poor teeth are right up there at the top of the list. They are also very emotionally sensitive. Leaving them behind really makes them upset.
 
To combat both problems, I’ve come up with this treat. Using Easy Cheese (otherwise know as Cheese Whiz), I squirt a little of the cheesy goo into a Kong, a rubber treat that’s red and reminds me of the Michelin Man.
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After I’ve filled all my Kongs (I keep four of them on hand), I pop them into a zipper top plastic bag. These go into the freezer.
 

Why are these such a great idea? First of all, gnawing on the Kong helps remove dental plaque. Second, because the treat is frozen inside, it takes a long time for Rafferty to get to the good stuff. And third, there’s a small amount of treat per Kong, so it doesn’t upset his tummy or add inches to his svelte waist line. Best of all, I can give one to Raffi when I leave the house so he’s busy and happy while I’m gone.

I love the convenience of reaching into the bag, grabbing a cold Kong, and sharing it with my pet. Let me know if your dog enjoys this, too!

Monday's the Last Day to Get INK, RED, DEAD Absolutely Free!

An excerpt from Ink, Red, Dead, newly revised and expanded, by Joanna Campbell Slan. (Grab it before the price goes up to $9.99! Go to http://tinyurl.com/inkred )

 
“You
need a Diet Dr Pepper?” asked Dodie as she set one at my elbow.

          “You read my mind,” I said.

          “Whatever it is that’s bothering you,
Sunshine, you’ll feel better about it when you’ve gotten more rest. Things
always look their worst when you’re tired.” Her large hand patted my shoulder
as she scooted a cold aluminum can my way. I took the cold Diet Dr Pepper and
then realized, this behavior was totally out of character for Dodie.

          “Sheila called you.”

          “Yes, she did.” My boss didn’t even
have the good grace to look embarrassed.

          “That’s not fair!”

          “She was worried about you.”

          “I bet.”

          “You ran over her neighbor’s mailbox,”
said Dodie. “And you kept on going.”

          “I wondered what that
bumpity-bump-bump-bump noise was.”

          “Now you know. That was the sound of a
once sturdy four-by-four being dragged along a city street. In Ladue.”

          “Argh,” I groaned and rested my
forehead on my arms again. “That’ll be an expensive fix.”

          “Not really. Robbie and the neighbor
discussed the damage. Seems that the neighbor has wanted to put up a brick
mailbox stand for years. Robbie offered to help. You’re in the clear,
Sunshine.”

          “Argh,” I groaned again, but the Diet
Dr Pepper was definitely lifting my spirits. “Dodie, do you think there’s only
one person in the world for each of us? A soul mate? Just one?”

          She fiddled with her Coke can. “That’s
what I tell Horace. That he’s my one and only.”

          “So you do believe it.”

          “No, but I’m a good liar. Especially
when it counts. There’s no reason for Horace to think he’s replaceable. He’s
not. And I’m not about to go looking. But do I really believe there’s only one
person for each of us? No. There are millions upon millions of people in this
world. I think you could love and live with at least a handful.”

          I wiped my eyes and took a big drink
of my Dr Pepper. “A handful.”

          “At least. Now get to work. I’m not
paying you to sit around and wax philosophical.”

          She’d almost made it back to the stock
room when I called out, “Dodie? Thank you.”

          “It’s okay, Sunshine. My therapist’s
license never came through. The advice I gave you is worth exactly what you
paid for it.”

         

Ink, Red, Dead Will Be Free for Three Days!

You can download Ink, Red, Dead for FREE from Oct. 5 thru 7 (Saturday through Monday) by going to http://tinyurl.com/inkred  Here’s the deal: As long as you keep spread the word and tell your friends about my free offers, I’ll continue making my books available for FREE for a limited time!

 
 
An Excerpt from
 
Note: The new revision is book length with craft “how to” information and recipes!
 

By Joanna Campbell Slan
Copyright 2013
 
 
 Note: The new revision is book length with craft “how to” information and recipes!

~

In the chronology of Kiki’s life this book is now Book #3 in the series, falling between Cut, Crop and Die; and Photo, Snap, Shot. Kiki is assisting her friend Mert in cleaning out a hoarder’s house. Because the place is so gross, Kiki is wearing a Tyvek suit and headgear, despite the fact that the heat outside is beastly!

~

 

 
I
was rubbing at my skin fiercely when something landed on the top of my head.

I
whooped with fear, batting at my hood with both hands.

No
one heard me because everyone else was busy in other corners of the house.
Trudy in the back bedroom. Johnny in the garage. Mert in the kitchen.

          The thing on my head slipped to one
side. Tiny pinpricks stabbed through the Tyvek and into my scalp. A tiny yellow
paw appeared through the lenses of my goggles. I held perfectly still. Was it
possible that a cat had landed on me? Had one been overlooked?

          But this…this thing on my head was far
too light to be a cat.

 I froze, strained my ears, and was rewarded by
the tiniest “meow” ever, in a voice so hoarse I nearly missed it. Slowly I moved
my hand upwards. Finally, I plucked from my head a palm-sized yellow tabby. He
stared at me with lime-green eyes and tried to “meow” again but nothing came
out.

          “You poor little tyke. They rounded up
everyone else, didn’t they? Let’s see what we can do for you.”

          I carried the kitten over to Mert,
who’d been working in Marla’s bedroom. We walked outside. She pulled off her
hood, glanced down at the kitten, and gave me a glum look. “He’ll probably
die.”

          “What?” I cradled the cat to my chest.
“What do you mean, die? He’ll be okay. Has to!”

          She sighed. “Most of Marla’s cats were
sick. If this one don’t have feline distemper, it’s a miracle. You can’t take
him home because he’ll only kick the kitty litter bag over on you

Kiki Lowenstein and Too Much Squash (Short Story Excerpt)

 You can read this whole short story free if you load it on Sept. 27 (Friday) and Sept. 28 (Sat.) by going to http://tinyurl.com/2muchsquash
~

Note:
In the timeline of Kiki’s life, this short story comes after Picture,
Perfect, Corpse: Book #7
and before Group, Photo, Grave: Book #8.

Chapter
1

A
Wednesday in August…

“How’s
your mother feeling?” Lottie Feister quizzed my daughter Anya.

I
was sitting cross-legged on the other side of the shelving unit so I overheard
Lottie’s question. I thought about getting up and answering her myself, but I’d
sat down here for a purpose. I was searching for a particular sheet of
embellishments. I suppose I could have made my presence known, but I didn’t
feel like moving. An hour earlier I’d had a particularly nasty bout of morning
sickness. Right now, sitting still suited me

How to Make Paper Beads, Part II

Now that you have a plethora of long, skinny triangles, it’s time to make your beads. For the next step, you’ll need:

1.  A lot of wooden toothpicks or skewers. They have to be ROUND, not squarish. These will be used as spindles. You’ll wrap your paper beads around the toothpicks to shape them.

2. A block of Styrofoam. As you finish your beads, you will stick the toothpicks into the Styrofoam so that they can rest and cure.

3. Glue. I like Aileen’s Tacky Glue. Whatever you choose should dry clear, dry fast, and grip quickly. I’ve tried glue sticks, but they are too mess. I like to use a coffee stirrer or a toothpick to dip into my glue and use as an applicator.

4. Sealer. Some people use clear nail polish. I prefer Diamond Glaze. I like to apply it with a brush.

Next, I’m going to show you my super-secret, super-duper, extra-special technique tip for making beads. You won’t read this anywhere else.

 
1. Put the large end of the triangle in your mouth and get it moist. Not wet! This will cause your paper to lightly grip the toothpick.
 
 
2. Wrap the triangle around the toothpick. Remember: The big end starts on the toothpick. Try to keep your triangle centered as you wrap it. If it gets off centered nudge it with your fingernail.
 
 
 
3. Dab a bit of glue to the tippy end of the triangle and smoosh it down to glue it to the bulk of the triangle that is now rolled onto your toothpick. You should have a slightly ovoid shape, bigger in the middle and tapered on each end.
 

 
 
4. Stab your toothpick into your Styrofoam block. Admire your garden of beads. Paint the beads with the Diamond Glaze and let them dry. You might want to do two thin coats.
 
 
Now we let them dry!
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How to Make Paper Beads

Sure, you could recycle those old magazines, but some of the colors are too pretty to waste. Why not turn the pages into paper beads? Here’s how–

1. Start by carefully choosing your paper. Remember, you’ll be wrapping strips of paper, winding them on top of each other, to get a bead, so not all the original image will show. It’s a bit tricky. I suggest you start with a solid color, or nearly solid, like the paper on the right. Also notice that I chose a two-page spread from a magazine. That’ll give me a lot of paper to work with.

2. Use a sticky note to mark a cutting guide on your Fiskars Personal Paper Trimmer. See, you COULD use a pen and mark triangles on your paper, but why? Instead, look at the lines on your trimmer. Lay down a sticky note exactly along the half inch mark. You’ll see why in a minute.

 
 
3. Line up the BOTTOM of your “bead paper” with the sticky note. Now…instead of having the paper go straight up and down so that you make a narrow rectangle an inch wide, tilt the top of the paper. See below…
 
 
 

Note that the bottom of the paper is at the sticky mark, which means your cut will be a half an inch wide at the BOTTOM. But the TOP of the paper is right at the cutting line. The bead paper is slightly tilted, see? It’s wider at the bottom and narrowed to a point at the top! In other words, when you cut it, you’ll have a long, skinny triangle! But here’s a big tip: Start the cutting blade at the wide end of the triangle, not the skinny tip. Otherwise the paper will bunch up.

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4. Here’s the finished paper. We need lots of these to make our beads.

5. Note: Now your original piece of bead paper has a narrow triangle cut from one side, so flip the whole shooting match over, wrong side up, and repeat the process.

How to Create Inchies — and What to Do With Them When You're Done!

In my newest Kiki Lowenstein short story, she runs short of craft supplies and ideas. But Kiki never fails her customers, so she came up with a wonderful “make and take” project–inchies!

Inchies are one inch by one inch pieces of original art. Typically they are collage art, but that’s not always the case. What’s so wonderful about inchies? Making them will…

  • Stretch your creative muscle,
  • Use up odd scraps of paper, 
  • Encourage you to try new color combinations
  • Supply you with an endless source of cool embellishments!

 

Kiki
Lowenstein’s Inchies

 

This
is such a fun project because you literally cannot do it wrong! Best of all,
it’s a thrifty way to use up those small bits of paper that you hate to toss.
When you’re done, there are tons of cool products that can be used in a variety
of places on your cards or scrapbook pages. You can even trade inchies with
your friends. And yet another benefit…inchies force you out of your crafting
comfort zone. Think of them as an exercise to strengthen your creativity
muscle.

 

 

Supplies:

 

Thin
cardstock

Upcycle Styrofoam into a Great Coaster

The portions in most restaurants are far too large for me, so I always ask for a carry-out container. Sadly, most of these are made of Styrofoam, or polystyrene, a product that takes nearly forever to breakdown in our landfills.

So I’ve been searching for ways to reuse my Styrofoam containers, and this idea is so simple and easy that I can’t believe I didn’t think of it before!

Since I love potted plants and vases full of flowers, I often find ugly circles on my furniture where the damp pots and vases touch the wood. Even glazed pots somehow transfer moisture. I used to put plates under the pots. Then I bought those stupid thin plastic pot “bottoms.” But they got really ugly and often fell apart. One day I realized that all I really needed was a coaster of an impervious material. Enter Styrofoam!

Here’s how the finished project looks–

You can barely see the white Styrofoam coaster under this orchid, but it is there–and it’s protecting the surface of my wooden chest.

TIME:
Takes at most ten minutes.

SUPPLIES:
An empty Styrofoam “clamshell” container, a ballpoint pen, scissors, and a sanding block.

METHOD:

1. Divide your container into two parts. You’ll be using the flat portion without partitions.

I’ll be using the portion on the left. I simply took a knife and cut the container in half.

2. Carefully clean and dry your Styrofoam container. I’ve noticed that you practically have to pour dish detergent right on the Styrofoam because oils love to cling to it.

3. Set your vase or pot on top of the flat portion. Use a ballpoint pen and trace around the base of your vase/pot. The tip of the pen will lightly carve into the foam. Cut out the shape. (I like to use kitchen shears for this.)

The pen point actually makes a small groove as you follow the curve of your vessel.

4. Use a sanding block to file down the rough edges of the circle and make it more symmetrical.

5. Slide it under your pot or vase. If you did it right, it should barely show.

Look at you, you crafty thing!

How to Turn One Plastic Baggy into Three Baggies

Sometimes I don’t want to waste an entire plastic baggy on a small amount of stuff. But I still want to separate out my small crafting items. I’ve learned a simple way to divide one baggy into multiples.

Time it takes:

Shoot, how do I know? (Okay…)
About five minutes or less.

Supplies:


* “ziplock” (press to seal) baggies
* tape (I prefer clear packing tape, but you can also use duct tape or masking tape. The width should be 2 or 3 inches.)
* personal paper trimmer and/or scissors

Method:

1. Start by flattening out your baggy. I slipped a piece of newspaper into my baggy to make it easier for you to follow what I’m doing. That said, it’s MUCH easier to cut your baggy if you insert a piece of newspaper or waste paper as I’ve done here, because it gives the limp baggy some shape.

2. Now use your Fiskars personal paper trimmer–you do own one, don’t you?–and position the bag to cut it. TIP: You will snuggle the top of the bag, with the “zipper,” up against the guiding edge of the trimmer. TIP: Start your cut from the “zipper” down, NOT from the thin edge of the baggy up. If you start from the “zipper” down, the rest of the bag won’t bunch up. NOTE: You could also use scissors. If you do, be careful!

Note that the green “zipper” is flush against the top edge of the trimmer. 



3. Cut the baggy into two or more smaller baggies. Remember–Take the blade up to the top of the baggy, by the “zipper” and cut down to the thinnest part of the baggy.

4. You’ll now have two or three smaller baggies--but their sides aren’t sealed! Hey, we can fix that…
Cut pieces of tape as long or longer than your baggy (measuring from the “zipper” to the bottom). Set these aside. You’ll need one piece of tape for each open side. So, for three baggies, you’d need four pieces of tape. I used masking tape here so you could see what I was doing.


5. Attach the tape to an open side of a baggy–BUT position the tape so that it’s half on the open and half off the open side. See below…

Notice that the tape is half on and half off the open side of the baggy. In other words, if the tape is 3 inches wide, 1 1/2 inches of the tape is stuck to the baggy and 1 1/2 inches is unattached to anything!

6. Flip your small baggy over. Fold the extra overhanging portion of the tape over to seal the other side of the baggy.

7. Press the two sides of the tape together to make sure you get a good seal. If the tape overhangs your new baggy, trim it–but be careful not to cut into the plastic baggy.

The tape is folded over to seal the open edge of the small, new baggy.

8. If you chose to cut the baggy into three smaller baggies, you now have two more baggies to seal up. One (the baggy cut from the middle) will be open on both the right and left sides. Tape both those sides closed.

Here are your three baggies–the one cut from the left, the middle one with two formerly open sides, and the right one (which is flipped over in this photo).

9. And here’s the big question…what will you put in your baggies?
On the left, I have plastic “leather” and a seashell, in the middle are bells, and on the right are charms. These baggies were “sealed” with clear packing tape. At the top of the picture, you can see the baggies I made and “sealed” with masking tape. I prefer the clear tape because the entire bag is then see-through.
So tell me, what’s in your baggy?
Sally and I want to know!
How cute is this? Two emery boards in the package, but we LOVE the graphics most of all
We’ll send these darling emery boards to the person with the coolest answer! 
You have until Sunday September 1 at midnight to answer…and we’ll post the winner on Monday!