Saturday, July 18, 2015

< slightly evil laugh >

My kids are away at camp, so I took the opportunity to re-vamp the chalkboard that's painted on the side of our pantry cupboard.  We haven't used it in... oh, a while, if I can judge by the "31 MORE DAYS TILL CHRISTMAS" that I wiped off of it yesterday.  Prior to using it as a countdown calendar, I had been using it to write down the kids' chores for them every day.

They didn't like that.

Recently, they have decided that they are old enough, nay, MATURE enough, that they should be allowed to simply look around their environment and clean up anything that they deem necessary.  Why should I treat them like children and dictate their actions by giving them a list?  Tsk.

I like this idea in theory.  It shows initiative.  It shows responsibility.  It shows how much of a sucker I am for falling for it.  I probably don't have to tell you how much it did not work.  Between the sibling bickering and the wide-eyed lying about what chores were not obvious enough to have captured their attention (food wrappers on the couch apparently being invisible to the naked eye), it's resulted in more frustration for me and waaaaaay less cleaning for them.

Oh, also there was a sale at Michael's and I bought some chalkboard markers.  Wanted to try them out.  Result: I like 'em.

I'll be honest, I sort of slapped this together, I didn't make sketches or do much planning.  That's why the lines are wiggly and the letters aren't all straight, but you know what... it was fun.  Also, it washes off, so I didn't feel like I was too committed.  Seriously, FUN.  You should try it.

Since they're going to show up dirty and tired, I only gave them one chore - THIS TIME.  YOUR job is to not tell them the paint washes off, because otherwise that's how the mutiny will start.  All I know is, chores have to be listed, otherwise they don't get done.  Also, if your children are perfect angels and do their chores without parental haranguing, well, just keep it to yourself, mmkay?  Thanks.


Friday, July 3, 2015

I'll just put this in the corner.

The Royal Aviation Museum in Winnipeg approached local art groups late last year to request assistance with their fundraising event, "Airborne Art".  

Now, I don't belong to a local art group.  But I weaselled my way in anyway.  

The deal was, you get to snoop through their back room full of spare old airplane parts, take home something that you think you could turn into a valuable piece of art, then bring it back to the museum in time for their big week this summer.  They have two visiting aircraft - a B-17 and a B-25 WWII bomber - that you can climb up inside.  Apparently they are expecting upward of 10,000 visitors for this particular exhibit, which is a mind-boggling number of people that may be walking past a piece of art that I created.  See how I managed to bring it all around back to me?  It's a gift, really.

Yes, the grass needs cutting.

I got there last, so I didn't get the coolest stuff.  BUT I GOT THIS AMAZING AIRPLANE WING!!! I was pretty excited about it, until I remembered that 10,000 people were going to be looking at it.  Gulp.  Then I totally choked, and it sat in my living room for the next three months.  Accusingly.

I finally stopped procrastinating and got down to business.

After I'd finished it, I reflected that if I was to start over, I would do it completely differently.  But then I shrugged and went to deliver it.  Too late for regrets, bitches!

I have to admit, the colours absolutely thrill me.  I spent an obscene amount of time staring at the finished product, trying to memorize the different combinations and drips.  YUM.

The museum also let me have a bunch of 1950s and 1960s aviation maps to use, and you can see a lot of that detail beneath the paint.

From my own stash I added some airmail-themed goodies.

Finally, when I was only two weeks late, I drove off to the museum to deliver my objet d'art.  When I got there, they were already assembling all the other works into categories, so I got to see the other artists' work.

I had an epiphany.

I need to join an art group.

Seriously, these people brought ART.  Like, something you would put in an exhibit, or a gallery, or... or... or... a MUSEUM.  Ohmygah.  Yeah.  I felt totally outclassed.  Wait, not at all in a "please feel sorry for me" way or a "please compliment my art because I'm feeling desperately needy" but more in an "I HAVE TO STEP UP MY GAME" way.  Because seeing those other artists' pieces seriously opened my eyes.  I've been doodling along, dabbling here and there, and never really getting serious about improving.  

I love their beat-up, time-worn signs...
So.  The museum may not make a bundle off of my donation, but I certainly got more than I bargained for.  I'm going to make a more concerted effort to grow in my art.  This may go really well, or it may be an unmitigated disaster.  But if you want to come along for the ride, I'll at least try to make it entertaining.

Stay tuned.


Monday, June 22, 2015

*Drum Roll Please*........ THE STAIRS.

A while back my sister-in-law Marleen presented me with a project and asked for my help: she had been looking at images of decorated stairs on Pinterest and wanted to know if I could paint her stair risers to look like the covers of her favourite books.


You damn betcha I could.  I like books.  I like painting.  And I even like stairs, now that I think about them.  This project was right up my alley.

Well it took a while (sorry Marn!) but it's finally done.  She sent me these pics yesterday of the boards all installed and pretty-looking.

I know it's hard to see the top ones but they are:

 - Gone With the Wind
 - Charlotte's Web
 - Outlander
 - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
 - Dracula

This was one of the most fun projects I've ever done and I love that they loved it enough to permanently install it in their home.  Biggest compliment EVER.

Now... back to work.

Love Shelley!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015



I signed up for a swap on swap-bot and got super-lucky - my partner ended up being someone I'm already BFFs with, so I immediately knew what kind of pages I wanted to do for her.  Happy, ridiculously bright, totally experimental ones!

I started with some fairly random 4"x6" pieces of cardstock from my overflowing collection, slapped a little paint, gesso and collage stuff on them...

... then started adding bits of bright colour.  I also darkened up the colours around the edges using some Inktense blocks and a water brush.  GOD I LOVE THOSE INKTENSE COLOURS!!!  They go on like watercolour, but then when they dry, they're permanent.  So you can keep layering without ever losing the work you did underneath.  Perfect for if you're not a talented watercolorist.  Ahem.

Some drips here and there, more random splashes (I wore a beret and tilted my head thoughtfully to one side while I did this)*

Some watered-down white paint to push the background into the background...

Ohhh, now we're cooking.  A few more layers of that juicy Inktense colour really brings the whole thing together.

Then a bunch of random marks and doodles with markers and paint...

A quote on happiness... (that was the theme, hence the bright happy colours)

And finally, I thought the balls of weirdness looked a little too floaty so I attached them all to long spires, as though they were alien-like eyeballs on stalks.  Nice imagery, hey?

Some detail shots:

Making these two pages brought me such feelings of peace and joy.  I definitely gotta keep doing this stuff.

But first... sleep.  Goodnight.

Love Shelley!

* I totally didn't.  I don't even recall wearing pants, now that I think of it.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


So here's how to make this postcard:

1.  Eat all the Alpha-Bits; disassemble the cardboard box
2.  Draw the shape of your monster onto the coloured side of the cardboard
3.  Cut out and base coat with white gesso
4.  Block in colour with gouache (thick highly pigmented paint that covers excellently*)
5.  Drybrush lighter colours on to get highlights - you can just add white to your first colour if you don't have two shades
6.  Make warty-looking dots by dipping the back of your brush into the paint and dabbing onto the horns
7.  Use a Stabilo Marks-All pencil to add outlines and shadows
8.  Stand back; admire work; slap a stamp on the back and mail it to someone you like

*yes, I know that's not a word

Go. Make monsters.

Love Shelley!

P.S.  This technique also works with Mini-Wheats.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Pocket Letters

So here's a new idea: pocket letters.

I found them on Pinterest (where else), followed the links to the original post, and this is my first crack at making a couple of them.  Guess what: they're super fun.

You just take a 9-card baseball card holder, mine are from Staples, and fill up all the pockets with goodies for your pen pal.  Each slot is 2 ½" x 3 ½", the same size as Artist Trading Cards (ATCs).  NOT the same size as your Project Life cards.  Those are a majestic 3"x4" and won't fit in here.

Anyway, these were for people who like very specific things, so they were easy to create.  The first lady likes fabric, sewing, stickers, buttons, lists and gum.  Those are sewing needles, by the way.

The second lady loves her garden, used stamps, stickers, tea, band-aids, buttons, and things for gift-wrapping, hence the twine.  Oh, and sparkly things.  You probably can't tell by the pic but the star card stock and a few of the buttons are pretty glittery.  Hopefully she'll like it.

I wasn't sure how I was going to cram a proper letter into a single tiny pocket but I did figure out a way.  I folded a piece of card stock in half, then added 3 sheets of onionskin paper, also folded in half and stapled in. Because the card is so small I was able to use my regular desk stapler for this, no special equipment required!  The paper is nice and thin, and although I  didn't write a novel-length letter or anything, at least I was able to say a few things.  

If you're careful about how chunky all your items are, you can fold the card holder into thirds, because it fits perfectly into a business size or #10 envelope, and then mail it off.  It'll likely be heavier than a regular letter, so you might need to add more postage.  But if you don't make it too fat, you won't have to send it as a parcel.  Hooray!  

If you want to send bigger items, then this format may not be for you.  But for a novelty, it is kind of cool.  

Now, go make something!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

So you like the wee books.

I am a crappy blogger.

I tell you guys I'm going to be back and show you stuff after it's done, then I either finish it and forget all about it, or get all dazzled by a new idea and never finish the initial project in the first place.

I go weeks or months between posts.

I make stuff then forget to show you.

I haven't updated my profile or links or anything in for-ev-er.

BUT.  I did a Real Blogger move a few weeks ago and looked at my stats, and I realized that the only two posts that have had over 100 views are the one with the tag "Satan's Testicles" (you guys are weird) and the one with this little book I made.

And that made me realize that one of YOUR favourite things was also one of MY favourite things.  So I made another one.

This one's a bit smaller - 3 ½" x 3 ⅝" x 2 ½" thick.  You know what it's perfect for?  Instagram photos.  Or Instax photos.  Or just using as a junk journal.  Or... something even more creative that I haven't even thought of yet.  It has over 750 pages.  Which is insane, but in a good way.

And, remember how yesterday I showed you my craft room, or at least some parts of it?  Well, I managed to gather up 4 big bags/bins of material for making these little books.  (Formerly spread all over the place.)  So you haven't seen the last of them.

Want one?  Go see it in my etsy shop.  And I'll let you know when I make the next one.  I PROMISE.  No really, this time it's for real.  Pinky swear.  Oh fine, I know you won't believe it until you see it.  Fair enough.

Until then!


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Workspace Wednesday

I'm only showing you guys this stuff because I cleaned up.  Usually it's a total disgrace in here.  And because I love seeing other peoples' desks and having a virtual snoop around.  So I bet you do too.

Oh, you DON'T?????


The Desk.  Unseasonably tidy but probably won't stay that way for long.

The Ikea rolling cart.  Yes, everybody has one.  You know why?  Cause they're AWESOME, that's why.

Small bookshelf to the right of my desk.  The top shelf is scotch tape, a stapler (usually but I see it's on the desk at the moment), and two containers of washi tape.  Middle shelf: different media for painting and a wooden drawer full of different sizes and styles of index cards.  Mainly vintage.  Bottom shelf: a basket full of odds and ends like eyelets, wire, hinges, all sorts of crap.  To tell you the truth, I'm not sure what's all in there.  Beside it is a wooden crate full of more index card stuff.  The bottom crate has SECRET IMPORTANT STUFF in it.  You know, things I needed to have but now have no clue what I needed them for.  Example: 20 mismatched fancy silver spoons.  

This bookshelf has a lot of empty books and journals.  In fact, I don't dare count them because I'm not sure I can fill that many in my lifetime.  But I'm going to go down trying.

Third shelf is all my fountain pens and inks; then a basket full of heavy-body acrylics.  Bottom shelf is a basket full of Jo Sonya acrylic paints and a bizarre selection of CDs, and a flower pot full of paintbrushes.  Because I'm Fancy.

The clamp lamps are for the white photo booth I made myself in January.  I haven't figured out the finer points of photographing with it yet but when I do, you'll know.  Hint: because my photos won't be so mediocre.

That's enough for today.  I'm enjoying the fact that it isn't an obstacle course to get to my desk.  I might go sit in there and gloat a little.

Love Shelley!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

It seemed like a good idea at the time...

But we'll see if the googly eyes really make it through the mail or not.  But if they DO, then they are going on EVERYTHING from now on!!

Imagine the phone company, or hydro employees.  I like to keep the world entertained, you know.  Especially the ones with jobs like opening envelopes.  If they have to deal with the mail, then they are part of my tribe. 


Monday, February 2, 2015

Opa, it's February!

I doubt my dad has ever seen the episode of the Simpsons where Homer hums this little ditty, but he's heard the rest of us say it often enough that it's stuck, and now it's kind of one of his things. 

This is the second month of his Christmas present calendar.  He is a pretty content man, and rarely wants or asks for anything for his birthday or Christmas, so it's hard to think of good gifts for him.  I got input from some of my siblings on his most popular phrases, and then we went with the ones that didn't have cuss words in them.  HA!

You can see January here.

As you were.

Love Shelley!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Hi ho, it's your favourite art dork here.

No, seriously.

I got the itch today to make something, so I figured I'd make an envelope from scratch for a letter that was ready to send.  I started with two blank time sheets, then collaged, glued, painted, doodled, sewed, all that good stuff.  It went really smoothly - the muse was definitely IN.

Then: this is supposed to be an envelope.  How shall I join the two together so that I can stuff a letter in it and ship it off into the great unknown?

Idea: use the office laminator!!  In fact (genius lightbulb moment) I should just layer it all together.  Back of envelope, letter, front of envelope!  Run the whole thing through the laminator!  Then once it reaches its destination, its new owner has merely to snip off the top, as if it was a bag of delicious animal crackers, and the enclosed letter will be accessible and easy to read!  GAWD I'M SO SMART SOMETIMES I EVEN AMAZE MYSELF.

To the office!  Set up the laminator!  Turn it on!  Layer carefully - make sure the back of the envelope is in fact facing out!  Okay, now run it thr- uh oh.  What's that grinding noise?  Ohboy.  I don't think this laminator can handle that stack of pages.  SHIT!  PULL IT OUT PULL IT OUT!  Phew.  Okay, I don't think I wrecked anything.  *looks guiltily around to make sure nobody saw me* *remembers I am alone*

New idea: Laminate the front and back together.  Then I'LL clip the top open like a bag of delicious animal crackers.  I'll put the letter in, tape it closed, and voila.  HOLY SHIT I'M THE BIGGEST GENIUS I SHOULD TOTALLY GET A RAISE.

Back into the laminator!  La la laaaaa!  *so proud*  OMG why is it grinding again?!  CRAP!  Ah, for the love ... okay.  Back to the drawing board.  I willllllll........... ok.  OK!  I will laminate the front, and I will laminate the back, and then I will find a completely different way to put them together into the form of an envelope.  *deep breath*  *slides single layers of arted-up time sheets through* Motherf--- WHAT IS HAPPENING NOW?  Why is the carrier sheet coming out the back but NOT  MY ENVELOPE?!  

*takes laminator apart* *says more bad words* *finds that first sheet kept rolling inside and is stuck and all curly* *unsticks and uncurls it* *reassembles laminator* *looks around again to be sure nobody is witnessing this jackassery* *still alone, thank God* *turns it on and runs the rest of it through*

Ah.  Better.  I suppose I should have followed the directions on top of the laminator (THAT ARE IN PICTOGRAMS SO THAT EVEN A DUMBASS LIKE ME CAN FOLLOW THEM) that show that you put your material INSIDE the carrier sheet.  Not on top of it.  Jeez.  

Anyway, too late for directions now.  Run it through one more time, fingers crossed that it will uncurl and be relatively straight so I can still use it.  Otherwise: all that work for nothing, and then I'll just have to start day drinking way earlier than planned.

SUCCESS!!!  OMG I'm exhausted.  But I got my two sheets laminated.

  1. Take pictures before it's shiny.  
  2. Braille Dymo tape does not fare well when going through a hot laminator.  
  3. I probably require adult supervision.

You've been very patient.  Here you go:

Love Shelley!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

I just can't help myself.

Hello, my lovelies!

I have a confession to make: I've been sending mail again.   I was at the library the other day and of course they're always selling off old books to make way for new shiny ones.  I found a couple of kids' books that had great illustrations, and snatched them up to use for envelopes.  "SACRILEGE!  WHO TEARS BOOKS APART?!" you howl in righteous outrage.  Well, me.  I do.  See, these are kids' books.  They have been dragged around, scratched up, drooled on, torn, doodled on with crayons and pudding fingers, and basically treated like... I guess like any other possession a kid has.  So they weren't exactly in mint condition anyway.  I just tell myself I'm giving them a new life... a final hurrah, I guess.  Anyway, the envelopes are adorable. 

The piglet above is going to a customer.  The cross-eyed alligator below is going to a young friend who's been waiting too long for a letter from me.  I tried to make it as enticing as possible, including adding a wax seal on the back.  After all... I do want her to write back!  

 I hope you're all making and getting fun mail.  Trust me, it can really make your day to find something joyful in the mailbox!  Go. GO!!!  Make something.  Then mail it to someone who's not expecting it.  I guarantee good results.  And I don't guarantee much, so that's saying something.  (Go.)

Love, Shelley!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Merry Pretty Late Christmas, Opa!

Happy new year, all six of you!  : )

Okay, I spent the last couple of months tying up some loose ends, and now I'm ready to focus again.  Honestly, I haven't been making anything too artsy-fartsy, to my eternal regret.  Now I'm a little rusty, but still as eager as ever to create.  

The very first thing I did was over-commit.  Don't look so surprised, you know I do this every single time. 

I decided that for Christmas, I would make my dad a calendar full of hand-lettered quotes of all the things he's known for saying.  Of course, I didn't make the Christmas deadline, but I'm on it now.  I have six or seven drafts, and here's some work-in-progress shots of the first one.

I lettered it myself, so if you're a typography wizard and you see kerning outrages or issues with my descenders, don't bother pointing the finger at anybody else.  It's all me.

When I finished the lettering, the brown and black just seemed to hang there.  Boring.  Alone.  Unloved.  So I added some warm colours to make the whole thing seem a little happier.

It's hanging up in my parents' kitchen; now I just have to get hustling and finish the other 11 months.  (gulp).

Guess I know what I'm doing for the next little while.

Love, Shelley!