Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Quick! I'm on a deadline!

This will be a quick post because I have a midnight deadline and no glass slippers! I'm rushing over to the Tiffany Doodles website to turn in my card for this month's sketch challenge. She's got a bunch of free sample digi stamps, something I seem to suddenly have a rampant addiction to since I bought a few off of etsy. Then, I found the Free Digi Stamps Website, which then led me to Paper Craft Planet and finally to Tiffany Doodles, where I then found this challenge. It's all very Rube Goldberg, I know.She has a nice selection of sample digis, but this old-timey duck toy was my favorite by far. I love the sort of dingy nostalgia it has.

What are all these other pictures about? Well, I just finished a slew of swaps before today's deadline, including a mail art postcard swap via Club Scrap. Have I ever mentioned how much I adore mail art? If not, I really should have. Anyway, this is my contribution. My main concern is will they hold up in the mail or shred when they hit the mail sorter outer machine.

And finally, here is my contribution to the Fiskateers Ribbon/Cupcake ATC swap. And what do you know? It has one of those first few digi stamps I purchased featured. Funny how things come full circle.
Now it's your turn! Leave me your favorite stamp or digi stamp company's name in your comment and you will be entered to win a Martha Stewart mouse-edge punch! I love mine, and I hope the winner will love this one!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Upside-down Lampshades, Hedgehogs, and Assorted Spaniels

I've been awfully busy over the last week or perhaps a little more, trying to keep up and shake the pain that hangs on like stressed out caiman (one of my favorite reptiles, actually. No offense to any crocodillans intended, of course, but they do have rather tensile jaws.) Accupuncture helps, but sometimes the pain is so deep it takes a lot of things helping before I can compose myself and think straight, much less contribute to society in any type of meaningful way.

So in the time between being struck dumb with pain and just being stranded on Couch Island with the pain, it seemed like a good time to make a set of Get Well cards!
When I saw this stamp at Rubber Hedgehog, I knew I had to make it mine. There's very little more sweetly pitiful than a dog running around with a lampshade on his head. (It's okay to let out a sympathetic giggle provided they're up and about and not too ill, right? :)) Poor little guy! I know, they're not really called lampshades. They're Elizabethan Collars or E-Collars. I don't like to use the latter because it's easy to confuse E-C0llar with Electronic Shock Collars, which I loathe. They will screw up your dog. But I'm wandering off course. I'll try to stay on topic. :)

Speaking of Rubber Hedgehog, if you have a cute pet (and if you have a pet, you of course have a cute one!) Rubber Hedgehog runs a contest every year to pick a new pet to be a model for one of their stamps! Check out the rules and regulations on their website. I'm thinking of sending in pics of a few of my pets, maybe. Whoever wins, it's always really cool to see the stamps they end up making. I've bought several stamps featuring their winners because they always pick adorable ones.

Also keeping me busy is making cards for charity. A Cocker Spaniel rescue group asked for some card sets and samples for their auction and goodiebags. I know this one's a springer spaniel, but hey, they're both spaniels. I'm particularly fond of the Bond-girl Silhouetted Dog style paper. I'm pretty sure I got it out of the take-n-leave basket at Jen K's so someone reading this may have been the one who tossed it out. If so, thanks!

Yeah, and I know this one's a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, not a cocker, but I figure I like other dogs who look kind of like mine--Parson Russels, certain Chihuahuas, Toy Fox Terriers, etc. So I'm hoping the people at the Cocker fund raiser are the same way.
This one came out oddly Fourth of July-ish. Those are not colors I tend use much, but sometimes you don't know what you're going to do until it's made.
So, hang in there with me till I'm back upright again. There are pictures and links and other things to share next post.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Giving a Customer the Bird

Warning, this is a very picture-heavy post. Keep scrolling and reading to see all of these gorgeous birds! OMG I love it when one of my customers asks me to use photos of their pet to make them a set of cards. I know people joke about how boring it is when someone pulls out 500 pictures of their kids, but make it 500 pictures of their pets and I'll ask if they have 500 more to show me. Maybe it's all the animal rescue work that's made me soft and gushy this way. Maybe it's spending way too much time at Cute Overload that's oversensitized me and makes me emit "Awwww" noises whenever a photo of an animal is near. I'm addicted to cute pets like some are addicted to crystal meth. Oh, is it 4 a.m.? Just a few more pages of LOL Cats, pleeeeease?
So, I start with the customer's .jpgs and mess around a bit with the color, cropping, and whatever else I can do to enhance the appearance of the subject. It was neat getting to play around with birds for the first time. Their colors are so important, but occasionally, I like to draw the eye to the patterns on their bodies, the expressiveness of their faces and stance, as in the case of this guy below. I love how he's climbing a hiking boot! Such a delicate animal against a rough-and-tumble shoe. There's a trust there.This guy's name is Not Sure, and could there be a more appropriate photo to reflect his name? I think not! He totally looks like he's had just about enough of your shenanigans. You can see the dots fading away just like his patience. I know. I know. He's a bird, he already has wings, but who can't use an extra pair? I love the look in his eye. He's such a proud looking bird, he knows he looks good. His chest looks so soft and smooth. Seeing too many sickly animals in rescue, I love seeing healthy birds! I had to use this pic again, but this time, I had it reduced to 2.5x3.5 inches, then snipped him out paper doll style. His expression looks so different here. It's neat how you can bring out different aspects of an expression. Surrounded by a garden of flowers, I think he looks thoughtful, a little pensive.
Check out how freaking adorable these birds are. I have a few avian friends (Hello Monte, if you somehow broke out of your mondo huge cage and are reading this while pulling the keys off of your mom's computer.) like Monte, for example, who is a blue and gold macaw, and female. Apparently, sexing birds isn't like sexing rats where you can tell if they're boys or girls from all the way across the room. Very often birds names don't reflect their gender, but they don't seem to mind.
I love this little love bird! His expression is beyond adorable and check out those colors. I think photos of animals looking quizzically into the camera are precious anyway, but this guy is so focused, he appears to be looking so deeply into the lens, he may be watching the SLR movement. It's a pose that shows off that magnificent beak so well, too. I just want to reach out and touch it!
The client asked specifically for one card to have all her birds on it together. Not easy with so many birds and plumes all over the place! So, I decided to go with a "family portrait" style. I imagine it's even harder to get a group photo in real life, so I hope she likes this one. This guy is totally my favorite. I love all of these birds, but I swear this guy managed to twist his beak into a smile! Here he is, clearly enjoying his bath, so I surrounded him with button "bubbles". I want to grab this guy and give him a huge hug, but I don't think birds like that much, so it's probably a good thing that it's just a photo. That's all! I hope you enjoyed these birds as much as I did. I like making all sorts of cards, but the ones using clients' pet photos are my favorite. I feel like I get to know the animals in the pictures between working with the jpgs and collaging the images afterward. I hope these get the approval of their subjects.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Swapping with my Teammates

First things first...for those of you waiting for a winner to be announce, the name I drew for the Martha Stewart bird stamps is...Billie Jo! If you're reading this, Billie Jo, I have sent you a message via your link, but haven't heard from you yet...please contact me so I can send you your prize! Yay!

One of the great things about having an etsy shop is getting to commune with other shop owners via teams. I'm proud to be a member of three: Vegan Etsy, Etsy for Animals, and EtsyVeg. We get together to support each other's shops, promote our crafts, and do good for animals. One of the added bonuses is getting to know other craftsy people who care about animal protection, and another is finding other creative people who are interested in swapping their goods for yours.

I just completed my first Etsy store-to-store swap ever and it was super cool. My first swap parter was the very talented Laurel of Straw House Books.

Check out the detail on this handbound book. The paper inside is gorgeous. It's so soft. It's so lovely I'm having a hard time deciding what I should use it for. I'm leaning toward using it as an art journal.

The spine is actually a whole separate piece bound to the covers via some nifty stitchery. I've done some bookbinding using Club Scrap kits so I know how much work goes into stitch binding like this. I've never gone so far as to make a fabric covered book, but I imagine that takes some time and extremely good control of your adhesive to prevent wrinkling.

Is this fabric not adorable? Wee little rat-sized paw prints! Yeah, I know, they're more like dog or kitty prints, rat prints would look a whole lot more like human hand and foot prints than dog and cat ones. Nonetheless, tiny pawprints = oh so darn adorable!

I love this book! Thanks so much Laurel!
So, what did she get in exchange? First, a copy of my Yummy for Dogs Cookbook (grab one now to help out the Berkely shelter post-fire.)

And also a set of my custom photo cards. I love making these. I work with the photos electronically, then hand collage the cards after the prints arrive. One of the things that makes these so fun is sitting with the images and getting to know each person's pet via the .jpgs they send me. I try to get a feel for their personality, then show off who that animal is via the finished cards. Laurels dog is just too loveable! Check her out:

Aww! I love a happy, silly dog! Below is a more thoughtful portrait.

You can see the rest here, if you like. What a fantastic model she is!
(Are you an etsy seller who'd like to swap with me? Contact me via!)