One of my favorites: Jen Starr


I was honored to spend a recent day with Jen Starr, artist extraordinaire.

She came to a friend’s store to teach and I, of course, took all three classes. She taught me how to do a photo transfer on canvas (the finished photo is coming soon), as well as working with Dylusions paints and The Crafter’s Workshop stencils. I learned a lot, as I always do when Jen is in town. Not only is she a great instructor, but she is a wonderful person and a great storyteller, too.

In an art journaling class, Jen pushed me WAY out of my comfort zone. She actually MADE me draw, and doodle, and trace … three things I cannot do — despite her excellent instruction.


Compared to hers, my art is awful, but in a way, I kind of like it. I like that I tried something new. And I like that it is bright, colorful and busy. My circles may not be perfect and my lines may not be straight, but I’m not perfect either, so I guess it is OK.


I wanted to share it because I think we often set our standards too high. We compare ourselves to others and try to be like someone else and that just isn’t possible. All of us are not natural artists. All techniques may not come easy to us. But all of us can express ourselves, and have fun, making art.


So, as my friend Wendy Vecchi says, “Make Art!”


For Art’s Sake


I have finally jumped on board and tried art journaling. Art journaling is nothing new — it has been around for centuries and has even been “trendy” for the past three or four years. But I put off trying this new adventure, I think, because of what it is — creating for the sake of creating.

You see, in my world, everything has a purpose. Most of my kitchen decor is stuff I take off the wall and use — like decorative measuring spoons or colanders. Decorative boxes, baskets and bins hold my stencils, stamps and paints in my studio. Antique mason jars hold ribbons and twine in my living room. Even my animals are expected to provide something — eggs, meat, love.

So, to break away and make something that might never be seen by another, that will not decorate a room or make someone happy, well, that just did not fit me.

But, the more pages and techniques I saw, the more I wanted to play, too.

And then the inner me started wanting to come out. I’m not sure if it is my age, my place in life, the lifestyle changes I am making or the fact that I just had surgery, but I’ve gotten a bit deeper … I often find myself examining things or thinking about things and wanting to write down those thoughts. And, I thought an art journal might be a good place to record them.


I purchased a Dylusions journal from Ranger, grabbed some inks, sprays and stencils, and sat down to play. I got a bit carried away with the liquids and parts of my book started to fall apart and other parts bled in the binding, so you will see washi tape on most of my pages. But other than that, my art journal features a wide range of styles and mediums. The page above, for example, shows Dylusions sprays, stencils, Distress Ink, a new Fiskars punch, paint and even a Sharpie marker. This page shows some of the reasons I am making such drastic life changes and some of the goals I set. Whenever I get discouraged, I turn to this page and remind myself WHY!



I had planned to put photos here, but I love the background so much, I have a hard time covering it up, so it remains as is.


This was my first time playing with Distress Crayons. I later went over it with paint and stencils, stamps and some ephemera.


This is page 2 of my bucket list (I didn’t want to share the list with the world).


This is my opening page … the circles and deer are punched from a sheet of Mixed Media Paper I was using as a demo sheet at a crop … it was covered in techniques and products and I decided to use punches to make it into decorative pieces, rather than throwing it away.


This is where I was testing the new Distress Collage Medium with tissue paper and stamps …


And here, testing the new Distress Crayons and a stamp.


Some of my pages are far from done … I find myself making backgrounds and then, when I am inspired to write or create, the pages are all ready to go.


And, sometimes my old linear self takes over and my pages no longer have that free flow that I like … but it is a good place to keep the updates of my weight-loss journey.


I have found many uses for my art journal … yes, some pages are just art for art’s sake. But, I am also using it to showcase my weight loss with photos, goals and inspiration. I use it at crops to show different techniques. I record important things to me, like my bucket list.

And, perhaps my favorite use, is to use it as a test pad. I’ve been trying out new products and techniques right in the book. It is easy to grab and I am free to just spread glue or wipe paint and not worry about creating anything or wasting anything. It doesn’t matter if the technique works or if I don’t like it. I can easily be covered up or ignored. And there is no pressure to finish it … the pages can remain as they are for as long as I wish them to. In fact, some of my favorite pages began as “I wonder what would happen if I …” Now, in those wee hours of the morning when I am not quite awake, but no longer sleeping, I find myself designing ways to record those aspects of my life that are not easily written down.

So, there you have it. My art journal is a technique tester, diary, weight-loss tracker, motivational inspiration, a sales tool, random thoughts, pieces of me, a demo counter AND art.

Yes, art journaling is definitely bringing out the artist in me. And now I cannot imagine life without it!

Mini Canvases

I first saw tiny canvases a few months ago. Just 2-inches square, I thought they were adorable, but had no idea what to do with them.

I also had a shelf that was just missing something …

Alas, my brain finally put the two together and I created this …


These little canvases are perfect for filling in that tall space above the things on my little shelf.IMGP3273

I sprayed the canvases with Dylusions Ink Sprays. Once dry, I lightly painted white paint over the top. Then, I added just a hint of ink. And, used a Wendy Vecchi stencil and Ranger Texture Paste to add some birds to the top. As a final touch, I went over parts of them with a little Distress Ink.

I used Command Picture Hanging Strips to hang the canvases so I didn’t damage my shelf.

I love how they turned out … what do you think?

The Magical, Musical Tour

motor1A dear friend asked me to make some cards with motorcycle and guitar themes. I don’t normally create with those themes, so I perused the stores for some 3D stickers I could use. I found a few, sat down to create and then realized I had no appropriate paper. And, I didn’t remember seeing what I needed. Then I remembered my cousin Robin’s challenge to use some stencils and figured I would “kill two birds with one stone.”

motor3So, I pulled out some stencils, Dylusions Inks, giant manila tags, Ranger Archival Ink and Wendy Vecchi Embossing Paste and went to work. Once I finished making backgrounds, I cut the rest apart and added bits and pieces to the cards.

motor2Many of the insides have stickers and punches in them as well, but I forgot to take photos of them before mailing.

Help! They’re Molting!

Linnie Blooms Molting Candy SpiegelIf you have never noticed a molting chicken, you are in for a treat. They look rather ridiculous as they lose feathers and slowly replace them.

I recorded the event this year on this spread for Linnie Blooms Designs.

For a closer look and to see how I created this page, click here.


Scrap It with Stencils!

This month’s challenge at Scrap It Girl is to work with stencils.

I have been a fan of stencils for years, but I fell in love with them all over again after Wendy Vecchi showed me all of the cool things you can do with embossing paste. I took a stencil, embossing paste and a bit of Glimmer Mist to create this 10×10 canvas …

stencil_candy_spiegelClick on the image for a closer look …

I sprayed the mist on the canvas first. After it was dry, I applied Wendy Vecchi’s embossing paste with the stencil. As it dries, it absorbs some of the color from the Glimmer Mists. Very cool!

i then added papers by Bo Bunny, stamps by Tim Holtz and Wendy Vecchi, a wreath by Memory Box, buttons by 7 Gypsies, washi tape, lace and feathers (from my chickens). I love it … what do you think?

Want to play with stencils? Create a card, project or scrapbook layout showcasing your use of stencils and enter it into this month’s challenge at Scrap It Girl. You could win a great prize package!

Technique Thursday: Crafters Workshop Templates

Technique Thursday is back … a little late, but better late than never, right?!

We took last week off because most of our customers were attending the Great Lakes Mega Meet, a scrapbooking convention in Novi, MI.

And, this week time just seemed to get the better of me, but never fear, I will be at Capture A Memory from 2-6 p.m. today sharing some things you can do with templates from The Crafters Workshop.

These templates have been around for years … I have some that are several years old … but my style has evolved in a way that I am using them now more than ever. As an added bonus, they are not expensive (about $5 for the smaller ones) and they are thin plastic, so they are easy to store. I keep them in their packaging and hang them on the side of my desk.

They come in a variety of styles and designs, but you will see some of my favorites here.

Naturally, you could take a pen or marker and trace the patterns, like any stencil. But, you can also use alcohol ink

or airbrush them with Copic Sketch markers


or color them with Distress Ink

or spritz them with Glimmer Mist or Perfect Pearls Mist or use embossing enamel


I use Removeable Glue Dots to help hold the template in place.

If you only want to use a portion of the stencil, use sticky notes or tape to seal off the area you don’t want to use.

Clean the stencils like you would normally with the product used … use hand sanitizer with a high-alcohol content to clean off alcohol inks or Copic markers. Use water to clean off Distress Ink. Use rubber stamp cleaner to clean off permanent inks. Just be careful to rub gently … some of the stencils have tiny parts that may get bent if you scrub too hard.

Don’t be afraid to layer them or go back over the image with rubber stamps for a vintage or shabby chic look.

Have fun!

I hope to see you today from 2-6 p.m. at Capture A Memory in Flint Township.