Desert Beauty

This will be a short post since I was in Tucson for several days attending a Handbell Festival and have been trying to catch up on things since then.

 The first thing that struck me when I arrived in Tucson was the heat, of course, but then as I was driving to the hotel I kept seeing these vivid red-orange flowers that were a real contrast to the brown/olive background around them. 

When I got to the hotel these flowers were growing right outside my balcony, so I got an opportunity to get a closer look.  I was blown away by how much they looked like orchids- very lacy and delicate.  They were truly stunning. 

I have no idea what they are called but I am hoping someone out there will comment and let me know!  I would hate to keep calling them “red-orange flowers” when I am sure they have a much lovelier name. 

As I was out looking for a letterbox the next morning my first reaction to the scenery was that it was lacking in color so therefore not very interesting.  But as I continued to walk I saw that while there wasn’t a whole lot of color there was a lot of texture.  The variety of textures in the cacti alone was mind-boggling! 

This card, a sketch from this week’s Clean And Simple  Stamping Blog   reminds me of my trip.  I used a great handmade silk paper for the flower (one of the Tim Holtz Tattered Flowers with some alteration), and my butterfly antenna technique (adding small dots of paper to the ends of the stiffened embroidery floss) as well.  My Tim Holtz embossing folder used with a sand colored cardstock seemed to make a fitting background and I used a sewing machine stitch that looked quite prickly.  Even the red mottled cardstock I chose for the card itself added some texture.


I hope you enjoyed this tribute to Tucson, AZ!


Reorganization, Dutch Guilders and the Color Yellow

Several weeks ago Split Coast Stampers had a forum dealing with organizing craft supplies by color.  The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. I realized that for me it would be better to have 1 box out rather than a ribbon box, a marker box, the box with my embellishments… you get the idea. 

As I was sorting  I was amazed at how much stuff I had, and how many things I had forgotten were there!   The reorganization was worth it just from that standpoint.

My initial plan was to make a box for each of the primary and secondary colors, plus black/white/neutral, but as I began to amass piles of each color I realized that I needed to make some slight adjustments.  Because I had so much blue stuff I broke that pile down into a blue pile and a turquoise one.  I did the same with the red pile- I ended up with red and a pink pile. 

What went into the boxes?  I put buttons, eyelets, brads, rhinestones, embellishments, glitter, gel pens, ribbon, and threads and fibers.  Because I really only use my Sharpies to make custom-colored rhinestones and pearls they went into the boxes as well. 

I left my paints, alcohol inks, and PearlEx where they were- they were happy there. 

It took a while but it was worth the effort.  The thing about organizing craft stuff, at least in my experience, is that needs and ways of organizing things changes from time to time, so if one method doesn’t work, something else can be tried. 

Now to the “yellow” and “Dutch Guilders” part.  After I had everything in boxes I realized that my smallest stash was definitely yellow.  I just don’t use much of it.

I needed a double-sided tag for my Yahoo Inchies group and thought I would use yellow on it.  Looking back to my 1998 portfolio I spied a  tag on which I had used an image of a yellow 50-guilder note.  I liked it back then, but I was sure I could do better now.  Just as an aside, I love  Dutch Guilders!  The colors are just wonderful. 

Here is the picture of the front side:

And here is a pic of the backside.

   I wanted to incorporate my information into the design, so each leaf of the flower has a bit of info. Fun, huh?

So here’s my question:  what color do you need to get out and do something with, or what older art piece do you have that you could update? Give me a comment and let me know what you come up with!

L is for Lion and Lettterboxing


Hand-carved stamp

Is it possible to play with rubber stamps and still get some exercise at the same time?  Yes, if you letterbox!

What is letterboxing?  I’m glad you asked! It is a treasure-hunting, rubberstamping, discovering-new-places experience that can be shared with friends, kids and grandkids.

This is how it works. A “placer’ carves or buys a rubber stamp, puts it in a watertight storage container, adds a journal to be stamped in, and then hides the box. They then post clues for its whereabouts on

The supplies you will need are your own hand-carved  stamp, a journal to stamp in, an ink pad, a pencil and a camera (optional), clues from the letterboxing site, and a sense of adventure! 

The clues that placers give run the gamut from straight forward “take road X nine miles, turn right…” to riddles, codes, or even CD’s (I once found one that had nothing but animal sounds on it).

After following the clues and finding the box, or boxes, you open their box and stamp their image in your journal, date it, give the name of the box. Then you take your stamp and stamp it in their journal, date it, add your name (first name only) and town if desired.  Rehide the box well and repeat.

My hubby and I have found places in other states (and here in town) that we would never have stumbled across if we hadn’t had clues to them. We have found lovely little parks tucked in between buildings in busy cities, quirky botanical gardens, and a yellow restaurant with red trim that makes the best strawberry shortcake around!

The themes of the boxes vary with some being history oriented, some pertaining to the carved stamp, and some being lists like “ten things to see in your town”.

Letterboxing is great for kids as they love the idea of finding a treasure.  It also gives them practice reading and following sequential directions and learning compass directions.

What can you do with these stamped images you collect?  I choose to keep the stamped images and pictures I took of the hiding place itself, of friends that came with us, or anything that caught my fancy along the way, in a 6×6 scrapbook (which is the only size of scrapbook I can do without developing a nervous tic, but that is another story…).  It is fun to be able to count all of the boxes you have found, and the states you have found them in.  I have found over 100 boxes, and I am not even in the running for the most found, which I believe is over 1500!

sample page from my scrapbook


Head on over to the site, get some clues, find a letterbox, and enjoy!

Was this helpful?  Let me know.


The Old 1-2 Lace Punch

I have been playing with my border punches lately and thought I would show you the results.  It is possible to use the punches to make paper lace strips to jazz up your artwork.

The first method I tried was punching cardstock strips on both sides, with the designs matching like mirror imaging.  The secret to this is marking your strips before you do any punching.  First, place your paper strip in the punch and then take a pencil and mark both edges of your punch.

 I’ve used red pen so you can see what I have done more clearly. These will be the marks you will use to line up the second edge. 

 Punch the first edge, rotate, and line up the punch with the marks. 

 Punch the second edge. If you lined up the punch correctly your lace should be symmetrical .

 Depending on the punch, changing the width of the strip of paper used may result in very different looks. You will need to play with your punches to see what you come up with.  I found out it is possible to use a strip that was only ½”, but a 1” strip is a good place to start.  These are the test strips I came up with:



You will notice that I also made strips with offset punching.  These have to be done a little differently.  Marking the edges of the punch on the strip will not work with this method because the marks won’t be visible.

After punching the first side of your strip, decide where you want your offset to start.  In this case I wanted it to start between the flowers and halfway through the little dot.

Take a Post-it note and lay on the table, sticky strip face up and on the right hand side.  You are going to align your strip to 2 places on the sticky note: the un-punched edge of the strip sits on the bottom edge of the sticky note and the marking for the offset lines up with the right-hand edge, on the sticky part.  

Note: I trimmed the top off of the sticky note before taking the picture, so it looks shorter than yours will look.  Line the middle marking on your punch up with the right-hand edge of the sticky note

and punch. 

Remove the sticky note and finishing punching the strip.  Here is the finished lace.

Here are a couple of cards using the paper lace.

I hope this tutorial has started your gears going!  Have a great time playing with your border punches.