Monday, July 06, 2015

Playing Around

Here's my latest journal!  It's on a playful game theme, and I had the best time putting together papers and images and bits from old games to make this.  It brought back so many memories of fun times playing games with my family.  I used vintage game bits, too -- old monopoly money and cards, old playing cards.  I even broke out my Dremel and drilled holes in a few old poker chips and dice and Monopoly hotels.  It's funny what you think about drilling when you're holding a Dremel in your hand...

At any rate, this one makes me happy.  You can see a full video flip-through if you want... and yep, it's up for sale on my Etsy shop but I might have to make another for me.  Oh boy, more drilling!

Saturday, July 04, 2015

A Summer Treasure Hunt

Have you heard of "The Curse of Oak Island?" My sister told me about this tv series on the History Channel, and now I'm obsessed. 

 This reality show follows two brothers, Rick and Marty Lagina, as they search to find possible treasure and the answer to some long-existing mysteries about Oak Island in Nova Scotia.  Rick, the older brother, read about the island, the lore of its treasure, and the history of discoveries there in a Reader's Digest magazine when he was 11 years old, and he became obsessed with the story.  Now, he and his younger brother Marty (an oil engineer) have bought an interest in the private island and have invested millions of dollars in exploring it.  There's a great interview with some of the main guys here that explains how they got involved in the mystery.

There's a great cast of real-life characters, including long-time treasure hunters and Oak Island explorers.  There are experts who come to give advice on discovered coins, old wood, hieroglyphic marks on rock, metal detecting, you name it.  There are stories of discoveries on the island made as early as 1792, and suggestions that the island could be the hidden location of the ark of the covenant, the lost menorah from Solomon's temple, treasure hidden by the Knights Templar, the Rosecrucians, maybe even Spanish pirates. 

So there are the treasure-hunting dreamers, but they're teamed with skeptical scientists who want evidence and scientific reasons to believe that there's reason to keep exploring. It's fascinating to see how they apply the latest technologies to try to find out what's there.

This is really a great adventure show, and it's got me hooked.  I'm part way through season 2. There are two seasons' worth of shows available on Itunes and Amazon Instant Video and it looks like there are some full episodes on Youtube. There'll be a season 3 according to the show's facebook page, but there's no specific air date yet.

It'd be a great family show, I'm thinking -- a great way to combine history and modern science and technology.  If I were still home-schooling Miss C, I'd love using this to link up science and history and geography.  

Anyway, I'm loving this show -- even with the History Channel's style of overly dramatic announcer, and the way they repeat a lot of information which gets tedious if you're binge watching several episodes per sitting (as someone MIGHT be inclined to do.  Ahem.)   It's the perfect summer viewing.  I can hardly wait to see what happens next.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Continuing on our tour of Humboldt County...

There are a lot of victorian buildings in Northern California, and it's a joy to see them still used and in good shape and well cared for.  On the way to Eureka last week, we stopped for a bit in the little town of Ferndale, which calls itself "the Victorian Village."  Perhaps you've seen bits of Ferndale without even knowing it:  it was where "The Majestic" with Jim Carrey and "Outbreak" with Dustin Hoffman were filmed, and its victorian buildings are recreated in Legos in the California Legoland.

But I digress.

 The town is basically a main street about 3 blocks long, and then a lot of homes, some charming and victorian, some more ordinary.  But we strolled up and down Main Street, admired the beautiful architectural details, took a few photos.

Ah, they don't make buildings like they used to, eh?

It's nice to see them occupied.  Here's a shot of the main street.

Immediately after taking this picture, by the way, we made our way to the Ferndale Pie Shop and bought a strawberry rhubarb to take home with us.  It was delicious -- truly tart and rhubarby.

Oops, I'm digressing again.

The next day, we set off to find the most famous victorian house in Eureka, the Carson Mansion.

It was built by lumber magnate William Carson in 1885, and was a private residence until the late 1940's.  It was then bought by a private group whose mission is the restoration and preservation of historical buildings.  From what we could tell, the inside is only accessible to club members for dinners and such.

But my, it is beautiful.  All that detail!

It would be a great sketch subject, if you had a good place to sit and a few hours to do it.

My sister and I both fell in love with the victorian house directly across the street, known as "the Pink Lady."  It's currently for sale, and when we got home we looked up the listing to see if we'd correctly guessed the price.  Any guesses?  You can see the listing here.  (Oh!  I see the listing shows it as "off market" now.  I wonder if the Ingomar Club bought it, too?  It was listed for $1.3 million when we looked.  I'd guessed a million.... so I was only a few hundred thousand off!) 

Anyway, we liked this house a lot.  Carson built it for his daughter when she got married.

Kind of makes you want to sit on the porch and drink sasprilla, huh?  I don't even know what sasparilla is, but this house makes me want some.

I think it was just after this that we wandered off to find lunch.  All that architecture made us hungry. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Speaking of the ocean...

My latest "jumbly journal" is on an ocean theme.

 I started with some beautiful decorative papers that have wonderful ocean themed images on them.


And from there, I started decorating and adding fun bits and flaps and envelopes and pockets and all.

A lighthouse demanded its own tall flap.

It's over on my Etsy shop now, but you can see the full journal, page by page, right here: 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Ocean, and Redwoods, and Bears! Oh My!

 This past week, my sister Laura and I headed up north for a sisters' mini-retreat up in Humboldt County.  We stayed in the town of Eureka, which is about 5 hours straight north of San Francisco.  We'd rented a cozy little house in a neighborhood full of little old 1930's houses, and we spent 5 days exploring and hanging out and taking pictures and generally having a good time.  

To get there, we got to drive through a lot of redwood forests.  There's a wonderful stretch of road called "Avenue of the Giants" where you cruise along with huge redwood trees towering on either side of you.  It's gorgeous, and it smells really good too.

 Along the way, we saw an assortment of wonderfully tacky tourist spots. And we stopped at almost every one.  Because, you know, it's a vacation thing to do.

My favorite was this one, "Confusion Hill."  What's not to like about a place called Confusion Hill?!  Apparently it's one of those mysterious places where water appears to run uphill and gravity seems wonky. We didn't venture back to that part of the attraction.  We were distracted by the carved redwood bears.

Do they have these in other areas of the country?  I think of them as a California redwood forest thing. Anyway, we admired the various poses and skill (or lack thereof) in making good bear faces.

My sister decided that she wanted to get a small one for her front porch, so we set out to check out all the bears along the way so she could pick the best one.  After various stops and much scrutiny of different bears, she decided she liked the Confusion Hill bears the best -- which meant we'd stop on the way home. Oh boy, more Confusion ahead!

I used to drive up to Eureka several times a year when I was taking a long-term bookbinding course up that way, and I always wanted to stop at this Grandfather Tree place (because, as you can tell by now, I love these sorts of tourist spots) but never had the time.  This time, we stopped.

And it was one huge tree.  The statistics were rather mind-boggling.

 At the Grandfather Tree place, I spotted the bear I'd have taken home... if he'd been for sale, if I could have afforded him, if he'd have fit in the car. (And the answer to all of those was "no.")  But I liked his look of stoic wisdom.

Then we were back on the road, to see more redwood trees.

About 5 hours after leaving home, we made it to our little cottage.  We found this place through VRBO, and we both had the same reaction -- it looked like our grandmothers' house, and brought back a lot of childhood associations. It turned out to be charming -- not fancy, not updated especially, but clean and comfortable with a grandma's house sort of vibe. 

What did we do while we there there?  Stay tuned!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

So you want to see how that book turned out?

I showed you the other day how I started with this piece of paper as the inspiration ...

and now there's a finished journal!

You can see all of the pages here:

And I've even listed it for sale on my Etsy shop.  I sure am having fun with these journals.

Oh, you don't have time to watch the video but you want to see a few pages?  Here you go!

I'd like to work on my next journal, but I've got some laundry and packing to do.  I'm going on a little vacation next week!  Yoo hoo! 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

It's a journal, but it's just like a quilt


I'm still making journals.  I'm still obsessed.  But also this is the time of year when I need to compete my continue legal education credits by listening to online legal education programs, and I've found the least painful best way to do it is to have them on when I'm working on something in my sewing room.  
And while I was in there fiddling away, as I do, I was thinking about how I approach making a journal much the same way I approach making a quilt.  So I thought I'd show you the steps as I'm working on the current journal. 

The creative spark can come from different directions -- a theme, a particular recipient.  This one started with some scrapbooking paper I really like.  So I started with one piece -- sort of like a focus fabric. 

From there, I went to my paper stash and pulled out papers that I liked with the starting paper. I usually pick at least 18, as that works for my starting point of 3 signatures of 6 folded pages in each.

So there was my initial assortment.  And from there I went to my scrap paper bin, to pull out scraps that might work with it all.  

You can see (below) what I pulled out, again for my starting pile.

I realized that some of the papers had bright white backs, and this palette seemed to call out for something a bit softer. So I went down to the kitchen...

and used some really strong instant coffee to spray all of the white papers for a slightly vintagey look.  (The first time Miss C saw me doing this she thought I was nuts.)  Some people bake their tea or coffee dyed papers in the oven to get a crispy, crackly texture.  I just air-dry my papers.  I always think baked, crackly paper feels too brittle and fragile. 

While that was drying, I went back upstairs to my bin of jumbly bits to choose more that I thought would be fun for this journal. I throw a bunch of stuff into this bin.  Old book pages.  Vintage postcards.  Sometimes things torn out of magazines.  A lot of the stuff in this bin came from yard sales.

Here's the assortment I ended up pulling for this journal, below:

And from there, I went to my bin of little tiny bits.  I guess this is sort of like choosing the quilting thread color and quilting design, maybe.  These bits tend to be smaller than, say, 4 inches square.  Stickers.  Vintage playing cards.  Little bits of ephemera.  Just fun decorative bits. I always love digging through this bin and usually return to it a bunch of times once I get to the point of decorating the book pages.  (The downside of having a bin like this is that it makes you want to save every tiny bit of paper.  Kind of like how you start saving scraps of fabric and next thing you know, you're saving the teensiest strips because you might be able to use them some day.)

So here, below, is what I started with for this journal.  See what I mean about the quilt parallels? It's all about mixing color and pattern and visual texture.

So, once I have the starting "jumbly" stuff, I start by folding papers and nesting them into the beginnings of signatures. 

And then I start filling and decorating the pages.  I add more, smaller pages between the ones you see above. I use scraps to create pockets and flaps.  This is, for me, the funnest part, although it's all fun.

Here's what my table looks like at the moment. You can see the 3 nested signatures on the sewing machine table. I use my old beloved Elna Super for sewing the papers... my very first machine, bought with money my Grandma gave me when I graduated from college.  That machine is a workhorse and I will never get rid of it.

So, away I go.  This part can take a few hours, or a few days, depending on how much time I have.  Seeing as how I have 4 hours of a program on appellate advocacy left to listen to, this is where I'll be later this afternoon.  You can sew a lot of doo-dads on in 4 hours. 

Stay tuned.  I'll show you how it looks when it's finished.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Dizzy Dog Creations!

Yes, I'm still making journals!  Here is my latest, with a dog theme.  And guess what?  It's available on my new Etsy shop, Dizzy Dog Creations!  

I'm having such fun making these multipurpose books.  I use a hard cover, from a new or vintage discarded book, and decorate it in a way that makes me happy.  I mix new scrapbook papers, bits of stationery and other papers, journaling cards and tags, vintage images, my own photos, and whatever other stuff just seems to fit. 

I like adding pockets in unexpected places -- see that black and white polka dotted tag on the right, above?  That's a semi-hidden card that pulls out from behind the vintage book image.

And I like to have spots for tucking things -- maybe a page or card to journal things on.  Stories of your dog's latest antics.  Memories of a sweet dog from your childhood.  Or just your list of what you need from the grocery store.  Because everything seems more fun when it's tucked behind a happy picture in a pretty book.

I make envelopes from pretty paper to include in each of the 3 signatures, for putting special things.

And I love finding the right charms or doodads to decorate the outside. 

If you want to see more, you can watch this video showing every page inside this book.

As I'm making these, it occurs to me how much it's like making a quilt.  Mixing colors and patterns and texture.  Finding things that fit together, with some surprises too.  Making something functional but pretty, too.  The obsession continues.