I've Got the Bug for the 'bug!

Santa came early this year and brought me just what I wanted - a Cuttlebug! This cute critter is both an embosser and die cutter. I love the look of embossing but the time it takes to do it by hand can be considerable. The crisp, deep, and detailed embossing produced using one of the embossing folders is amazing. The large embossing folders create an A2 sized impression. I own several of theses. I have never used die cuts before but have found they have added a nice dimension to my card making. I really do love my Cuttlebug! If you make your own cards or are a scrapbooker, take a look at the Cuttlebug. Here are some web sites for you to look over.

Provo Craft, home of the Cuttlebug: http://www.provocraft.com/products/index.products.php?cl=cuttlebug
FAQ maintained by SplitCoastStampers (awesome site!): http://www.splitcoaststampers.com/forums/showthread.php?t=216731
Some wonderful examples of cards, etc. created with the Cuttlebug:
Lastly, a comparison of die cut machines: http://papertrufflez.typepad.com/paper_trufflez/2006/11/die_cutting_mac.html

If you get bitten by the 'bug bug, snap up one of those 50% craft store coupons and treat yourself to a Cuttlebug. Your card making will never be the same!


Quick Card for the Artistically Impaired

Here is a quick card I put together today more as an experiment than anything else. I will be the first to admit I have little to no artistic ability. However, that doesn't prevent me from enjoying making cards. They may not be the most elaborate or beautiful cards, but they are mine.

Anyway, I wanted to give you a quick overview of how I made this so you can see how simple it is. The dragon is from a store-bought card I already had. I wanted to match the colors in the picture, so I used brown and a deep yellow card stock. For the inside I used a cream text weight paper.

I usually work with 8.5 x 11 paper and cut it in half width-wise to give me two 5.5 x 8.5 pieces. When folded this gives you two 4.25 x 5.5 cards. Pretty standard note card size and easy to find envelopes for if you don't want to make your own.

Once I trimmed my card to the size I wanted (3.5 x 4.5 I think) I cut the brown card stock so that it would create about an 1/8 inch border around the card. I ran both the card front and the brown card stock through my Xyron 510 (you could also use glue stick or other adhesive). I stuck the card to the brown card stock but left the wax paper backing on the card stock. I recently got a Cuttlebug and used one of my dies to cut a decorative square. I removed the cutout pieces and then cut the square into 4 equal pieces to form the corners. If you don't have anything like that, you could use photo corners, paper triangles, or use nothing at all.

Peeling away a bit of the Xyron wax paper, I positioned my corner pieces at each corner and pressed to join to the card stock. Once all four corners were done I flipped the stack over and applied an adhesive to the exposed undersides of the corners. I then removed the wax paper and attached the stack to the card. A tiny drop of super glue to the end of a toothpick helped me secure the corner pieces to the front of the dragon image. I then got some golden mica powder and lightly rubbed it along the edges of the dragon image and brown card stock border. Gives the whole thing a slight glimmer that isn't too obvious yet adds an extra dimension to the card. My photo doesn't show this well, but when you do your card, you will see what I mean.

Now, go get your card or photo and paper together and make a card for a family member who would enjoy the time you spent making them a little something special.


Handmade Cards

As I have mentioned before, I really enjoy working with paper. It can be used in so many interesting ways and there are some truly beautiful papers available. For special people and special occasions, I like to make a card. I like that a handmade card lets the recipient know they are important enough that some thought and time went into crafting a card just for them. I feel like I need to relearn a lot of things now that card making is part of my life again. There are some terrific books with directions on how to construct some pretty fancy pop-up cards and the like. I hope to get to that level of proficiency but for now, I need to work on composition, color coordination and kicking things up a notch. There are a ton of tools and bling out there that one can buy but I want to dig in with some sheets of paper, some good scissors, a craft knife, and some glue. Once I get a few cards made I'll be able to look at them and decide what I like and dislike. For your viewing pleasure, here are a few card sites that I have recently visited.

Linsy is really good! http://www.geocities.com/linsy57/Cards-Gallery.html
Paper Crafts magazine provides step-by-step projects. Even lists materials needed. http://www.papercraftsmag.com/projects/project.ihtml?content_id=1516&cat_idx=61
Michaels always has lots of projects available. http://www.michaels.com/art/online/search?pageNumber=1&channel=12&search=yes&searchWords=Holiday%20Card&type=4&cm_ven=2007PaperCraftsPg&cm_ite=Cards
Joann.com does too. http://www.joann.com/joann/catalog.jsp?CATID=cat613848&PRODID=xprd367841

What are you waiting for? Grab some paper, scissors, and glue and make your best friend a card today!


Paper Crafting

I have enjoyed paper arts for many years and find myself happiest when working with paper. It all started with making cards by hand. That lead to rubber stamping and embossing (both dry and heat). Being bitten hard, I expanded into handmade paper and paper casting. I got my start in making sheets of paper using Arnold Grummer's Papermill kit. It uses a pour mold versus a dip mold (I'll get into details in a later posting). You need three things to get starting using these kits: water, a blender, and the contents of the kit. Easy and relatively inexpensive to get started. In an afternoon, you have several sheets of handmade paper to use as you wish. Very fun and potentially addictive (aren't all things with me?). You should be able to find these kits at your local craft store. Here is a link to the Arnold Grummer site. http://www.arnoldgrummer.com/


RV Travel

We like to travel, especially to the mountains. We have recently started a travel blog that can be found here. Getting away from the suburban hustle and bustle and finding ourselves in an area where we feel some solitude is just the tonic we need. Communing with nature, breathing in the clean air, and being away from jingling phones and beeping pagers has become a frequent necessity. We are able to truly recreate during these outings and come back feeling more centered and at peace.Most often our escape vehicle is our 2002 Pleasure-Way RV. Built on a Dodge 3500 van chassis, there is just enough room for the two of us plus our trusty travel companion Hoover.


For me, musical expression helps me feel centered and peaceful. Playing the guitar is something I have enjoyed since I was a young girl. My first guitar cost me $10. It was a cheap Kay made of cardboard or something similar and had no strings. I bought it from my next door neighbor. I probably spent more money on picks and strings than the guitar. I saved and bought a book of guitar chords and another book of folk music. I spent many hours in my bedroom teaching myself as much as I could. Saving every penny from my jobs I was able to purchase a Gibson B-25 by the time I got to high school. I worked even harder at my learning. By the time I got to college, I met another guitar player (she had a 12 string) and we played together often. Lots of fun! Here are some guitar resources you might enjoy visiting:
If you are just starting, this site has on-line lessons: http://guitar.about.com/library/blguitarlessonarchive.htm
On-line guitar chords - lets you hear how each chord should sound: http://www.chordbook.com/guitarchords.php
Nice site to find guitar tab: http://www.guitartabs.net/

I hope you have fun!


I have always enjoyed learning to play various instruments. I've played piano, flute, guitar, harmonica, banjo, spoons, washboard, penny whistle, Native American style flute, and mountain dulcimer. I have always enjoyed playing folk music and the dulcimer is a wonderful instrument that reflects my Appalachian heritage. If you don't know what a dulcimer is or want to learn more about dulcimers, here are a few links to get you started.

local fellow who builds & teaches http://appalachiandulcimers.com/
Don Pedi, heard on NPR, whose site focuses on folk music, including dulcimer. http://www.donpedi.com/closetohome4.htm

NAF, Part One

I have discovered the Native American Flute (NAF). The vibrations of the flute sounds are very soothing, almost hypnotic. After playing I feel very peaceful and centered.One of the wonderful characteristics of the NAF is that the tuning makes it very easy to play. I enjoy sitting and just making up tunes depending on what I am feeling at the time. At the end of this entry I have listed some excellent resources on how to play, free music sites, history of the NAF, and other interesting bits of information associated with the Native American flute and the Native American culture.Native American Flutes are made by folks who are considered Native Americans through their heritage. These flutes are often made of cedar or other indigenous woods although some exotic woods can be found. Native American Style Flutes can be made by anyone. Most of these flutes are made from various woods including exotics. The distinction is important for cultural reasons, but both types are generally referred to as NAF. Prices can start as low as $100 but most sell in the $150 and up range. The type of wood used, ornamentation, and the key in which the flute is tuned are some of the factors that effect pricing. Below you will find some links to flute makers but there are many more available. I suggest you do an internet search if you want more links. You'll be amazed at how many flute makers are out there!

Odell Borg http://www.highspirits.com/mcart/index.cgi
(Odell has a nice series of videos on how to play the NAF on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7tCU5CQ_Os&mode=related&search= )
Grand Canyon Flutes http://www.gcflutes.com/index.htm
Scott Loomis http://www.loomisflute.com/index.html
Oregon Flute Store http://www.oregonflutestore.com/
Stellar Flutes http://www.stellarflutes.com/Home.htm
Mountain Spirit Flutes http://mountainspiritflutes.com/

Please see Part Two for even more links and information

NAF, Part Two

For those who want to get started playing the NAF but don't want to spend $100 or more will find PVC and plastic flutes a viable alternative. My first flute was made of PVC in the key of A. I found it on ebay. My more rcent purchase was the Ken Light PF Series in the key of G and F#. These are made from moulded plastic. I am including some links for you to explore these composite flutes.

Ken Light PF Series (also wood flutes) http://www.aoflutes.com/catalog_B.htm
Sam Kurz practice flutes (Oregan Flute Store carries flutes from MANY flute makers) http://oregonflutestore.com/home/of1/page_118_94/plastic_practice_flute_by_sa...
Nice fellow who made my first flute http://myworld.ebay.com/windwhosingshttp://myworld.ebay.com/windwhosings

Native American Flute resources:
R. Carlos Nakai an outstanding performer and mentor http://www.rcarlosnakai.com/
Internation Native Flute Association http://worldflutes.org/
Great info on playing techniques http://www.loomisflute.com/forum/forum.html
Historical flute info, song books, etc. http://www.flutetree.com/
Cultural & historical flute info, etc. http://www.flutekey.com/
How a flute is made, practice DVD, flutes for sale http://www.native-american-flutes.com/index.htm
LOTS of info here. Plan to stay awhile http://www.zadjik.com/flutes/main.htm
Music, articles, links http://www.fluteportal.com/
Yahoo! group http://groups.yahoo.com/group/nativeamericanflutemusicsheet/
Another Yahoo! group http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/NAFMusic/

(I highly recommend both Yahoo! groups. Lots of friendly and knowledgeable people to help the novice player.)