Emma Squared Designs

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Cardboard Garden

The other day I was sitting in my apartment wanting to have a garden of my own. See I am on the garden committee at work where we grow vegetables to donate to a local charity called UMOM (they are family shelter) and it got me to thinking about growing my own veggies. I don't have much room for a garden but I have heard of people making "patio gardens" and I thought to myself "Why not?!"
Though I don't have much space I figured I could use what I already have in my possession to make a garden work. I looked over to my right where I have stack of empty boxes (don't ask why) and began to wonder if it was possible to turn an empty box filled with soil into a garden. I searched online to see if there was any reason NOT to use a box to grow a garden and found this website. It gave some good suggestions and tips regarding cardboard box usage in gardens and I am glad I found this website because I used it to inspire me to make this:
How is this a "cardboard garden"? You ask. Well, it is and it was so much fun to make! The wooden box is lined with cardboard and I used two boxes to plant some of the plants I bought that wouldn't fit into the raised garden bed. Here is what they look like: 
The box on the top is Bush Beans (which are in the legume family and not allowed on Paleo…guess I wasn't thinking clearly when I bought them) and the box on the bottom has two zucchini plants. 
When I was at the nursery, I bought what I thought was cucumbers and zucchinis but turns out I bought 7 zucchini plants!!!! Assuming they produce vegetables, I will be swimming in zucchini by the end of summer!

Now onto the process for making the Cardboard Garden raised bed. 
About seven or eight years ago, while I was living in a different apartment, I went to a local craft store and saw that they had wooden shelves for sale. For years I lugged them around to all my different apartments and used them for craft supply storage but when I moved to my current shoe box (a.k.a. apartment), I had no room for them inside so I put them outside and used it as a holder of junk where they became weathered by rain and plenty of sunshine. When I decided to make the cardboard garden, I looked around for a way to elevate the garden so it wouldn't be on the ground and possibly subjected to Frankie's "business" of lifting his leg or other dog activities. When I looked at my shelves I started to formulate an idea that I think my dad would be very proud of: use what I already have! Talk about reduce, reuse, recycle! All I needed to buy was screws and metal brackets to make my dream a reality. (Sadly, I didn't take pictures at every step of the process but I think you can figure out how the elevated bed came to be.)
Here are some pictures to show the process: 
Step 1: Remove the junk from the shelves: 
Step 2: Cut each leg just above the bottom shelf to make 2 "stands": 
These two "stands" used to be the top of the shelves; they stand about 18 inches tall.
These two "stands" used to be the bottom of the shelves; they stand about 14 1/2 inches tall. 
Step 2: Attach the taller stands together with metal brackets (No picture, sorry)
Step 4: Cut the legs of one of the shorter stands down by 5 1/2 inches and then attach the legs end to end with metal brackets to make a cage. (No picture, sorry again)
Step 5: Place the stand cage on the 18 inch tall stands and attach with metal brackets. (There is a lot of metal holding these rickety shelves together and one day I think the only thing that will be left are those metal pieces!)
If you notice the metal plates on the side of each leg, that is what I did in step 4. 
Step 6: Place where it will live and line with cardboard (hence Cardboard garden):
According to the website where I read about cardboard gardens, it said that cardboard is a great material to use for gardens because it will allow the water to drain out of the soil and provide a breathable environment for the roots of the plants. 
Step 7: Fill with soil (I bought 2 large bags of organic soil from the nursery around the corner):
Step 8: Wet the soil to prepare it for the plants and then place the plants in the desired locations: 

There you have it…my cardboard garden. 
What I have planted in this box is Black Beauty Zucchini, Basil, Spaghetti Squash, and Dark Green Zuchinni. (yes, I am insane for having so much zucchini and I will be taking some to work but what can I say? I love zucchini!)
I will be making signs for each of my plants so I will remember what the heck I planted!
Two more things: 
1) There was blood shed (and plenty of sweat) in the production of this box…I thank the stupid palm tree for this unprovoked attack on my innocent pinky: 

2)I can't end this post without mentioning dear Frankie boy who has a very nice shaded hiding spot: 
Oh and that green plan off the right of Frankie? That is the first addition to my garden, the plant that started it all: "Early Girl" Tomatoes! 
Thanks for stopping by, 
Emma #1

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Resist Technique

I am not an expert crafter and I don't do video tutorials, yet. But I mentioned in my last blog on Christmas cards that I would show you how I do the "resist technique". So here it is.

The idea of resist is to keep some parts of the paper the original color while allowing ink or paint to color the other parts of the paper. There are many videos on the internet that you can see the resist technique and mine is not unique but it is how I do most of my resist cards. In this first picture, I used green embossing powder on white watercolor paper. In the pictures below demonstrating the process, I used clear embossing powder on white watercolor paper. Watercolor paper is usually thicker and has a texture to it, compared to card stock. Card stock will work for this technique too but if you add too much water, the card stock warps and is harder to use. The watercolor paper I am using is a 140 lbs paper designed to take a lot of water.

Emma #1's Ink Resist Technique: 

Here's what you'll need: 
Large background stamp - I am using Hero Arts Leaves, Branches, and Berries
Watercolor paper or thick card stock - in this case, I chose to make the paper slightly smaller than my card base. The paper is 5" x 4".
Embossing ink pad - I use the VersaMark WaterMark pad
Embossing Powder
Ink - I am using Ripe Persimmons and Mowed Lawn Distress Ink from Ranger
Water sprayer
Some sort of water resistant sheet to work on
Step 1: 
Ink up the background stamp of your choice with embossing ink. It is actually a glue not ink.
 Step 2: 
Place the paper face down on the stamp, making sure not to shift it once it is laid down. 
Place a piece of scrap paper over the top and either rub with your hands or take a brayer and roll it over the paper. This will ensure the pattern is stamped all over the paper. 
 Step 3:
After you remove the paper from the stamp, carefully hold at an angle and pour the embossing powder on the face of the paper. 
As you can see in this picture, the powder should only stick to the paper where the glue from the VersaMark pad is. In some cases, you may find that the powder, which is very fine, will stick to the paper in places you don't want it to. To avoid this, you can either rub your paper before hand with a dryer sheet or buy a small cloth pouch that is filled with corn starch from the craft store. Sometimes they are called "Embossing Buddy" but I don't remember what mine is called; it is an off-brand. 
 Step 4:
Tap off any excess embossing powder and place on a scrap piece of paper. I usually hold the paper up off the table but couldn't in the picture because I have only two hands. 
Move the HeatIT Craft Tool around the paper so you aren't concentrating only one spot. If you heat it too much, the paper will start to burn. 
Once you see all the powder has melted and is now shiny, you are done heating it. Set aside for a moment to cool. 
 Step 5:
With the ink pad, tap it on the waterproof sheet 2-3 times to get some ink on the mat. If you are making more than one card at a time, you can add more ink to mat. 
Spray the ink on the mat with 3-4 sprites from your mister. Don't add too much water, just enough to see it start to bead up. 
Step 6:
Place your watercolor paper embossed side down, covering as much or as little as you wish. 
In this case, I only wanted one side to have the solid green on it so I laid it down, picked it up, then laid it down in a few more small places. 

Step 7:
With your HeatIT Craft tool (or any heat gun) dry the ink completely. 
Then repeat with the next color. 
Color Warning: 

You will also want to know your color combinations because the distress inks are "reactivated" once they get wet so even though I dried the green completely, when I added the red next, the area where the colors mixed turned slightly brown. If you don't want that brown color, you will need to use only one color ink for this technique or chose colors that make a nice color when mixed, like blue and yellow makes green. (In the picture on the right, there is a tag that has the red and green ink as well. I used that tag to pick up the rest of the ink off the sheet so nothing would go to waste. 

Step 8:
Once the paper is completely dry, you can wrap vellum about a half inch up from the bottom and adhere with tape on the back. Then adhere to the card base with quarter inch boarder on each side. 
And there you have it. Emma #1 Ink Resist Technique card. Hope you have the opportunity to make a few cards.

Emma #1

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas Cards 2014

Now that I have completed all my Christmas cards for this year, most of them mailed AFTER Christmas, I thought I would write about the cards I made and maybe even show a few "trade" secrets.                                       Here are the three basic cards I made.
This one used a large background stamp from Hero Arts called Leaves, Berries, & Branches. I used VersaMark Watermark Stamp pad (from Tsukinedo, Inc) and Stampendous! Embossing Power in White, on black paper to make the beautiful background. Then I used the SpellBinders Holiday words to die cut "Merry Christmas" in shiny red paper. I used the Xyron 1.5" Create-A-Stamp maker to attach the words to the vellum. The vellum is attached to the paper using the Tim Holtz Tiny Attacher. I made several various of this card using water color paper and the "resist" technique. I will explain about that later post. 
For this card, I used the Paper Smooches "Squared" die to make the background. (For all the die cuts, I used my Cuddlebug by Cricut. I broke the new machine I bought in June so I had to go back to my old machine I have had for 5 years.) The swirly Christmas tree is the Penny Black Twirl Tree die. For the different card variations, I used both solid papers, like this one, and patterned papers. I think in the end, I like the solid paper over the pattered paper…especially when you add the tree on top.
This style card was my absolute favorite! The beautiful snowflake was a die from Penny Black called Stellar. It turned out beautiful with the shiny paper, as shown here. But I also used regular white & black cardstock from the local department store and that turned out really nice too. One thing I decided I really liked to do was take my VersaMark Watermark stamp pad, cover this snowflake was (this is glue like product you can use to make a watermark on paper or use for adding embossing powder to give it a nice shiny look), and apply either white or transparent powder. That turns any ordinary, mat paper, into a nice shiny surface. There are some pictures of that too. Once I learned how to use this wafer-thin die properly (lots of paper went directly into the trash, lost as casualties, before I finally worked out the cutting process), this because the simplest and most elegant card to make. I used JudiKins Diamond Glaze to attach the delicate die to the background paper. In most cases I used a solid paper but in some cards, see below, I used simple pattered paper.

For these three cards, I first stamped the watercolor paper with VersaMark Watermark Stamp Pad and covered the paper with embossing powder. I heated it up with my Ranger Heat It Craft Tool and once melted it becomes resistant to inks or watercolor, hence "resist technique". For each of these cards, I used various Tim Holtz Distress Inks. The red color is "Ripe Persimmons", the blue was "Chipped Sapphire" and the aqua color was "Peacock Feathers". They are all beautiful colors and easy to use. 

Here are some variations of the "squared" cards I made. For the card on the left, I took watercolor paper and painted the colors using my watercolor set. The Christmas tree stamp is from Stacey Yacula Studio through Purple Onion Designs. The card on the right is basic white, green, red, and yellow paper and the sentiment, from Hero Arts, called Joy To All, is stamped on vellum.
Now on to my favorite cards. The Stellar die from Penny Black is fantastic! It is details and once I learned how to use it in my Cuddlebug, I could crank one out in a very short time. If you want some direction on how to use wafer thin dies in a Cuddlebug, you can search Youtube for videos; I found that very helpful. I won't go into too much detail here about it, it would take way too long. I will tell you that there are two tips I found very useful: 1)place the die cut side up, not down; 2)either rub the cut side of the die with wax paper or place a piece of wax paper between the die and the paper you are cutting. It makes it a lot easier for the paper to release from the die.

This is probably the longest post I have ever written for Emma Squared Designs so I hope you made it this far. If you have any questions or comments, please let me know.

Also, I have one more tip for everyone: START MAKING YOUR CHRISTMAS CARDS IN JULY! I should have known better but I made over 100 cards starting December 17th! Yes, I am that person...The final card was made on December 29th and mailed on December 31st. So learn from my example!

Emma #1

Monday, August 4, 2014

Gift Ideas...

So the other day I was sitting at Chipotle with my family, took a drink out of the cup, and had an epiphany: make a journal out of the cup!
This is how my mind works. I don't always understand it but I go with it when it happens.
So to further my craft making skills, I turned a cup into a journal:
 It may not look like much in a picture but I think it turned out great! The large cups from Chipotle are perfect for something like this because they have different sayings on them and they are rather entertaining.
The journals turn out to be 1/4 inch thick and I found that a total of 30 sheets of paper to make 60 pages (front and back) was just right. I sew the pages into the cup with waxed dental floss…mint flavor!
 Here a journal made out of a Starbucks cup and sleeve. I found the sleeve is a great addition. At first I was going to cut the sleeve open and glue it to the cup so it was permanent but in the end, it works great to keep the journal closed!
I have also made journals out of pint sized ice cream containers and a large ice cream container. The large ice cream container is actually a water color journal for a friend; the pages are made from watercolor paper.
I think this combines my creativity and use of items that would otherwise end up in the landfill…SCORE!
If you decide to make a journal or two, post a picture in comments.
Emma #1

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Doodle Cards

A while ago, a friend of mine who works with a great organization called Phil's Friends, offered me the opportunity to make cards to send to people fighting cancer. When I agreed to send a card weekly to people I have never met, I decided I had to make something special. I had just learned a few doodling techniques from a creative artist and fellow crafter, Dyan Reaveley, and thought I would use that new doodling to make a set of cards. On each card, I also added a bible verse then mailed one each week for four weeks. I called the cards my puzzle cards. They were fun to make and I hope the recipients were happy with them (I made two sets of cards).
This is the first step: to draw the designs then color them in. On this card, I actually used my nifty water color set and even though the paper was just basic card stock paper from Wal-Mart, it didn't warp that much at all! I think it turned out really nice. 

Next I cut the 8 1/2 x 11 paper into quarters. This makes each piece 5 1/2 x 4 1/4. This is the size of a standard card. 

 Then I added the bible verses and adhered each piece onto a standard white card. Easy, right? Well, a little time consuming but I think it was totally worth it. 

Hope you enjoyed looking at the cards and I enjoyed making them. I might even make some more some day but now I al trying out some new crafting techniques.
That's all for now.
Happy Crafting,

Emma #1

Friday, June 14, 2013

Painted Canvas with a Message

A lot of crafters (a.k.a. artists) are making "mixed media" wall hangings. I don't know the official definition of "mixed media" but from what I have seen it means to use lots of different materials that wouldn't normally be used together to make a project. For example, use paint, paper, stickers, stencils, tissue paper, and Mod Podge. I have been making wall hangings that have a message. Not just nice words but meaningful words. I have been putting inspirational bible verses on many of my wall hangings lately and thought I would show you. Each of the canvases has 2 coats of matte Mod Podge to protect it from the elements. 
This a 10 in x 10 in deep wrapped canvas. I believe I used brown tissue paper for texture, while paint as the bottom coat. For the top coat, I used the Adirondack Brights Acrylic paint in POOL color. The Instagram filter I used made the color look darker blue. One of my favorite verses. My grandma (posted about previously) had horrible twisted feet from arthritis and couldn't wash her feet herself. When I would visit her, I would wash her feet. So this verse is of particular importance to me. 

For this canvas, I used a brown tissue paper for texture then I used a purple paint and a Heidi Swapp Hexagon stencil for interest. This canvas is 12 in x 12 in about 1 inch deep. All the rest of the canvases are this size as well. I have lots of letter stickers so spelled out the words I wanted to Romans 12:2a then blotted an orange and white paint on top. Once the letters were fully covered, I pulled them off to reveal the purple paint underneath. I like this because of the different font stickers I used. 
This was actually the first bible verse canvas I made. It has white tissue paper for texture, blue/white paint for the base coat. Then I used stickers to spell out what I wanted it to (one of my favorite bible verses for when I am anxious or nervous). I used a gray color paint on top and pulled off the stickers. 

This is my most recent canvas. To be honest, it doesn't really fit in with the other canvases. With the ones pictured above, I applied stickers, painted over them and pulled the stickers off to reveal the colors underneath. When I made this canvas, I used tissue paper, black paint, gray paint, and one Christy Tomlinson's She Art Vintage Doily stencil. Once I placed the white letter stickers on top, it just looked RIGHT. For those of you who are spell checking, there is a mistake in the spelling of one of the words. I know what it is, you don't need to point it out to me. In my defense I was spelling backwards and from the bottom to get the look of the right alignment that I wanted.

This one was a super fun mixed media canvas to make. It was time consuming in the respect that I wanted to make it perfect so I made it over several weeks. The camera in the middle is a die-cut I made. I sketched a picture of a camera I found online, transferred it to a piece of thick water color paper, then painted it in. The letters, from We R Memory Keepers chipboard alphabet stickers "For the Record" series in this nice off white color. I think it turned out super duper nice. 
I made this canvas for my cousin, Jenn Wiemann. She is starting a photography business and a new mom so it just made sense that I would make this for her. To be honest, I did not come up with this all on my own. I check out a lot of craft blogs and one of the many blogs I was looking at one day, I found a really great picture frame wall art with this same idea. If I can find the blog online again, I will post the link here. 

Thanks for stopping by. If you like it, let me know. 

Emma #1