Friday 20 October 2023

A Short Update with Invites to some DT Projects (and then some)

 Hi, servus, and thanks so much for stopping by this little very quiet corner of the crafty online world.
I hope you are well and creatively thriving! 

It's getting cold over here in Upper Austria and autumn has finally taken over! The picture below was taken on one of our trips to Gmunden at beautiful Traunsee (Lake Traun), the lake next to Lake Atter (Attersee) in the Salzkammergut, where I now live.

Let me first invite you over to the PaperArtsy Blog ...

PaperArtsy Project

...and the StencilGirl Talk blog, where you can find my latest projects (with the usual how-tos of course).

StencilGirl Project

These are the only two design teams that I am currently on. They are the ones that I feel at home with as they leave me as much creative freedom as possible and I also really feel appreciated there and seen and can work for them in a way that makes dealing with my challenging menopause symptoms manageable. 

But I am still not really back into something that you could call a creative flow or anywhere near that and that feels awful. As if one of your legs has been severed, so now you cannot use it anymore to stabilise yourself. Part of this has been caused by the hormonal chaos from the last four years that brought me heavy sweating, trembling hands and panic attacks - not only but also and especially when I approached my studio desk (and especially when that was connected with some deadline that had to be met)...but recently I could not help the thought, that part of this has been caused by a mechanism that's inherent to this crafty online designer stuff...

What I did, when everything got too much to handle, was reduce the number of design teams I was on significantly and that helped a bit. I also significantly reduced my (not only crafty) online time to focus on my actual needs, when it comes to be a creative person. I knew that I needed to give myself the time to find out where I wanted my creative journey to lead to next - without any influence from outside. A lot of time maybe.
But now I am still not back to a state where I feel I can craft and create just to help myself to some relaxing and enjoyable me-time (as it used to be back when everything was fine). Something has taken this "right" from me and every time I sit down on my crafting desk, a voice in my head tells me: "This isn't a design team project. It's not something that fulfils a purpose. It's not even a project to share on one of the large fb groups like Tim Holtz Addicts or via a challenge, so it won't be seen anyway. So why craft anyway?" 

And part of me knows that this is just utter nonsense and that I should be creating for the simple reason of just wanting to and having a good time. Like you do a puzzle or like reading a good book. And part of me knows that I do not really care, if anything I create is seen and liked by a lot of people. I know how much time, pressure and hard work goes with online crafty influencers' fame - and that I have no intention of investing that, as it hardly ever comes with any gain other than being seen and known...and I also know that as soon as you stop investing that much of your (spare)time and energy in this, you are forgotten. 

I know that by now a huge part (I even dare say the main part) of social media (crafty) content is advertising of one sort or the other. And I have watched how over the years (I started blogging back in 2014) it kind of became a logical part of creative blogging for everyone that you were on design teams (plural, because one or two just do not look "famous" and "creative" enough). And also that (unpaid for) branding in one's private blog posts became a state of the art. I did that too - because I felt I wanted to provide the most helpful content possible. But looking back I think that was a mistake. One that most of us did - I guess for the exact same reasons at first. But that changed and became a means to get seen by the manufacturers or brand designers...and maybe get on their design teams. And the manufacturers watched and saw the potential of getting lots of (unpaid for) advertising this way. 

That felt okay for me as long as what was asked from a designer was something that could be done within little time and still felt like joyfully pursuing a hobby. And back then doing some advertising and creating content for a manufacturer or shop in exchange for the products the projects had to be done with, was a fair bargain from my point of view. Then - some day - someone started to post a short video about her/his project...and the creative community started doing the same, as this was really cool and something that stood out (at least at the beginning). Then design teams started to ask that from their designers too. For the exact same expense allowance as before - product that was meant to be advertised. You know how the story continues...picture quality and good lighting, filming equipment, ....all that was something that designers needed to provide at some point, if they wanted to make sure they would keep up with the constantly growing standard. At one point the filming, cutting, post write up and shooting the project had become three to four times as much time and effort than what went into the project itself and the creative process. 

I know some design teams pay for that - and that cannot be validated highly enough!!!! I am a lucky person to work for one of these (and also worked for others who paid for the effort in the past) and I also love creating for the other one, where I get product in exchange, as they offer the freedom in what to create and how to present it. So that's totally fine for me. If I want to invest more, because I feel like it - fine! If I can only provide the minimum that's required - no problem, as it is still manageable for me. But I think you know what I am trying to say. A huge deal of content creators still do it unpaid for or have to invest more time and energy than they feel they are getting rewarded for. And during the years I have also watched several going down that same road of exhaustion and/or frustration that I did...there definitely is this kind of addictive behaviour mechanism involved in the setting of social online media fame and advertising. And it eats you up without you recognising it. And it damages your creativity and how you approach your creative process. Don't get me wrong - if you are absolutely fine with your current design team situation, then I am happy for you. I really am! I am not writing this to accuse anyone - I just want to put down and into words what I feel I am witnessing and experiencing. Just my personal view on it, including also the perspective on where I feel I went wrong or could have done better. 

Of course I felt that pressure too at one point (before everything started to get challenging for me) and tried to keep up with video filming and editing skills and such. And that was fun on the one hand, as I learned something new. But at some point I found myself in that same spot where I was investing an insane amount of time (and also money for equipment) in something that obviously part of me dreamed would lead me on the way to fame (and maybe one day making a bit of money with it)...instead it led to exhaustion and frustration (which often happens when design team leaders are not good at leading and/or giving precise guidelines and you then also find yourself struggling with chaos you cannot control and that costs you extra time and nerves...I think you can imagine what I am talking about). And that coincided with menopause hitting me like a truck out of nowhere. 

So today I cannot tell if the symptoms became that bad, because I also had a lot of stress at that time (stress that I wasn't aware of having) or if it was the other way round. Fact is: something broke inside of me during these months. I couldn't enter my studio without getting hot flashes, constant sweating and trembling hands. And that wasn't only because it was the warmest room in our sometimes still happens when I enter my new studio in our house. I also get flashes and start to sweat when something (not just when crafting) gets fiddly or needs several tries for example. It has gotten better - it seems I am through the worst of menopause by now. But I have recently been diagnosed with a state of exhaustion and have also been forced to adapt to chronic migraine during the last year - which forces me to be more aware of my energy household and stress levels. 

Spending time out in nature really helps a lot! 
Hinterer Langbathsee (rear Lake Langbath) close to Ebensee

High quality me-time is suggested to keep stress at a minimum. Which brings me back to where I started this post...I would so like to enjoy creative me-time again and lose myself in playing with dies, paints, stencils and all the other awesome mixed media stuff, but it is still a I think I will need to find a different approach to get some happy crafting time again. Or maybe I need to focus on something else for now. As long as I stay open to new possibilities and true to myself, things can only get better. Maybe it just needs more time. Maybe I need to let go first, before I can start again from a different spot with a different view. 

I do not write this to arouse compassion. I am fine. I just miss the happy studio days and cannot understand why these are "unavailable" to me. And something tells me there might be someone else out there, going through a similar situation. Just know: you and I will be fine again. We will find our new creative paths - or rather they will find us, as long as we stay open to new discoveries. 

Take care! xxx

Friday 20 January 2023

Self Made Winter Decoration with Tim Holtz dies and Quarterly StencilGirl Column Invite

Servus, dear creative friends!

I hope you've all had a good start into the new year! 
Today I am sharing a little self made winter decoration and I am also inviting you over to the StencilGirl Talk blog, where I am sharing my quarterly project and post as a columnist. The picture below shows the stencilled map papers I have made and used for this project (just to lure you into clicking the link at the end of this post to learn more about the how and what I did). 

The three months before Christmas have been meaning a lot of struggle for me in these last years - mainly caused by hormonal imbalance and menopause issues not going together well with my thyroid illness. But this year I've made progress at how to deal with that and I have managed not only to do a little seasonal crafting but also bake three sorts of Christmas cookies (which is three sorts more than in the last years actually ;) - despite trembling hands and panic attacks.

Even though I am not crafting a lot these days I still fall in love with a lot of Tim's 
dies and feel I am spoiling myself by buying them. ;) Especially the two Paper Village dies sets were a must-have for me (honestly - who does not love tiny houses?).

I have also been hoarding some wood chunks that came with the firewood for our fireplace and that I had other ideas for than burning them, as they had a special shape that reminded me of little hills. There were also some wood discs in my stash that I wanted to use as bases for two or three small advent home decoration pieces. 

In the end I decided to keep it quite simple and let the raw substrates do their own magic and just add a little snow and a red dimensional star (the smallest from Tim's "Dimensional Stars" dies set) and a small faux fir branch (bought at a dollar store) to the scenery. 

I did some more of these to give away as little presents. They were all done the same way: 

I die cut the parts of the houses from heavy Kraft cardstock (varying window shapes and positioning, as the dies sets offer this possibility), assembled them using tacky glue and glued them in place using the tacky glue quite generously around the houses' edges. I later covered any traces of dried glue with Opaque Distress Grit Paste and also added more of that to the roofs and bases to create the look of snow. To add even more texture to the paste I mixed in a bit of bird sand. 

The tiny houses on the wood discs also got a little red star to accompany them. I used two die cut star shapes to create one dimensional star and then just put the assembled star into the still wet grit paste. As the wood discs were flat I did the same with the assembled houses, so no additional glue was needed here. 

To fix the fir branches to their spots I first drilled a hole (using a hand drill) to insert the cut to size branches into, filling the hole with tacky glue. I also added more grip paste around these little "trees" as an additional support. 

I really like how the wood, the Kraft cardstock and the texture of the Grit Paste snow go together with the bark of the discs and the wood chunk! And the hints of green and red make for pretty highlights that add that bit of Christmas feel. 

Now I wonder how a summer-y version could look like.... ;) 
And here's the promised link to the StencilGirl Talk blog
Hope to see you over there too. 

Hugs and happy crafting!


Sunday 13 November 2022

A Short Creative Update

 Hi, servus and thanks for stopping by! 
I hope you are all doing well and are looking forward to enjoying a lovely Advent season! 

I have been having a hard year to be honest - health-wise. Luckily the new home in our house near the lake and my garden are great sources for happiness, so gardening, hiking (or rather taking walks), riding my kayak and simply being out in nature have been helping with keeping me healthy on the mental side at least. 

I have also taken on a new hobby that is a perfect means to deal with inner restlessness - archery! My husband and I found we have an archery club nearby and it is located in a most beautiful corner there a ten minutes drive away. Spending time on the shooting range (or the 3D shooting course), trying to focus on the perfect motion sequence and the tension of your body and then letting go just feels so calming and it brings the shaking of my hands and mind to rest. 

I have also started to write again - poetry mainly. It also is something that calms the mind and it is a creative process too - I am painting with words in a kind of way. 

I haven't spent a lot of time in my studio this year - being ill for such a long time, crafting and being creative with stamps, paints, stencils and all the other mixed media goodness just wasn't what appealed to me and my restlessness and shaky hands weren't helpful either. 

BUT...I still have been creating projects for StencilGirl Products and PaperArtsy and is always quite a rewarding thing to do. I mostly do home decor pieces for the new home at the moment and being able to plan and make these in my own pace also makes it easier for me to not get panic attacks the moment I enter my studio. 

So to get to the core of his little update, I would like to present both new projects and the links to the according posts on the StencilGirl Talk blog and the PaperArtsy Blog: 

For StencilGirl I created a little canvas, collaged with stencilled tissue paper elements. I needed something to go on the wall near the fireplace that matched the colours of the metallic grey and the rocking chair grey as well as the wooden wall...

And I am really happy with how my "little village close to the mountain"-canvas turned out! 

A detailed step by step and all the stencils and products used can be found here: 

The other project that has just gone live on the PaperArtsy Blog is a cloche displaying an autumnal arrangement of stamped leaves, paper beads and dried seeds and twigs. 

That was a project I also enjoyed making as the lovely PaperArtsy stamp sets designed by Courtney Franich finally made it possible to use (faux) autumn leaves in a project without having these crumble away and lose colours after some time...

I also used their fabulous Rusting Powder and some Infusions. How? Find out by clicking here:

Paper, Seeds and Twigs - Autumnal Cloche

There's some cool techniques there to check out and of course a lot of steps and detail images as well. 

I hope to see you there! 

Stay healthy and enjoy the last days of this beautiful autumn! 



Sunday 19 June 2022

A Leftovers-Mixed Media-Assemblage Piece for PaperArtsy

 Hi, servus and thanks so much for stopping by today! 

I am sharing another project I've done for PaperArtsy, using some of their lovely Fresco Finish Acrylic paints and products alongside some beautiful stamps designed by Lin Brown. "Leftovers" is the actual theme over at the PaperArtsy Blog and that was definitely a theme straight up my alley! 

I actually hoard leftovers of all kinds in all kinds of boxes (preferably old beautiful cigar boxes), vintage or vintage looking drawers, wood, tin and ceramic bowls and cabinets of all sizes. Leftovers for me include paper scraps and other tiny left over bits from previous projects as well as found objects like nature finds or rusty bits and also items that I have because I needed a single piece for a previous project and could only buy them in packages of two or more pieces of the same kind. I even keep tiny scraps of trims and paper strips - who knows? Maybe these will come in handy some day with one or the other ATC or assemblage piece...I even have some small tin and wood bowls on my studio desk that display leftovers and found objects for an inspiring space to work in. 

As you know you can click on all the images for a larger, closer view. 


Speaking of assemblage pieces...I've done a new one for PaperArtsy and creating it was a process I thoroughly enjoyed - thanks to my inspiring collections and studio desk! The whole finished project can be checked out at their blog (HERE), but I am sharing some detail shots in this post. It's design was inspired by the leftovers that spoke most to me on that day. 

I guess you might already have seen this one being shared on social media: 

The texture was done using PaperArtsy Crackle Glaze and Fresco Finish paints and the paper trims I used were - yes, of course - leftovers. The blue-ish dry brushed one at the very bottom is a design that I really like and need to use more often I found. It's a paper strip done using the fabulous Tim Holtz Lattice Trim 3-D Impresslits. The thinner Star Trim on top is actually an old (slightly damaged) scrap of original gold Dresden Trim but you can also use Tim's Star Trim 3-D Impresslits to create one yourself if you're not able to get these ( I do have that Impresslits die as well as I love to be able to create my own Dresden Trim whenever I am in need of one and will have run out of the "real stuff"). 

In the picture below you can see the two trims "in action" on the finished project. Another star on my assemblage is the little glass vial that I altered using PaperArtsy Infusions. I wanted to get an aged look instead of having the boring white glass of the vial and found a cool way to create the beautiful drip lines and the tint (it is all explained in  detail in the PaperArtsy blog post along with the other stuff of course). 

You may also have noticed the highly textural piece to the right in all its aged and worn glory...if you want to find out what it is, how I did it and how it looks as a whole, simply click HERE to get taken to the PaperArtsy blog and post. 

I hope to see you over there soon!

Hugs and happy crafting!



Tuesday 10 May 2022

Luminescent Specimen Cabinet - a PaperArtsy Project

 Servus, hi and how's everyone doing these days?! I hope you are all fine and enjoying Spring and (finally!) warmer temperatures! 

Over at the PaperArtsy Blog they have just started a new topic - "Specimen Jar". You can tell I loved that one right away! I immediately thought about all the specimen neatly aligned in the beautiful vintage glass cabinets in Vienna's Natural History Museum. I could look at these for hours and just feel happy and soothed (I guess not only because I love studying fossils, insects and other small specimen but also looking at something so intriguing to me being displayed in such a neat order and large numbers). 

My aim with this project was to capture the feel of a cabinet from the Victorian era and also re-create an effect from a display box from Salzburg's "House of Nature" where they show some fish of the deep sea that make their own light down there. You press a button and their lights turn on - how cool is that?! So, yes, you're guessing right - I also used some mini-lights with my cabinet (and that was great fun). 

Just a few pictures to lure you over to PaperArtsy's blog

Find out more about the how-to and products used and meet me there

Hugs and happy crafting!