Sunday, November 29, 2015

...Pocket Letter Pal WHAT?

"Pocket Letter Pals" have been taking the crafting world by storm this past year - it seems like everybody is making and swapping them. I found out about them quite a while ago and have exchanged 2 - 2.5 dozen of them...some with artists and friends, some with people I didn't know and new friends.

So what are they?

Pocket Letter Pals are the brainchild and inspiration of crafter Janette Lane. They started out as very simple affairs - but like most things in the crafts and art world, have become a bit more evolved and fanciful and elaborate. This video shows Janette explaining how they started:


By this time, it has evolved to being nine ATC's (Artist Trading Cards) in the baseball trading cards protector (ATC's are always 2.5" x 3.5"), usually with some sort of theme, but not always. The back will include a small gift of some sort in each of the pockets - nothing elaborate or expensive - usually some kind of crafty thing that the receiver can use in their own work. And, most importantly, a letter to your 'pal.' If yours is to a friend it can be a special message and if it's to a stranger I usually use the letter as a short introduction to myself, with a bit of my history and the kinds of work I now produce. Then it gets folded, put into a business-sized envelope and mailed off!

Here are two examples I've done using Alpha Stamps products and supplies. One is a bit more involved and time-consuming to make - the other was more expedient to create and used far less products.

My Marie Antoinette themed ATC's are pretty elaborate, and required glue drying time between the various layers. A list of all the supplies used is below. Almost everything came from Alpha Stamps, though there are a few items from my stash of goodies.

Here is a clearer photo of four of the ATC's. Since they are larger you can get a better idea of the detail used to create them.

This is the reverse side - I made tiny little vellum envelopes that are sealed with stickers. Each one holds some kind of charm or piece of vintage ephemera which are my gifts to the recipient. Browsing through the Alpha Stamps Charms and Beads section will give you lots of ideas for little treasures to use as gifts...I love things that come in packs of threes - I can use one in my Pocket Letter Pal, one on a project, and have one to keep for myself! And, finally, the envelope in the center holder contains my letter to the recipient.
My final touch is to tie various pastel shades of seam binding in the notebook holes in the protector sheets to add one final touch of movement, whimsy and extravagance.


This is my simpler "Pocket Letter Pal" example. I used Graphic 45 "A Christmas Carol" paper collection (all 3 sizes) and did a lot of fussy cutting. Only a few embellishments beyond the papers were used.

Here is a photo of four of the ATC's which are larger and you can get a more clear idea of where I did the fussy cutting ... usually using a smaller sized paper for the background and a larger sized paper image for the cutting I was going to use.

I think these simple ATC's are just as effective as the more elaborate ones above!

Ready to try to make a few of your own? To give you an idea of what I used, here is my supply list:

Marie Antoinette Pocket Letter Pal Alpha Supply List
Ornate Brass Teardrops
40x30mm Neoclassical Pendant Setting
25x18mm Oval Victorian Setting
Mesh Rhinestone Ribbon - White (note: I dyed mine with Tim Holtz Alcohol Inks)
Golden Mica Flakes - Pearl
Seam Binding (I used a combination of "Provence" and "On the Boardwalk" Sets)
Teardrop Fused Pearl Strands

 "A Christmas Carol" Pocket Letter Pal Alpha Supply List
Graphic 45 - A Christmas Carol 12" x 12"
Graphic 45 - A Christmas Carol 8" x 8"
Graphic 45 - A Christmas Carol 6" x 6" (Alpha Stamps has sold out of this size - and so has a few other stores I frequent. If you see a pad of the 6" x 6" size, I advise grabbing it! It's going to be very difficult to find!)
Gold Sweeper Fringe
Gold Zig Zag Dresden Borders
Thin Looped Dresden Borders - Gold
Red Zig Zag Dresden Borders

To create all the small bows I made for these ATC's, try this fast, easy method!
...for the really teeny tiny ones, I use a baby fork! The only requirement of your
fork is that it has four tines.

Thanks so much for stopping by - and I hope you'll leave a comment while you're here so I know you visited! now ... go make something beautiful!
¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*´¨)(¸.•´ 
(¸.•´♥ Tristan

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

... counting the days

 An Advent calendar is a special calendar used to count or celebrate the days in anticipation of Christmas. Since the date of the first Sunday of Advent varies, falling between November 27 and December 3 inclusive, the Advent calendar usually begins on December 1, although many include the previous few days that are part of the season. Recently, in the 20th century, a popular theme has been to use the popular Christmas song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" as the basis for a 12-count calendar.

Advent calendars range in theme, from sports to technology. Many Advent calendars take the form of a large rectangular card with 'windows,' of which there are usually 24: one for each deay of December leading up to and including Christmas Eve (December 24). Consecutive doors are opened every day leading up to Christmas, beginning on December 1. The calendar windows open to reveal an image, a poem, a portion of a story (such as the story of the Nativity of Jesus), or a small gift, such as a toy or a chocolate item. Often each window has a Bible verse and Christian prayer printed on it, which Christians incorporate as part of their daily Advent devotions. Advent calendars may also have puzzles and games printed on their reverse side.

Two of my favorite Advent calendars that I remember as a child were calendars with little drawers, such as the one I'm showing you here today. One had an empty stable printed in the center, and each drawer held a character from the Nativity story. By Christmas you had a complete scene of the Christmas story and on Christmas Eve, the Baby Jesus was in drawer #24 and finished the scene. The other calendar had a pine tree, and in each drawer there was a Christmas tree ornament. By Christmas you had a fully decorated tree, and on Christmas Eve, the final drawer held a star to be put on top.

The Advent calendar I made for Alpha Stamps begins with one of their wooden and chipboard kits which are available here...and right now they're on sale!

These are a breeze to put together and you can probably have the whole thing, including the 24 drawers completed in half an hour or less. It only needs a plain household white glue - I let mine sit overnight to get good and completely dried before I started decorating.

Even though it's no longer available, I decided that the Graphic 45 paper "Nutcracker Sweet" line that I had hoarded for a few years was the ideal paper for this project, so it's what I used. At this point it's out of print, highly collectible, and the pads that are available on eBay are going for quite a few dollars. I suggest using the beautiful "A Victorian Christmas Scrapbook Paper Set" from Alpha Stamps which is available here - also on sale right now! These papers would make a wonderful old world looking advent calendar! I suggest ordering two sets, just to ensure having enough to complete the project - and the paper is reasonable enough it won't break the bank!

I covered the fronts of the boxes with four each of six different designs from the paper pad. I chose to ignore the 'finger pull' cutout in the kit drawers and use large beads as drawer pulls instead. Check out the incredible array of beads at Alpha Stamps here  - lots and lots of choices!
The center of my shadow box I used the main illustration from my paper pad. I cut extras of Clara, the clock face and the title "Nutcracker Sweet" and popped them up with foam tape so they would create a little dimension. I also added a "real" toy nutcracker in front of the nutcracker printed on the paper. And check out the gorgeous beading fringe at Alpha Stamps. I used a pink, because it went with my scene, but the white and the black bead fringe are knock outs! See them here.
My Advent calendar shadow box is topped with a Christmas tree and a spread of goodies from Santa - in this case Alpha Stamps had to stand in for Santa and provide the beautiful miniatures!

I started with the smallest of the two trees in the "Woodlands Wreath and Tree Set" (here) and misted it a light pink. I used several of the beads available in the bead section at Alpha Stamps (here) to use as ornaments. I also used some Crystal Accents to give a tree a bit of a sugar-frosted look.

On one side of the tree, among the gifts is a delightful miniature wooden train and miniature wooden sled - both from Alpha Stamps. The small doll is from my stash of vintage toys.
On the other side of the tree, we see a miniature little red wagon carrying a delightful miniature jack-in-the-box. All of the miniatures are available from Alpha Stamps in the miniature section here - spend some time going through this section as you will find lots of things you will want to put under your tree! The small carousel is a miniature made from a vintage German magazine pattern and is unavailable.

I hope you enjoyed seeing my special Alpha Stamps Advent calendar - and that you're inspired to make one of your own - or one to give a special little person to calm some of their anticipation about the coming Big Day!

... now, go make something beautiful!
¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*´¨)(¸.•´ 
(¸.•´♥ Tristan