Posted in Books, Craft, Excerpt, Scrapbooking

A Scrapping Moment from Masked to Death

masked-to-death-cover-frontSince May is National Scrapbooking Month, I’m sharing a small scrapbooking moment from Masked to Death.

Excerpt:

Ronnie’s confession shook me. I felt off-kilter. A scrapbooking class was being held on deck six, so I headed there, needing to clear my mind while I figured out what to do. Scrapbooking calmed me and centered my spirit. I knew this trip would rev up some anxiety, so I bought a travel planner. It was more portable than a scrapbook, yet the same techniques were used for decorating it. Instead of pictures, words were the main focal point. I had brought colored pencils and an array of travel stickers for decorating the pages.

I spotted a crew member pushing a cart loaded down with cruise-themed scrapbooking supplies and followed. Other women and a few men joined our parade to the lounge area in the back of the ship.

“Find a spot while I set up.” The young woman began sorting through the packages of products and stacking them by theme onto a table.

I spotted Garrison sitting at a table in the back, flipping through a book. When I sat down, he closed the leather book about the size of an 8×8 album. The cover was embossed. I tried reading the script font, but he covered the writing with his forearm.

“Here to scrapbook or just looking for some peace and quiet to read?” I asked.

“I’ve wanted to learn some new techniques and now was the perfect time.”

“You and Bob didn’t have anything special planned for this morning?”

“Odessa stopped by this morning to tell Bob the captain wanted to meet with him.”

“About what?”

“I’d rather not know, so I kissed Bob goodbye and told him I’d be here. I’m sure it has something to do with John. I wonder where Ronnie is. She had said she’d meet me here.”

“When did you talk to her?” I doodled in my travel journal.

“At breakfast. Why?”

“Curious,” I said. “No other reason. She might have lost track of time or something unexpected came up.” The captain had issued a gag order. Ronnie said to stay quiet. And here I was blabbing—or almost blabbing, which was just as bad. “This probably isn’t the wedding you dreamed of.”

“The event meant more to Odessa than us, so we caved on pretty much everything. Our only sticking point was no alcohol at the event out of respect and love for Ted, and yet she had the champagne flowing freely, and now we also have John Roget to contend with. I’m not looking forward to him and Odessa coming face to face.”

“He’s stayed away so far.”

“That’s true. Maybe he only came to spend time with Claire and not to stop the wedding. John is a hard one to figure out.”

“He isn’t the only one.”

Garrison’s eyebrows rose. “Do tell.”

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Posted in Craft, Disney Layouts, Scrapbooking

Preparing for a Crop: Page Kits

May is National Scrapbooking Month, so I thought I’d share my process of putting together page kits before a crop retreat. Usually, I’d just pick a project to work on and pack up all pictures, embellishments, and paper that would work for it. I also bring a nice selection of colored cardstock, and a huge amount of white and black as those are my go to colors for matting or the base of a layout.

In April, I attended a crop where we had a limited amount of space for supplies so I decided to put together page kits. I completed so many pages that it will now be my go-to method for cropping away from home. I also liked the fact it cut back on the trips I had to make to and from the car, and setting up, as I brought fewer items.

I placed all of  my Disney paper and embellishments, any scrapbooking bling that would work for the album onto my cropping table and started matching them to my pictures. I wanted to make a second page for a previous layout, so I took out that layout to make sure the papers I chose complemented it. Since there were more pictures than space on the 12×12 pattern paper, I used a Flip Flap to gain extra picture space.

 

I placed all my Disney paper and embellishments onto my scrapbooking table Next, I pulled out different types of embellishments and scraps of pattern and laid them on the page until I found a combination I liked.

If I really liked the structure of a page, I snapped a photo on my cell before I packaged it up in a 2 gallon Ziplock bag. Since I didn’t want to interrupt my kit making, I wrote down any titles or embellishments I wanted to make on a sticky note and put it on the kit. Completed packet

 

Posted in Craft

Year of Crafting Edition 1: Week 1-10

This year, I vowed to complete one craft (or one stage for longer projects) a week. I love to craft and on January 1st I realized I hadn’t spent much time crafting during 2016. I was going to change that for this year and my goal is to finish up some crafting projects (Disney vacation album), try some new crafts (painting, Deco Mesh wreath making, and use the fabric I bought for projects but have been scared I’d mess up and waste the money I spent so I’m letting all my lovely fabric and patterns just hang out in my storage unit. No more! I realized it’s no more of a waste to not use the fabric and patterns as it is to make a mistake sewing the item (cute patterns for purses I really want to sew). The only way to get better at sewing is to sew.

Here are the projects I have completed so far:

CP 1 and 2 Megan's winter setWeek 1-2: A matching scarf and messy bun hat for my younger daughter. The messy bun hat I used a pattern, and the scarf I made using the double crochet stitch.

CP Week 3 Messy bun hat BrittanyWeek 3: A messy bun hat for my oldest. She saw a picture I posted of her sister’s hat on Facebook and wanted one. I used the same pattern as the one for her sister but this time I used the front and back post stitch for the brim.

CP Week 6 My ScarfWeek 4-6: I’ve been crocheting a little over a year and I hadn’t made myself anything yet. I crocheted blankets, mermaid tail blanket, scarfs, a cozy for a Beta fish tank, but nothing for me. I wanted to use a Caron Cake and on the sleeve of one of the Cakes was a pattern for this scarf. The completed scarf is 70 inches long so I broke it down into steps as I wouldn’t be able to complete it in one week. I love the fringe!

CP Week 7 Alex ScarfWeek 7: When I was crocheting my scarf, my favorite little guy saw it and asked if I’d make him a blue and green one. Of course! I used a scarf knitting loom, and stepped way out of my comfort zone by creating my pattern. I love how it turned out.

CP Week 8 Spring Deco WreathWeek 8: Deco Wreath. I’ve always wanted to make a Deco Mesh wreath and as this 2017 is my year of crafting I decided to give it a try. It also helped that the day I was at AC Moore the supplies for the wreaths were 50% 0ff. I like how the spring wreath turned out and I have supplies to make a Frozen inspired wreath.

CP Week 9 Mardi Gras Cricut CozyWeek 9: I’m donating a basket filled with goodies for a prize at the crop I’m attending and I sewed a Cricut dust cover to add to it. I went with a Mardi Gras theme as it matches the cover of my book Masked to Death as it’s also included in the basket. I’ve sewed some Cricut/Cameo dust covers before but this was the first time I sewed on an embellishment–sequined ribbon.

CP week 10Week 10: This week was a very crafty week for me. I attended a three-day scrapbook retreat so I completed some layouts, and the night before the crop I took a painting class with my oldest. We had a wonderful time and I’m hoping we can make time to go to another one. I dubbed my masterpiece Tinkerbell in Paris.

Posted in Books, Craft, mystery, Scrapbooking, Vacations, Writing

Masked to Death has left port

masked-to-death-cover-frontMasked to Death, the fifth book in the Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery Series, is now out. I went on my first cruise at the end of 2010 and feel in love with this type of vacation. When part of the plot came to me, I started thinking about where to set the book and recalled that in book one, Cropped to Death, Ted mentioned that his mom worked on a cruise ship. My muse said, “Perfect.”, and the story developed from there.

Here’s a short description about Masked to Death:

A Caribbean cruise is the perfect setting for a Roget wedding, and Faith meeting Ted’s family. She also hopes the vacation gets their stalled romance moving, but it doesn’t take long for that dream to capsize. Ted’s daughter hates her. The ex-wife is adored. Odessa Roget is surly. And the banned father of a groom, John Roget, requests Faith’s assistance in bringing down a jewel theft ring masterminded by his ex-wife.

Having had a man she loved accuse her of a crime, Faith won’t let Odessa travel down the same path and agrees to help. Faith sets her course on uncovering the true criminals—which might be a groom’s best friend. The romantic week turns disastrous as a wedding is interrupted, suspicious deaths point to murders, and Ted’s daughter schemes to reunite her parents. Instead of diamonds being a girl’s best friend, Faith finds they’re cruising her toward Davy Jones’ Locker.

Over the next few weeks, you can find me (or Masked) visiting a few places in cyber world where I’ll be answering some questions, talking about creating a travel journal and a fictional cruise, and where some readers will let you  know a little bit more about Masked to Death. I hope you can stop by.

January 25 – Dru’s Book Musings – Guest Post, Vacation Time With Faith Hunter

January 27 – Bibliophile Reviews –  REVIEW, INTERVIEW

January 28 – Island Confidential – GUEST POST, Creating a Cruise 

January 29 – Brooke Blogs – INTERVIEW

January 30 – Valerie’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

January 31 – Girl with Book Lungs – REVIEW

February 1 – A Blue Million Books – INTERVIEW

February 2 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW, GUEST POST, Travel Journal

February 3 – A Chick Who Reads – REVIEW

February 4 – A Holland Reads – GUEST POST, Scrapbooking and Murder

February 5 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy Too! – Excerpt (shopping on a cruise) from Masked to Death

February 6 – Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW

February 7 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

Posted in Craft, How To, Uncategorized

Decorative Painting: Getting Started by Sybil Johnson

Decorative Painting: Getting Started

comepaintpost-sd-1Since my mystery series is set in the world of tole/decorative painting, I periodically get questions on what that is and how to get started. I’m not an expert, but I have been taking classes, attending conventions and working on projects for over two decades. Along the way, I’ve learned a thing or two.

So, what is tole/decorative painting? Basically, it’s decorating objects using paint, usually acrylic. DecoArt’s Come Paint With Us section of their website describes it as “…an easy-to-learn painting method where the painter traces a design outline onto a painting surface, then applies basic brushstrokes to give that surface decorative accents.”

You can paint on all kinds of surfaces. Wood is the most common, but I’ve painted on a myriad of surfaces including fabric, suede, window screening, paper, and tin. That last one is where “tole” comes from. The term tole painting is traditionally applied to the art of painting on tin but, when I started taking classes in the 90s, it was used in a broader sense to mean the decoration of objects on a variety of surfaces using painting strokes and techniques. These days the term decorative painting is more commonly used, though I tend to use them interchangeably.

So how do you get started?

I was lucky to know someone who knows the techniques of decorative painting well. She taught a group of us at work. We created all kinds of projects over the years. But, even if you can’t find a class nearby, you can still learn using online resources. The best introduction I’ve come across is DecoArt’s Come Paint With Us website section that I mentioned earlier. (http://decoart.com/comepaintwithus)

There you’ll find 3 beginning projects taught by Shara Reiner, Lynne Deptula and Judy Diephouse. You can download a pdf of the instructional booklet and view free videos of the three lessons. If you’re still not sure, you can always just watch the videos and see if it’s something you’d be interested in.

There are a lot of other painting resources on the web. I have a number of them on the links page of my website: http://www.authorsybiljohnson.com/links

I hope you found this useful. Power to the paintbrush!

 

Sybil Johnson wields pen and brush at her home in Southern California where she writes the Aurora Anderson Mystery Series (FATAL BRUSHSTROKE, PAINT THE TOWN DEAD and, soon, A PALETTE FOR MURDER) published by Henery Press. Learn more about her at http://www.authorsybiljohnson.com.

 

 

Posted in Craft, How To

Adventures in Trompe l’oeil, Part II by Sybil Johnson

Adventures in Trompe l’oeil, Part II

by Sybil Johnson

Here I am again, reporting on my trompe l’oeil adventure. It’s been a couple weeks and I’ve made some progress though not as much as I’d like.

Here’s a pointer to my first post, in case you missed it: https://theselfrescueprincess.wordpress.com/2016/07/14/adventures-in-trompe-loeil-part-i/. Go ahead, check it out, then come back. I’ll wait.

All caught up? Great! Let’s continue.

When I left you last, I was working on a table with a cherry pie painted on it. I’d gotten as far as staining the wood and painting the cloth underneath the pie. I was about to start on the pie.

JohnsonPt2Image1

And this is where I was stalled for a short while. When I do a project, I like to use the colors suggested by the designer or, at least, something similar. That means I need to know approximately what a color looks like. Unfortunately, acrylic paint colors come and go so, when a design is several years old, some of the colors may have been discontinued. That’s the problem I ran into this time. This is where being a hoarder of paint color brochures comes in handy. I was able to figure out what the discontinued colors looked like and come up with substitutes based on color equivalency charts I’d picked up years ago.

Once that was straightened out, I turned to painting the cherry pie. Unfortunately, the instructions are not as detailed as I would like. That’s something to look for when you buy a pattern book or packet: check out the instructions to see if they are detailed enough for your skill level. Some designers assume more experience than others. Here is where the photos of the finished piece have come in handy. Studying them has helped me figure out the approach I should take.

Here’s where I am now:

JohnsonPt2Image2

I still have a long way to go. I need to work on shading on the pie itself and I need to strengthen the shadows on the cloth. I’m getting there, though. Right now I’m off to work on final edits to A PALETTE FOR MURDER, then I’ll get back to work on that pie. Until next time…

Sybil Johnson wields pen and brush at her home in Southern California where she writes the Aurora Anderson Mystery Series (FATAL BRUSHSTROKE, PAINT THE TOWN DEAD and, soon, A PALETTE FOR MURDER) published by Henery Press. Learn more about her at http://www.authorsybiljohnson.com.

Posted in Craft, How To

Adventures in Trompe l’oeil, Part I

Today on the Self-Rescue Princess, I’m having a guest blogger introduce you to the art of  in Trompe l’oeil.

by Sybil Johnson

The next book in my Aurora Anderson Mystery Series, A PALETTE FOR MURDER, features a trompe l’oeil (pronounced “Tromp Loy”) class. That means “trick the eye” or “fool the eye”. It’s any painting or design intended to create the illusion of a three-dimensional object.  Those clouds on ceilings in Vegas casinos and faux finishes such as marble and bricks fall into this category. To get a feel for what else can be done, here are some masterful 3-D illusions using chalk on pavement by various artists: ://www.boredphttpanda.com/5-most-talented-3d-sidewalk-chalk-artists/

Go ahead, check them out. I’ll wait.

Good, you’re back. Amazing, right? My favorite is Ice Age.

While working on PALETTE, I was reminded that I’d bought a pattern book and wood for a much simpler project, a cherry pie on a stool, years ago. Yep, years ago. I decided now was the time to work on this project. I thought I’d take you along on my journey into trompe l’oeil.

Here’s what I started with, a pattern/instruction book by Peggy Decker and an unpainted wood side table:

JohnsonImage1

I started by staining the wood. The instructions said to use Minwax Polyshades, Gloss Finish, in Pecan. It’s a polyurethane varnish with the stain in the product. I’d never used the product or even stained anything before, so I approached it with some trepidation. I pulled on my big girl pants and worked away. It took me all of 30 minutes to screw it up. Okay, it was a little longer than that, but not by much.

When the table dried, the top was a mess, not smooth at all. I thought I’d read the instructions carefully, but turns out I didn’t really. Luckily, wood is fairly forgiving so I stripped the top using Citristrip, sanded it a bit and I was good to go again. This time, I made sure I read and reread the instructions.

The next step was applying the pattern using graphite and basecoating with DecoArt White acrylic paint. I was a little worried about the acrylic painting adhering to the Polyshades, but it worked out okay. In between coats of white, I used a bit of paper torn from a brown paper bag to “sand”. Yep, a good old paper bag from the grocery store. It’s rough enough to smooth the paint a bit, but not so rough that it takes the paint off.

Here it is after this step:

JohnsonImage2

Next came a coating of light gray followed by the stripes on the cloth, painted in FolkArt Rose Chiffon. Liner work is not my favorite thing to do. I’ve seen brushes at conventions that have two brushes on one handle, that produce two parallel lines. I don’t have one of those, but I decided it wouldn’t be hard to make my own. I taped together two 10/0 liner brushes and voila! I have my own double brush.

JohnsonImage3

This is where I am so far on the project.

JohnsonImage4

Doesn’t look terribly exciting yet, I know. Projects never do at the beginning. Next time I’ll be working on the pie at the center of the design. Stay tuned.

 

Sybil Johnson wields pen and brush at her home in Southern California where she writes the Aurora Anderson Mystery Series (FATAL BRUSHSTROKE, PAINT THE TOWN DEAD and, soon, A PALETTE FOR MURDER) published by Henery Press.

Posted in Craft, How To

Adventures in Glass Beadmaking with Janice Peacock

Earlier this month I wrote about how I started making glass beads. If you missed that post, here’s a link: https://theselfrescueprincess.wordpress.com/2016/03/07/glass-bead-making-with-janice-peacock/

Today I want to write about the glass beads that I’ve been making in recent years, most of which look like small masks. If you’ve not watched the video on how to make a glass bead, here it is: link

When I make a glass bead, I melt long slender rods of colored glass in my torch, which runs on oxygen and propane and achieves temperatures in excess of 2000 degrees. Since I can’t touch the glass while it’s molten, I use tools to sculpt it in the flame. Many of the tool are things you’d find around your house (especially if you like scrapbooking): an Xacto knife, scissors, and tweezers. People often ask me if I get burned when I work in my studio making beads. Yes, I do, but usually those burns are mild—about what you’d expect if you touched a hot pan in the oven.

I’ve written and published two murder mysteries about a glass beadmaker named Jax O’Connell. The first is High Strung (Booktrope, 2015) and the second is A Bead in the Hand (Booktrope, 2015), both of which are available at all the major retailers. In the first book Jax becomes an amateur sleuth after she finds a dead body behind a bead store in Seattle.

J_Peacock_1 blog post 2Jax and I have some things in common—we are both glass beadmakers and are women of a certain age. But in most other ways we are different—for instance, Jax is fictional and I am not. Jax’s beads are made with bright colors and happy patterns. My beads, on the other hand, are fairly somber in color and look like they are old—like relics from an archeological dig or flotsam that has washed ashore. Jax is a relative newbie to the world of beads. Me? I’ve been creating lampworked beads for nearly 25 years.

In case you are curious: The word “lampworking” comes from a few hundred years ago when beadmakers didn’t have high tech torches and fuels like oxygen and propane. Instead, artisans used oil lamps and bellows to create flames that were hot enough to melt glass.

J_Peacock_3 blog post 2A lot of the beads I make look like small masks or stylized faces. I have several books about African masks that I like to look at for inspiration as well as a collection of masks from around the world. The faces I create are both human and animal forms. Typically, the eyes on the masks are closed. The closed eyes give these beads a peaceful feeling, and these days we can all use a little peace and tranquility in our lives.

I love making beads, and even though my time is now split between glass beadmaking and writing about a fictional glass beadmaker, I know that I’ll never give up the fun and excitement of lighting up my torch and melting glass.

You can see more of my glass work at http://www.janicepeacockglass.com and read about the books in the Glass Bead Mystery Series at http://www.janicepeacock.com.

Janice Peacock
Glass Artist and Author

J_Peacock_6 blog post 2

You can find me in all sorts of places on social media:
Facebook.com/JanicePeacockAuthor
Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest: JanPeac
Blog.janicepeacock.com

Posted in Books, Craft, Excerpt, mystery, Scrapbooking, Uncategorized, West Virginia

National Craft Month: Cropped to Death Excerpt

I had hoped to have a crafting blog post ready for today but it’s been hectic at the office this week and my hours work hours needing shifting around, so I didn’t have time to finish making my project. This month, I’ve celebrating National Craft Month by alternating between different hobbies: scrapbooking, crocheting, and coloring. I had thought about chatting about my experience with making a photo book through Shutterfly, but as we don’t have the book yet (and I did a scrapbooking post last week) I thought it better to wait.

CROPPED front smSince Cropped to Death is currently on sale for 99 cents for the Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and iBooks, I thought I’d share an excerpt of Faith preparing for a beginning scrapbooking class–and she gets interrupted.

Excerpt: 

I headed into the paper racks, weaving through the reds and yellows to reach the browns. The hues ranged from sand to a brown so dark it could pass for black. What shade and texture should I use tonight?

A smoother paper worked better for beginners, as it was easier for tearing and for making other embellishments, but I had no idea the skill level of the women signed up for the contest class and mini crop. A texture cardstock added an extra dimension to the work and gave the beginning layout a little edge. If using it for a border, tearing the texture paper added a nice jagged effect with feathering detail.

Maybe a sheet of both styles using a monochromatic scheme. That worked. A deeper beige mixed with a sand almost white shade. Neutrals worked well with any photos. I’d take a look at the students’ pictures when they arrived and pull complementary colors showcased in the photos.

Time to pick embellishments. I gathered up sheets of letter stickers in a variety of fonts and colors for the layout titles. I stopped in front of the clear stamps and picked out an alphabet set. I’d buy the stamps and share them tonight with the class. Hopefully, they’d love them so much, the two attendees would want a set for themselves. To save some money, I’d go with standard neutral paint colors. If the croppers wanted a hue with a little more pop, they could purchase it.

The bell above the door jangled. I took the items out of the basket and arranged them in piles on the tables. Before the crop started, I wanted to check on the amount of choices offered for the class participants. I snapped my fingers. Items for the prize basket.

A shadow fell over me. I jerked upright, and the wind whooshed in my ears even though I was inside. This fear issue was getting annoying. I hated feeling vulnerable. Taking in a deep breath, my heart rate slowed to normal as I realized a new customer, not a stalker, entered into the store.

A dark-haired woman in her late teens hovered behind me. Two splotches of red bloomed on her cheeks and she stammered. “I was wondering if. Well, if you could…would you mind…”

I smiled and waved my hand over the products on the table. “It’s not too late to sign up for the crop tonight.”

She pushed a piece of paper toward me. “I was wondering if…”

I held my pleasant smile and waited.

“If I could… like… get…”

The smile strained my cheeks.

“Your autograph.”

“My what?” I kept my reaction in check, uncertain if amusement or anger was more appropriate.

“Aren’t you the owners’ granddaughter? The one mentioned in the paper?”

I went with anger. Before the scolding exploded from my mouth, the young woman turned and fled out the door. Why couldn’t the store reach celebrity status because of our awesome customer service rather than because of murder?

I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter weekend, and is able to enjoy their families and their hobbies.

 

Posted in Books, Craft, Excerpt, Uncategorized

National Craft Month: Fatal Brushstroke Excerpt

I hope everyone is enjoying National Craft Month as much as I am. Currently, I’m reading A Body in the Landscape by Larissa Reinhart, and this weekend I enjoyed three days of cropping at a local crop retreat sponsored by the Rotary Club. I was able to complete my daughter’s scrapbook album (a mix of pocket scrapbooking and traditional layouts) and also uploaded a bunch of pictures to Shutterfly and had them printed. I have two crops coming up in April and didn’t want to run out of photos to scrap at the events.

To continue with my monthly celebration of National Craft month is an brief excerpt from Fatal Brushstroke by Sybil Johnson.

fatal brushstrokeExcerpt: 

At home, too wired to sleep yet too tired to work, Rory pulled out the project Nora had given her and spread it out on the empty half of the kitchen table. Before painting on the final product, she wanted to practice the strokes spelling out Samantha’s name. She considered several styles of brush lettering, settling on one that was at the least elaborate end of the spectrum.

Rory drew guidelines on practice paper with a soft pencil, then loaded a flat brush with a fifty-fifty mixture of black acrylic paint and water. After painting the three strokes necessary to produce a capital S, she reviewed her work. She hadn’t lifted her brush quickly enough at the end of each stroke to produce the sharp edges she desired. She tried again, this time writing the full name several times, concentrating on correcting the strokes and keeping the spacing between the letters consistent. After covering two pages with the name, she gave up for the evening, still unhappy with the result. Her hands were too shaky from lack of sleep to produce the letters to her satisfaction.

Blurb:

A dead body in her garden and a homicide detective on her doorstep…

Computer programmer and tole painting enthusiast Aurora (Rory) Anderson doesn’t envision finding either when she steps outside to investigate the frenzied yipping coming from her own backyard. After all, she lives in Vista Beach, a quiet California beach community where violent crime is rare and murder even rarer.

Suspicion falls on Rory when the body buried in her flowerbed turns out to be someone she knows—her tole painting teacher, Hester Bouquet. Just two weeks before, Rory attended one of Hester’s weekend seminars, an unpleasant experience she vowed never to repeat. As evidence piles up against Rory, she embarks on a quest to identify the killer and clear her name. Can Rory unearth the truth before she encounters her own brush with death?

Right now, Fatal Brushstroke is on sale for 99 cents, and I don’t know how long the sale will last.