Friday, May 18, 2007

The Chunky Book Experience

I am home today with a version of the Creeping Crud. At first I thought it was poison ivy, and it may be, but this time around it is on my face, too. For that, I have to thank the cat. I was out of town last weekend, and when I got home early on such a bright, sunny Sunday afternoon, I treated her to an outing in my fenced, postage-stamp back yard. I am sure she thinks it is heaven.

The first thing she does when released into the wild is roll on the flagstones. I think she likes the warmth, or maybe she is marking her territory...who knows, she is a Cat. I took the time to fill the bird feeders, and to pull a few weeds from between the stones and from the planting area. Hopefully this weekend I can put in some annuals, followed by mulch. At least it will look like I tried.

Come bedtime Sunday night, once I got horizontal in bed, the cat took her usual position atop my chest. This is our nightly ritual - she gets her daily dose of scratching and then settles down for a snuggle while I read for a while. But this past Sunday, after having been abandoned and left to the whims of the Cat Sitter (oh, horrors!), she was overly squishy, so she over-snuggled by pushing the side of her face against mine. She then let out a most contented purr-sigh, and settled in for a nap.

At first I was all squishy right back - she is a wonderful cat. Then a few days later, I noticed the poison ivy between my 3rd and 4th fingers on my right hand. That's where I always get it, if I get it at all. But I also had some bumps on the left side of my face. THAT's when I made the connection between the Snuggle and the Creeping Crud. Poor kitty has not been allowed near my face since. ;-(

Have you ever tried to put that lotion on your eye-lid? NOT fun. So I have sufferred through a few days of worsening conditions, and the ever-popular suggested solutions to my plight. My favorite one was to scrub all the bumps off until they were open and raw, then apply a diluted bleach mixture. Once the screaming stops, your problem should be gone. Er ... no, thanks.

So I took my chances, and Fate won. I woke up this morning with swollen eye lids - not comfortable, and NOT pretty. I called the Doctor to see if they could fit me in and provide me with some good drugs, but they do not open until 9:00 on Friday's, so I had to wait.

To kill time, I started on my Chunky Book pages. For those uninitiated in the ways of the Chunky Book world, here is how it works. First, a most esteemed Team Member volunteers to be the coordinator. She shall be blessed, and maybe even sainted. A theme is selected - in our case it was the color Purple. Each of 12 people is supposed to make 12 copies of 2 4x4 pages using at least 85% purple. Each 4x4 page has two sides, and you have to decorate both sides. Times 12. Times two separate pages. Get it? Each of us has to make 2 pages for a book that will have 24 pages total, one book for each of the 12 players.

The only rules are (1) the page must be 4x4 EXACTLY so they are all the same size once bound, (2) you must follow the theme (Purple here), you must have 85% of your page meet the theme, (3) no major embellishments within 1 1/2 inches of the left side of the page (so it can be bound), (4) 'things' hanging off the outer, non-bound edges are very cool, and (5) sign the back.

The Esteemed Leader is in charge of getting all the book pages together and binding them. She has a RubiCoil, which is why we need that sacred 1 1/2 inches free of embellishments - so it can fit under the puncher. She is also in charge of creating the covers for the books.

The Group is all a-buzz with all things purple. One of my Stampin' Up! customers recently ordered all the purple card stock to replenish her supply. Hmmm ... wonder what she's doing with that! ;-)

ANYway, have you ever had to restrict youself to using only one color in a project? Have you ever found yourself looking at everything purple in the stores? Have you 'discovered' purple embellishments in your stash? It is amazing what you do not see until you look for it!

Then there's the pesky "EXACTLY 4x4" rule. Well, I sure hope I am not disqualified from the book, since I cannot cut anything straight. I started using coasters, since they are (gasp!) 4x4! Turns out they are too thick, and they do not have an 'inside' to give you the option of wrapping ribbon and punching windows, etc., that a folded 4x8 piece of card stock will give you. So I cut. They are close ... people will just have to deal.

So being an over-achiever, I had mocked up a few pages last month. It impressed the heck out of everyone - soooo much detail! Here are a few of my mock-ups:

This first one uses a coaster, obviously prior to my learning the wisdom of using card stock. The dress on the front was made with a combination of things. The top part of the dress is part of a stamp from Renaissance Art Stamps, which I embossed with purple, glittered embossing powder. The bottom of the dress is made up of individual fan parts (set is from, stamped and embossed on vellum using the same purple powder as the top, then carefully cut out using very sharp snips. The belt is made from a piece of scrap velvet ribbon.

That weird thing hanging from the brad is a string of very light-colored purple beads strung on a piece of purple wire. I plan to not use that - this was just a mock-up, remember.

The background of the back of the coaster (to your right) was made using the alcohol technique. I dabbed some Encore silver reinker on some glossy card stock, then dropped two colors of Stampin' Up!'s purple reinkers on an alcohol-soaked cotton ball, and dabbed until I got the coverage I wanted. I then covered the whole thing in Versamark (yes, my pad was destroyed - use an old one!) and clear-embossed the whole thing. It came out with a very neat, rough texture.

The metal strip was made using the Cuttlebug, and I just cut a strip of it off to fit the card. As you can see, this was a lot of work, and I did not relish the idea of making 12 of them, so I set it aside.

This next one was made with a 4x8 piece of card stock instead of coasters, and I took full advantage of the inside to hide the backs of the brads and to tie the ribbons.

This is what it looks like folded, front view. The purple fibers were tied along the edge of the fold.

First I stamped the background, front and back, with stamps from Stampin' Up!'s Looks Like Spring set.

Then I used Stampin' Up!'s Collage Alphabet to stamp the word 'Purple" using Versafine Purple ink, then embossed the letters with clear embossing powder.

The paper is a piece of scrapbook paper I had, and since it had mostly purple in it, it met the qualifications for inclusion in the project. Hidden under the purple fibers is a stack of Cuttlebug-die-cut stacked flowers. I inked them against the SU Aida Background stamp, then stacked them up and used a purple flower brad to hold it all to the card front.

I also used the SU Spring Bouquet Punch and made some other flower stacks to busy it up, and added a purple grosgrain ribbon - you can kind of see it peeking out from under the purple fibers.

This is what the whole thing looks like opened up:

You can see the background I stamped over the whole thing before I folded it. I used the same Alphabet to stamp and emboss "Flower Power" on the back. Then I stuck on some flowers from a ribbon I got at a local stamp store, and called it 'done'.

My last mockup was a bit much, and I did not get too far, either. I started with a piece of that same alcohol-technique card stock used above and just stuck it to the card, but it was a bit too busy. I then got the idea to punch out a window to remove some of the 'busy', and I used SU's Key Tag Punch. I punched once, then moved it up and extended the opening by punching again. This gave me a window, and people who know me can see the wheels turning. ;-)

The great thing about using the folded card stock for the 4x4 card is you have that inside to work with, too! So I stuck a piece of acetate behind the opening and tried to make it into a window. You can barely see the lines I drew to make it look like a real window, but I am not so sure those will work.

I stamped some flowers on the background of the card stock so they show through the window. Then, I had A Moment. I stamped the Gnome from No Place Like Gnome, cut him out, and had him peeking through the window! It was hillarious! I took him out because I could not figure out how to make him purple, but I may figure out a way and put him back in. ;-)

We are scheduled to gather next weekend for the book assembly and the post-assembly embellishment to-do. (We are allowed to add embellishments to the pages after they are bound, which allows us to creep into that sacred 1 1/2 inches near the binding.) So we have one week - ONE WEEK - to make all our pages. Yikes!!!

So my actual pages are under construction, and I'll eventually post an update with the finished products. On the off-chance that some of my fellow Chunky Bookers read this, I may wait until next weekend to post them. We'll see!

Back to the Creeping Crud - I cannot get into the Doctor until 3 pm. Drat! I guess I will have to keep busy somehow. ;-) I am off to replicate Chunky Book pages.

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