2016 Tombstones from Retro Cafe Art Gallery


This year is the first time I’ve ever worked with any of the Tombstones from Retro Cafe Art Gallery.  You see, every year, Kristin hosts a Tombstone swap and every year, I’ve always watched from the sidelines, always a bit nervous to commit and play along.


Some of that apprehension was due to logistics in that I live overseas.  I was always nervous that my submissions would arrive late or not at all.  I was also worried about damage to them during the shipping process.


I also worried about my level of talent.  I mean, I have seen most of the tombstones after they were altered and decorated and they were just mind-blowing.  To throw my little creations into that kind of mix was daunting, to say the least.


Fast forward and here we are and it’s 2016.  I decided, “What the heck!” and decided to play along this year only it’s not a swap.  It’s a challenge.  And I’m not a regular participant.  I’m a design team member.  A much different perspective and the guise of participating under obligation is one heck of a motivator.  After all, I can’t be a spoil sport simply because I’m a scaredy cat right?


So there you have it.  My 2016 Tombstones, all dressed right and purty for this Halloween shindig!  Wanna know how I did it?

Step 1:  Using the “Witch Hunt” digital collage, trace, cut and glue down your chosen designs to the tombstone.  I used Mod Podge.  If you don’t plan on painting or inking the paper, you can seal it with a coat of Mod Podge over the top.  I chose not to since I chalked my edges.


Step 2:  Prep your embellishments with a coat of gesso.  I do this so that when I paint them, the color holds true.


Step 3:  Start embellishing your embellishments!  I used paint and glitter over mine.  The Finnabair Crackle Pasts gives my zombie arms a nice, scaly look.  I dusted some dark brown mica powder into the crack and wiped clean with a baby wipe.


This one, I covered in glitter.


Step 4:  Wind wire around a skinny skewer and clue your mini bats and pumpkins to them.  Attach to the tombstone with hot glue.


Step 5:  Finish your embellishing and assemble your tombstones.  I glued moss onto my bases and added some finishing touches.


Be sure to jump in on the fun in the Retro Cafe Art Gallery Community and order your 2016 Tombstones today!  A $25 gift certificate to the Retro Cafe Art Gallery store is up for grabs with this year’s challenge.  Be sure to use #2016Tombstones in your entry post!

Supply List:
Gothic Tombstone ATC Bases V
Gothic Tombstone ATC Stands
Frame Silhouette Ornament (Spider)
Frame Silhouette Ornament (Witch)
ATC Witch Hunt Halloween Background Collage Sheet
Sugar Skull Cut Outs
Pumpkin and Jack-O-Lantern Cut-Outs
Mini Bat Cut-Outs
Broken Fence Cut-Outs
Gothic Fence Cut-Outs
Spooky Black Cat Cut-Outs
Zombie Arm Cut-Outs
VerDay Paint & Patina Set
Inka Gold (Lava Red)
Finnabair Art Alchemy Metallique Paint (Green Olive)


Curious Curio 7

“Curious Curio”

Curious Curio 1

I just love shadow boxes and curio cabinets.  They treasures stored inside, the mysteries, the stories, they commonality between each item it holds just gets my imagination flowing.  I’ve only ever done one multi-cubicle shadow box before,  I figured it’s high time to do another!

This “Curious Curio” is just filled to the brim with the curious, the odd, and the weird.  Everything just seemed to come together so easily.

Curious Curio 9

It’s super easy to put one together if you use the Keepsake Curio Shrine kit, Relics & Artifacts, and some found objects you most likely already have in your stash.  Let’s take a stroll through the curious and the odd and learn how I put this beautiful collection together.

Step 1:  Prime your Curio pieces with some lovely VerDay paint and patina according to the package instructions.  Don’t be shy with it either!  My beautiful color variation is the result of three coats, the last coat being applied with the previous coat still partially wet.

Curious Curio Step 1

Step 2:  Assemble your Curio once the VerDay has completely cured and dried.  Once your adhesive has dried, start hacking into some really cool paper for you cubby backgrounds.  I used a mix of Graphic 45’s “Steampunk Debutante” and “Old Curiosity Shoppe”.

Curious Curio Step 2

Step 3:  Add a strip of paper around the outside of the curio if you choose to cover the assembly notches.  I like decorative edges so I “aged” some white Fleur Dresden trim with VerDay to finish it off.  I used a chalk edger to make the very deliberate “lines” on the paper and age it a bit.

Curious Curio Step 6Step 4:  Now it’s time to focus on the cubbies!  I used the Circle Shrine Trinket in one cubicle and the result is beautiful.  Use some Art Alchemy Paint and Crackle Accents to dress up your trinket and a micro head from the “Figureheads” set of Relics & Artifacts  I ended up going back and finishing mine off with copper studs and Finnabair Micro Beads.

Curious Curio Step 4Step 5:  What is a “Curious Curio” without some tiny vials of questionable substances?  Decorate your vials with medical labels from the “Antique Medicine Bottle Label” collage sheet.  I also filled my vials with Art Stones and more Micro Beads.  I dressed my vials up further using some jute and leftover Dresden.

Curious Curio Step 3Step 6:  Let’s add another Trinket shrine, a head with a mind’s eye!  I painted my Head Trinket shrine with some more Art Alchemy paint and dressed him up with more micro beads.  I toned down the beautiful vivid green with a chalk edger.

Curious Curio Step 5Step 7:  Let’s add some body parts but without the “eew” factor.  The “Milagros” set of Relics & Artifacts are PERFECT for this curio.  Now some of the best results happen because of happy accidents and this is one of them.  To get that cracked, pivoted, aged porcelain look, apply a REALLY thick coat of Crackle Accents and let it set overnight.  The result will be nice crackling along the edges but a shiny and “clean” surface on the main areas.

To get the pivots, I used a pair of pliers and actually hit the pieces directly.  Be careful and don’t beat them but don’t be gentle and tap them either.  Once you think you’ve done enough damage, brush over the cracks with Artisan Powder and wipe the piece down with a dry napkin.Curious Curio 6Step 8:  The “Treasure” cut-out that serves as my title uses a technique I learned from the amazing and lovely, Linda Cain.  I have ALWAYS adored how she does her paint work and blending.  She shared her secret with me and I could not believe how simple it was.  She paints the piece with one color.  Once dry, she does the edges with a second color using a sponge!  Brilliant right?!  I need more practice but I still love how mine turned out.

Add a drawer pull to finish off the top.

Curious Curio 3Step 9:  Finish assembling your cubbies as you feel.  I used a Frozen Charlotte, a vacuum tube dressed in a Fleur de Lis crown, and some found objects and beads I had in my stash.

Curious Curio 7

Would you believe that the gold eagle piece is simply the top to an old cologne bottle?  Dig around and use your imagination!

Curious Curio 8

These curios contain endless possibilities and the fun is limitless.  Be on the lookout for more of these coming from me!

Supply List:
Keepsake Curio Shrine Kit
Chipboard Art Scrip Word Cut-Outs Set 3
Circle Shrine Trinket Pack of 2
Head Trinket Keepsakes Kit Pack of 2
Antique Medicine Bottle Label Collage Sheet
Ornate Fleur Cut-Outs Style 1
German Dresden Border Fleur White
Frozen Charlotte  China Doll Small (2″ – 2.5″)
Vintage Vacuum Tube
Antique Brass Fleur-de-lis-Crown Set of 4
VerDay Paint & Patina Kit
Vintage Mechanicals Clock Face Small
Art Alchemy Metallique Paint “Gold Rush”
Art Alchemy Metallique Paint “Royal Red”
Art Alchemy Metallique Paint “Green Olive”
Art Ingredients Micro Beads “Copper” (linked to Bronze)
Art Ingredients Mini Art Stones
Art Basics Soft Matte Gel
Ranger Inkssentials Crackle Accents
“Milagros” Relics & Artifacts
“Figureheads” Relics & Artifacts
Tim Holtz Locket Keys
Graphic 45 “Steampunk Debutante”
Graphic 45 “Old Curiosity Shoppe”
Various Found Objects

Crabs 5

Under the Sea Crabby Fun!

Crabs 1Summer is in full swing and I am feeling all things “Under the Sea”!  These stand up crabs from Retro Cafe Art are just the cutest things!

Using some items you probably have in your stash already makes dressing these up super easy.

Crabs 5I’ve had these Prima light bulbs forever just waiting for the perfect project to use them on.

Crabs 4Some VerDay paint makes these crabs look aged and refined.  I used iron, copper, and brass.

Crabs 3Put those seed beads to use as the perfect accent for highlights or giving the sea corals a look of bubbly perfection.  For the posts, add Finnabair’s micro beads for texture.

Crabs 6

Finnabair’s Art Stones provide the perfect sea bottom for my crabs to lay claim to.

Crabs 7

Would you like to make your own?  Follow along for a quick tutorial!

Step 1:
Apply VerDay patina paint according to the directions.  Set the crabs aside to dry and cure.

Crabs Step 1
Step 2:
Use a foam brush to apply gesso to the base.  I dabbed it on so that when it dries, it will have a grainy look between the large art stones.

Crabs Step 2
Step 3:
Using gel medium (it’s totally THE BEST adhesive), sprinkle art stones onto the base.  Tap off excess and set aside to dry, preferably overnight.  When dry, spray with a gold toned spray mist. I used Prima’s Color Bloom Spray in Empress Gold.

Crabs Step 3
Step 4:
Once the patina paint has dried, glue on Prima vintage light bulb onto the body.  Brush on gel medium onto the post and sprinkle with micro beads.

Crabs Step 4
Step 5:
Glue seed beads on using an adhesive like Diamond Glaze.  Embellish posts and the edge of the base with rhinestone trim.

Crabs Step 5
Step 6:
Paint coral pieces and add beads.  Assemble crabs and glue into place.  I liked how mine tilted to the sides a bit so that’s how I glued them.

Crabs 2
Supply List:
Crab Sticks Specimen Stand Ups Kit

Chipboard Coral Cut Outs

VerDay Paint & Patina System

Finnabair Art Stones

Finnabair Soft Matte Gel Medium

Prima Color Bloom Spray “Empress Gold”

Gold Faux Rhinestone Trim

Judikins Diamond Glaze

Finnabair Micro Beads “Copper”

Prima Light Bulbs

Golden Acrylic Paint

Heidi Swapp Color Shine “Coral”

Seed Beads

“Springy Summer” Santos Birdcage ATC Shrine Doll

Santos ATC Fairy 1
It seems that Spring is in full swing and Summer is hot on its heels.  Here in Okinawa, that means we are in rainy season as well as the early part of typhoon season.  It’s been rather dreary lately so I needed a burst of “Spring Meets Summer” sunshine in my life.  Cue my “Springy Summer” Santos doll complete with an ATC birdcage bottom.

Santos ATC Fairy 2
She is just so peaceful and serene.  Just looking at her makes me smile and just savor the moment.

Santos ATC Fairy 4
Her not-so-gilded cage holds what I think to be hope for a bright and full bloom sunshiny season.

Santos ATC Fairy 6
And because I’m a sucker for details, we can’t leave out her vivid body and it’s adornments.

Santos ATC Fairy 5
How did I put her together?  It’s actually quite easy and I use techniques and products you probably already have in your stash!

Step 1:
Find some lush paper you just can’t get enough of.  Trace the outline of her rather svelte torso.  Cut and adhere using gel medium.  Don’t have gel medium?  No problemo!  Bust out that glue stick or tape runner and get to stickin’.

Tip:  If you use a digital collage like I used from Tumble Fish Studio and printed it out using an inkjet printer, spray a fixative over the top before applying the gel.

Santos ATC 1
Step 2:
Grab yourself the beautiful “Wings” collage sheet from Retro Cafe Art.  Adjust the size of the wings using editing software.  Simply cut, paste and apply some sparkly goodness to make them shine.  I used some Stickles on mine.

Santos ATC 2 copy
Step 3:

Let’s give this li’l mama a face!  I find the best mould for these types of faces is by Sculpey.  It’s the “Art Doll” mould.  Squish some polymer clay into the mould and pop it out once you’re satisfied with the shape.  Bake your clay castings on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper in a preheated oven at 275*F.  Typical baking time is 15 minutes per 1/4″ thickness.  Once your clay has cooled completely, mix together some acrylic paint to achieve your desired flesh tone.  Set aside to dry completely.

Tip:  No parchment paper? No problem!  Just cover your cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Also, her headpiece in the finished photo is cut from the “Valentine’s Day Patterns” collage sheet.

Santos ATC 3
Step 4:
Let’s get busy on this cage!  Dig through your stash and pull out those ancient embossing powders because they are going to get a workout today!  I used powders by Piccolo because I love the depth of color they have but you can use whatever your heart desires.  Apply and emboss just like you used to do back when heat embossing was cool.

Santos ATC 4
Step 5:
Once your pieces have cooled, glue the doll to the top of the cage and attach the hanging chain for the flower piece using hot glue.  Cut a piece from the Black Scroll dresden trim.  Remove any undesired pieces so that your scrolly piece fits nicely at the doll’s waist.

While you’re at it, spray some of the Mini Scalloped dresden trim bright yellow.  Let it dry to the touch and glue it onto the top of the cage.  You can glue it all the way around if you choose but it might make assembly of the cage a little difficult.  For this step, I only glued the front border.

Santos ATC 5
Step 6:
Now it’s time to work some magic.  Grab the pieces of the cage and apply Verday paint according to the instructions on the paint.  Since I wanted a two-tone look on the door of the cage, I taped off the center design so that it wouldn’t be affected by the iron paint.  Once the iron paint had oxidized, I went ahead and used brass on the inside.

Tip:  I tried a little experiment to see if the oxidation process would be affected if I used a heat gun.  The answer to that is a resound, “YES!”  It not only hampers the process; it completely nullifies it.  Let the patina spray do its magic, which means you have to have some patience and about 4 hours of time.  Since I did a two-step process, total curing time was about 8 hours.

Santos ATC 6
Step 7:
Just look at all of that patina goodness!  Patience really does pay off when using this paint.  Now it’s time to glue together the pieces of the cage.  For this step, you want to use a really strong adhesive.  I busted out my “mama means business” glue, E6000.

Santos ATC 7
Step 8:
I hope you left your glue gun plugged in.  To apply the mossy floor, just squirt that glue all over the bottom and press the moss directly into it.  Remove any glue strings and watch your fingers.

Tip:  When gluing the moss, be mindful of the cage door that needs to close.  Don’t apply the moss all the way to the front edge of the cage.  I’m not saying that *I* made that mistake, though there is a very strong possibility I *might* have. ::sheepish grin::

Santos ATC 8
Step 9:
Dig through your stash or just go ahead and pull the trigger on the “Flora” Relics & Artfacts® set you’ve had in your Retro Cafe Art cart for ages now.  Lay down a coat of gesso and let it dry.  Once it’s dry, apply a coat of whatever color you choose.  I went for a tone on tone look to get some depth on the flower.  That Royal Red metallique paint looks simply lush against red acrylic paint.  Just sayin’.

Tip:  Use Inka Gold paint in Lava Red for added pop on the edges of the flower.

Santos ATC 9
Step 10:
Attache a good sized jump ring and hang your flower from the chain.  Glue butterfly to the flower if you decided to add one like I did in the finished photos.

Santos ATC 10
Step 11:
Doodle away!  I doodled on the door of the cage, the scrolly piece on the doll’s waist, and the doll’s wings.

Santos ATC 11
And there you have it!  It seemed complicated right?  But it’s not.  It’s mostly a lot of “paint drying” time but the patience totally pays off in the end.


Supply List:
3-D Articulated Birdcage Doll ATC Shrine Kit
“Wings” Digital  Collage Sheet
“Valentine’s Day Patterns” ATC Backgrounds Collage Sheet
“Art Doll” Faces Sculpey Push Mold
Sculpey III Polymer Clay
Black Scroll Decorations Dresden Trim
White Mini Scallops Dresden Trim
VerDay Paint & Patina Set
“Flora” Relics & Artifacts®
“Royal Red” Metallique Paint 

Other Supplies:
“Cut ApART” digital kit
“Mossy Glen” Piccolo embossing powder
“Lemon Zest” Dylusions Spray
“Butter” Heidi Swapp Color Shine
White Signo pen
E6000 Glue
Acrylic Paint
Hot Glue

Castle Shrine

Enchanted Castle Antiquity Shrine

Castle ShrineThe magical, enchanted and mystical world of fairy tales is one that is always nostalgic and wondrous.  I decided to create my own piece of magic using the Castle Antiquity Shrine from Retro Cafe Art.

Magical right?  This shrine houses a Coat in Arms all dressed up in my favorite paint system ever, VerDay.  The shield is part of the Mythos set of Relics & Artifacts.  To give the shield that regal “coat of arms” look add a battle axe and sword from the Medieval Weaponry chipboard set.

For the Griffins standing guard, break out that ol’ heat tool and those embossing powders you keep stashed away and put them to work!

Castle Shrine 5simply covered the castle pieces in beautiful paper from “Enchanted Forest” by Graphic 45 and embellished with Dresden trim.

Castle Shrine 3Some beautiful ball chains or chain from old necklaces add a nice medieval inspired touch.  Just be sure to adhere them with a good, strong adhesive like E6000.  For our evil and menacing dragon, get out that heat tool and embossing powder again.  It really is that simple.

Castle Shrine 6I love bringing the magic of fairy tales to life in my own way.  Why not reach into your imagination and bring some magic to life?


Supply List
Large Castle Antiquity Shrine
Dragon Cut-Outs
Heraldic Griffins Cut-Outs
“Enchanted Forest” 8×8 Paper Pad
“Mythos” Relics & Artifacts Set
Dresden Border Assorted Designs (Gold)
VerDay Paint & Patina Set
Ideaology Ball Chain Set

Other Supplies
Jewelry Wire
Piccolo Embossing Powder
Heat Tool
Prima Chalk Ink Pad


Summery Dream Catcher

Oh man!  Summer is right around the corner.  The temperatures are rising.  Days are getting longer.  Margaritas and pina coladas are flowing.  It’s time to don the brights, let loose, and parrrrrtay!

DreamCatcher1-2Aaaaaah.  It’s so colorful and whimsical.  And yes!  It’s made from an embroidery hoop.  This makes me want to whip up a Rum Runner or a Mai Tai.  OR WHY NOT BOTH?

DreamCatcher2All I did was slap some black and white gesso onto the hoop.  The weaving is actually very easy to do and it’s even more fresh with color variety.  The easiest thing I have found to do the weaving with is hemp cording.  It’s also best to do it sober as well.
DreamCatcher3Now just look at that Flora piece!  That is from the “Flora” set by Relics & Artifacts.  Sometimes the best thing to do is just leave things as is.  Which I didn’t do!  I added some black and white striping and some of the coolest flower beads.  Just pile glue in and cram ’em in!



“Spring Has Sprung” Fairy Shrine

Hello everyone!  Spring has sprung!  ::insert Beavis laugh::  My post is full of whimsical awesomeness.
FairyShrine1-1Just look at all of that springy color!  Makes me all giddy and bubbly inside.  You know what else makes me giddy?  How easy it was to put together!  Now it’s important to tell you that I got all sorts of caught up in my mojo groove and forgot to take step out photos.  Talk about horse blinders!
FairyShrine4-1Start out with your Ornate Flourish ATC Shrine Kit.  That would be the beautiful “Bohemian Bazaar” collection from Graphic 45.  It cover the shrine inside and out, just cut from the papers and fussy cut the designs.  Adhere with your handy dandy pop dots for insta-dimension.
FairyShrine3-1Cover unsightly and unfinished edges with some fancy and purty dresden trim!
FairyShrine2-1Spice up the flourishes with a simple and BASIC TECHNIQUE!!  Heat embossing, yo!  I used a live green embossing powder for my flourishes.  As for the fairies, I don’t know about you, but I suuuuuck at painting human features so I always go with a silhouette.  I busted out some chalker ink pads and more embossing powders and went to town!
FairyShrine5-1Who doesn’t love finishing details?  I snagged one of the treasure chests and cotton spun ‘shrooms and made some magic.  Glue a bit of moss down and stuff your box!  Glitter your pedestal with some fierceness and call it done!

Bead Spray (Prima)
Chalk Ink (Prima)
Magenta Acrylic Paint (Liquitex)
Embossing Powders (Piccolo, Ranger)
Glitter (Doodlebug)
Moss (my stash)


Mistakes and Hot Messes are Okay!

Have you ever had this great, fantastic, mind blowing vision in your head and then you start to work your magic.  You start to see your vision come to fruition through your fingertips.  You find your groove.  You are totally jivin’ and feelin’ it come to life.  Then, the moment of realization occurs.  You take a step back, tilt your head, look at your completed “vision” and think, “What the hell have I just done??!!”  Don’t lie.  We’ve all done it.  We’ve all had these great ideas but something happens during the process and a disconnect sets in and once it’s completed, you end up with a hot mess that you can’t believe just flowed through your hands and all you can say is, “WTF?”

I’ve had them many times and as luck would have it, I just finished one right on the heels of making it onto one of the hottest mixed media teams around.  Yep.  My project can only be titled as, “WTF happened??!!”

Behold!  The hot mess that can only be described using the words of a very good friend of mine, Jess, “Oh damn!  A whole lot of work for it to look like a snow cone!” hat.
FailHat4-3Aaaaah.  Just look at that in all it’s Easter gone tweaker glory!  Flowers, flowers, wings, and color.  Just an explosion of “Oh my gaud(y)!” all over the place.

Because what every hot mess needs to make it look even more chaotic is GLITTER!  Loads and loads of glitter makes everything exponentially……worse.
FailHat2-1If you EVER feel the need to play “mad scientist” with your sprays, DON’T!  You end up with this psychedelic trip gone horribly wrong in the end.  JUST DON’T DO IT!  And no matter what, a very prettily embossed Relic will not “make it all better.”
FailHat1-1Not sure if you can tell in the photo, but why not highlight the mind altering “WTH” with some…..LED lights!  Because every train wreck of a project should be lit the heck up so all can see and wonder whether you were drunk or unconscious when you put this together.
FailHat3-1I can’t tell you where or when the vision in my mind turned into a snow cone on acid, but I will say this.  MISTAKES ARE OKAY!  Not every project is going to be awesome and beautiful.  But in those mistakes and visions gone horribly wrong is where we learn, grow, and hopefully find some humor.  Every single person who creates, no matter if they are on a design team or not, has at least one project in their closet where they look at it and all they can do is shake their head and toss back a shot of vodka.  This one is mine.  Enjoy and salud!


Rock Star Ambassador with Sandra Evertson

Good morning and what a good morning it is indeed!  I have been holding on to this news for about a week now but I can finally shout it from the rooftops.  I am joining the outstanding Rock Star team over at Relics & Artifacts!
1460252055805-3I never in a million years would’ve thought that I would be part of such an outstanding group of talented artists.  I love these products and truly believe that no matter the artist’s skill level, they will open up a whole new world of creativity for anyone who plays with them.  I look forward to sharing this creative adventure with all of you and hope that you will join me and my fellow Relic & Artifacts Ambassadors for what is sure to be an inspiring journey.


Autism Awareness Day: Bright Ideas!

Today is National Autism Awareness Day.  To commemorate ASD awareness, every year the team at Ribbon Resource hosts a blog hop exhibiting projects; some are functional and others are to bring focus and awareness.  This year, the line up does not disappoint.

My project is dedicated to two women I know who are strong, resilient, and have children with ASD.  Bethney (the Ribbon Lady herself) and Carrie, who I was in the Marine Corps with.  Both of these moms have made no secret about the struggles they have faced with special needs children, especially with the needs of an ASD child.  These are women who I admire.
I decided to use a light bulb and fancy a hot air balloon out of it.  
You recognize the iconic puzzle pieces and of course the color blue.  For the sensory aspect, I went with soft, flowy feathers and rough glittery spirals.
To catch the visual senses, blingin’ rhinestones and gold paint are surefire eye catchers.
The puzzle pieces are painted with the Verday Paint system.  There is a puzzle piece at each joining of the pearlized beads, which plays more to the tactile senses.
A Sandra Evertson’s Relics & Artifacts piece adds as the focal point with layers of color and depth.  The wired pearls just adds to the whimsy of my light bulb and just seemed like a perfectly playful addition.
Bethney and Carrie, if you read this, know that you are amazing women and the best mom’s your kids could have.  Your strength and love shows through their strength and love.  I admire you for the grace and love that got you through the challenges you have faced every day.  I light up blue for Makayla and Michael.
With Love,
Supplies Used:
Relics & Artifacts “Regalis” Set (Retro Cafe Art, Sandra Evertson)
Verday Paint System (Retro Cafe Art, Sandra Evertson)
PearlEx Mica Powder
Liquitex Gel Medium
Light Bulb (local hardware store)
Filigree Piece (my stash)
Puzzle Pieces (my stash)
Gold Accent Paint (Tulip Brand)