Ampersand Art, Urban Adventure, and A Sunny Valentine

It’s been a little quiet around Pinned & Penned the last week; however, quite a bit has been happening behind the scenes!  I’ve been encountering some new art and music, which I am excited to showcase here soon, and whipping up some colorful cards.  As a result, I am facing a bit of an inspiration pile-up! I’d hoped to write this post before Valentine’s Day, but anytime is a good time to spread the love, right?

If you couldn’t tell, CASology really inspired me the previous week with their AND challenge.  Since then, everywhere I look, I seem to be encountering ampersands!  Today, we ventured to the Bellevue Arts Museum and I saw this sculpture, “Linkage, 2005” by Gyongy Laky:

Linkage, 2005; Manzanita, red ink

She incorporates materials from the natural world into much of her symbolic work, and according to her website, “As an environmentalist, her work often employs materials harvested from nature and agricultural sources with some recycled elements incorporated.  She is attracted to humble materials and simple, direct methods of hand construction that she associates with basic, grass roots, human ingenuity about making things.  Laky has been a strong advocate for the establishment of an environmental sustainability curriculum in design and art at UCD.  Other themes of her sculptures and site-specific works touch upon various issues including gender-equity and her opposition to the war in Iraq.”

Here is another ampersand of hers:


In downtown Seattle, one of the most famous ampersands can be seen at Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park, which sits along the shore of Puget Sound, overlooking the Olympic Mountains.  It is a delightful place for an urban walk or run, and when I was teaching at a nearby high school, I often brought my creative writing class here for some visual inspiration and exercise, especially in those waning days of the school year when classroom confinement became a struggle!

Aside from Alexander Calder’s “The Eagle”, Roy McMakin’s “Love & Loss” is one of the more visible icons of the park from afar.  The neon red ampersand lights up the sky and can be seen rotating from West Seattle across Elliott Bay.

Roy McMakin, Love & Loss; Photo by Waymarking

Upon closer inspection, one notices that there is more to the installation than the ampersand.  Steps, seating and a table spell out LOVE and LOSS, as seen below.

Looking over the Puget Sound toward West Seattle and the Olympics. Photo by NYC Tom.

If you live in the greater Seattle area and haven’t made it to this park, or are traveling from afar, I recommend the following urban adventure on your way there.  This happened to be how we spent our Valentine’s Day!

1. Grab a coffee at Seattle Coffee Works, just outside the main entrance to Pike Place Market, and next door to the Green Tortoise Hostel.  Here you will find amazing, seasonal single origin coffees.  If you have time, enjoy your coffee prepared at the slow bar through a variety of extraction methods: Siphon, Chemex, Aeropress, Hario, or French press.

2. Sip your coffee as you make your way through the Pike Place Market and down Western Ave., toward the Olympic Sculpture Park.  On your way through the market, make sure to check out Lamplight Books and Left Bank Books, if you are in need of a good read;  Moon Valley Organics for some nourishing body products in gorgeous packaging; Fini, if you’d like some new jewelry or trendy accessories; and White Horse Trading Co. if you’re craving a quiet corner to read and sip a beer.  These are just some of my frequented spots in the Market!

2. Hungry?  There are so many choices, but I want to highlight one of my favorites. Before or after your walk around the market and park, stop at Le Pichet, a fabulous French restaurant just up the hill from the Market, for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Consistent and authentic, a dining experience here transports you to a bistro in Paris tout suite. I dream of their rillettes de porc. Make sure to get a box of their homemade caramels before you head out the door!

3.  Don’t forget the flowers!  We picked some delicious tulips on Valentine’s Day after our equally delicious brunch at Le Pichet:

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Early tulips from Pike Place Market to bring some spring into the house! The gorgeous vase was a birthday present.

Well, I certainly hope your Valentine’s Day was as replete with delicious delights, colorful experiences, and love as ours was!

To honor my sweetheart, I created a somewhat non-traditional color-burst Valentine, inspired by the current CASE Study challenge.


Aside from the delightful Danielle Flanders’ card above, the design team and guest designers have whipped up some jaw-dropping work that screams spring happy!  Like these beauties from Chupa and May Park that I can’t stop looking at:

So here is my contribution:

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I absolutely love the Hero Arts floral die for its beauty and versatility.  I inlaid the various colored pieces into my “rising sun”.

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The sentiments are from Papertrey Ink’s Movers and Shakers series.

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I cannot get enough of this aquamarine blue lately; it is absolutely divine with the orange and yellow.  Paper Source provided the envelope; the orange and yellow cardstock is from Amuse Studio, white linen paper is from Ellen Hutson, and patterned paper is from October Afternoon.

In closing, I will leave you with two of my favorite ampersand cards from the CASology challenge.  These ladies have some awesome talent and provide me with eye candy on a regular basis, as well as some sweet comments and camaraderie in this crafting world of ours.

I hope you found some aesthetic and gustatory inspiration in today’s post!  Let me know; I love hearing from you!  And if you, or someone you know, happen to be visiting Seattle any time soon, drop me a line and I would be happy to help you with your urban adventures.

I will return tomorrow with my other entry to CASE Study’s challenge and some paper art that may make you faint!

Bonne nuit et bisous!

Craft Worthy Redux and Creative Challenges

This evening as we walked into the deserted streets of a quaint Seattle neighborhood, the sky lit up with fireworks and exploded with cheers from every bright highrise, home, and bar.  I imagined for a moment that they were all celebrating my entry into a new decade, and it made for a rousing end to a lovely day.  Of course, in reality, the swell of voices and flashes of fire followed the final moments of a Superbowl that seemed to rally an entire city, even the least likely of fans.

While it was frustrating to find store after store closed or closing early, and a favorite restaurant where we’d planned to have my birthday dinner shuttered for the game, it was hard not to get just a little caught up in the momentary excitement.  Perhaps it was the  energy of the 12th man (and woman and child) that emboldened the Seahawks.  It certainly seemed the Broncos never had a chance.  So the sun smiled on Seattle today, a good omen for the game, and more importantly, a good omen for my new year, I hope!

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On Alki Beach
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Low tide facing west; the kind of blue you want to dive into!

So in my previous post about the creative journey, I discussed the concept of letting a piece “get cold”. I really need to do this more with my work.  There is an urgency in the virtual world, or more so an urgency prompted in one’s self by the virtual world, that can get in the way of the creative process.

After I created this card, I kept looking at it and thinking something was missing…

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I decided the embroidery hoop was just too empty; it didn’t look or feel right.  So I took a deep breath and filled the circle!

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Better?  I think so.  And while I am being a bit hyperbolic about taking a deep breath (it’s not like I couldn’t distress ink another panel and re-stamp!), this is one aspect of working with visual media that has always scared me–the lack of control one has over a piece.  Painting, creating mixed media, there is always that possibility of going one step too far, setting down the ink or paint, or adding some element to a nearly finished product that could “ruin” the whole thing.  When I think back to art classes in my youth, I felt the same way–unsure about the next step, over-thinking or under-trusting my decisions.  And certainly there are those opposite moments where the happy accident occurs.

But it’s not the same with writing.  There is so much more control.  Put down a word, delete, leave it, write on, come back–no matter.  The written work is malleable.  And it is certainly much more comfortable if not necessarily easier for me to execute.  I will likely be back to tinker with this entry at some point…

So the discomfort and moments of wonderment (Oh, I could have done it that way?!) will continue to accompany me on this journey as a paper crafter.  And in all honesty, I am enjoying the challenge.

Speaking of challenges, I finalized one more card for the Purple challenge over at CASology.  I used the window screen technique a la Make-it-Monday for this card as well.  It is my homage to the month of May, lilacs, and Mother’s Day!

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The cover plate is from Lil’ Inkers.  I love this die.  The vine flourish is Spellbinders.  Lilacs and sentiment are from WPlus9 Fresh Florals, stamped with pigment inks.  The banner is from a great Spellbinders set of 4 ribbon banners.

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The back was finished off with some washi– it looks more yellowed in the photograph, but it is closer in color to the green paper on the card’s front.

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And speaking of florals, I dropped into the exquisite Drygoods Design in Ballard today.  I adore this store; they have a wonderful selection of fabrics, cards, notions and the owner is just as nice as can be.  Look at these Liberty of London fabrics–I am still drooling over the red in the floral pattern on the right.

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The store is attached to Anchored Ship Coffee, a darling bright spot to sip in the western sun and think about fabric…

Photo by Leona Lane
Storefront. Photo by Yelp.
Facing upstairs to Drygood Designs.
Facing upstairs to Drygood Designs. Photo by Leona Lane

I couldn’t leave empty handed, of course!  So I bought this delightful fabric:

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It’s called “Cat’s Dream” by Andover Fabrics–notice the balloons?  Purrfect birthday fabric for a crazy cat lady, no?

Oh, and Andover Fabrics is the company responsible for the new line of Downton Abbey fabrics inspired by Lady Mary, Edith, Sybil, and the Dowager Countess!  Read all about it here!

Speaking of Downton, I am off to see if the latest episode is ready to watch online.

Keep calm and craft on you crazy cats…

Happy New Year! Fun Cards to Ring in 2014

2014 is here and Pinned & Penned is back!


I took a bit of an online hiatus–longer than anticipated!  However, I have been quite busy paper and fabric crafting over the last 3 weeks and am excited to share some of my latest creations!

Some New Year’s are full of glitz, other are quiet times of solitary reflection.  This year, I planned on the former, but experienced the latter, which was actually just what I needed, in the end.  My double, however, celebrated in style donning the very outfit I had planned to wear!  (The dress form is a much appreciated Christmas present!)

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Having taken almost a week off work, I’ve been able to lose myself in creative projects and enjoy the flow without worry of time & place demands.  I hope, my fellow crafters, you have experienced some of this as well!   I had hoped to greet everyone with these cards yesterday, but I just couldn’t pull myself away from the craft table (and floor, and desk….)!

So without further ado, let us bid adieu to 2013!

The above image (and card below), was a sketch I had hanging on my idea board for two months, but never made into a holiday card!  I have more of these sketches on my idea board and holiday stamps that DIDN’T make it into cards than I wish to mention!!  Did this happen to anyone else??

So I pulled it down, added some Thickers, and voila, a sparkly New Years greeting.  The sentiment is from Amuse Studio’s “Hello December” set; the ornaments are from Penny Black, I believe, and they were stamped in Tuxedo Black ink, colored with Copics, and filled in with Glossy Accents and silver Stickles.


Next up: City Scene


Using my Seattle skyline die and some Basic Grey New Year’s Stamps, I had fun creating some simple, color & shape driven cards.  I created this card before I received my shipment of new Papertrey Ink products.  Once I did, this was the result:


Using Papertrey’s Movers and Shakers die, I was able to create the ball drop I had envisioned with the first card.  I really like the way this die and the gem embellishments create a tuxedo-like image.

5-4-3-2-1 Happy New Year!


The number stamps are from Papertrey Ink’s Movers and Shakers sentiments set, stamped in Brilliance Black and embossed.


The inside uses the same number stamps as well as a sentiment from Paper Smooches.


For the next card, I used a cream and black combo:

It’s a bit difficult to see, but there are some glittery-embossed fireworks behind the Space Needle!


These little cards are headed over to the CAS-ology contest, which is still running until Sunday!  Count on some inspiring work from the ladies of over there!

I hope you have a movin’ and shakin’ New Year!  I am working on being more timely in all my ventures, but alas I have started off 2014 with a backlog of writing and crafting!  Such is the life a creative person, right?

Thanks for stopping by and I look forward to connecting with you in 2014!

Papertrey Ink Tag Challenge: Updated Photos!

Papertrey Ink Holiday Tags


In just under the wire, after a week of feeling under the weather, instead of merry & bright, here are some tags that just aren’t quite representing as in real life; I typically photograph in natural light, which helps, but it’s late & dark now on this autumn night.  My Christmas wish?  A digital camera that will render my work better than this phone!

At any rate, I attempted to rise to the occasion, making 5 tags in just a couple of hours to try out my new shipment of Papertrey Products!  Since I live in Seattle, I used my Seattle city skyline die for the background in each.  All stamping is from Papertrey Ink sets, as are the framed tags.  The wine/beer bottle tag is from My Favorite Things.  I will be back to revise this entry for photo quality and details, but for now, I must link this up before the clock ticks down!  Thanks for viewing!

Click on any image for larger viewing!  Despite new images that were taken with better lighting and higher resolution than initial uploads, they still aren’t representing as well.










You can check out my current Papertrey Ink creations here, as well!