shastablasta wraps presents well

Apr 16

Peeps poppies, paper, and pink

Easter time is peeps time. My latest Peeps project is live on my blog. Enjoy!

Apr 02


Today I’m headed to Craftcation and taking some newly letterpressed business cards with me. Or should I say callingrams? Each one has an image from my Instagram feed.

I came across this fun sticker product from Social Print Studio and was inspired to design something with them. My other cards don’t have my social media contacts on them so it was the perfect project to incorporate these little stickers with my photos. Plus I do love to make labor intensive cards.

These stickers are so fun and I’m already finding other things to use them for. Each order has two booklets for $10 but I would recommend getting two orders because the shipping is $7. They’re printed in Taiwan but that shipping rate does make them arrive speedily. Mine arrived just 3 days after I ordered. I was super impressed. I do with they had other slightly larger sticker sizes. I’m sure I’d find many more projects to create with them. 

Mar 27

Wrap a t-shirt like a sandwich

T-shirts can be an odd thing to wrap. You could put it in a box or you could wrap it like a sandwich!

Bonus points if you can get paper from a favorite sandwich shop.

Mar 19

Don’t forget the pets

There are a lot of friends in my life welcoming new little humans into their families for the first time. Many of them have pets so when attending baby showers I’ve been including an extra gift for the furry friends. I figure some extra love in the form of treats and toys is helpful because they might perceive the new bundle of joy a little differently than their owners. 

I have plenty of handmade cat toy options in my Etsy store but I’ve had a hard time thinking of a handmade gift for pups. Handcrafted and dog has never sounded too durable to me. But in thinking of dog gifts there is one that can be hand gathered. Sticks!

If your neighborhood is lacking in sticks there’s always the classic tennis ball. Bonus if you’ve got some doggy paper for this super simple wrap.

So I encourage you when gifting parents to be; please don’t forget the pets!

Mar 12

Baking my first loaf of bread with The River Cottage Bread Handbook

You’re in the right place. I have not turned into a food blogger. Baking bread is very much a handmade activity so I’m sharing my experience baking my first loaf of bread. I only wish I had gotten a photo of my sticky fingers. 

The River Cottage Bread Handbook by Daniel Stevens was published in 2010 and I’ve owned it for almost a year. It’s true I’m just now getting to baking bread from it’s pages but the first weekend I owned the book I was fully engrossed and read it cover to cover as much as one can read a recipe book cover to cover. The book is a nice size and kind of feels like you’re reading a loaf of bread. There is actually 70 pages of content before you even get to a recipe. 

The book is dense with information revealing the wonders of gluten, details of various ingredients, the differences between mass-produced bread vs. handmade bread (spoiler alert, the later is easier to digest), photos of step-by-step bread making, and tools including a section for making your own brick oven. You can get real deep with your bread making. So, you can see, conceptually I’ve known how to bake bread for a while. I didn’t want to ruin the mystic that I could bake a nice loaf by actually, you know, baking a loaf of bread.

A week ago a friend gave me a sour dough starter that he harvested from the neighborhood air of Bernal Heights, San Francisco. Since I now have a pet yeast called Thing Dos, taken from it’s originator named Mother Sues it was time for me to learn to bake bread. 

I decided to hold off on baking sourdough until my Thing Dos starter is a bit more mature. Perhaps when it’s old enough to read R.L. Stine I’ll bake sourdough. 

The basic bread recipe in the handbook includes the option to add some starter so I did include it along with dry active yeast. An important note about this book is that while The River Cottage is of British origin there is a U.S. printing of the book which has standard U.S. measurements and temperatures in Fahrenheit.

I’ll be experimenting more with bread making. I’ll be trying out the variations that can be made using the basic bread recipe, different flours, add-ins like nuts. Most importantly I’ll be more patient. This first loaf I only allowed to rise once (twice including the proofing stage). I’d like to see the results of multiple rises. Rainy spring days will be perfect for this activity if California doesn’t skip over them to full blown summer drought.

The book definitely instills the confidence that anyone can make bread. I may go slowly into this bread adventure but I know the handbook will be a guiding resource to successful bread making. 

Mar 05

What is this Zentangle you speak of?

You’ve probably seen some Zentangle sneaking into some of my blog posts and fairly often on my Instagram. I haven’t given much explanation about it but I am doing so now. In my own words, at it’s simplest, Zentangle is a mindful drawing practice using pre-determined patterns for infinite artful outcomes. When I first introduced it to a friend she called it doodling with structure. This is true and at first glance it may seem that way. It can be much more.

Many creatives deep in a project have the experience of the world receding and find themselves in the moment of making. A meditative state. The creators of Zentangle wanted to provide that gift to anyone who had the desire to lose themselves in the same way. Pre-designed patterns can provide that gateway. 

For an explanation in the words of the Zentangle creators go here.

Honestly when Zentangle first came into my life I was a bit skeptical. I was thinking “Well I’m pretty creative. I don’t need a crutch to make stuff”. But it was my mom who introduced me to Zentangle so I wanted to keep an open mind. Shortly after she retired from teaching she became a Certified Zentangle Teacher and started a business with a fellow retired colleague. I had a direct resource when I finally decided to explore it.

The catalyst for breaking into the kit my mom had given me for Christmas 2012 was the calligraphy class I knew I’d be taking (spring 2013). I wanted to practice doing things slow and steady with a pen. I’ve never been huge into drawing for drawings sake so I knew I’d need to practice being slow. I was correct. As I learned calligraphy I found you have to write much slower than your mind thinks. I used Zentangle as the warm up to calligraphy and it found its own spot in my creative routines. I know it’s March of 2014 but I’m officially naming 2013 my personal year of the pen when Zentangle and calligraphy practices started in my life.

I’ve found I’m most happiest in this world when I consistently have something I’m making. Sometimes there’s not enough time to start a new project. Other times projects need a break but the desire to make is still there. Zentangle is perfect for those windows. At the end of the day if I’m craving to work with my hands I sit in bed and work on a tile.

As I mentioned earlier in this post Zentangle has popped up on my blog as hearts for Valentines Day, gift wrap for a friend, mail art, and crafts in Australia. 

Favorite Resources
The Zentangle Website and blog
I can lose time looking at this book.
Starter Kit (If you take a class you’re provided a smaller starter kit with tiles and pens).
Curious about classes? Find a Certified Zentangle Teacher near you.
If you’re reading this and you live in Northern California (Butte and Yuba Counties) take a class from my mom!

Feb 25

From my crafting bookshelf: Paper to Petal

Paper to Petal is a gorgeous book. I can easily lose time looking at all the details in each spread. More than being beautiful it is a recipe book for crafting paper flowers. Rebecca Thuss and Patrick Farrell have meticulously laid out instructions complete with every last material needed for each flower they’ve shown in the book. This is why I say it’s a recipe book. With all cook books that come into my life I look at the recipes for inspiration and then use the ingredients I have on hand. Using this book was no different.

The magenta flowers are based off the books Five-Petal Sweeties and the bigger blooms were my own exploration based on techniques from the book.

Paper flowers are of course a perfect thing to adorn gifts like the one below. That special wrapping was for a baby shower gift. The flowers used techniques from the Rainbow Ruffle book instructions, just with a bit less ruffle. 

There are some other pertinent details about the book. It is Martha approved complete with a lovely forward by Stewart. The back of the book contains petal templates that you can trace or photo copy as well as an extensive list of resources. It is a book I know I’ll use for many years. 

Feb 19

Double exposure. Goodbye Fuji B&W.

The last few months I’ve been rediscovering my Polaroid Land Camera so it was sad news in November for Polaroid enthusiasts when Fuji Film announced the unfortunate news it would stop making the black and white FP-3000b film that still works in these cameras. There was a petition put into motion but alas it did not work. 

At the top of my Christmas List was the B&W Fuji Film. I’m happy to say I’ve now got a shelf of film in my fridge. As the petition points out the color film could be at the same discontinuation risk in the future. To do my part in keeping these fun toys around I’ll be shooting more Polaroids and buying more color film. These are the last few months that the B&W film will be somewhat available in photo stores. I will be stock piling.

In hopes of the impossible you can let your voice be heard by asking The Impossible Project to pick up were Fuji has failed Polaroid enthusiasts. 

And now for some pictures. I shot these double exposures on a recent Dillon Beach getaway with friends. It’s a fun pre-photoshop trick to play with.

Feb 12

Zentangle hearts

Tis the season for hearts and more hearts. I drew on these hearts using zentangle techniques. I used left over hearts from this years Halloween costume crafting. Do they look familiar?

An obvious mash-up was to use some hearts from last weeks marbling post.

Feb 05

Marbled hearts

A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to take a tutorial in marbling from Lynsey Ayala hosted by The Ladybones Print Collective. Check out some of Lynsey’s amazing marbling work.

I used a lot of pinks and purples in my prints as I figured the papers would be fun for making valentines.

Paper hearts are the simplest valentines to make even if you don’t marble your own paper. In grade school we cut them out of red construction paper. Step it up a notch and cut them out of a fine art patterned paper often easily found at art supply stores. You may even find some marbled papers. I suggest getting something heavy weight or plan to adhere to a card stock. Cut into a heart shape and voila, you have an easy Valentine. If you want to get a little DIY you can brush some water colors over a thick piece of paper to cut your hearts from.

As for the marbling I do not have a tutorial but I’ll let you know the basics. Marbling itself is a simpler concept than I expected. It’s mostly about preparation.

Set up: Prepare a shallow vat of water with Carrageen called size. In the workshop I took this was also referred to as gelled water. The vat can be as simple as a large tubber ware container. Pre-treat paper or cloth with Alum to receive the marbling. Do the first two things the day before. On marbling day mix acrylic paints with water to have the consistency of milk.

Marbling: Drizzle your paint on the waters surface and the fun begins. Using various combs and sticks you can pull the paint to make your desired patterns. Lay a piece of treated paper on your pattern. Pull up and blot off or rinse the excess liquid. Whatever was on the surface of the vat will transfer to your paper.

Here’s a link with more thorough specifics.

Below is a gallery of some of the process along with papers and fabric I printed. 

Lastly if you’d like to see my first super amateur Instagram videos relating to this I’ve got a couple here and here. 

Jan 29

Shastablasta upside down. Part 2: some photos

Oops, I forgot to push my latest blog post to tumblr. Click on over to see photos and notes from my Australian vacation.

Jan 22

Shastablasta upside down. Part 1: beach crafts

My first two weeks of 2014 were spent on the other side of the world playing in Australia. I was in Sydney, Bondi (pronounced Bond-EYE which was my home base), the Blue Mountains, Melbourne, and then some more Sydney and Bondi. 

My memories are glowing. For the record it smells great there. Food is fresh and tastes of summer. Bird sounds are slightly different than California. Louder. Bigger insects. And I think I came back a fan of humidity. I’ll have more pictures to share next week. I’m sifting through them and still pouring sand out of my luggage. For a glimpse into my trip I posted throughout on Instagram using the hash tag #shastablastaupsidedown.

While I was on vacation my creative brain got a much needed break. It’s slowly coming back to me. It had been taxed from holiday crafts. In Australia my senses were overwhelmed by everything I was seeing and doing that there wasn’t a lot of room for making. Inevitably some of my crafting spirit came out and I’m sharing those few items here this week.

I packed with me a box of stamps and ink pads. For my birthday this past year I was gifted a stamp carving kit from Yellow Owl Workshop. This seemed like a great time to use it and was my first experience printing from something I’d carved. My grand plan was to buy postcards on my trip and stamp out Happy New Year sentiments on the picture side of the postcard.

Well I learned a lot with this project as it didn’t go as planned. I hadn’t fully tested things before leaving and it hadn’t occurred to me how the stamps would react on high gloss paper. The 2014 stamp was unreadable so I abandoned it for a back-up stamp I’d brought. But I also hadn’t accounted for humidity. Over a week later and the ink never dried.

Ultimately I stamped on the less glossy writing side of the card. I’d love to do this project again when I travel now that I’ve learned a few lessons. It’s an easy way to be able to send a lot of cards as it can be hard to find writing time when having new adventures. Next time I’d have a stamp made instead of carving my own only because the pro-grade stamps can handle more variables. Carving stamps was fun and I’d totally do that again just not for this exact project.

Of course a trip to the beach isn’t complete without collecting some craft supplies. I actually didn’t see to many shells until we had a picnic on Queens Beach along the Sydney Harbor. 

On my last full day I sat on the Grassy Knoll at Bondi Beach and  Zentangled this cardboard boom box. I gifted it to my wonderful host and tour guide. I took breaks to jump in the ocean as it was one of the warmest days of my visit.

More to share next week…

Jan 15

Toy toppers

I’ve been away on vacation and away from blogging for the past few weeks. Next week I’ll be sharing some about my trip to Australia. In the mean time I didn’t want to stay too silent on my blog so I’m showing a collection of wrappings topped with little toys.

These wrappings are fairly kid oriented but toy toppers can work for adults as well. I love giving out finger puppets because everyone has a favorite animal that makes them smile. A former roommate of mine got me into decorating house plants with them. Just stick them on the end of a chopstick in the pot. Post holiday sales are a great time to find deals on novel little trinkets you can use to make a gift extra special.

Dec 23

Wrapping with Wrap magazine

The tagline says it best. Wrap is a magazine celebrating illustration, design and creative culture. It hails from the UK and I’ve had a subscription for a year as well as buying a few back issues. When I tell people I’ve found a gift wrap magazine I think they picture a glossy version of my gift wrap blog posts. It is definitely not that. The wrapping paper is a unique bonus because this magazine is for anyone who loves art, illustration, and the stories behind it. It is truly international.

Wrap comes with 5 sheets of double sided wrap. Some wrap illustrations use repeat patterns but most feature an illustration varying it’s depiction from corner to corner. I have truly had a hard time tearing out these beautiful sheets and deciding which portion of the wrap to feature on my gifts. Until this holiday season I’d only wrapped with it once.

The above wrap features two illustrations from the Winter 2012 issue. Two sides of the same piece of paper. The illustrated scene on the spinning box is by Bjørn Rune Lie. The wrap on the right is by Petra Börner using paper cuttings. This issues theme was the deep cold of winter so they commissioned Nordic artists who know the cold well.

One of the smartest things Wrap does is repeat the illustrations on the pull out wrap inside the magazine. So even when you’ve wrapped a gift you can still look back on the artistry.

These wraps are from the latest Winter 2013 issue. There theme was the telling of tales. Ten illustrators recreated a well known folk tale heralding from their home country. On the left Polish illustrator Pawet Milder recreates the story 'You Will Go Astray, Like a Killer'. On the right Leslie Wood recreates a winter edition of the American tale of 'Sticks and Stones'. Both wraps are from different sides of the same paper.

If you’d like to subscribe or just buy some gift wrap you can do so right here. I highly recommend it. This magazine is made with extreme care and all of my issues have been accompanied by hand written notes.

Dec 19

Wrapping small and special

The saying goes ‘good things come in the small packages’. I’m sharing here some easy ways to wrap some small things in a special way.

First up is surprise balls! Do you have any fond memories of surprise balls from childhood? I think I only got one once but I loved it. I was reminded of them last year when HonestlyWTF posted a nice tutorial for making them. They stood out to me as being a great way to wrap something small and special. I’ve created a little unravelling animation to show the fun.

These are easy to make though they do take a little time. This is a good activity to do while watching your favorite Christmas movie. Little flat-ish things work well to include in the crepe paper layers. The list is endless. Some ideas are; stickers, fortunes, hand written notes, confetti, jingle bells, or money (who doesn’t like finding a surprise dollar in their pocket).

I could see these as being a good way to wrap a special piece of jewelry, new car keys, or an engagement ring. I wrapped a ring for my mom last year this way. The ring had a cat on it so I even included some catnip as one of the elements which revealed itself from the layers of crepe.

Many cards come wrapped in a cellophane sleeve. You can use that as a keeper of a special gift when you add confetti. Wrap the gift first in some tissue to help distribute the weight and keep your item from falling through the confetti to the bottom of the bag. I make my confetti with multi-blade scissors. They’re actually being sold at Target right now in the mens department. Marketed as a personal shredder in the “Gifts for him under $20” display. Here’s a different pair. I sealed my confetti filled present with washi tape of course.

You don’t need holiday specific paper to wrap something special. Pair some metallic pipe cleaners or ribbon with neutral wrap to make it feel festive.