Posted in Paper Crafts, Paper Flowers

Growing my flower garden

I have been busy growing my paper flower garden for months now.  I have to admit that I often “get lost” in the midst of drawing and cutting and assembling my pieced paper flowers.  I would tell myself I will sketch one sheet and I end up doing three.  I cut one piece off and I just have to cut up everything drawn on it.

My Paper Flower Garden Series
Why do I draw these flowers anyway… it’s not so much a question as a statement.  I find it very relaxing and it helps me to unwind.  At the same time, it fulfills a need to create and do something artistic even if I have always considered myself a crafter and not an artist.  I kept drawing not knowing what use I would have for these flowers exactly.  While I had started drawing them for my Thank You Postcard project which has not really gotten off the ground, I have kept on going and I’m still drawing.

Each piece is hand drawn on a copy of a background I had once created through watercolor or acrylic paint.  There are sheets of paper towels I had used as catch cloth for ink spray projects, or sheets I had used to wipe off my work surface.  Even those have come in handy and very useful.  The randomness of the way the colors got layered and settled next to each other have always been a source of wonder for me.  And then mixing up the papers through the various layers I pull together gives me a new creation each time.  Forget that the strokes and shapes I draw are the same.  The randomness of which layer goes with the next makes for a unique flower each time.

I would carefully fill empty spaces with dots of swirls and spirals to form the stamen of the flower, or that central dot from which all the petals and layers emanate from.  I just can’t stop drawing more of them in the spaces between, and every time I cut them up I end up making new sheets of flowers and so on and so on.

I have marveled at how the flower itself has gained volume even when the sheets are 2d and really one dimensional.  I guess it’s the way the flowers are sketched, or just the way I draw them.  I had gone on and on, drawing with no particular use in mind for these, until an idea hit me just a few days ago.

Blank cards.  Greeting cards.  In two sizes, possibly three.  Gift tags.

You purchase an original work each time you buy one of these.  They are not printed in multiples.  Each layer of each flower is drawn individually, cut and pasted onto the next layer.  Developing these designs has been a continuing learning process for me.  I have seen my first attempts grow into something more fluid and more naturally drawn.  While variations have been difficult to come up with, they are slowly but surely finding their way into the designs.  One at a time.

Posted in Just me thinking online, Paper Crafts, Paper Embellishments, Paper Flowers, Sewing

Craft bits

Please note that this post has links which will open in another window to help you find the products that I use and endorse.  GothamChick might earn a commission if you decide to purchase any of these products.

I was cleaning up my desk at work (because yes, I do have a day job!) when I stumbled upon some craft projects I chose to do over a period of time, but which I had set aside for later.  Okay, I confess, I sort of forgot about them.  They’re the long term projects which were really more about stocking up for something bigger rather than being the project itself.  Like my pressed rose petals.

I had forgotten about my #PaperGarden of #doodledflowers until I stumbled upon them while cleaning up the other day. These #flowers are perfect for #spring #papercrafts. #crafts #craftproject #creating #personalart #embellishments #gothamhicksays #gothMy Paper Flower Garden.  Two years ago, I had thought to start a postcard project that would have meant sending out hand made postcards.  I am still seriously considering redoing this but there are a lot of things in the way.  I had created backgrounds or “blanks” to work on which had been piled together.  Part of the design were this doodled flowers which I have a ton of, both at work and at home– a bunch of colorful layered and doodled flowers I need to cut and draw further.  I am almost afraid to pick up a pen and start drawing again or even a pair of scissors to cut the ones that need cutting.I had found the whole exercise very calming way back when and I long for the repetitive and no-pressure doodling.  Then I remembered, I had cards to make which maybe I will make using these as embellishments.  That’s a new purpose for a project I had started with different intentions.

The only thing is that’s can get deeply engrossed and distracted by the project when I’m into it, but I’m trying to use my time wisely.

Bag idea book. I have always loved bags and a current interest is making fabric clutches.  I actually joined the sewing class at Mood University hoping to be able to sew one together using an electric sewing machine.  The idea has been brewing in my head for almost a year now but has been slow getting to fruition.  I stumbled upon a year old edition of Harper’s Bazaar (click here to subscribe) which was almost half riddled with bag ads.  I had actually started tearing off the pages when I realized that the whole magazine was seemingly dedicated to bags.  So I cut the pages clean with a xacto knife and put them aside to ringbind as a glossy idea bag of sorts.

The idea is to make this a notebook of sorts.  I haven’t quite gotten past the first few pages and am still trying to write around the blank spaces in the ads.  I have always found it helpful to have my ideas in writing.  It might and it might not work.  I might yet transfer selected clipped images into a real notebook in the end, but it’s something I’m working on.

Finally, my first attempt at a purse!  This actually came from a failed attempt at wrapping a plastic canvas “mold” with fabric and fleece interfacing.  It didn’t quite work, so I started to undo it and I was left with a cut piece of fabric with interfacing I couldn’t remove.  In the midst of experimenting and fiddling with my sewing machine (which is pictured on the left), I decided I would try to work on creating a mock purse, or a model, or prototype and just see if I can work this contraption the way I want to.  And voila!  It did work… but that’s another post altogether.

So I’ve been trying to do my own bit of crafting the last couple of weeks, but as always, there just aren’t enough hours in a day to do as much as I would want.  The sewing classes in Mood Fabrics have helped me to refocus on crafting and have sparked a new interest in exploring other channels of creativity. I try to do it a day at a time.  Like trying to keep this corner of my web presence going.. baby steps, I say.


Posted in Crafts, Handmade Embellishments, Paper Crafts, The Thank You Postcard Project

In the middle of projects

I’ve been trying to finish some pieces for the shop but I think I’ve been distracted by a new found interest in metal smithing — particularly working with hammered wire. It’s been very interesting.  While I had been experimenting with working with my tiny hammer and seeing how the metal wires react given the different gauges, I’ve since progressed to filing open edges which should make it safe to wear.  (You don’t want the sharp edges of the wires scratching your skin.

Hammering wire has a different design effect from just looping the wire or handling it to take this or that shape.  Flat wires can also provide a good base finding for necklaces and maybe bracelets, although I haven’t gotten that far yet.  I’m learning that I have to count the times I hammer a particular area and the direction my hammering moves also affects the shape of the flattened wire.  While I had thought that hammering wire would thin it, it does so in a way but the expansion of the wire in a different direction actually makes it harder and sturdier.

I’m hoping to finish and post a piece or two over the weekend as I am starting to get back into polymer clay.

This time, I’m going beyond simple hand conditioning and actually rolling out the clay in the pasta machine’s thickest setting.  I’m going to “punch out” beads from these.  I’m also trying to create some bead molds.  (One of two – not bad.  The second that didn’t quite work out will become a bead pin cushion when I bake headpins.)

Work in progress: The Thank You Postcard ProjectI’ve also been busy doing postcard backgrounds and flower embellishments for a postcard project in the works.  It’s something that is taking shape very slowly but requires quite a volume of pieces to take off.  I have over a hundred postcard backgrounds and maybe almost a hundred flower embellishments for starters, but this projects involves more than just my favorite pieced paper flowers.

I’m gathering my stash of background papers, bought from the store and made from prints and watercolor and other inks.  I am thinking of different ways and means to create, using up gorgeous paper napkins as backgrounds, and gathering other graphics I had created during my short stint with other art for swaps.  I’ll write more about that later.

Meanwhile, time to get back to the wire and the hammer and hopefully get a post or two up at the shop later.

Have a great weekend, everyone!


Posted in Paper Crafts, Tutorial

Doodled Paper Pieced Flowers

Here’s something you can do using colorful scrap paper or magazine pages which I use, and it doesn’t take major artistic talent to pull it off. If you can doodle, then  you can pull this off for handmade cards, scrapbook embellishments or journaling decorations.

The idea is to draw the flower in layers, cutting and pasting them as you go along.  Find a colorful magazine — preferably with big color swatches — not necessarily colorful pictures.


1.  Pick your choice of doodling pen.  I use a black signpen and prefer non-glossy magazine pages.  If your pen works well with glossy pages, that will work.

2.  Take a magazine or colorful paper.  This will also work on scrap patterned/background paper.

3.  You will need a pair of scissors that you are comfortable cutting round corners with.

4.  Glue stick


Paperkrafts: doodled paper pieces flowers  - step by step layering 1Draw your stamen the size of a quarter. This is supposed to be doodling so don’t worry that your circle is not perfect. Cut the circle just outside its outline. I usually leave a teeny-weeny part outside of the drawing when I cut it.

Find your next “color” or swatch of colored background. Apply paste or glue stick to the back of your done piece and paste it onto the “next layer”.

Paperkrafts: doodled paper pieces flowers  - step by step layering 2I do my first row of petals with flourish instead of patterns.  It calls the eye to the middle of the flower and “pulls it together” for me.  I also choose a pattern or shading for the edge of the petals to “define” it and you will see this more clearly with the succeeding layers as the flower is slowly assembled as you go along.

Paperkrafts: doodled paper pieces flowers  - step by step layering 3

The shape of your petals and its size can change as you go along. Do not be afraid to make mistakes because you can always draw over them or “color” over the spaces.  You may choose to “fill in” the petal with patterns, but for this row, I chose to keep it plain because the page was text heavy. I let that be it’s “background” instead of further decorating it with a pattern.

Paperkrafts: doodled paper pieces flowers  - step by step layering 4

Sometimes I get lucky and come across this kind of a vibrant layout in a magazine. I made the petal larger to accommodate a more elaborate doodle of dots and fan-like embellishment, but I didn’t fill in the petal itself.  I also made the scalloped edge more pronounced by fully coloring it in.  If you noticed, I don’t do that for each layer and it makes each layer distinct from the one next to it.

Paperkrafts: doodled paper pieces flowers  - step by step layering 5

As you can see, I did the exact opposite in the next layer and I used a linear pattern within to cover the entire space within. I still did a definite border but did not color it in, but still defined it.

Paperkrafts: doodled paper pieces flowers  - step by step layering 6By the time I got to this layer, I knew it would be the final layer. You can obviously go on and on and on creating layer after layer, but if you’re planning to use this for a card or a two-page altered book layout, then you know you can stop with the previous layer or this one. I had reached the size I desired, so I made the border even more defined.

You choose your colors, your layers and the size of your final product. I like doing this kind of art because it doesn’t require a lot of thinking and you can always correct your mistakes, either by taking apart a layer pasted onto a messed up next layer. (TIP: Apply glue only to the middle of your finished layers so you can move it easily if you need to.)

Like most things, it takes practice, but if you can draw circles and lines, there is no limit to where your imagination can take you.

Paperkrafts: doodled paper pieces flowers  - step by step layering FINAL

I’m currently using a pair for a Mother’s Day entry in my art journal which is still a work in progress. Have fun!
Mother's Day layout

Posted in Paper Crafts, Shops in New York

Craft shopping in New York City: Envelopper

It’s one of those “finds” which is akin to a little girl stumbling into a heretofore unknown candy store and you see all the goodies inside and gawk. Then you stop resisting and decide you MUST go in.

I saw what looked like art related materials for paper crafting, and I couldn’t even see a real sign. It turns out that the name of the store was painted on the farthest window display which I didn’t actually see until I was leaving the area. They’re called Envelopper and have a wide variety of paper stock for cards, stationery and envelopes primarily. But they are more than just a paperie or paper store. Besides providing supplies for the brave and enterprising who would rather do their invitations themselves, they offer a full-range of printing options for those who would like to entrust that to the experts.

NYC: Envelopper - quite the paper store

They also have a wide selection of writing tools (i.e., fountain pens and markers) and inks. On the papercrafting side, they have a whole section devoted to boxes and other such containers, embellishments and a wide assortment of beautiful gifts.
NYC: Envelopper - quite the paper store

They have stickers and journals galore and one thing that I really drew me to stay and linger was that they sold Christian Lacroix Journals.(See the shelf on the right side.)
NYC: Envelopper - quite the paper store
I had first encountered these gorgeous journals at the departure lounge of one of the international terminals of JFK Airport in December, and I couldn’t help but swoon over the gorgeous cover designs and paper inside. They came in different sizes and thicknesses to suit the different tastes of journalers and diary keepers — and I would have snapped one up but I couldn’t make up my mind about which one I would actually grab and the bigger ones were both pricey and heavy. (Do I really want to spend $50 on a journal?)

Journals by Christian Lacroix

They came in different sizes and thicknesses to suit the different tastes of journalers and diary keepers — and I would have snapped one up but I couldn’t make up my mind about which one I would actually grab and the bigger ones were both pricey and heavy. (Do I really want to spend $50 on a journal? Yet they had the smaller journals which were around $20.)

Journals by Christian Lacroix

Pity that I was in the hurry to get back to the office.  I was curious about the various embellishments lining shelves and walls of the front portion of the store.

NYC: Envelopper - quite the paper store

These GelGems are a curious embellishment I’d love to give a try one of these days.  However I was drawn to the postcards and the journals.  Time was runnning out.  I am also very curious about their printable magnet sheets in different shapes and sizes.  Hmmmmm… perfect souvenir for those planning a party or as a DIY project for Moms like me with tons of pictures to share and post.

I managed to grab some fuschia pink card stock and a bunch of ocre envelopes in the appropriate size which were half off.  (Talk about a weird combination) I hope to use the card stock with my Spellbinders Grand Calibur which was been hibernating in its box for quite a while now.  Can’t wait!

I am definitely going back to the Envelopper very soon.  You’ll find them on 45 W 21st Street between 5th and 6th Avenue in the Chelsea/Gramercy/Flat Iron area.

Posted in Artist Trading Cards, Paper Crafts

Work in progress: My second serendipity background

My Serendipity Background - First Three Layers

Like my first serendipity background, I used torn newspaper to form the base collage of the sheet.  I then sprayed some ink on a plastic surface and dabbed and pressed the collage onto the mat of colors.  I sprayed the areas that didn’t get saturated to “even out” the composition.

I try not to muddle my serendipity background too much, and at the end of the day try not to further embellish it beyond what has been put on it.  Towards the end, I tend to put down layers more deliberately forming a design that would be Artist Trading Card size or ATC-size friendly.  (2.5″ x 3.5″)

Although it should be done on a traditional 12×12 scrapbook page, I did this one on a repurposed manila folder that was letter size.  I wanted more “room” and I ended up cutting more than the usual 12.  After the ink dried, I painted on a layer of modpodge.

Serendipity Background 2 - Halfway through

I love using pressed flowers in my Artist Trading Cards, and while I have two batches on hand at home in my “craft cave”, I couldn’t find them after stashing my craft supplies in boxes temporarily.  I had to improvise.  I have four hydrangeas that are dried and in a vase on my credenza which I “regenerated” by immersing the dried petals in hot water.  Once “softened”, I modpodged them onto the master board.  I had tried pasting swatches of a damask paper napkin but it practically “disappeared” into the background.

Here it is upclose:

Serendipity Background 2 - Halfway through, upclose

I also stamped it with double cirlces using the inner rim of a roll of tape in a bronze acrylic paint shade.

I tried to rubber stamp acrylic paint flourishes which unfortunately did not “float” as well as I had hoped it to, and the final touch was using filing orange labels (those round circles used to color-code files which I painted over with gold.

Serendipity Background 2 - Finished MasterBoard

To laminate the whole piece, I painted it with a generous coating of modpodge once again.  My serendipity background master board!

Posted in Mail Art

Crayons and my iron

I signed up for this “crayons only” ATC swap and then a “crayons only” PC swap on Swap-bot which I decided to give a go last night.  I had originally thought of trying my hand at crayon coloring when I signed up, but I had this idea that came to mind last night after dinner.  I wanted to experiment with crayon shavings and melting them by using my clothes iron.

I’m sure you’d be as surprised as I am about how the whole thing came out.  Ta-da!
ATC and Postcard: Abstract melted crayon print

These are my first pieces which I’ve decided to keep for my personal album. I need two of each for the swap and will be doing them later. I did three pieces last night but I had to discard the second because the colors didn’t quite “meld” well and it came out a dark grey in some areas.

All you need are crayons, paper labels/wrap removed, a blade or paring knife to shave the crayon, parchment paper, paper towel, and an old magazine. What I love about this is that it gives me something new to use those discarded crayongs from Angelo’s old sets. I also almost always keep the crayon sets given with the kiddie meals in restaurants.

I’m still trying to figure out how to do a video using my cam of choice (my blackberry bold) but I will do a tutorial once I get that figured out. Unfortunately it’s hard to do the tutorial in pictures but if I can’t do the video, I’ll it the old fashioned way.

I was so amazed at the texture that pulling the protective parchment paper on top produced as you can see in the postcard upclose below.
Mail art: Postcard with Melted Crayons

More on this later!

Posted in Crafts, Handmade Embellishments, Mail Art

Craft Experiment: Pressing flowers for use as embellishments

This is probably nothing new to a lot of serious crafters out there but I have experimented with this quite a bit and have found a good formula or method (in terms of timing) to press rose petal leaves.  It appears that this is crucial if you want to maintain a semblance of the petals’ original color, or keep the integrity of the petal when it dries.

Pressed flowers: Anniversary bouquetI’ve used rose petals extensively for card making and as embellishment for Artist Trading Cards or ATCs, etc.  When dried and flattened correctly, they adhere easily to paper surfaces with the use of mod podge.  They lend a rustic feel to a background when used in a collage.

Let me warn you, though, that it might mean “cutting” the “vase-life” of your blooms to achieve the desired effect.  You’d have to start the process between after the bud begins to open and before it actually blooms.

I was fortunate enough to have received two elegant bouquets for my 10th anniversary at work, and one of them, the one from the big boss, had two of my favorite blooms: hydrangeas and pink roses.  The roses were of interest to me because they were not solid-colored, but graduated from pink to white towards the center.  (Craft happiness!)

I am also trying to dry the peonies which started to crumble yesterday (Day 4 from their delivery), and it shows promise, but we’ll see.

It’s approximately 6 days since the flowers have been cut and put on a vase.  The petals are still relatively fresh — no signs of wilting (as of yet).  I know from long ago that roses need to be cut at the base an inch from the tip for it to eventually bloom.  I purposely didn’t do that to preserve the rose stem “mid-bit”.

Pressed flowers: Anniversary bouquet 1

I wiggled the bud lose and started to make it easier to take each petal off.  I discarded the outer layer which has browned in some portions. Pressed flowers: Anniversary bouquet 2

I then arranged the petals with enough space between each petal between pages of an old dictionary.
Pressed flowers: Anniversary bouquet 3

I also experimented with some hydrangeas and I”m keeping my fingers crossed that comes out nicely.  I left the book under two reams of paper to weigh it down and help press the flowers flat.  Let’s see how that comes out on Monday.

Posted in Mail Art, Paper Crafts, Philippine Map Postcard

Philippine Map – Mail Art Postcard

I’ve started slowing down with the swaps at Swap-bot but have decided to start drawing postcards with the Philippine map.  I’ve done some handmade postcards the last couple of months, but none which included a particular collecting interst of mine among postcards, particularly maps or lighthouses.

With the lack of map choices for the Philippines, I thought it was worth giving it a try. 
Postcard of the Philippines by GothamChickI started by printing an outline of the map on plain white 5 x 8 index cards in a dark grey, then coloring them with alcohol-based ink and water.  I tried to work with the blue and red and fuschia pink shades of Dylusions and a spray bottle of water and came up with my initial 11 sheets above. 

I kept one print out plain to have a reference guide because although the ink was transparent, the color was very vivid and strong.  It also makes it difficult to just trace an outline because of the archipelagic nature of the 7,100 islands of the Philippines which are not all visible in the drawn map, of course. 

Work in Progress: Handmade Map Postcard of the Philippines by GothamChick

Postcard of the Philippines by GothamChick

I traced the outline of the map and hand-lettered PILIPINAS which is how it is denominated in Pilipino or FIlipino, the local language. 
Mail Art Postcard: Philippine Map 1
You can see the gaps by the edge, and I filled that out with Dylusions stain and then dabbed on some walnut ink with a foam blending tool to cover the edges and provide a visual border beyond the drawn frame.

Here’s the first of the series:
Mail Art Postcard: Philippine Map 1

So I have 10 more to go for this series and hope to keep this going.  If you’re into making your own postcards, this is a good way to reproduce your actual art on a postcard.  If you’re interested to get one of these, please e-mail me at