Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Persistence of Nature

(Click on any photo to view a larger image.)

I don't have to tell you about the seriously ravaging weather we experienced this winter. It was brutal. Fortunately in the fall I had prepared some of my plants to survive the onslaught of the frigid temps and today I got a peek at some of the fruits of my labor. When the weather gets a little nippy, I place the plants I want to protect in my backyard shed which acts like a makeshift greenhouse. In addition, I place several plants on a rolling chrome cart that I cover over with bubble wrap to create an insulating cocoon. This way they are not only protected from the wind, they are just a little warmer than the air outside their "tent". Today I removed the plastic wrap to find...GREEN. My tiny tea roses are green and showing many new leaf buds. The garlic bulbs that had begun to sprout in October are still green and growing and my old vinca (really, it's gotta be at least five years old) is going like a champ. Some of the other plants in the "greenhouse" that did not benefit from the plastic cocoon are also showing signs life like the planter below right that contains a spike plant and some trailing ivy.

My backyard garden is not to be left behind. My faithful daffodils (which were planted over 20 years ago) are pushing up through what was permafrost just two weeks ago and some of my ferns never lost their green color in spite of the sub-arctic temperatures this winter brought.

Last fall I also took the precaution of adding a ridge pole to the hoop house in the front garden that I had erected over the raised bed I built two years ago. It had been blown over that first year by a nor'easter and was in serious need of stabilizing to prevent knock down. It was also draped in heavy plastic to insulate the plants inside. Frankly I didn't think it would hold up especially given the amount of snow we got this year but believe it or not it did. I can't wait to take a look underneath the plastic to see how my cilantro and garlic are doing.

Looks like spring is going all gang busters this year. Bring it on!

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Monday, March 16, 2015

At Long Last, Success!

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Some detail cuts made with
the KNK Zing Air. The spiky plant in
the corner is my attempt at creating
a spider plant.
Way back in January I wrote about the arrival of my new KNK Zing Air electronic cutter. I was excited with the new options this machine would make available to me especially since my first few cuts were nothing short of awesome. Unfortunately my joy was short lived. It was weeks before I was able to get a decent cut from the machine no matter how hard I tried, cried, ranted or raved. Untold reams of card stock and paper were shredded in the process. Finally I threw my hands and wanted to return it but the time period for returns had expired so I was stuck and unhappy with the machine. Resigned to living with an expensive paper weight, I organized my thoughts and set about deliberately and carefully working through the settings in an attempt to figure out the beast. I can now happily say that I have made my peace with the machine and have been able to get some pretty amazing detailed cuts out of it in the process. At top left you'll see some of the leaf cutting files I have created (with the exception of the pink vines at bottom. Below that are a couple of more detailed free cutting files you can find at BirdsCards.com. The detail on that Valentine's heart is amazing and it cut out like butter.

Special Thank You Card
Having a precision cutter at my beck and call opens up a whole world of possibilities and I couldn't wait to try my hand at something with a little more meat than some of my past projects. I needed a special Thank You card for someone so this was a great opportunity to dabble in 3-D paper crafting. At right you see the result. It is a composite of commercial cutting files, files created by me and die cuts. The close up shots show the details that I was able to achieve. The finished card dimensions are 4.25" x 5.50 inches so you get an idea of how small those little leaves and tiny flowers are. Click on the photos to view a larger image.

Look at the precision cuts on
those little leaves.
I must say I am very happy with the result considering it was a first try and, bolstered by the success I have had, I'm going to explore more 3-D crafting possibilities. It is something I have wanted to do for some time but really did not want to spend my time meticulously cutting out every little piece by hand. My new Zing will take the drudgery out of it and allow me more artistic freedom. I can't wait to put it through some more paces. I'll keep you informed of my progress.
This angle shows the depth of
 the 3-D elements of the card.
Those leaves and flowers
are popped out.
Check out the double lattice: pink
on top, gold beneath peeking out
around the edges.

NOTA BENE: For any of you who may be contemplating purchasing a KNK Zing Air, I highly recommend you purchase directly from the manufacturer, KNKusa.com. I purchased mine through Amazon and went through a litany of customer service issues that added to my initial displeasure with the machine. If I had to do it all over again, I would purchase from the source, not from a vendor.

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva