Sunday, January 25, 2015

Studio Sunday

It's Sunday once again only this one feels and looks like winter with a fresh blanket of at least 8" of snow over everything.  Unfortunately there is a blizzard moving in for Tuesday and they are talking accumulations in feet!  Ugh

I'm working hard on designs for my license agreement (right, that I have not shared all the details with you on yet) and it's limiting my studio play time but I did get a little play time in late last night.

I was playing with stencils, old and new, and collaging printed deli papers using Tim Holtz Distress Stain Sprays and Dylusions Ink Sprays.  I thought how nice it might look to stencil the stem design using gold foil but my foil glue must be too old or something so I ended up using the Sharpie Gold Pain Pen instead which definitely does not produce the same bling. :(  My favorite color spray from last night is the Dylusions Slate Grey Ink Spray.  Very cool and although you can't see it very well on these collages, it was perfect for bring in some subtle darker shades.

In honor of Valentine's Day coming up soon, I played digitally with my Heart Swirl stencil from  This isn't the original version above but I wanted to point out how the red intense color along the inside edges of the stencil is from using the Distress Stain ink pads to blend additional color softly using a cosmetic sponge.  I like how this effect translated to the digital version.

Of course, studio play wouldn't be complete without a full-blown repeat version.  I only used the top half of the heart for this repeat but it looks really cool up close!

Back to work and soon I will have more to share!  Stay warm and keep creating!

Thursday, January 22, 2015


Thank you everyone for participating in my giveaway!  Woohoo!!!
There were a total of 8 comments and using the Random Generator, the magic number was 


Huntla 1 is the Giveaway Winner!!!

Please e-mail me (MargaretApplin) with your shipping information and I will get these right out to you! 

Thanks for visiting!!!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Studio Sunday,Teaser News and FREE Giveaway!

Happy Sunday once again!  Last weekend I was in California at the CHA tradeshow in Anaheim hanging out with my friend Barbara from  This is my second time attending and, as expected, I came back filled to the brim with ideas and mega inspiration.  First, who wouldn't want to wake up to an environment like this????  Oh, except for those who already live there :)

These quick shots with my phone were from the area inside the road where the convention center sits and the Marriot and Hilton.  Basically, you can walk out the door of the hotels and cross the courtyard area and go right into the convention center.  This is ideal and since it was raining most of the time I was there, but it was much warmer than my 2012 trip.  I'll take it after 20 degrees in New England!



Just this change in scenery is a huge refresher.  Now I understand why people escape to Florida and the islands during the winter!  Our last night there, we had dinner with two ladies from Notions, one of the big distributors of all things creative to stores in the U.S.  There was no shortage of laughter and at one point, I thought they would kick us out of the restaurant.  The highlight...this INCREDIBLE upside down pineapple cake dessert, which is baked to order, complete with fresh berries, vanilla ice cream, a pineapple shaped cookie and three amazing dipping sauces.   First stop next trip to Anaheim, Roy's for this heavenly masterpiece!

Notions is responsible for getting Joann Fabrics to carry our Joggles stencils in the on-line store!!!!  I'm completely blown away that Barbara and I have had success this way!  Now our stencils are being seen and possibly bought all across the U.S. by even more people!!!  Super exciting!!

So, I mentioned that I have some NEWS but I can only TEASE you with it, for now.  An incredible thing happened to me while at CHA.  I came home with a LICENSE AGREEMENT!!!!!  How did that happen???  Well, I'm always thinking about developing my own products so while at a tradeshow like this one, I ask a lot of questions.  Well at one booth, I asked a lot of questions which resulted in me sharing my portfolio and other design work and the next morning there was a contract waiting for me in my email!  I are waiting for me to tell you what that contract is for, but I need to wait a little longer on that news.

Let's just say that I am going to be pushing my imagery a little harder into the home decorating area and hopefully within a few months will have pictures, products and video to share with you!  I'm excited and inspired and really pumped for everything I am going to be working on and can't wait to share it!  The only drawback is lack of studio space.  It may be necessary for me to rent a small studio back where I was in Lowell at Western Avenue Studios.  We will see as I work out all the plans.

In anticipation of Valentine's Day, since it is creeping up so fast, I wanted to re-visit my heart stencil designs at to inspire you!  The artwork below was already featured on my blog 2 years ago when we released these but since I didn't have a chance to create anything new since I returned from California, I figured these would work just as well.




The stencils above are 6" x 6" and the stencil shown below is 9" x 12".



To win a set of all 5 stencils shown above, leave a comment here on this blog post by Wednesday, January 21st, and you will be entered into my drawing!  I will select the winner using a random number generator based on your comment number and I will ship the stencils to you via U.S. Priority Mail so you get them quickly.  (International shipping will take longer.)

I hope you are having a wonderfully creative weekend and are staying warm!!!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Studio Sunday 2015

Welcome to 2015!  It doesn't seem possible!!!  This time of year I tend to look back and think about the now 30 years since high school graduation (always my marker) and what I've accomplished in 30 years.  Well, this year, I'm not going to let myself go there!  This year it's all about where I am now, and everything I want to do and where I want to be.  Future thoughts only!  No looking back!  You can't drive forward at top speed while looking in the rear view mirror.  I think you get where I'm coming from LOL

This nice long weekend has been great for digging into paints and papers.  I spent the good part of one day painting deli paper and then stenciling on top of it.  You can see all the luscious colors here!

I picked up some fresh tubes of Liquitex Basics acrylic paints and discovered a new color that I really like - Cadmium Yellow Medium Hue.  It kind of resembles the color of egg yolks but mixed with white, it becomes a fresh and softly sunny color that makes me smile.  So I tested a bunch of my personally designed stencils on the painted deli papers and had a blast!

While at the craft store, I also grabbed some 12" x 12" canvases to experiment with.  I have since determined that canvases do not work well for mixed media types of applications.  It's very hard to scrape paint and smooth glued deli paper because the canvas gives so much in the middle.  Next experiment will be on a thin wood surface or watercolor or bristol paper.

I'm totally in LUV with this pink version.  What doesn't show up well in the picture is the gold Sharpie water-based paint pen that I used to outline some of the stenciled areas.  It is all aglow with pinks, peaches and gold and it is yummy!  The part I loved the most about this collage is the stenciled white painted deli paper on the bottom.  More and more I am using the Tim Holtz Distress Stains and Inks with a dense cosmetic sponge to get these really beautiful blends of designs through the stencils. They produce beautiful colors and effects on any paper and I definitely recommend picking up the two sets of mini ink pads you can find at Michaels and ACMoore that contain the colors:  Peacock Feathers, Salty Ocean, Mowed Lawn, Mustard Seed, Picked Rasberry, Fired Brick, Seedless Preserves and Spiced Marmalade. I'm using them all the time.  The cosmetic sponges allow you to get a really smooth layer of color straight from the ink pads and controls how much ink you are applying.

And this is a really messy and unorganized experiment with acrylic paint and my gold Sharpie paint pen (again) on canvas.  LOL  I need to practice a lot more!

The two digital designs below are from a section of deli paper with the ink pads used through a test stencil of mine.  It is really interesting up close in the original colors (1st image) and then I converted it to black and white and adjusted the hue and saturation with one color. 

I'm excited to go to CHA on the 9th!  I can't imagine Anaheim, California will be much warmer than Boston like when I attended in 2012, so I'm bringing a heavy coat for sure this time!  The blast of inspiration from that show will feel sooooo good and re-invigorate my artist brain for sure!  

I've got a great feeling about 2015 and everything I want to achieve and I plan to share a lot more here so keep me bookmarked!!!

Happy New Year and happy creating!!!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Studio Sunday

Welcome to Sunday!  Because this is the weekend between Christmas and New Years, I'm kind of all over the place here in the studio.  I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday with family and friends and you are taking a much needed break before 2015 rolls in!

This weekend I was busy cutting more stencils and experimenting with them on paper.  I'm thrilled with the Tim Holtz Distress Stain Sprays.  They are so beautiful and then using some of the Distress Inks with them, the colors are fantastic.  This section above is what I started with to create the two designs below.  This process is so much fun and I continue to amaze myself with the all over designs that can be achieved by using a section of the paper results.

On this design below, I just repeated a block without rotating it and I could see these blocks alternated with solids or another similar pattern for a quilt top.  I'll have to explore this further.  The more and more I consider these as fabrics, the closer I get to actually ordering the fabric to play with.  My fingers are itching to get back to playing with fabric and stitch so it is just a matter of time!

This design below is incredibly YUMMY!  I had experimented with a new repeat design which happens to be the background you see in the image above and created this design by layering, flipping and rotating the original laid on top of a gelli print I had done a while ago.  I'm going to go back in to see if I can position the layers so that the entire overall design looks like the blue and orange sections only.  Up close, this design would make you swoon! LOL

A new development this weekend was a chance to go to the CHA Tradeshow again with my friend Barbara ( in Anaheim, CA, January 9-13!  Talk about a spontaneous decision but the flights were affordable and it will be a well-needed super inspiring trip.  The Crafters and Hobbies Association Tradeshow is where all of the paper arts products (stamps, stencils, scrapbooking paper and supplies, Ranger, etc.) show new products for buyers.  I attended in 2012 with Barbara for the first time and it was incredible.  Shortly after that trip, we launched the Joggles stencil line with yours truly :)

I ran into so many artists there including Joanne Sharpe, Dina Wakley, Julie Fei Fan Balzer, Mary Beth Shaw, Pam Carriker and Rebekah Meier!  The most memorable artist sighting was Lisa Engelbrecht, who most recently passed away.  This was the show that I visited with Lisa, she remembered my name from way back at ArtFiberFest 2005, and she designed my name written in her  amazing style which I still have and will always cherish.  It is packed safely away but I think it might be time to take that out and frame it.  I still can't believe she is gone :(

It will be a fun trip as Barbara and I turn into brainstorming devils.  It's great for the soul and I'm in a big need of an inspiration injection!  I'm sure I will have lots to share!

Stay happy, healthy, and safe this New Years and check in next weekend for more design inspiration!


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Perfect End to the Weekend

This is the best way to end the weekend! Lots of fun with a new personal stencil and Tim Holtz Distress Stain Sprays!  Love, love, love those colors!!!  

Now for Monday...

Studio Sunday

Happy Sunday!  I hope you are done and ready for Christmas!  I stayed up late wrapping last night after a long day playing and experimenting in the studio without much to show for it.  That's ok.  I will be on a better path today and will be pushing myself hard.

I started experimenting with some new textures that I made from spraying through one if my new stencils and putting it in repeat using Illustrator's pattern tool and I love these markings.  Nice and distressed!  I use the adjustment mode in Photoshop called Difference a lot because I love the intense look of the results.  This example above and the one below are using the same background with different patterns blended.

I don't know what the Difference adjustment was meant to do but the results are great and it creates a really good base version for jumping off into changes to hue and saturation and more blending.  This adjustment produces some very batik-looking designs and I think that is why I love it so much.  Whenever I venture to the fabric stores, I always check out the batik fabrics and sometimes buy fat quarters just for the inspiration. 

This design above was a patter I created yesterday while playing and it is layered on top of one of my gelli prints.  I desaturated the color so it looks less obnoxious!  There is a lot of distress going on in this one and it is less appealing because of that but I will still find a place to use it.

I'm totally missing my design wall.  I have a place to hang the shelves like I did in my loft but I'm really afraid to put more holes in the walls.  I may have to :(  Here, I have placed my foam core boards up against the largest window which is limiting my light (I also miss my big fluorescent light over my workspace.)  

I'm trying to organize a lot of the images that I have created and there is only so much room to hang them up.  This is only a tiny selection and right now I feel like I need to see everything big and clear to help me put my thoughts together.  Below is one more totally yummy layered and blended collage background I created from my printed papers.  I just want to eat this one up!!!  It will make a very cool addition to a collection for Surtex!

Back to work so I have a lot done to work with over next weekend which will be a nice long block of time to play!  

Enjoy your holiday, remember all the special moments with your family and friends and take pictures!  If the weather holds out, there will be a quick trip to Maine to spread some more cheer!!


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Studio Sunday

Contemplating how to draw.  This is the biggest question I am asking myself right now (other than have I finished all my Christmas shopping)!  LOL  It's not a question of learning how to draw because I have proven to myself on numerous occasions that I am capable of actually drawing/sketching.  This was a sketch that I had done while taking an on-line drawing class with Misty Mawn back a few years ago.  

So the question I am asking myself is how do I want to draw?  How do I want the look and feel of my drawings to appear?  It's not a question of drawing everyday and eventually getting better and possibly developing a drawing style.  It is thinking way too much ahead of the process to draw with intention a specific style that I want to portray.  I guess it's like forcing myself into a style that I want to adopt before I even practice that style to see if it works for me.  It's crazy, I know.  I have a bad habit of trying to anticipate the end result so I can eliminate anything that doesn't apply in the build process.  This is because of my database building experience. LOL

So I frequently find myself in the bookstore looking at the art and drawing books trying to find an example of how I want to intentionally draw.  This week, I finally found a book that I could reference with various styles of drawing.  I love fashion but I will never be a fashion designer.  In this book I purchased, Illustration Now Fashion by Julius Weidemann, there are a number of examples of illustration styles that really intrigued me.

One technique is illustrating with black ink and adding watercolor in areas but not all over.  Obviously, this is my first pass at this but I can see the potential from it.  The style that I am not trying to replicate is realism.  Sometimes I begin to draw realistically like in the swans above, but that is not my aim.  I want to achieve more of a mysterious look.  A style that shows you lines and color without completely defining the image itself but providing enough of an inference that it is clear what that image is or what it portrays.  Something more minimalist.

Hand-drawn images are trending right now but I find that some look like they were drawn by 5-year-olds.  That is definitely not my goal.  This week I will continue going through my new book and experimenting with different styles hoping to find a comfortable place that I can continue to develop.  In the meantime, I'm loving the texture created from my designs cut as stencils and applied with Tim Holtz Distress Stains and the rough-around-the-edges look.

This last image is my attempt to draw a horse that I could use in a collection I am thinking about.  Of course, the image looks to realistic for me LOL and I'm going back to the drawing board on that one!  I give myself a B for effort but that one is going in the drawings box under the desk.

I hope you are all enjoying your weekend and you are taking extra time to relax between all the holiday stuff!  11 days left!  Ugh  :)