Friday, January 27, 2012

The Rise of the 7 Gypsies


There are so many things I could should have done around the house today (including (but not limited to) dishes, laundry, and vacuuming). It's not unusual for me to have a long list of chores that I frequently neglect, but I decided to use my day off to make something instead of just straightening and cleaning. Let's face it, I do enough of that at work every day.

A brief aside: you would never expect just how much tidying up goes into working in a bookstore. Putting abandoned books back where they belong is more often than not a Sisyphean task... but re-alphabetizing a section is strangely cathartic. There's something to be said for bringing order to the chaos.

This does nothing to explain the chaos that is our house. Frankly, that responsibility falls to the cats and they're really lousy at articulating their thoughts. It probably has something to do with their lack of typing skills.

I digress, and I apologize. A little over a year ago I bought one of the 7 Gypsies letterblock printer's trays after seeing them featured in an Archiver's advert. The pack rat in me squealed at its many nooks and crannies just waiting to be filled with some of the assorted bits and bobs I've accumulated over the years. (I was also lucky to receive one of their ATC trays as a Christmas gift from fabulous Photo Squirrel Denise a short time later. That one is waiting for me to fill it with some of the spoils of our ATC swaps, which will be another project for another day.)

Trying to get everything just so.
After getting myself good and caffeinated this morning, I was feeling the need to break out the art and craft supplies and tap into some of my latent creativity. I took the letterblock tray from the drawer it was nestled in for safekeeping and put it on my crafting desk so I could properly size it up. The tray was smaller than I had made it in my memory, so I immediately had to scale back the number of items I had selected for filling it.

It didn't take long to come up with a rudimentary layout of items. I had a bird-and-nature-themed ephemera pack that was one of my birthday gifts (also from the fabulous Denise), some vintage pieces from various board games, and a washer I found on the ground on a photo tour of the 'Nati, among other items. The most difficult part of the whole operation was choosing what paper to use for backgrounds in each of the compartments, which was followed by the time-consuming task of trimming that paper down. I'm not sure which got a better workout: my scissors or my patience each time I had to slice off a millimeter here and there to get them to fit well.

Thankfully I did not have any feline assistance in this stage of the operation.

I found some Zots in my 'adhesives' drawer and used those to attach the trimmed papers to the tray. I also was lucky to discover some dimensional double-sided tape and peppered this throughout the project. It provided some extra dimension to the paper items that I had selected, keeping them from just disappearing into the background.

Some detail shots:
Layout: Round One. A few of the items ultimately moved from one space to another and a few of them didn't make the final cut. This is what it looked like before there were any backgrounds added.

A closer look at some of the elements involved, including the Cincinnati street washer, 1950s era Austrian stamps and a plastic tooth. I can't even tell you how excited I was when someone wanted to sell us a science-class replica of the human mouth. I still have plenty of these plastic teeth waiting for another project.

I didn't realize I had quite so many Tim Holtz items: the gears and the labeled safety pin are just a small sample.

And the finished project:
I'm super pleased with how this came out-- and even happier still that some of these fantastic pieces of ephemera are out in the open instead of stashed in a drawer with the rest of my crafting supplies.


  1. It is gorgeous. Wow. Much better (and better for your soul)than doing stupid dishes. For sure.

  2. Love it. I agreee w/ Liz that this had to be good for your soul. I'm wonder what the M 1/2 stand for on that washer from the 'Nati. Nice balance of Nature and Industrial.