Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Ranger U Experience

Hello crafters!  I hope everyone enjoyed their Mother's Day yesterday; I know I did!  Today I'm going to share my experience at Ranger U with you all!  Oh my!  It was such an exciting, action-packed weekend it's hard to imagine even where to begin?  I still had that pesky water that didn't want to drain from my ear so I was on massive decongestants on a regular loop so I didn't have a raging earache and migraine the whole time.  Nothing was going to get in the way of me having a good time!  I stayed in a hotel that was directly next door to Ranger which was super convenient.  Every morning it was a quick, two minute walk in glorious weather to our classroom where we were greeted by hot coffee, drinks and donuts! The fabulous Tim Holtz started us out each morning before getting us started on our daily creative journey.  I can't stress to you all how amazing it is to have a class taught by Tim.  Not only are we learning amazing techniques, but Tim's personality and enthusiasm for Ranger products is so engaging.  He gives every ounce of himself in his classes and he's excited to do it so it just ends up being contagious for everyone around him.

Each day we were learning with Tim and we also had some fun classes with Claudine Hellmuth, Dyan Reaveley and Mackie Mullane.  Day one was extra special because we got to wear some super sexy goggles and tour the Ranger Factory aka The Wonka Factory.  Unfortunately there was ZERO photography allowed inside the factory because Ranger has some pretty spiffy machines hiding back there.  It is absolutely amazing to hear and see every step that a distress stain, paint bottle and ink pad goes through, start to finish.  Many things are done by hand because it's just what's best for the product.  So don't get frustrated if your distress ink pad is a little wibbly wobbly when you get it out of its packaging.  Just contact Ranger and they'll send you a new one.

When we got back to the classroom everyone was so excited to start creating.  Tim warned us to pace ourselves because at the end of the last day our brains would be jelly.  We all kind of laughed at him in disbelief, but he was serious!  It's a good thing I took some notes throughout the class because now that I've been home it's hard to remember some details.  Everything we learned was a technique tag other than when we learned melt art and vintaj jewelry.  We came home with SEVENTY tags, not including melt art or jewelry.  SEVENTY.  Each day was divided into sessions and each session was geared towards a certain product in the Ranger family.  We focused on Perfect Pearls, Claudine Hellmuth's studio line, Vintaj Jewelry, Melt Art, Adirondack paints, archival inks and alcohol inks, Dyan Reaveley Dylusions and that was just the first two days!  The final day, the one I was looking forward to most, was all about the Distress!  Distress paints, stains, stickles, embossing powders, markers and of course, ink!  My head was swimming!  The final day after we bitter sweetly finished our last tag, we all received our diplomas and took a large class photo.

You could tell everyone was tired but no one really wanted to say goodbye.  Some of us went out for dinner and drinks afterwards but it was really sad to say goodbye to some of the new people I met.  I can honestly say this was a very special and talented group of people.  Sometimes at trade shows you're faced with, well, some cranky attitudes.  Not so at Ranger U.  Each person was so excited and pumped to be there that there was always a smile coming from every direction.  I really enjoyed meeting Meredith from Beadalon, the ridiculously talented Susan WeckesserJim the Gentleman Crafter and Kathie Shepard of the Occasional Artist here in Glendale, Arizona.  (Where I will soon be teaching! WooHoo!)  But again, everyone was so kind!  Can you believe ten out of the twenty four students at Ranger U were from outside the United States?  We had everyone from Canada to Korea; such a fun mix of accents in that class room, let me tell you!

And last, but certainly not least, a HUGE thank you to the team at Ranger. From my experience, Ranger U runs like a very well oiled machine and it is because of all of the time and effort from the people at Ranger.  The factory workers were kind and patient with us as we walked around and most likely got in their way.  Patti and Jackie were right there if we wanted to try making an extra tag or needed a single thing and always with a smile.   I also got sit with them at lunch one day and they both are so sweet and FUNNY!  Charlene did an amazing job at all of the behind the scenes work taking photos, videos and tweeting.  Have you checked out this Ranger blog post she did?  After we were all done with class on the first day she went to the Home Depot afterwards and created an amazing aerial rig for her camera!  SO COOL!  (You can see my hands using the Heat It tool on a pink tag!)   A BIG shout-out to the AMAZING Mario.  Oh Mario, what would I do without him?  If you follow my twitter, you know Mario always makes me feel better at trade shows and it was no different with Ranger U!  He's the kindest person you could ever meet and just has this calming, zen effect.  I think Jesus sent him just for me sometimes!  But alas, Mario wasn't just sent for me...  While our heads were filled with creative goodness, Mario filled our bellies with delicious yumminess!  He made sure we were all well-fed, hydrated and snackified.  And oh my... Square pizza day is something you'll ocasionally hear people talk about in accordance with Ranger U, but I had no idea how good it was.  DELICIOUS.  I'd go back just for the pizza.  (Joking, I'd go back for ANY reason!)  A big thanks to Mackie, Claudine and Dyan for teaching us!  I've never really played with vintaj so it was nice to learn a bit more about it.  Claudine is always just a sweetheart and we learned a TON of amazing image transfer techniques.  Dyan Reavely is so inspiring and makes you feel relaxed about your creating.  I truly enjoyed hearing her personal story and how she came to be a designer for Ranger.  And of course there's Tim.  As I said in the beginning, Tim's willingness to share his creative passion and ideas is refreshing and delightful.  You can truly tell he loves the products he uses so much by the way he explains how he originally thought of them, the process behind it and then the delivery of what comes out of that amazing brain of his.  If you ever have the opportunity, take a class with him. Seriously. SWERIOUSLY. ("Sweriously," {swee-ree-uss-lee} is my way of saying super-serious. Say it out loud and you'll be hooked. Sweriously.)  Sign up early and fast, because in my experience, classes fill up like lightning.  Why?  Because Tim IS a big deal.  Trust me.  You won't regret it.

All in all, it was an amazing experience; One I will never forget and would highly recommend to any other crafter out there.  I will be showing some of the techniques we learned throughout the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned!  The first one I'll be sharing was probably one of my favorite tags we made using Perfect Pearls.  Until then, here are some more photos to show of our weekend!  Enjoy!

Inky Fingers After Dylusions

Jim, The Gentleman Crafter Getting Inked

Kim's Nail Art - WOWZERS!

Distress Marker Tag

Perfect Pearls

Coloring with Distress Markers
Square Pizza and Painty Fingers

Claudine Hellmuth Studio Mediums

Tim Teaching

Tim Holtz & Dyan Reaveley

Vintaj Tools & Set-up

Brayer Distress Technique

Claudine Hellmuth Teaching

Coronarita's after class!

Tim, Claudine & Dyan

Coloring with Dylusions Technique

Ranger U - Class of 2013


Monday, May 6, 2013

"Fashionably Fast" by May Flaum

 Do you sit and stew over a scrapbook page?  Does it sit on your desk for days, maybe even weeks?  You can't find the right patterned paper?  Maybe your embellishments just aren't working out?  Or you just HAVE to run to the scrapbook store to get that one thing that would make it right?  Ugh.  I've been there.  I've done that.  So when the fabulous May Flaum asked if I wanted to do a review of her book I was SUPER excited!  Let me tell you... this book is packed with invaluable knowledge for the beginner to the seasoned scrapbooker.  Check out my full review over at Craft Test Dummies!

I was fortunate enough to run into May on twitter a few years ago.  I had always been a big fan of her work over the years so I was super surprised when I even got a follow back from her.  Once we started chatting about our favorite, "Sex and the City," episodes and I instantly knew she was just as kind and hilarious as she was talented and creative.

I wanted to do one more layout in addition to the two I made for craft test dummies and decided to combine and re-use some of the tips May gave in her book.  Mostly, I scraplifted myself; I copied my Dalek layout and used it for a corresponding TARDIS layout from our trip to the Renaissance Festival.

I used Dylusions spray inks in London Blue to get that true TARDIS color and then some Ranger stickles in True Blue for the dotty border around the photos.  Everything else is Color Magic by Heidi Swapp!

Enjoy crafters! Please go check out May's book, "Fashionable Fast," with Big Picture Classes!  You won't be disappointed!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

New York City: Prequel to Ranger U

Greetings Bloggers!!!  I am back from Ranger U and still trying to get my game face back on!  It was a busy week packed with so many techniques and even more fun and amazing people!  The first leg of my trip as I mentioned before was spent in the Brooklyn with my good Craft Test Dummies buddy, Haley from The Zen of Making.  I had texted Haley a quick and fairly simple list of all the sights I wanted to hit during my short time there.  I admit most of things involved food; Bagels and cream cheese, pizza and black and white cookies.  I arrived Wednesday in the late afternoon and as I got off the subway at Penn Station I promptly fell UP the stairs of the subway station.  Given, I was carrying a pretty heavy suitcase and I made it all the way to the last step before I biffed it on the top landing.  Oh well...

Haley met me at the station and we went back to her super cute apartment in Brooklyn.  We then promptly went out for pizza and a pitcher of Blue Moon in the city which was absolutely amazing and yummy.  We walked around Time Square and I got my middle-of-the-city fix and was able to see all of the rush and bustle of the city that I had missed so much.  At that point I was pretty tired and we went back to her place for a full night of sleep.  In the morning we stopped for scrumptious bagels and cream cheese then walked around Canal Street and some other fun little shops.  I was able to pick up some fun trinkets for my kiddo's before going on my way up to New Jersey to prepare for Ranger U!

Tomorrow I will be doing a little bloggy-blog about the FABULOUS May Flaum's eBook "Fashionably Fast."  And don't you all worry... there will be MUCH more Ranger U goodness coming your way VERY soon!!!