Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Most Important Blog Post You'll Read Today: Safety in Your Craft Room

This is the home of fellow crafter, Lisa Tehonica Pontious in John-
sonburg, Pennsylvania, when a fire erupted overnight on Decem-
ber 20, 
2013,in the home's second floor.  The home has since been
razed. 
Photo by Joseph Bell for The Kane Republican
It can happen so quickly:  a spark, a flash, the bolt of lightning, a frayed wire.  Fire.  

Within four months (from December 2013 to April 2014), three of my crafting friends lost most of their household possessions --- including all of their scrapbooking supplies -– to fire.  While none of these fires originated in their craft rooms, or in the case of two, not even within their own homes, the result is the same: tragic. 

(Pictures of their horrific losses, as they've shown on Facebook and other media, accompany this blog post.)

We know that things can be replaced, and blessedly, each of these friends’ families survived these blazes with minor injuries.  But pulling the pieces of a household after a fire together takes time; craft rooms are on the low list of priorities, for sure, when clothing, bedding, furniture, appliances, etc. all need to be bought, sometimes with limited funds. 
These are the steps leading to former
craft room of Sharelda Mendoza.
(Photo source: S.Mendoza Facebook)

This blog post is dedicated to craft room safety, and several steps you can do to both prevent tragedy, and also to recuperate after a devastating loss in your craft room. 
First, let’s talk about some of the obvious safety steps you should be taking in your craft room to prevent fires.  

1. The primary step is to BAN open flames totally from your craft room.  That means, no flame-lit candles, ever!  If a craft step requires melting or burning over an open flame, take that step outside to safety, and also where there is improved ventilation. 

2. No smoking in the craft room!  Not only can a lit cigarette fall off an ashtray, but you need to remember that many of the chemicals used in a craft room are flammable, and a spark from a match or cigarette lighter can start a deadly fire.
The mess left behind in the craft room of Sharelda Mendoza.
(Photo source: S. Mendoza, Facebook.)
3. Familiarize yourself with the flammable chemicals in your craft room, and store them properly. Think we as papercrafters don't use chemicals?  How about your adhesives?  Adhesive removers? Paints and paint removers?  Bleach, ammonia, vinegar, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide are all used in techniques in papercrafting. Store them in appropriate containers, out of reach of small children, and never, ever mix them without knowing their interaction. Use them in a well-ventilated area, away from a heat source (e.g., the sun, a glue gun), wires/outlets and flames.
Here is the devastating result of the recent fire in the
home of crafter Ginna Redding.
(Photo source: G. Redding, Facebook)

4. When using tools that generate heat (e.g., a glue gun, an iron), don't just turn it off. Unplug it.  An iron, glue gun, craft gun (embossing heater), toaster oven, hot plate, etc. are often used in a crafter's arsenal to melt or heat-fix powders or adhesives and other crafting items like beads, Shrinky Dinks and more.  Use them on a protected, heat-resistant surface. Heat- producing tools should not be used by children, nor near open water sources.
This is the finger of crafter Anel Laurens,
after she burnt it using a hot glue gun.

(Source: A. Laurens, Facebook)

5. Take care when handling hot objects to prevent skin burns.  
Plaid, the manufacturer of Mod Podge, sells Hot Glue Gun Finger Caps -- if you're inclined to burn your fingers while crafting, this is a small investment in self-protection. 



6. All of your electronics should be used with a surge protector.
 
We serious crafters not only use our computers and laptops, but also have our craft rooms equipped with television and stereos, along with sewing machines, and with some of the finest cutting machines available. All of today's cutting machines and many sewing machines rely on computer chips to work properly. A zap from an errant lightning bolt can not only kill your costly machines, but can start a fire in your craft room.  When using your machines, plug them into a surge protector ("strip").  




(Photo source: ClickArt Online) 
If you live in a high-frequency thunderstorm zone or at high topography, consider getting a Whole House Surge Protector as well. For the best protection, unplug all of your machines when not in use.  And during a thunderstorm, power down and work on something that doesn't require electricity, for safety's sake.

7. Equip your craft room with a smoke detector, and a small fire extinguisher just in case. Our papercrafting rooms have a tremendous amount of paper and scraps in them; it will burn faster than kindling. Be sure that if a fire starts in your craft room, you'll be able to detect it if you're not in it, with a smoke detector.  Check its batteries monthly; replace them twice a year, e.g., at Daylight Savings Time start and end.  It would not be a bad idea to have a fire-rated fire extinguisher in your room, in the event all of your best precautions (above) fail and a small fire starts. Stay calm and extinguish, but if it's too much, dial 9-1-1 as quickly as possible for emergency assistance.  


8. Use adequate ventilation in your craft room.  We all know about stinky markers and adhesives, a goo-removal sprays -- do you know the damage you're doing to your lungs by inhaling such stuff? Read the product label, and pick the safest; open a window if possible or move your stinky work to a room with a window.  


(Source: Environmental Protection Agency)
9. Beware of those hidden air issues, like radon in our crafting basements.  Do you live in an area of the country that is ripe for radon exposure?  And are you crafting in a well-sealed, insulated basement?  I once was. When I went to sell my home, the Realtor required radon readings. I found out that my basement -- where I spent my free time crafting and playing with my daughter in our finished play areas -- held some of Pennsylvania's highest readings ever recorded for Radon, an odorless gas that has been associated with lung disease including cancers.  My spending four hours there per day was equivalent of smoking 8 packs of cigarettes in those four hours!  Radon is easily (though not inexpensively) remediated; the easiest and cheapest remediation is to open those windows and have a fan to circulate your air.  


The after-effect of mold on a dollhouse.
(Source: www.todayandtomorrow.net)
10. Crafting in a basement?  Watch out for water and mold!  Paper and water only mix in papier-mache. One of the nation's most dangerous black molds, stachybotrus, thrives on paper products and drywall. If you live in flood zone or have a damp basement, be sure your paper products are stored in water-tight plastic containers, lifted off the floor with pallets or shelves, where wicking can occur to lift water through many storage containers. Use a dehumidifier religiously, and a sump pump where necessary.


Paper mites. (Source: www.harvesthoneyinc.com)
11. Store paper products away from insects (like paper mites and termites), but NOT in cedar! Did you know that cedar closets -- used to keep away moths -- can impart not only a cedar smell on your products, but also can leave cedar oils on your paper, causing discoloration?  

12. Carry adequate insurance on the contents in your craft room!  First things first: Contact the carrier for your Homeowners' Insurance policy to find out how much insurance you have to replace the contents of your home, should you ever have a fire, flood or other catastrophe.  Be sure it is adequate to cover the contents in your craft room, by doing a general inventory first. Consider the cost of all of your supplies -- not just the price you told your hubby that you paid for it!  If you're anything like me, that's thousands of dollars right there, to replace it. Then there's the cost of your machines, your furniture, your tools .... again, thousands of dollars. When I did a very cursory review of the "stuff" I had in my craft room, I came up to at least $40,000.  At minimum!  

If you do not have adequate contents replacement insurance, consider increasing it. The cost per month per $10,000 coverage is usually minimal, and will be well worth-it if you lose your toys.  

While I have heard that a crafter's/hobby rider is available, my insurance does not offer such a rider. Check with your insurer to see if one is available, and consider that investment.  

If you run a business from your craft/hobby, e.g., pay tax on income from sales (such as if you are an Independent Consultant for Close To My Heart like me, Stampin' Up, Thirty-One, Origami Owl, Ahni & Zoe or more ...), or if you sell your wares at a craft show and demonstrate income/pay tax, consider getting Business Insurance.  This separate policy can cover your goods, supplies and finished products should they be damaged or stolen while you are demonstrating or selling them away from home, and also can be a source for a Certificate of Liability Insurance should the site where you've arranged a crop require such from you.  

If you are a renter, get renter's insurance to replace the contents of your apartment or home. 



13. Keep an inventory of the "stuff" in your craft room to demonstrate value, in the event of loss.  The easiest way to keep an inventory is two-fold. First, film a video of your craft room and its supplies. Open drawers and scan over its contents. Show your machines in operation. Show your furniture. Don't be shy!  Next, don't just keep that video on your computer -- store or share it on sites like YouTube or DropBox.  You don't have to make the video public -- just keep it for yourself, so you can access it remotely should you ever be unable to get into your home.  

Second, when you buy a major purchase like a new cutting machine, computer or furniture, save the operating instructions (on which you've written the serial number) and the receipt together in a page protector that you've stored in a binder.  If possible, save this binder in a fire-safe place, like a fire-resistant cabinet or safe. Consider buying a fire-resistant cabinet for all of your family's important documents. These can be as cheap as $80 and go up to thousands of dollars, depending on size and fire/water resistance.  

... and MOST IMPORTANTLY, store those finished albums and un-scrapped photos safely, away from water, fire, mold, insects and other hazards.  With today's technology, you can easily scan or have scanned every one of your priceless, irreplaceable photographs and stored off-site, on disk, or online.  Do it today!


For more on safety in the craft room, be sure to download and read, "Art and Craft Safety Guide," publication # 5015 by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in partnership with The Art & Creative Materials Institute (ACMI); Arts, Crafts & Theater Safety, Inc. (ACTS); and, The National Art Education Association (NAEA).  
 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Quartet of Easter Images -- on a card!

If you're looking for a sweet, beautiful and easy card, this is it!  Silhouette's Online Store offers this quartet card -- four equal squares of seasonal images, lined up on a card that you size and cut -- tah-dah, that's it!



I cut this card using my Silhouette Cameo. The papers I chose were Daisy White and Cotton Candy by Close To My Heart. 

Are you hosting Easter brunch or dinner?  Wouldn't this cut be pretty on a placemat? 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Some Bunny Loves You

Today's card leading up to Easter 2014 is the one I made for my darling Granddaughter, Charlotte:


This card is a modified tri-fold shutter card, so that the inside/back of the card has room for a full panel greeting. I cut this from a template I found online, as developed by Sandy Allnock.  I used papers from Jillibean Soup; the cute bunny on an Action Wobble is from the Silhouette Online Store (SOS) and is cut using the Silhouette Cameo.  The sentiments are also cuts from the SOS.

Charlotte's looking forward to a basket of goodies from the Easter Bunny -- much as she loves chocolate, her basket will include her greater love: books. It's amazing to see a 3-year old's inquisitive mind learning to read, sounding out words, and spelling her friends' names.  



CreAtiVeLy Yours,

Monday, April 14, 2014

Tastefully Elegant Easter Egg Card

It's the week leading up to Easter ... what better time to post the Easter cards I've made for family? 

First up, let me show you the card I've made for my parents, who live in Naples, Florida.  This card is "tastefully elegant", much like the two who have loved for going on 63 years!



To make this egg-shaped card, I used a file from the Silhouette Online Store, and modified it just slightly. I cut it on my Silhouette Cameo, including extra of the flowers (using Close To My Heart's White Daisy and Bamboo cardstocks) to layer atop of the flowers in the design. 

To give the flowers extra dimension, I burnished the cut flowers so the paper softens and curls as I rubbed. I adhered them with glue and topped each with a pearl.

I popped up the entire top cut layer, using foam tape. 

DeFiaNtLy DiFfeReNt & CreAtiVeLy Yours,

Friday, April 4, 2014

Happy Birthday to Two Very Special Women!

Two of my dearest, and longest-term friends, celebrate birthdays within 10 days of each other. I made a 3-D Pop-up card (below) for each of them.  But first about them:

I first met Debbie as "Mrs. Donaldson," when she was to interview me for my second job after college, and the first in what would be the field of my choice: public relations in the health industry.

Debbie was the Program Coordinator for the Philadelphia Chapter of the March of Dimes, and I was applying to be its Communications Coordinator.  Debbie found herself located in Philadelphia when her husband, Tom, was stationed in the City for the Navy.  She hired me, and we had a wonderful time working together, and building a friendship as well.

Debbie, Tom and their beautiful family traveled the world with the Navy. They're now located back in Virginia, near their daughter Krista and her young family.  I hope we'll see the Donaldsons in 2014 on a visit, now that they're not too far away.

That's Mary Beth, second from left. She is hugged by Dani at left and her
son, AJ. Next to AJ is MB's daughter, Nicole. Out ice skating.
The other young'un is one of my most favorite women, my baby sister Mary Beth.  Mary B is the "new 50" this year -- you know, 50 is the new 30 -- because I swear MB looks more like a sister to her two beautiful daughters Danielle and Nicole than their mother.  Check this out:

She was always the most athletic of the sisters, for sure (check out this t-ball picture from a zillion years ago), but now, as climbs to the top of the halfway point to 100, she has taken on a new passion: running.  Can you believe this woman is now running half-marathons!!?  I admire her more than she can possibly know. While I spend marathon sessions on my butt making cards, she's out running hers off.  God bless!!!

... and happy birthday to you both!


I made these cards using Jillibean Soup's papers and embellishments from the Birthday Bisque line.  The template is my own, developed from the pattern provided free by http://extremecards.blogspot.com.  I love the celebration of a 3-d pop-up card, and am hooked on making them!  :)

 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

You can earn a FREE Cricut/CTMH Cartridge Bundle in April!


Friends, Family and Former Close To My Heart or Creative Memories Consultants: If you've ever even remotely thought about joining my Paper Jungle Close To My Heart Team, APRIL is the time to do it! 

Beginning April 1, your $99 New Consultant Kit includes not only the fantastic array of Close To My Heart products shown here (a value of almost $300 in itself!), BUT you'll also get your pick of one of three CTMH/Cricut Collections

Choose from my personal favorite Cricut cartridge EVER, Art Philosophy, with 700+ cutting images; or its complementing cartridge (with swing cards!, love it!!!), Artiste. Into scrapbooking and more? Then Artbooking should be your pick. These collections normally retail for $99 -- and you get your pick FOR FREE just for enrolling in CTMH in April!

And there's MORE! Host a party -- real or virtual/on-line -- with your friends that has more than $250 in sales, and you can buy another Cricut collection for half-price! When that party's sales top $450, you can buy BOTH of the Cricut cartridges -- or ANY two items in our catalog! -- for half price!!!! That's what Hostess Rewards are all about. 

The Paper Jungle team is small but mighty, and I'd be your upline. I'm proud of my creative ways of building your business, or even just using your products to reach your own creative potential. I share my techniques with my CTMH sisters through a private "Bright Ideas" blog to which you'll have access, and I'll help you every step of the way -- as much or as little as you need. 

Please join me in this amazing adventure.

For more information, e-mail me at cardmonkey@comcast.net. You've got a week (and all of April) to explore whether Close To My Heart is the right fit for you -- because I want you to WAIT to enroll until APRIL 1 to take advantage of this offer.

Current Close To My Heart consultants who receive notice that they did not meet quota (only $300/quarter!) and will be dropped as of March 31 can REJOIN as early as April 1 simply by taking advantage of this great offer. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

My Blogaversary Approaches -- and some Introspection

Have you seen what I just noticed -- over there in the right hand column?  This picture:



That means in just 100 days, I will have been blogging for 4 years. Four years of bloggy goodness ...

So far that is:

654 posts (that's an average of more than 3 posts per week)
..with 306,203 page views to date (not including your view right now!) ... 6492 comments ... 1,363 followers from ten countries.

I'm thinking about what kind of celebration I should have to celebrate the actual Blogaversary -- definitely a giveaway because we all like presents! -- but what to do in the meantime? 

Well, I think I am going to look at why I blog, what posts have had the most impact, and perhaps evaluate what I should do in the future to improve the blog.

Do you have any ideas for me?  I'd love to hear your comments!


In the meantime, here's the first installment of why I craft -- and blog about it. 

#1 -- I craft to make others feel appreciated in receiving something special/handmade:



What do you do to share your talents in an altruistic way?

Our local hospitals (and senior centers, hospice facilities, nursing homes, etc.) offer volunteer opportunities for "off-site crafters."


Most of these crafters make knitted goods for babies, pillowcases for cancer patients, etc.

I've called and made myself available to make cards for those (adults and children) who are in the hospital for a long time, and perhaps have few visitors.

I'm also making (free or as a fundraiser for the auxiliary) note card sets for the hospital gift carts so those who are hospitalized can keep in touch with friends "on the outside."

This 3-D pop-up box card I have made celebrates the volunteers at our local hospitals. I am sending mine to the office Directors at the three hospitals most local to me, as well as to the senior center, as a thank you during NATIONAL VOLUNTEER WEEK (April 6-13, 2014).

I developed the logo (butterfly tree in the back) and the theme as well.  



FYI, I used CTMH Lollydoodle bulk paper (pink side) for the interior of the box; the rest was from stash. I cut the box card using a template I found on http://extremecards.blogspot.com.  I developed the logo using an image from http://clickartonline.com that I purchased. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

St. Patrick's Day greetings to you and yours!


Supplies:

Cutting template by Extreme Cards (http://extremecards.blogspot.com)
Paper: Pear (green) and Daisy White by Close To My Heart; Shamrocks by Best Creation; gold metallic by Bazzill
Rhinestone resin sheet by The Buckle Boutique
Leprechaun cut using "Everyday Paper Dolls" by Cricut/ProvoCraft
Vines cut using a Cheery Lynn Design die and Big Shot
Glue: Liquid Paper by Close To My Heart
Tape Adhesive by Scor-Pal
Electronic Cutting machine: Silhouette Cameo

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