This is a unique challenge blog where we are inspired by and focus on the Vintage; shabby; mixed-media; art journaling; industrial, timeworn and steampunk genres and encompass the talent, flair, expertise and ideas of many artists that we are inspired by. We welcome all types of projects - cards, journaling, assemblage, layouts, albums, atcs, altered art in fact whatever you want to share (as long as it is in good taste).

Friday 27 February 2015

Welcome Sarah Emily and who are the latest winners?

Hello, my fellow Vintage Journeyers! My name is Sara Emily, and otherwise known as sarascloset. I was totally floored when my Gentlemen’s Club project was picked by the Creative Guides as winner of Sandy’s challenge “Use a Portrait” back in January. It is because of that I was invited back to be a Guest Creative guide for the second time, and I can say it is quite an honor! I was thrilled not only to be invited by A Vintage Journey, but not long after I found out the theme was to be “Special Numbers”, I was invited to a friend’s 90th birthday party. I knew then just what direction my numbers would take me!

Let me tell you a little bit about myself for those that are curious. I hail from northern NJ, where I was raised on a fairly large dairy farm with my 5 brothers and sisters and a menagerie of animals including horses, cows, bunnies (hundreds of them!), various cats and dogs and an occasional wild sickly bird my Dad would bring in from the fields for us to nurse back to health. After a short stint in Texas, I now live in Wilmington, NC, just minutes from the beach. I am married and have 16 year old twins who keep me quite busy. I am a “retired” Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant, and have been working as a gardener and Personal Assistant for over 7 years. That makes me 35 years old! Ha! Ha!

My vintage journey started with one Tim Holtz Distress ink which I still use daily—Vintage Photo. When I learned of this wonderful crafty resource known as the Internet, I quickly became a huge fan of Tim’s vintage grungy style and his wide variety of products. My favorite thing about Tim’s products is their adaptability to many different styles.

Let’s get started! Brenda has chosen the theme “Special Numbers”, and I chose to use a few of Tim’s numerals to help celebrate a very special birthday of a family friend. Our friend is turning 90 on March 2, and I wanted to make her something she could use, and that would commemorate her life. I got a few inside tidbits of information from Martha’s daughter such as her past accomplishments, her favorites, special dates and milestones in her life, and got to work transforming this book style box I rescued from the ordinary. (For a before photo and other photos, please be sure to visit my blog. I chose a style for this vintage book/box which marries grunge with shabby through color choices and textures.

Tim Holtz has so many wonderful techniques to use, and I chose a few in making my background including, but not limited to Paint Marbling, Layering Stencil: Texture Paste, a version of Faded Layers and Effect Powders and my favorite—spritz and flick!

After completing the painted background, I chose and tore paper from Tim’s Wallpaper stash—another personal favorite-- to make the background paper layer.

I used some numbers from his old Lost and Found Salvage Stickers—the number 19 game piece and license plates. The “19” pairs up with the “25” from his new ephemera to signify Martha’s birth year. When you reach such a milestone you just want to shout out your date of birth! I’ve used the license plates along the spine of the book to represent the states that she has lived in.

I’ve added a few new products to my stash just for this project—Framed Alpha Parts and Thrift Shop and Expedition Ephemera. Good words, useful numbers and lovely butterflies I inked up to match my palette. A number 3 Flash Card with a bit of musical note Tissue tape stands in as a nod to her role in a musical trio she once sang and traveled with.

I used Tim’s rub-ons for the 90 on the spine and for the sentiment on the back cover. Also included on the spine are an Industrious frame and some lines I made using a string and Distress paint to give it that old volume look. A Simple Sayings stamp stands in for the title.

The back cover remains somewhat bare, save for the paint, stenciling and powdering as I wanted a flat surface for the book to sit on (this is meant to sit on a table), and I am waiting for a photo from Martha’s daughter to complete a short bio like you might see on the back of a novel. The bio also contains some personal information I thought she might not want published on the Internet.

I’ve chosen a few of Tim’s dies to create some dimension on the front cover, including Ornate Frame, Tattered Florals and Spring Greenery. I added a sprinkle of micro beads from my stash to the handmade roses and used a sunburst punch to make the center of the blue flower.

I gave the edges of the “book” the look of pages using Distress paint and a dry brush. Crinkle ribbon was dyed with Distress stains, ink and paint to match the roses and twirled up for a little closure and a shabby bow. Although I’ve used seam binding in the past, there really is no substitute for Tim’s Crinkle ribbon for coloring and shaping.

To finish it off, I gave the entire book a shabby white wash treatment using Picket Fence and a tiny bit of Broken China Distress paints and my finger. A final spritz here and there with Tim’s marker spritzer and Walnut Stain Distress marker give it one last final touch.

The only thing I did to the inside of the box was to give it a quick coat of gesso, since the inside was pretty enough, but the color needed to be taken back just a bit.

Martha has made many friends in her lifetime, and her daughter is asking them to send a little warm birthday wish if they are unable to attend her party. We will fill this memory box with them so she can read them at her leisure.

I’m so thankful to Brenda and the Creative Guides for giving me this opportunity to be a Guest Creative Guide today. I hope you have enjoyed my interpretation of “Special Numbers” and that you will stop by my blog ( for more details and to have a poke around.

A huge thank you Sarah Emily for sharing this wonderful box, you have put so much thought into it and paid attention to the most tiniest of details, it is indeed a fabulous idea for a gift to a friend, I am sure she will treasure it.


I am now handing over to Annie for the news about who is the winner of the Tic-Tac-Toe challenge and the Pinworthy Mentions.

It was lovely to see so many amazing entries for the Tic Tac Toe Challenge.
Deciding on a winner was no easy task, but without further ado, our winner is

Zoe’s Matchbox Collage is stunning with so many wonderful
details and embellishments.

Congratulations Zoe, your badge and voucher from Country View Crafts will be on its way very soon.

The Pinworthies are as follows:

#15 Branka

Wonderful background textures and layout on Branka’s canvas

#29 Suzanne

This really caught my eye with fabulous textures, rub ons and sprays.

#38 Hilda

Hilda’s canvas was inspired by Tim’s quilting technique on his February tag and I love the layout she has created.

Huge Congratulations to all of you for sharing your amazing projects. Your Pinworthy badges will be winging their way to you soon

Today sees the beginning of the second week of Brenda’s challenge, “Special Numbers” so there is still time for you to join in with us and to be in with a chance of winning a voucher from Country View Crafts, our regular sponsor. As always you can view the inspiring projects created by the Creative Guides, who share their step by step details on their own blogs, which can be viewed by clicking on their names.

Have a great weekend and remember to pop back on the 6th March, when we will be 'Celebrating our First Anniversary’.

Hugs Annie and Brenda x


  1. What a marvelous keepsake for your 90 year old friend! The cover is gorgeous with the florals, frame and lovely papers you used - and that closing bow is so pretty! Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful inspiring project and for joining us as guest Creative guide! And big congrats to all the winners of the Tic Tac Toe challenge - so many lovely creations!

  2. Well done Sara Emily on your GD spot - this is a beautiful book and I am sure Martha will adore it.

  3. What a great post! Wonderful to find out a bit more about Sara, and what an amazing project for such a special occasion! Love the overall look of it, as well as the idea, I bet Marta is going to love and treasure it. There are so many beautiful details too!

    Big congrats to our winners also! Zoe's matchbox collage looks fantastic, such a brilliant idea, and the projects of our pin worthies are so special too, wonderful to see them show cased again and big congrats to you all ladies!!

  4. Sara, your creation for Martha is outstanding! It is such a thoughtful and beautiful way to commemorate such an amazing birthday. I just love how tactile the front cover is - your attention to detail is superb. Lovely to learn more about you too!

    Congratulations to Zoe on her win for her beautiful matchbox creation and to Branka, Suzanne and Hilda - our very worthy pinworthies! Anne xx

  5. Sara your art is gorgeous! What a beautiful gift. Thank you for honoring me as pinworthy! Congrats to Zoe on her win and to Branka and Hilda for the pinworthy honor!

  6. Thank you so much ladies! I am so happy to see my name here again :) You put the smile on my face :)
    Congratulations to Zoe! The Valentine matchbox is stunning! Congrats to Suzanne and Hilda! Both creations are fabulous!
    Sara, your creation is so beautiful! I love all the gorgeous details on the front cover! Great post!
    Branka xxx

  7. Hi's great to have you here at AVJ as I am such a huge fan of your stunning creations and your gift is wonderful. I love the details/techniques and colour combination. Thank you for sharing such a fab step by step too.

    Huge Congratulations to Zoe, Branka, Suzanne and Hilda.......totally fabulous and inspiring makes

    Crafty hugs Annie x

  8. Good grief Sara, this is just incredible wow!! Well, we both grew up on a farm and we both started our Tim Holtz collection with the same first purchase, Vintage Photo. I love that!! I also have been celebrating my 35th birthday (for a better part of a decade)!! HA!! I can't say enough about your project, it's just amazing! So many wonderful textures and details, well done my friend! A huge congratulations to all of the winners, gorgeous projects by everyone!! hugs :)

  9. Wow!!! Martha is a lucky lady. This is a STUNNING make Sara Emily - so much to love and admire. Congratulations also to Zoe and the pinworthies - their projects are all wonderful. Nicola x

  10. Welcome Sarah Emily and congratulations to the winners! So much incredible artwork from all the AVJ friends! Love it.

  11. What an incredibly thoughtful gift for Martha! You have obviously taken a lot of care when designing it and I am in awe of how you incorporated so much meaning into the little details.

  12. Had to just sit for a while and drink in all the wonderful details of this gift for Martha and marvel at the love and talent you've poured into making it Sara. So many very well thought out embellishments and lots of meaning. Love it!
    And huge congratulations to our next batch of winners/pinworthies. Awesome work everyone! Jenny x

  13. Sara this is just amazing so many elements I've been back to look at it a few times just to take it all in - Martha will, I'm sure, be delighted

    Thank you so much Annie for choosing my piece as a Pinworthy - I am delighted !!!!!!

  14. Fantastic project Sara and so beautifully documentated, I'm sure Martha will adore and treasure this.
    Congrats to all our winners with their fabulous craft projects.
    Julie x

  15. Congratulations to Zoe, Branka, Suzane and Hilda! These are some wonderful creative pieces! Thank you for all your sweet comments on my birthday gift to Martha! It's like I received the gift, and I'm so excited to give it to her on her big day! Hugs and blessings! Sara Emily

  16. Fabulous project Sara so much to see will pop back for another look. Congratulations to the worthy winners great projects


  17. Sara - so lovely to read about you and what an absolutely stunning creation. Each time I look I see something else. Congrats to our latest winners and pinworthies.. just off to add you all to Pinterest now. Nikki xx

  18. WOW! Thank you SO much! I am pretty new to AVJ and am really enjoying getting to know everyone and seeing all the incredibly beautiful projects shared here. I love your beautiful, personal and thoughtful project Sara Emily. Your family friend is going to treasure it. Congratulations to Branka, Suzanne and Hilda for your pinworthies, your projects are all gorgeous. Thanks again, I really am honoured. :)

  19. What a beautiful gift! I love your background and all the detail.....gorgeous! xx Lynn

  20. Congrats to the winner and pinworthies! Sara your project is breathtaking!! Congratulations on your Guest Creative Guide appearance, so well deserved :)

  21. Congrats to the winners-such an array of talent! Big congrats to Sara on this gorgeous make and the guest creative guide! Awesome sauce!