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Christine Cox
Since 1999


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    Every time I think I'm on my way to being organized, I catch sight of my stamping desk and know that my dreams of having a place for everything will never come true.  On it I've got paper, inky baby wipes, snips of ribbon, dirty stamps, strips of Miracle Tape backing and, for some reason, two naked Barbie dolls.  I'm assuming my kids put the Barbies there, but the rest is my stamping detritus.  I hate it because I can't find exactly what I need and even if I could find it, I couldn't use it because there's no space in which to create!  As I begin the long process of clearing my desk off, I have to decide if I really need that 2"x2" scrap of paper or if I can safely throw it away when I think, "I'll put it in my art journal!"  Since the paper is my current favorite I know I'll need to order more of it soon.  I pull out my trusty art journal, adhere the paper to a clean page, and write down the paper name, price, and vendor from whom I bought it.  Since I have the art journal out already, and I'll do anything to put off cleaning my desk, I start flipping through it.  "Hey," I think upon seeing a page filled with the same image stamped several times in different ink , "I forgot I had that stamp!"   Of course, now that I know I have it, I'm going to have to clean out my stamp drawers in search of it.  Hmmm, maybe this wasn't such a good idea.

    When I saw art journals for the first time, in Somerset Studio, I was so intimidated.  The journals shown were incredible works of art in themselves, not to mention the art *inside* of them.  There were layers of colors, images, words, the kinds of things I know are in my mind but that I can't ever get to come outside to play.  I wasn't sure I could ever produce such "perfect" art journals, but was willing to try.  So, after debating with myself for 2 weeks over which blank book would be perfect for me, I finally chose one (8.5"x11", green leather cover, in case you're interested).  I sat down at my desk with stamps, ink and collage material at the ready and stared at the blank page for an hour. Oh, the pressure!

    Suddenly, a flash of insight hit me — my art journal doesn't have to look like the ones I drooled over in Somerset Studio!  Sure, they're gorgeous, but right now they're not "me." Right now, "me" is struggling just to carve out of my disorganized life the time and the space in which to play.  My art journal can be *anything* I want it to be.  As soon as my mind accepted that fact, the blank pages seemed less threatening. I started trying out embossing powders I had never used, cataloging which base coat of ink went best with which embossing powder. I got out my paints and played around making several backgrounds.  I glued in the extra swap cards I had made but couldn't send to anyone because they had visible-only-to-me flaws, writing down the date and which swap they were for.  I drew a diagram of a book that I'd been wanting to make but hadn't had time to do yet. Maybe someday I'll be creating pages like LK Ludwig, but I don' t mind waiting for that day.

    Now that I've been using my art journal for awhile, I've gotten used to being able to find things, like the exact shade of red I used with the Chinese chop, the vendor's name who sold me that gorgeous swirly paper, and which embossing powder didn't stick to that purple ink.  What liberation, not having to scramble through the piles on my desk, wondering if I threw out the one piece of scrap paper I really needed. Of course, the piles are still on the desk, along with those too-perky-for-words Barbies, but I know that all of my important stuff, the inspiring stuff, can be found in the green book that's getting harder to close.

Biographical Information on Debbie Miller
Debbie Miller is a 25-year old SAHM from Plano, Texas, who is convinced that there must be more to life than kids.  Unfortunately, the evidence of her life contradicts that fantasy.  While her twins keep her busy, she dreams of finding just a little peace and time in her stamping room.  Most of the time spent in there is taken up by reorganizing and admiring her stamping treasures, but one of these days she might actually stamp something, provided the planets are aligned correctly and the kids are asleep at the same time.

Loni's journal stamp credits:
triangle daisy - Too Much Fun
beyond circle - Acey Deucy
hand print - Leavenworth Jackson
half fleur - Above the Mark
small nude - hand drawn

Editor's Note
Thanks go to Loni Young, Kelly Kilmer and Kristy Christopherson for allowing me to use their artwork to illustrate this article.