Sunday, April 26, 2015

In the Spotlight + Mini Challenge... Toni Burks

Hi fellow crafters, my name is Toni and I am happy to share this month a little bit about myself and my creative journey. I live in sunny California and was forced into retirement 6 years ago. I had been working at GTE / Verizon for 35 years when the news hit my whole office " We are sending your job function to Florida". It wasn't really a shock as much of our company had been out sourcing many jobs either to other states or countries due to the high costs to run a business here on the west coast. But I was still fairly young (53) and full of spunk so I hit the employment search road and have been very blessed to find fairly good jobs. I'm currently a manager at a retail clothing store and boy it's nothing like sitting at a desk from 8-5 but it pays the bills.

The same year I lost my job I also ended my marriage of 36 years. Oh 2009 was a year of many obstacles and changes but I've always tried to look at life as "the cup is half full, not half empty". 

My faith in the Lord, my guardian angel (my daughter) and my puppy Bubba definitely kept me going. 

In regards to my creative journey, I have always done some sort of crafting from the time I was little. I have a very artsy family. Father is a musician as well as my brother, my mother an artist and definitely a huge influence of all my crafting endeavors, and my sister also is a scrapbooker, I think I have always scrapbooked... even before it was called that. When I was small we would travel and take photos and I would save napkins, hotel keys anything to keep as memorabilia. I dabbled in macrame, soap making, candle making, ceramics, watercolors, crocheting and sewing. 

About 20 years ago I got real serious about scrapbooking because my daughter played travel softball and I was constantly taking photos and wanted to create keepsakes for her. I purchased a paper here, a sticker there and well you know that was history. I now have an entire room devoted to my studio, my bedroom walk-in closet, my dining room hutch, linen closets filled with bins, and part of my garage. Though this craft can be costly I am thankful for it daily because it allows me to escape. I can turn on some music and get messy until wee hours of the night.

Now when I say messy I mean just that. I love paints, inks, anything mixed media. Paper is often ripped and distressed. I have the most difficult time with CAS (clean and simple). It's not uncommon for me to have to climb over things to get to a tin full of metal embellishments or an apothecary jar full of ribbon. It's kind of funny... I tend to be super particular that my living space is orderly and clean but if my craft table isn't a disaster when creating then I don't feel I've given my all to the project I'm working on... go figure. Therefore, I would describe my style as grungy, old, vintage, with layers of texture and yummieness. I adore steampunk but I also love ribbons, lace and bling. 

Where do I get inspiration???.. it's all around me, I am inspired by nature, the textures of brick on the side of a building or the patina rust on an old can. I'm inspired by emotions or music that I'm listening to, and the plethora of talented artists on the web that so graciously share their work to inspire. Currently I'm on two design teams and this allows me to create in several different directions. My most favorite (at this moment) is altered art and mixed media. I have taken some art classes but for the most part I am self-taught and tend to approach my projects in a very unorthodox manner. I think that's why I love mixed media. It allows you to bend the rules and think out of the box. Some of my most favorite things happened from "oops". 

This first project was a wooden artist palette that I applied many mixed media techniques. Layers and layers of goodness including egg shells for texture. 

This is an Christmas advent calendar box that I altered into an embellishment holder for all my T!m Holtz Ideaology trinkets. 

This next project I used the back of the canvas to create the shadow box for my steampunk butterfly. I love the quote from Albert Einstein "If at first the idea is not absurd, there is no hope for it"

And this clock was altered especially for my studio. Purchased in the clearance section for next to nothing I added embossing, stains, rust activator, paint, gears, chains etc. to make it my own. I think that's why I love altered art, because you make it your own, it's custom, one of a kind. 

And for my last project I was involved in a scavenger hunt at a scrapbook store crop... lot's of fun. We had a list of items that we needed to go find around town and create something from them. Really got those creative wheels turning. Some of the items on the list were, nuts & bolts, nails, aluminum foil, concert tickets, paper clips, cardboard, metal, envelope, doily, rubber bands & feathers. I decided to take an old book, cut a deep niche in it and alter it with photos of my brother whom is an amazing musician.

This was such a fun way to take items and transform them into something artistic and use them in a way that they weren't intended for. 

I think the title of this project fits it well...

So now that you've learned a little about me...
my challenge to you is to go around
your house and find something to alter.

Whether it's an old teapot, an empty paper towel roll, perhaps a broken frame, get out those paints, inks, stains, glue... turn up some music, get yourself a cup of coffee and let's get messy ! xoxo Toni


  1. wow! Toni...I love all the projects that you have displayed here. I admire you for your strength and attitude. Your mini challenge is equally amazing...after reading about you, I see a lot of similarities here, difficulty in CAS, altering, mixed media, grungy, vintage...sounds a lot like ME!...BIG hugs dear.

  2. Hi Toni .. Amazing works .. I have just one word " RESPECT " ..
    Its take a lot to be who you are !!.. There is a lot of similarity here .. Love your style ..

    Hugs ,