Saturday, March 28, 2015

Pink Wedding

 One of the things that really pushed me into card-making is that ability to tailor the card to their recipient. From their favorite color and current hobby to inside jokes and personalized sentiment, you're practically guaranteed to make a one-of-a-kind card they'll never get elsewhere. I, personally, take great joy in making the card fit their person. And those little details do get noticed (much to my surprise and delight)!

I suppose even before getting into card-making, I was that one girl standing in the card aisle, mentally agonizing over which of those two cards would be just perfect. So, suddenly having the freedom to just make it perfect is awesome!

And then last week, a dear friend requested I make a card for a couple I'd never met. This was one of those... I'm making a card for my friend's co-worker's sister, who in turn is giving it to one of her client's grand-daughters for her wedding (talk about complicated!). And it needed to be made that day because the wedding was over the weekend...

After my mini-panic-attack, I asked for any info they had about the happy couple. They had the wedding invitation, which was very lovely and featured an engagement picture. That was enough to get some creative wheels turning, and I came up with the card you see above.

I used Some Odd Girl's First Dance Mae stamp set, because it has a beautiful couple dancing. I colored them in with my Copics, making sure they matched the engagement picture. I was really happy with it, and then got stumped again. What kind of background do I use?!

So, I drew on the wedding invitation again and pulled the colors - pinks, creams, reds and a touch of black. The invitation had a more modern (even artistic) feel, so I chose a pretty watercolor paper and a scripty love die. A few paper flowers and pearls later, I had a finished card.

The card was very well-received, as a thank-you card from the bride confirms. And as scary as it was to make a card for someone I didn't know, it was also very fulfilling. Maybe I will challenge myself to make a few more "anyone" cards...


Friday, March 27, 2015

Belated cute

I've got an ever-growing list of things I really ought to do - things there just isn't enough time to finish at the end of the day. Every now and then, I will wistfully look at that list and wish for an army of clones or more hours in the day. But then life catches up and I'm off running to take care of something important.

So, today I decided to make some time and cross of one of the things on that enormous list. I sat down to make a few birthday cards for my stash, so I'm not always rushing to finish a card the morning of the party (please tell me I'm not the only one that does this?). Then inspiration hit and I started making something completely different.

I decided to make a belated card. It was a belated birthday card, but then I noted it's vague enough to be a belated anything. Graduation, anniversary, and so on. And I'm glad I made it!

I thought to myself, if I'm making a "sorry I'm late" card, I might as well make it extra cute. Who can stay mad at a couple of little snails from Lawn Fawn's Gleeful Gardens? Those poor little snails are trying, and it's not their fault they're so slow...

Since the snails are super, super cute, I decided to keep the rest of the card cute too. And I did that by making sure it's small. The 4-bar size of the Walnut Notecards makes it that much more adorable. Add to that the small journaling card, and it's the perfect teeny scene!

I used bright colors, added some dots and just had fun. Looking at the card makes me smile, and here's to hoping the recipient will too.


Lawn Fawn - Gleeful Gardens stamp
Lawn Fawn - Walnut Notecard
Lawn Fawn - Stitched Journaling Card
Lawn Fawn - Hello Sunshine Petite 6x6
Lawn Fawn - Let's Polka Petite 6x6
Lawn Fawn - Let's Polka Mon Amie 6x6
My Favorite Things- Hybrid Ink in Black Licorice
Tsukineko Versamark Inkpad
Hero Arts White Embossing Powder
Bazzill Vellum #40lbs
Mama Elephant - Landscape Trio die
Copics (E81, E84, Y21, YR14, V01, R95, R32, RV14, E23, E37, C2, C4, E50, E53)
Enamel Dots
White Gel Pen

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Summer Sunshine

I've always found it absolutely fascinating to read and listen to what creative people are inspired by. Sometimes it's a shape, a sound or a movement. That burst of inspiration feels like you're capturing an entire experience and transforming it into a single word (as impossible as that might be). Once you have the finished piece, it - in turn - can become that creative inspiration for someone else.

I'm a color girl. I have always been inspired by color, especially when it's color done well like this or this or this. Add to this my penchant for certain patterns (polka dots and stripes, I'm looking at you!), and it's easy to see why patterned papers are one of my favorite crafty supplies.

So, this card started entirely with color. I was looking through my paper pads and came across the Happy Collection pad from Avery Elle. Leafing through it, I came across the striped paper that had a yellow (mustard seed) on one side and pink (strawberry) on the other. It made me think of summer, which in turn made me think of sunshine and with a creative click, the rest of the card concept just fell into place.

I wanted to use the adorable girl from Simon Says Stamp's Slumber Party stamp set, so I stamped her in brown and colored her with my Copics. Since I had the warm pink and yellow tones for the patterned paper, I chose to use a cool tone for her outfit - and this really made her pop. Using pink on the bear and slippers tied the colors together so it looked like she was meant for this card.

A die, a stamp and some enamel dots later, I had a finished card - a summery "Hello Sunshine" that's warm and feminine.

Since this wednesday's challenge at Simon Says Stamp is Anything Goes, I'm going to go ahead and enter.

Simon Says Stamp - Slumber Party stamp
Simon Says Stamp - Bring the Sunshine stamp
Simon Says Stamp - Small Hello die
Avery Elle - The Happy Collection 6x6
Simon Says Stamp - Heavyweight cardstock in Sunshine
Neenah Solar White cardstock in #110lbs
Simon Says Stamp Inkpad in Sunshine
My Favorite Things - Blueprints 13 (large stitched rectangle)
Mama Elephant - Femme Frames (small stitched rectangle)
Enamel dots
3M Double-Sided Foam Tape
Zig - Wink of Stella (clear)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Vibrant Flower

 Today's card features a technique I've been meaning to try out for a while - coloring on Kraft cardstock, using an embossed white outline. I really like the way embossed white looks against kraft, and I thought it would look great with the addition of some vibrant color.

For this technique, I needed to use a stamp that has both intricate detail and lots of room where I could lay down color. So, I chose Altenew's Persian Motifs stamp set. I grabbed a couple of stamps from the set and stamped them in Versamark ink. I then embossed them in white. Now, I could have stopped right there and had a lovely and subtle design, but I really wanted to add a lot of rich color. And I decided to do so with my Prismacolor pencils.

The reason I chose Prismacolors in particular is because they're a very soft, very pigmented pencil. This would ensure that the colors would stand out against the Kraft cardstock - something you don't get wit pencils that have a harder lead. It's very similar to pigment ink vs dye ink when stamping on kraft paper. Dye ink soaks into the paper and doesn't give you the same vibrant look you get with pigment ink. Likewise, hard lead doesn't put much pigment down and the result is a very subtle or faded look. So, if you want to try this technique and have a very vibrant color, go with a soft-core pigmented color pencil.

You'll want to test your color on a piece of cardstock first. Since kraft cardstock fives you a darker background, your color choices will need to be adjusted. Take the red, for example. It is a perfect rich red on the card, but the color I actually used looks a bit more light and orange on white paper. 

Soft pencils like Prismacolors tend to layer very well. I only used 7 colors on this card -- yellow, red, green, orange, blue, white and dark brown. I was able to layer the colors on top of each other to create depth and shading, and I didn't have to do any extra blending with solutions - just working lighter to darker and back again to blend the colors in.. So, don't feel like you need to own a million colors. Just the basics can give you a really great result.

After my piece was colored in, I built the rest of the card around it. I used a neutral gray for the base, as it makes the panel seem even warmer in tone, and I added some patterned paper that uses the same tones as the flower.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Update! (and a chat)

I mentioned a few entries back that I wanted to make some good changes, so I wanted to go a bit more in detail about what I'm planning to do and why. If you want to just read the changes themselves, scroll down to the Changes title.

A little while ago, I bought a small notebook & a pen, and I started a gratitude journal. At the end of every day, I take a few minutes to slow down and think about 3 little things I'm grateful for - a different something each day. One thing that became very obvious to me right away is that there are so many things in my life that I'm grateful for. The challenge is to narrow it down to just 3, and that's really amazing.

Even though I've only been doing a gratitude journal for a short time, I've already noticed some great benefits. I've found myself a lot more content, which led to feeling more relaxed overall. And that in turn made it even easier to find things I'm grateful for. But more importantly, it made me appreciate what I have. It brought my focus back to enjoying what I hold in front of me as opposed to just thinking about the next thing I need to get. All of it snowballed into making a lot of other positive changes in my life -- from eating healthier to exercising more, to having an easier time at work and more.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, we had our taxes done. This process is a bit more complicated because I'm an independent contractor (i.e. self-employed), so we had to carefully go through our expenses and make sure we've claimed everything properly. In the process of this, we added up the money spent on crafty and art supplies... And it's a staggeringly high amount. I only recalled making a couple of really big orders, but once all the little amounts got added, it just grew and grew. It wasn't so bad that we needed to take out a second mortgage and sell our cars or anything like that. But it's still was so much more than I ever spent on a hobby, and way above any budget I'd set for myself.

Altogether, it was a wake-up call that happened at just the right time. If I hadn't started my gratitude journal, I would have felt that massive feeling of guilt for overspending that would carry onto my card-making. I would have had creeping feelings of resentment about not being able to spend money on brand new shiny things. I might have even abandoned cards altogether. But armed with my feeling of contentment and plenty, I saw it as a another confirmation that I'm on the right path -- that I should continue to focus on what I already have instead of looking for what else I need to get.

This shift in focus means stepping away from buying new products. I'm not going to go on a formal spending freeze or anything like that. I tried really hard several times, and it was never really successful. I either got too tempted and ordered stuff anyway, or I didn't order for a while and then made a massive order with everything I would have bought before anyway. But I am going to spend less. I need to embrace what supplies I own and make use of them - regardless of whether they're retired, used a million times by others or out of trend. They're still new and exciting to me, so I'm looking forward to using them.

However, this exciting new direction also means a change for my current setup. I probably won't be able to make the same kinds of blog posts or join the same kind of challenges. Maybe it even means going completely unnoticed by companies and other crafters (though, thankfully, there are a lot of great companies that love and share their old material, and lots of new crafters who haven't grown tired of an old stamp. So there's still hope!). But I think the change is worth it and I hope you'll embark on this journey with me.

To make this a little easier, I'm going to make a few changes on my blog.
1) I'm going to be focusing on the process, thinking and inspiration instead of specific products. I will still link a few products here and there, as well as add in the right tags so you can find manufacturers easier. I just won't be spending as much time linking and naming everything I used.
This will make writing posts a lot easier for me, not to mention faster. So, hopefully it will mean more sharing.
2) I'm going to walk away from the step-by-step written instructions. After watching a ton of videos and reading just as many blog posts, I've come to the conclusion that step-by-step things work much better in a video. Just reading the text gets a bit boring and bland, not to mention that it really only makes perfect sense to me since I've already made the card.
3) I'm going to do a TON of new personal challenges, mini series and implement ideas I jotted down in my idea notebook. I'm giving a fair warning because they will be all over the place, but there's no reason to wait just because I worry it will be too much. They're things that inspire me, and I should use that inspiration.
4) I'm going to occasionally share mixed media or other art. Though I love cards, I'd also like to get into things like art journaling or watercolor practice. I've gone as far as buying several supplies specifically for art journaling, but haven't taken the plunge yet. I'd like to start in April, after I have a bit of extra time to devote to it. I'll try to share some of my future attempts here.
5) I'm going to change the blog look just a little -- which you should be seeing right now. I've switched the background to be a bit more neutral and simple, and added a blog banner. I hope you like it!

And that's all for now. Sorry for the wall of text, but I wanted to share all of this because I'm both excited and feeling like I'm on an absolutely right path.

Monday, March 16, 2015

PS - Healthy Vibes

  It's been a while since I've used a Paper Smooches stamp. And it's not because I've suddenly developed a dislike for them. I think they're just as adorable and as quirky as ever. But for some reason, I kept feeling drawn to other stamps over the past few months.

I had a friend who fell ill recently, and I wanted to make a card for her. So, I pulled out my teeny (compared to other stamps, anyway) collection of get-well stamps and found Paper Smooches' First Aid Kit stamp.  I thought it would be perfect for a cheery get-well card.

I stamped and colored the ambulance with my Copics, using the classic white and red palette. I liked the combination of white and red, so I thought I'd echo it in the rest of the card. I used the Borders 1 die to cut a white stitched rectangle, and put some dimension in the card with foam squares.

The rest of the card is really simple. I used a light blue paper to create a border, so the front panel wouldn't blend in with the card base. And I scattered a few enamel dots for fun.

Since the challenge for PS - Sparks this week is Anything Goes, I'm going to go ahead and enter there.
Paper Smooches - First Aid Kit stamp
Paper Smooches - Borders 1 die
Neenah Solar White #80lbs
My Favorite Things - Blueprints 13 die
Mama Elephant - Femme Frames die
My Favorite Things - Hybrid Inkpad in Black Licorice
Patterned Paper

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Renew and Gold

 Thinking about trends always gets me in a conflicted mood. On on hand, I do want to try out the great new thing everyone else is playing with. But on the other hand, I also want to stand out from the crowd and do something completely different. So what usually ends up happening is that I'll buy some tool/supply/etc to try out the new trend, and then wait forever to use it. By that point, the trend has moved on and it feels like I'm too late to the party. I end up not trying out the trend or not sharing my attempts.

So, after an agonizingly long inner monologue, I've decided to just be sensible about it. If the trend meshes with my style or if I already have tools to do it, I'll plunge right in. Otherwise, I'll do my own thing and wait for the trends to change.

Why do I mention this? Because the card I'm sharing today has a very trendy element -- gold foil. It seems to be all the rage lately, and I've seen a ton of lovely cards and videos featuring a variety of foiling techniques. But if I'm perfectly honest with myself, it's not something I can see myself using a ton - and I can back this up with the fact that I rarely use my embossing, which gives a pretty similar effect.

I happened to get this gold foil from a paper pad by My Mind's Eye (Fancy That). I had bought the pad because of the peachy and pink colors that I'm still in-love with, so the gold foil was just a bonus. And it made for a great trendy and rich background.

Of course, a rich background calls for a special stamp. I used Some Odd Girl's Renew stamp - which has the lovely princess that's just plain fun to color. A plum card base and a couple of enamel dots is all it took to finish the card off.

What do you think about trends? Got a favorite one I really need to try?


Some Odd Girl - Renew stamp
My Mind's Eye - Fancy That 6x6
Doodlebug Enamel Dots in Lilac
My Favorite Things Cardstock in Pure Plum
Scrapbook Adhesives 3D Foam Squares

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

BB- Kitten and Fish

My Favorite Things - (Birdie Brown) I Knead You, My Favorite Things Tag Builder Blueprints 3, My Favorite Things Blueprints 13, Mama Elephant Femme Frames, Lawn Fawn Hello Sunshine Petite 6x6, Simon Says Stamp Sea Glass cardstock, Neenah Solar White Cardstock.

Today's card is a very bright and happy card featuring a new release from Birdie Brown - I Knead You stamp. I also used the Tag Blueprints 3 to create the front panel with cute dotted scallop, as well a couple stitched rectangle dies for layering paper.

The patterned paper is one of my favorite papers - a retired line from Lawn Fawn called Hello Sunshine. I had collected several of the pads when I heard they were retiring the line, but I think it's time to use them up.

I've got the spring-cleaning bug, so I've been doing a lot of reorganizing and planning. I'm going to make a few positive changes in my life and in my blog, so stay tuned for plenty of exciting new content.


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Organization - Cardstock & Embellishments

My crafty area is nearly clean now, so I thought I would wrap up by sharing my storage solutions for the rest of my crafty stash.


The first step in wrangling my cardstock was figuring out how I'm going to store it. I have a rather large collection of cardstock from several manufacturers, and I needed a good storage solution. Since paper is very heavy, I couldn't just throw all of my cardstock into one container - as it would then be impossible to move, as well as go through to pull out specific colors.

So, I went to my local office supply store and got some letter storage boxes (I don't have a link, though they are similar to these - only a lot less expensive). These boxes measure 10½" x 13½" x 3½", and there were several color choices. I was able to organize the cardstock by color, and I used a white box with a color label for any colors I was missing (ex. orange or purple). I stacked these boxes under my storage shelf, where they're perfectly out of the way, but still within reach if I need them.

Before I put all of the cardstock away, I grabbed 3 sheets of cardstock out of each package. I cut 2 of them in half and folded them to create A2 card bases (4¼ by 5½"), two top-folding and two side-folding. And the 3rd sheet was cut into four 4¼ by 5½" panels that I can use for layering or die-cutting. That was quite a bit of work, but it left me with a lot of ready-to-use card bases and gave me a very good idea of all the different colors I had in my stash.

There are a few packs of cardstock that I didn't put away:
-- My basics - white, cream, kraft, grays, navy and black -- I use them all the time, and I needed to have them within reach. I also needed to know just how many I had left, so I can re-order before running out of an essential color (like white).
-- Rainbow and sampler assortments. -- I kept these out just in case I run out of card bases or need extra of a particular color to die-cut.

I'm really pleased with this system, and glad I took the time to pre-cut those card bases. I'm already noticing that it makes card-making quicker and more convenient.

The first step in organizing my embellishments was to put them in categories. I divided them by type, such as sequins, flowers, enamel dots, etc. After that, I went through each stack and took out any pieces I didn't think I would use immediately -- things like duplicate colors/back-ups, seldom used metal charms and ephemera, etc. I put them in a clear plastic box with a lid. I'm going to make an effort to pull something from that box at least once per month and find a way to use it.

The rest of the embellishments were stacked in photo boxes I got from Ikea. I used small plastic bags for embellishments that were open or had a lot of small non-adhesive pieces (ex. die-cuts, buttons, wood veneer).

I gave enamel dots their own separate box, both because they're my most frequently used embellishment and because I have such a large variety now. I organized them by color/color families. I still kept them in their packaging, just so they wouldn't get dusty.

My sequins are stored in the Craftmates Pop'nLock (and smaller version) containers I got from Amazon a few months ago. They're organized by color and by size if I have multiple sizes. I have a few fun mixes in there, too. Winnie and Walter always sends a little envelope with free sequins if you order them directly, so I've got a few of those packs to have fun with.

Lastly, my flowers are all in large basket. I kept them in their original packaging or in Ziploc bags to avoid getting them dusty. The flowers were the most challenging to organize because they're the biggest. I need to try using them on projects more often, I think.

And that's it! Everything is neatly organized and should be much easier to find (and use).

Friday, March 6, 2015

One-Layer Thanks

Simon Says Stamp Flickr group is having another challenge, and this time the theme is Clean and Simple, One Layer. Now, my cards do generally tend to gravitate toward clean and simple, but I rarely make true one-layer cards. So, I wanted to challenge myself to create something that was both visually interesting and completely one-layer.

I started by grabbing a top-folding A2 (4¼ by 5½") card base I created out of white cardstock. I used my micropore tape to mask off an area where the sentiment would be. I then took Simon Says Stamp's Stars & Dots stencil and blended some Pumice Stone distress ink with a mini blending tool. I used the edge of the stencil to create a line with faded ink near the top and bottom of the card.

I removed the tape masking off the sentiment area and added a more narrow masked area. I blended in some Wild Honey ink to create a warm yellow stripe that was a little more faded out near the edge. I then masked off two smaller stripes just above this area and blended in some Peeled Paint.

Lastly, I stamped a sentiment from Simon Says Stamp's Many Thanks stamp set in crisp black ink.

This card is definitely one layer - which makes it super simple to mail. But it's also got visual interest thanks to colors added with a stencil and some creative masking.

Simon Says Stamp - Stars & Dots stencil
Simon Says Stamp - Many Thanks stamp set
Distress inkpads - Pumice Stone, Wild Honey and Peeled Paint
Ranger Mini Round Blending tool
Bazzill Heavyweight Cardstock - Marshmallow
3M Micropore tape
Tsukineko Versafine inkpad in Onyx Black

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Watercolor Flower Thanks

Yesterday was my birthday, and I actually managed to have a few quiet moments to myself at the end of the day. So, I decided to be brave and do some water-coloring. I'm certainly far from being skilled at watercolor, but I can't get any better if I don't practice. So, here goes...

I pulled out a piece of distress watercolor paper and Botanical Bunch stamp set from WPlus9. I stamped the flower bunch in brown archival ink and gave it a minute to dry. Then I taped the piece to my board with blue painters' tape and grabbed my Koi watercolors.

I started with the leaves, using just a flat green color at first. After letting it dry, I used a darker green to add some shadows here and there. Once the leaves were completely dry, I colored in the flowers. I colored the biggest flowers bright red, using a combination of light and darker red. Once the were dry, I also added a touch of brown at the center. I used bluish purple for the smaller flowers and a combination of yellow and orange for the single sprig.

I let everything dry, hitting it briefly with my heat tool to make sure no colors would bleed. I wanted a pale blue/aqua background, but the set didn't come with that kind of color. So, I used a combination of white and blue with just a tiniest touch of green to create my own color. I did a really quick flat wash all over the background.

I wanted to add a bit more texture to the background, so I loaded my brush with the aqua color and touched it to the paper, creating little dots that spread out where the paper was still wet. I then grabbed a baby wipe and gently dabbed in several spots. This removed color in some areas and added more color to others. Once I was happy with the texture, I set the piece aside and let it dry overnight.

The rest of the card came together very quickly.

I grabbed a standard A2 card base (4¼ by 5½") created from white cardstock and a piece of dark brown cardstock that measured ¼" less than the base (4 by 5¼"). I trimmed the watercolor piece to be slightly smaller than that, then matted them together and adhered them to the base.

For the sentiment, I used Hand Lettered Thanks stamp from WPlus9. I embossed the scripted Thanks with gold embossing powder and stamped the tiny "many" in brown archival ink.

As a last touch, I adhered 3 gold sequins near the top of the flower bunch.

Thanks to Marika, I found WPlus9's Throwback Thursday challenge, so I'm going to enter this card. :D

WPlus9 - Botanical Bunch stamp
WPlus9 - Hand Lettered Thanks stamp
Ranger Archival Ink in Potting Soil
Koi Watercolor 24-color field kit
Simon Says Stamp Gold Ultrafine Detail Embossing Powder
Simon Says Stamp Sparkle & Shine sequin mix
Brown cardstock
Bazzill heavyweight cardstock in Marshmallow
Tim Holtz Distres watercolor paper
Tombow XTreme adhesive runner

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sweet Thanks

 Today's card is a quick and fun thank you card featuring supplies from Lawn Fawn. Since it fits the theme of Simon Says Stamp Wednesday challenge, I'll be entering it there.

My concept for this card was to create something that looked a bit like a sweet bakery, so I decided to make it look like the sentiment was piped out of frosting with a piping bag.

I started by stamping the piping bag from Baked With Love stamp set onto some marker paper in black ink. I also stamped a tiny heart from the same set in the middle of the bag. I colored it in very simply with Copics, then I carefully cut it out with a pair of scissors.

I pulled out my Bigshot and die-cut a stitched rectangle out of some cream-colored cardstock. I cut the same rectangle out of the chocolate striped paper from Lawn Fawn's Let's Polka Mon Amie petite paper pad. I then used a Stitched scallop edge die to create a decorative edge. While I had my Bigshot out, I used the strawberry striped paper to cut out the Scripty Thanks, as well as a couple of small hearts.

I adhered all of the elements together, using a combination of my standard adhesive, Tombow liquid glue and foam squares. I tied a piece of white ribbon around the top of the panel and then adhered it to a pink card base with foam tape.

As a last touch, I scattered 3 enamel dots around the card.

Lawn Fawn - Baked With Love stamp set
Lawn Fawn - Scripty Thanks die
Lawn Fawn - Let's Polka Mon Amie Petite 6x6 patterned paper
Lawn Fawn - Hearts die
My Favorite Things - Blueprints 13 die
Pretty Pink Posh - Stitched Borders 1 die
Tombow Craft Dot Adhesive Runner (pink)
Tombow Mono-Multi Liquid Glue
Scrapbook Adhesives 3D Foam Squares
Stampin; Up Whisper White Organza ribbon
My Mind's Eye Essentials Reds enamel dots
My Favorite Things - Heavyweight Cardstock in Bubblegum (card base)