Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Early one morning, just as the sun was rising...

I heard a maiden singing in the valley below. (Blog candy surprise to the first commenter who guesses why that's been stuck in my head for weeks now.)

The dogs got me up early this morning, so I figured I'd knock out a card that's been rattling around in my head for a while. I saw a card set using the emboss-resist technique with Twinkling H2Os the other day, and really wanted to try it.

Heat embossing is the very first technique I learned in stamping - it's surprisingly versatile, since it creates images that resist other mediums (like when you use a wax crayon on an Easter egg before you dye it). I love using Twinkling H2Os as well - they have just a little shimmer, which is why the photos came out a little weird - the color isn't actually that teal, it's just the reflection of the flash on the shimmer.

I painted the watercolors over the embossed menorah - very simple and quick - and attached some silver-edged ribbon to a strip of silver shimmer paper from Papertrey. I punched out the sentiment with my 1 3/4" circle punch (same punch I use for my JustRite monogram stamper), and edged it with a Pentel silver gel pen. (Even though this is a terrible photo, I included it because it's the truest to the actual color of the paint - that gorgeous royal blue.)

This is the finished cardfront - I didn't attach it to anything for now - I'll pick a base to put it on later. The sentiment circle is popped up on Pop Dots to give it a little dimension.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Neat finds

We went yesterday to Waxahachie to have lunch at the Catfish Plantation, which was a lot of fun - but then, we drove down to check out the historic downtown area, and went to the Dove's Nest - wow, such a great place. It was a fantastic grouping of lovely little antiques collections and gifts and soaps... I could have spent hours there, and I didn't even get to check out the scrapbooking store next door. I think there's definitely another visit in order some time soon.

I picked up this nice little collection of bits and bobs that I can't wait to put into some cards - a couple of vintage velvety flowers, some pretty fall leaves, a few yards of perfectly faded ribbon, and several little sections of old lace. I love the little glass bottle full of tiny purple flowers - I almost don't want to open it and use them.

We stopped at a bakery on the way back, and I ran into the antique store on the other side of the square - there were SO many wonderful little items there, including a gorgeous purple Tiffany-style lamp, which would have come home with me if I could have justified spending the money. I'm still tempted - for some reason that little square is my truly bizarre place to spend too much money on things. There are only about five stores, but one of the few other times I've been there, I bought my wedding cake topper. It's still one of my favorite wedding keepsakes.

They had a set of pink glass dishes that I fell in love with, too - I really wish I'd taken my camera, even though I only have the big one now. I did pick up this sweet green jug for my paintbrushes - the flower in it came from the Dove's Nest findings grab-bag. I love lilies of the valley. I can't wait to put some of my new treats to use - I have to fight the inclination to stockpile them and not use them, but I love the challenge of making something pretty when I only have the one shot with a limited resource. The little vintage notebook should be fun to alter.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Mad rush

Sorry I don't have a card to share today - I actually made a ton yesterday, but it wasn't under the best of circumstances. See, I'd promised someone I'd make a bunch of stuff for them, and completely forgot that they needed it first thing today. Till I went into my office around 10 last night to work on another card I'd promised someone today. So when I realized it was mass-production time, I buckled down and ran through them, without taking pictures. Some of what I was working on is actually a few posts down - the purple and blue tags. I had to alter the designs a little bit to fit text and because one of my cutting systems was acting up, and I had to recruit my husband to help with adhering things together, but I got it done.

I wish I'd gotten a picture of the other card I made, which was a really quick thing (actually made it in 5 minutes this morning before I left), but turned out looking really elegant. It was a wedding card, and I just did a basic white base, with a black layer and then a white layer on top - the white layer was textured with the Cuttlebug, and I put a punched-out sentiment on it over a black velvet ribbon. I used my favorite "Textile" Cuttlebug folder, which always looks really classy, and I think that and the velvet ribbon made it look really polished, even for such a quick card.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


The three most frightening words in the stamping language are "man's birthday card." It's really such a female-centric hobby, it's very hard to come up with ideas for a man's card. In this case, I figured I'd start out with a color scheme, so I pulled out some very basic-patterned Always Artichoke paper (Stampin' Up), with Papertrey's Kraft, white, and Dark Chocolate.

I searched Splitcoast for masculine cards and found this one - I like the basic layout quite a bit, so I made up a little chart to change the colors. I know that's weird, but since this has so many layers, I wanted to write out from the beginning which colors would land where and what sizes they needed to be. Since the base is A2 (5.5"x4.25"), the next layers in are 5.25"x4" and 5"x3.75". And so on - I pretty much always use quarter-inch increments for layers.

I switched the punched circles for stars, since I had a teeny star punch, and then looked around for a bigger star. I came up with a chipboard one, which was slightly lighter brown than the kraft I'd used for the tiny stars... I have a "thing" about matching, so I embossed it with white. The larger chipboard "celebrate" piece is covered with white paper so that I could stamp on it. I think it turned out well!

Rosh Hashanah card

I received my Mazel Tov and Mazel Tov Additions sets from Papertrey the other day, and since Rosh Hashanah is coming up, I thought I'd try my hand at a card. I really appreciate the research that Papertrey put in to this set, and they also put together a chart on which symbols go with which holidays, and when those holidays are. Very helpful!

For this card, I know that blue and silver are Chanukah colors, but Papertrey also came out this week with beautiful shimmery silver and navy cardstock, so I had those colors on my mind. I actually didn't open up the Papertrey cardstock yet, because I had a textured silver stock left over from something else. I was so happy that the sentiment for this card fit so perfectly in one of the tags from my Cuttlebug tag die set - very convenient! This ended up being a really simple card - the ribbon is also new from Papertrey, and I think it's really pretty.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Odds & Ends & Beginnings

I have yet to hook up the card reader to get photos of what I worked on this weekend, but I have some bits and pieces of other projects that I've taken with the other camera. This is one of 30 tags in two styles that I'm making for my aunt - she's selling some items at a craft fair (and taking some of my stock), and wanted nice little tags for them. This one has the flourish from SU's "Priceless" set (one of my favorite go-tos - classic, versatile images) stamped in Aqua Mist ink on Aqua Mist cardstock (both from Papertrey), then the butterfly from Priceless stamped straight onto the cardstock and also in Aqua Mist on white and cut out - that gives it some nice depth. The flower is one of my little Primas with a clear plastic dewdrop in the middle. It is a little small... for the actual text, I may print it on a larger piece of printer paper and fold it to put it on the back.

This is the other tag I'm making - it's an embossed flourish from Fancy Pants's "Pollen Dust" set on Papertrey's Lavender Moon cardstock. I die cut the scalloped ovals with my Nestabilities - the larger one is Papertrey's Plum Pudding. It's a very simple design, and I think it will work well for putting text on the back.

This is my favorite ongoing project - I brought bagels in to work one day, and had the brilliant idea of making the Einstein Bros. box into a haunted house for Halloween, to hold fun seasonal goodies. I painted the box black, and right now I'm working on the roof. It needs to be removable, so that you can get to the stuff inside, but I want it to look good. I painted a piece of 12 x 12 chipboard purple, and I still have plans to dress it up a little more - you can still see some black under the purple from when I was using the piece as a painting mat. I love the little windows - I have this great gold translucent paper that I love using for windows, because it looks so warm, like you're looking in on a room full of candlelight. These little glittery stickers from Martha Stewart's craft line work really well for the windows, too. I'm probably going to end up using them all over the house - I have a set of birds and trees, and a set of witches and cats. I'll show more as I get more done.

This is a little sneak peek of my Christmas cards - to be honest, I haven't even halfway finished designing them yet, but I like what I have so far. Papertrey released a holiday addition to their Boards and Beams set, and already I love how wonderfully the snow fits on to the house. It looks so good embossed in white! I can't wait to get more of it finished.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


I'd like to take a moment to remember my trusty little PowerShot. It served me well for more than four years, and has now snapped its last. It was a good camera.

And it had my latest project's photos on it. Dangit. Now I have to hook up the card reader.

Shower card

I needed a wedding shower gift today, so I thought it'd be a great opportunity to use my new monogram stamper, and the wedding colors are purple and bronze, so I got to use Basic Grey's new "Eva" paper as well. I picked up a 6x6 pack of it last time I was at Scrap Barn. I usually get 12x12 packs at Hobby Lobby, but Scrap Barn had the 6x6, and I do like using that size when it's available because they scale down the patterns - perfect for cards! For cardstock here, I used Papertrey's Plum Pudding, Lavender Moon, and Spring Moss, on a base of Stampin' Up! kraft cardstock. I like using kraft as a base (although I think I'm going to order a new pack from Papertrey once my current one runs out - their cardstock is quite a bit stiffer and heavier, and feels like better quality) - it's neutral and a little rustic, but still looks very put-together and sophisticated.

My Coluzzle circle template works well with the JustRite stamper - although if I come across a 1 3/4" circle punch, I'll probably pick it up just to make things a little easier. The Coluzzle is really nice for layers, though. I thought the dotted border for the monogram was a nice modern touch, and echoes the repetition of the crosses in the Basic Grey design.

The finished product - didn't take long at all, but I love how polished the different layers and Cuttlebug embossing make it look.

Friday, September 19, 2008

New Toy and a Not-So-Surprise

I've been seeing some really fun projects lately made with JustRite Stampers, and the shipment of PTI stamps I was expecting to play with this weekend was delayed, so I picked one up at Scrap Barn today. It's really a neat deal - the set I got comes with the basic stamper, four borders, and a large and small alphabet, and you can make any number of monograms with it.

I thought I'd play around a little, and the clean line of the basic circle border made me think of my sister, so I thought I'd make up a little set of notecards for her. It's a nice basic set of notecards, very simple layout, using PTI's white, Berry Sorbet, and Sweet Blush cardstocks.

I got excited about what I was making and forgot to stop and take a photo, but I did make up a sketch of the little box to put them in - it's such a simple, quick box, and it's fantastic for a small set like this.

I punch half-circles in the top with my circle punch so that it's easier to pull out the cards. Another variation on this that I use a lot (although for some reason I can't find a single one today) is to put ribbon handles (adhered under a coordinating front and back panel) and/or a lid on it. Since I want this to be really clean and simple, I left off the coordinating panels and lid, and just adhered some twill tape around the middle, with another monogram medallion as the focal point.

This is the completed set - it'd be a surprise, for... I don't know... Columbus Day or something, but I'm pretty sure this entry will show up in her Reader in a minute, so... Surprise!

My favorite paper

This is one of my favorite ways to start out a card. I picked up several sets of Basic Grey and Cosmo Cricket designer paper at Hobby Lobby - they frequently have them 50% off, so I like to stock up then. I love these 12 x 12 clear sleeves - they have half-size pockets at the front, so I can store scraps where they're easy to see.

I finally got a new set of watercolor markers last week (once again, hooray for Hobby Lobby coupons and sales - I've gotten to where I don't take advantage of craft-store coupons every time, but it's really nice when one comes along for a larger item like this), so I've been enjoying having a better selection of colors to work with. I like to pick several colors that coordinate with the patterned paper to color with.

Flowahbella is one of my favorite Bellas for an all-occasion card - she's elegant but fun, and of course I love her wild curly hair. The coloring on this is pretty simple - I didn't do much shading with the pencils themselves, just filled in the spaces with the colors I picked. I do the shading when I start watercoloring - the aquapen I'm holding here is such a great tool for watercoloring. You have great control over how much water you use, and to change colors, you just wipe it off on a paper towel. I do my shading at this stage - I just draw more of the color over to the areas where I want the shadows to be (in this case, on the right).

Aaaand, this would be why I always stamp my image twice. And why I never color the bellas' skin. I keep forgetting, and doing it, then remembering why it was a bad idea. See, the problem is, if I color their legs, then their faces look weird blank... and if I color the faces, then their mouths look weird blank. And then I go to color the mouths... and they look like rabid zombies who've gotten a little too fond of the taste of human flesh. So, I take the lessons I learned from If You Give A Mouse A Cookie and just don't color the legs.

So here, I started over with my spare image, and you can see a little better how I do the shading. She's almost done!

The finished card - I used all of the scraps I'd picked earlier, with some PaperTrey Ink Sweet Blush cardstock that I had in my scrap box. I used most of the scraps as-is, with a minimum of trimming - I like to see what kind of layout I can come up with if I don't fiddle with it too much. I may add a sentiment later if I end up having an occasion to use it for, or I may just leave it as-is to send to someone "just because."

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Owl Corkboard

I started a project last night, with the intention of having it as my first made-for-blog project, but it looks like it's going to be quite a bit more extensive than I'd originally planned, so I thought I'd use the space today to show off some of my favorite cards and projects.

This little corkboard was so much fun to do - when I picked it up in the Target $1 Spot (favorite place to find alterable items and cheap embellishments), it had a distressed white finish with an anchor or something painted at the top - kind of a nautical theme.

For this kind of project, I really love Making Memories scrapbook paint. It's acrylic paint that's formulated to dry faster than regular acrylics, and I have 24 of their colors. I painted the whole outside of the frame with Cornflower blue (if you're unsure of your ability to keep it neat, it's really simple to hold a piece of paper against the inside edges so that the paint doesn't get on the cork), then stamped the clouds from a travel set by Love, Elsie in Stampin' Up! white craft ink. This is a perfect occasion to use craft ink, because it's thicker and "sticks" on the surface of the cork. It does take longer to dry, so I used my heat gun to set it.

For the topper, I cut the detail out of this gorgeous Sassafras Lass paper - I've been ekeing out that one sheet for quite a while, because their stuff is so cute, it sells out really quickly when they get it in at Scrapbook Barn. I used my Fiskars finger knife for this one, too - it's so great for teeny tiny details.

Then it was simply a matter of adhering the owl and putting together a little stack of Prima flowers (I have way too many of those - I can't resist them. They're so cute!), bound together with a brad and stuck on with a glue dot. I'm keeping this little board for myself - as soon as I get a chance to rearrange my craft room, it's going to go up on the wall.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Something a little different already

I wasn't going to post these, because they're so far out of my usual style, but I'm sending them out today for an exchange, so they're on my mind. Not to mention, I really like the photography I did on them, and wanted to share.

I created a set of 6 of these (Jack and Queen of Spades; King, Queen, and Jack of Hearts, and King of Diamonds) for an ATC (Artist Trading Card) exchange. The theme is "Reflections and Echoes," and when I was explaining the ATC idea to someone, I mentioned that they were cards "about the size of a playing card." Well, the playing card idea got stuck in my head, so I ran with it and got six decks of cards at the dollar store.

To start, I separated out and sanded the varnish off of all of the face cards. I wanted to make sure that all of my alterations had a good surface to stick to. On the cards I chose as my base cards, I stamped the diamond pattern (from the Pollen Dust stamp set by Fancy Pants) and embossed it with clear embossing powder, then sponged black all over, let it dry, and wiped it off with a damp sponge. I love this emboss resist technique - the ink comes right off the embossed sections and leaves really interesting patterns showing through.

Once I'd gotten my base cards created, I started cutting - I used my Cutter Bee precision-tip scissors (I have 3 or 4 of them - they're my favorite scissors to work with, and the Honey Bees are great for stickers or other tacky stuff) and my Fiskars fingertip craft knife (best invention EVER - so much easier to use than a regular pen-style craft knife) to cut out details from the other five copies of each card. I distressed all of my pieces randomly with black ink, then stuck them together in different layer permutations. I wasn't crazy about the white dimensionals - the white looked weird with all the distressing - so I colored all of the visible edges with a fine-point Sharpie. Easy!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ancient history

I got ahead of myself here, and started my blog before I got a chance to document a project. I'm just excited to get it started!

So I thought I'd write out a brief history of how I got into stamping and where it's taken me.

A few years ago, a friend (and Stampin' Up! hobby demo) invited me to an SU! demonstration. At first, I was really not interested - I figured it was one more thing to spend way too much money on (ha. ha ha. HAHAHA), and I figured I'd get sucked in by the idea of a "cheap" hobby (I mean, paper and ink - how bad could it be?) and end up spending way more money than I'd intended on little purchases (and I was oh so right about that).

A week or two after the demonstration, I remembered that I used to make bookmarks and Christmas ornaments with stamps at my grandma's house - my cousins and sisters and I were really into heat-embossing. I asked my grandma about her supplies, and she gave me a big Rubbermaid of stamps, paper, bookmark tassels, ink, every color of embossing powder, and a heat gun. I was in business, right?

Well, pretty much as soon as I started playing around with her stuff, I started thinking back to the cool stamp designs and techniques I'd seen at the demonstration. Coordinating paper and ink! Current, non-cutesy (we'll get back to that later) stamp designs! Rotary cutters that cut in straight lines! Sure enough, I had to place an order.

I was so excited about stamping, I talked about it all over the place. And made Christmas cards (ohhhh, the Christmas cards... they were baaaad) and proudly told everyone I'd made them. My family was so encouraging, and suddenly boxes of stamping supplies came pouring out of closets. It seemed everyone had tried it at some point, and wanted to pass along the supplies they were no longer using. Here's where the cutesy stuff comes back in - I quickly reached a critical mass of ballerina tutu bunnies and teddy bears in sunhats and unicorns with rainbows.

Oddly enough, rather than making me feel overwhelmed with Too Much Stuff, it made me more determined to pare down to stamps and colors I'd really use, and shop around to create my own distinct style.

Long story short, I spent a LOT of time and money building up a nice stock of SU! paper, ink, stamps, and embellishments. It was a great introduction to the hobby. More recently, I've been introduced to Papertrey Ink, which is, I think, a great next/current step. They started coming out with coordinating papers/inks/ribbon at the beginning of this year, and I've really loved every color they've come out with. The quality of their paper and ribbon is outstanding, the ink is fantastic to use on just about anything, and their stamps... oh, their stamps. I love that they're unmounted - they're so much easier to store in their CD cases; I love that they're clear and so easy to position; I love the way their designers use that ability to design fantastic sets that you can use to build scenes or customize characters in infinite ways.

Anyway, that's where I am now! I hope you'll get a good feel for my style of stamping really soon!