Monday, March 31, 2014

You're So Special to Me

I had seen Jennifer McGuire demonstrate a technique she called "Distress Ink Splatter" in her video in this recent post. I filed the idea away for trying at a future date. I didn't realize, though, how soon I'd try it!

I was in my craft room the other day, feeling a serious lack of inspiration. I finally thought of that video, and decided to try the technique on a card. I pulled out a heart stamp by Stampabilities, and chose Distress Inks in Seedless Preserves, Peacock Feathers, Festive Berries, & Mowed Lawn for stamping. I also found this Operation Write Home sketch to base my design on:

Rather than punch hearts, I stamped them, but otherwise stuck to the sketch. I first cut a piece of watercolor paper to 4.25x5.5". I masked off where the patterned papers & greeting would go, and started stamping the hearts. (In hindsight, I could just as easily not have masked, but it ended up not really mattering anyway.) After stamping all the hearts in the Distress Inks, I took a paintbrush and water and flicked water droplets on the hearts. Since Distress Inks react when they come in contact with water, the colors bled. Just as Jennifer did, I also added some more "controlled" drops by touching the wet paintbrush to the paper directly. Once I had them as I wanted, I dried the paper with my heat tool. I thought it was interesting how the bleeding ink ended up looking like beads strung on heart shapes!

I cut 2 strips of patterned paper from Simple Stories' "Vintage Bliss" 6x6" pad & adhered them to the watercolor panel. I stamped the greeting using one of the stamps in this set by Hero Arts on white cardstock I had colored by blending on Spun Sugar Distress Ink. I rounded the right-hand corners with my 1/8" Corner Chomper, and adhered it to the card front. I threaded a button with yellow baker's twine and glued it on with Glossy Accents. After I adhered the front panel to the card base, I rounded the top & bottom corners with my 3/8" Corner Chomper.

I'm entering this card in Simon Says Stamp's Wednesday "Anything Goes with Buttons" challenge.

Happy Father's Day Loons

With Operation Write Home's deadline for Mother's Day cards just past, and the deadline for Father's Day cards at the end of April, I have shifted focus to making cards for dads. I have had this loon stamp, which I got while on holiday in Maine, for a long time. (Sorry, but I don't know who made it.) And, like so many things in my stash, I have never used it. I finally decided to pull it out and get it inky.

I based the design on this sketch from Operation Write Home:

I rotated the sketch 90 degrees, and substituted an oval for the rectangle, but otherwise stayed pretty true to it.

I stamped the loons on watercolor paper, intending to color the area surrounding the birds with a blue watercolor pencil, fading the color out towards the edges. After stamping with Archival Jet Black ink, I die cut & embossed the oval with a Spellbinders Classic Ovals die. I colored with the blue pencil, washed over the color with my water brush, and set it aside to dry.

I chose the harlequin patterned paper from 7gypsies' "Venice" 6x6" paper pad, and the newsprint paper for the banner from Echo Park's This & That "Charming" 6x6" pad. I inked the edges of the latter with Walnut Stain Distress Ink.

I lightly marked in pencil where the larger patterned paper strip & the oval would go on the card front panel, so I'd know where the greeting could go. After scanning the panel into the computer to aid in placement of the text, I chose a greeting from this digital stamp set by Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps, & printed it directly on the card front.

I decided to trim the oval down slightly, so just cut it around the embossed line. I also didn't like the stark contrast between the "clean" look of the watercolor paper and the distressed look of the patterned papers. So I lightly went over all but the loons with Antique Linen Distress Ink, and inked around the edge with Walnut Stain. I felt that helped blend it in with the rest of the card better.

I adhered the patterned papers & loon panel to the card front, and inked the edges of the front with Walnut Stain. I threaded 3 brown buttons with embroidery floss, tying it in a simple knot. Then I glued the buttons to the top right corner with Glossy Accents. Finally I mounted the front to a standard A2 card base. While I don't have much experience in making masculine cards, I think this one turned out rather well.

I'm entering this card in the following challenges:

Simon Says Stamp's Wednesday "Anything with Buttons"
Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps' Challenge #6: "Use a bird, birdhouse, or rose"

Friday, March 28, 2014

Stained Glass Mother's Day Card

I saw the video featured in this post by Kristina Werner recently, and wanted to try this "stained glass" technique myself. While I didn't have the specific stamp set she used, I did CASE (Copy Another Scrapbooker's Efforts) her design pretty closely.

I used stamps from 2 sets: I don't know the manufacturer of the flower stamp set; the leaves are from the "Vine Flourish" stamp by Scrappy Cat. I first stamped the flowers on vellum, using Versamark ink, then stamped the leaves to fill in among the flowers. I heat embossed them with Recollections "Snow" embossing powder. I set that aside to cool while I picked out my marker colors.

In Kristina's video, she used Copic markers to color the images. Since I don't have Copics, I pulled out several colors of Marvy LePlume II water-based markers. I colored the red flowers on the back of the vellum, using Kristina's technique of not blending and alternating colors in the different sections of the flowers (she was not able to blend the Copics on the vellum). I also colored the green leaves using just one marker and no blending. For the purple flowers, I first colored the centers yellow. I started the petals on the first flower by coloring them with a light purple. Then I came in with a darker purple for the petal sections close to the center, trying to feather the color out towards the lighter. It didn't really feather, though, so I tried going back in with the lighter purple, and found the color really blended well that way! So I continued with the other 2 flowers, blending the darker color by going over the "seam" with the lighter purple.

Following Kristina's design, I used Fiskars' "Scalloped Sentiment" border punch to punch the top strip from white cardstock, which I then glued to the top of the vellum panel. I punched both long sides of another piece of white cardstock, and printed the greeting from this digital stamp set by Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps on it.

Since I made this card for Operation Write Home, I wanted to make sure the vellum panel was securely adhered to the card front. Kristina had used small dots of Tombo Mono Multi glue, strategically placed behind the embossed areas and the top border strip so the glue wouldn't show through the vellum. But with all the handling my card may get, I was afraid that wouldn't do for my purposes, so I ran the whole panel through my Xyron 5.5" Creative Station to apply adhesive to the back. Then I VERY carefully stuck the panel to a piece of light beige cardstock, making sure not to get any wrinkles or bubbles, since the Xyron adhesive is very strong and very permanent!

I did use liquid glue to adhere the greeting strip, which I had trimmed to the width of the vellum panel; then adhered the whole card front panel to a card base. And that finished this card off.

I'm entering this in Simon Says Stamp's Monday "Transparent" challenge.

Hydrangea for Mother's Day

Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps has a challenge at their blog to use an oval. Since I was already on a Mother's Day card kick, I decided to make another one for this challenge.

I chose a hydrangea stamp by Hero Arts for the focal image. I stamped the image on watercolor paper in Archival Jet Black ink, since I knew I wanted to color it with my Inktense pencils and water. Because of the size of the image, I didn't really use a specific sketch.

The largest oval die by Spellbinders that would still fit well on an A2 card was a bit smaller than the image, so I decided to do a technique called "outside the box" die cutting. I positioned the die over the image where I wanted it, and made small pencil marks where the cutting line crossed the lower leaves. Then I took my scissors and cut around the portions of the leaves that would hang outside the oval. I replaced the die, making sure those leaf sections were on top of the die. Then I ran it through my Grand Calibur machine. The die cut everything but the portions of the leaves that were on top, so they hang out beyond the edges of the oval.

To get the coloring right on the flower itself, I looked up images of hydrangeas on Google. I decided on a purple flower, so colored only select areas of the petals with a purple Inktense pencil, to avoid having one solid color. I used 2 different greens on the leaves to add shading & further dimension. I blended the violet & greens with my water brush. Then I mounted the oval on the card front, made using a patterned paper from Teresa Collins "Fabrications--Canvas" 6x6" paper pad, with foam tape.

For the greeting, I printed one from this digital stamp set by Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps on a strip of green cardstock. I cut it narrower than the card front, and mounted it on foam tape, to have it the same level as the focal image panel. I then cut small pieces of the same cardstock into banner ends, and tucked them under the ends of the greeting panel, slightly lower, and glued them in place. I think this gives a nice effect. Finally, I adhered the completed card front panel to the card base with my ATG adhesive runner. Another pretty Mother's Day card for one of our heroes overseas to send to his/her mother!

I am entering this in Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps' Challenge #5, "Use an Oval."

Thursday, March 27, 2014

You're my Rainbow

I just received the Hero Arts "You're a Rainbow" stamp set recently. Since the current challenge at A Blog Named Hero is "Paper Piecing," I felt this rainbow image would be perfect for that.

For my design, I used this sketch from Operation Write Home:

I rotated it 90 degrees, but other than that, kept pretty true to the sketch.

To create the paper-pieced rainbow, I first stamped the image in black on white cardstock, both for the cloud portion and to use as my base. I then stamped it once each on scraps of red, yellow, orange, green, & blue patterned paper, keeping them basically in ROY G BIV order. I fussy-cut the bands and glued them onto the cardstock base. I went around the edges of the whole image with a black brush-tip marker to hide the white edge and finish it off.

I applied a bit of shimmer with my clear Zig Wink of Stella brush marker, then sealed that in with Glossy Accents. I had seen Jennifer McGuire do this in one of her videos. It not only gives the element the subtle glittery sparkle, but also a nice shine. It keeps the glitter from the Wink of Stella from rubbing off as well--a requirement for Operation Write Home cards.

For the patterned paper strips behind the main panel, I cut them to size from paper scraps that were in my collection. I rounded the two adjacent corners on the (outer) yellow strips with my 1/4" Corner Chomper, to frame the main panel better. I adhered these to a Kraft panel, cut to a standard A2 card size.

I cut the focal point panel out of a scrap of light blue patterned paper. I thought the subtle white streaks on the blue background imitated cirrus clouds, making it perfect for the imagery in this card. I rounded the corners with my 1/4" Corner Chomper, and stamped the greeting directly onto the panel. Then I glued down the rainbow, and adhered the panel to the card front. I adhered the front to the card base with my ATG adhesive runner, and there it is--another card for a hero overseas to send home to his/her loved one!

I'm entering this card in the following challenges:

 A Blog Named Hero's "Paper Piecing" Challenge #40
Simon Says Stamp's Monday "Transparent" challenge (used clear Wink of Stella & Glossy Accents)

Missing Ewe

The current challenge at A Blog Named Hero is "Paper piecing." I wasn't sure at first what to do with this, never really having done paper piecing. Truth be told, I wasn't even sure what paper piecing entailed exactly! Fortunately, I happened upon a couple of videos on YouTube demonstrating paper piecing techniques, so that at least gave me some direction.

Since I was making this card for Operation Write Home, I turned to the sketches they have put out, which I keep in a binder. I knew I wanted to use the sheep & "Missing Ewe" greeting from the  "Missing You" OWH stamp set by Hero Arts, so I used the sizes of those stamps as a starting point to guide me in choosing a sketch. I whittled down my options to just a few, then finally chose this sketch:

I stamped the sheep in black once on a light-beige patterned paper from my scrap stash for a base; then again on a grey striped paper for the nose, ear, and feet; and white cardstock for the eyes. I carefully fussy-cut the pieces out, and glued the grey and white pieces to the beige paper. I went around the outer edges of the paper-pieced sheep with a black brush-tip marker, to give a more finished look to the edge. (This is a tip I picked up from Kristina Werner.)

For the patterned paper squares, I used 3 scraps: the same beige paper I used for the sheep's wool, a yellow chevron from the "Chevron" 6x6" paper pad by My Mind's Eye, and a yellow polka dot from Fancy Pants Design's "Park Bench" 6x6" pad. I rounded the corners of each square with my 1/4" Corner Chomper, and adhered them to a piece of light blue-green cardstock cut to a standard A2 card size.

I used a Spellbinders Classic Circle die to cut a piece of light blue cardstock for a background for the sheep. I cut the scalloped frame with a Spellbinders Lacey Circles die from a darker blue cardstock. I glued those pieces together, then glued the sheep on top and adhered the whole piece to the card front. I applied Glossy Accents to the sheep's pupils, rounded the bottom corners of the card with my 1/2" Corner Chomper, and I was done!

Monday, March 24, 2014

I Already Miss You

The rector at my mom's church is leaving soon to take a teaching post at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. She asked me if I could make a going-away card for her to give to him at the reception following his farewell Mass. I felt quite up to the task, given the dozens of cards I've made, which have gotten several compliments from various people. So I said, of course I could. This was about a week before the farewell Mass.

My first step was to do a search for "handmade going away cards" on Pinterest. Sadly, this did not yield much at all in the way of ideas. So I started perusing my own boards of card ideas & videos I've pinned over the past several months.

I came across this video by Julie Ebersole, using Dylusions spray inks to create a background, then bleaching that with water and a stencil. I thought that could be pretty cool, so I tried it. Not disastrous, but it still wasn't doing much for me. I tried a couple of other ideas, but they also did nothing for me. As my deadline loomed closer, I was really beginning to get nervous! I did manage to get an element--a die cut stained glass rose window made using a Spellbinders Die D-lites die & colored with Inktense pencils. But that was as far as I could seem to get.

Finally I got an e-mail with this post on Sweet 'n Sassy Stamp's blog. In going through the images, I found this one, and had an "ah-ha" moment!

I decided to CASE this idea, using that die cut "window" I'd done. I embossed a piece of white cardstock with the "Garden Lattice" Spellbinders M-bossabilities embossing folder. Then, while the cardstock was still in the folder, I lightly went over the raised portions with Antique Linen Distress Ink, to provide some further depth. I cut the top arch shape using a Spellbinders Grand Nestabilities Classic Circle die and partial die-cutting. I also cut another piece of white cardstock slightly wider, and used the next larger size circle die to partially cut the cardstock just at the one end. I inked that piece near the edges with Vintage Photo Distress Ink.

For the lower front panel, I dragged the Vintage Photo ink pad lightly over the cardstock, overlapping my drag marks to create a woodgrain effect, as demonstrated in this video by Gina K. It was a little rough-looking, so I blended more of that ink on with an ink applicator tool. To hide the seam between the upper & lower panels, I cut a 1/4" wide strip of white cardstock, inked it with Vintage Photo, and popped it up on foam tape.

For the green strips on either side of the front, I colored watercolor paper with the same green Inktense pencil I'd used in the window. I printed the first part of the greeting onto white cardstock, rounded the 2 left corners with my 1/4" Corner Chomper, and inked the edges with Antique Linen. I die cut the "you" from white cardstock that I'd already inked with Antique Linen, using this die from Simon Says Stamp. I adhered them to the front panel, and adhered the whole panel to a 5x5" card base. And the best part (even better than getting my mojo back)? My mom loved it! (And she's sure the priest did, too!)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Mom, You're the Best!

I got the clear stamp I used for the focal image on this card several years ago. I don't remember where, when, or even who did the design! But I must have thought it was cute (I still do), hence the purchase. And I have never used it until now. I was looking for an image for a general "mother"-themed card (not specifically Mother's Day), and came across this stamp. It looked perfect for what I wanted, so I decided it was finally time to get it inky!

I used this Operation Write Home sketch as the basis for my design:

I stamped the image in Jet Black Archival ink on watercolor paper. I then die cut it with a Spellbinders Classic Oval die. For the oval mat, since the next larger die was too large, I traced around the outer edge of the one I used to die cut the image, and cut that out with scissors. Then I colored the image with Inktense pencils, feathering the color out with my water brush to add a "shaded" look.

I embossed the yellow cardstock with the Berry Swirls embossing folder by Sizzix. I matted that on light blue cardstock, so the blue just peeks out above and below the yellow. I used a greeting from this digital stamp set by Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps, printing it on a scrap of pink cardstock. My initial plan was to pop up the greeting panel on foam tape, then have small banner ends (cut separately) peeking out from under each end. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough room on the card front to do this, so I decided just to round the corners with my We R Memory Keepers 1/8" Corner Chomper and adhere the panel to the card.

I am entering this in Simon Says Stamp's Wednesday "Mother's Day or Special Girl" challenge. (What "girl" is more special than your mother?)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

You Mean so Much to Me

I have caught the "stenciling" bug, ever since I took the "Stenciled" class by Online Card Classes a couple of months ago. I got the Tim Holtz "Rays" stencil not too long ago, and had not yet used it (yes, this is becoming a familiar song on this blog!lol). One of Operation Write Home's bonus sketches includes a sun ray design. I suppose the original intent was paper piecing, but I thought an adaptation of it would work perfectly with this stencil.

The upper panel in the sketch is 2.5x5.25", so the stencil covered it with room to spare. I taped the stencil over a piece of yellow cardstock cut to size, and smeared Liquitex Gloss Super Heavy Gel medium over it with a palette knife. After I had gotten a good application of medium, I pulled the stencil up, being VERY careful not to smear the medium that was on the cardstock. Then I laid that panel aside to dry while I worked on the rest of the card.

For the lower panel, I cut a piece of bluish-purple Core'dinations textured cardstock, using a pair of decorative-edge scissors on one long edge, mostly to add a bit of interest and help disguise the seam between the two panels. I had a sentiment from the "With Heart" set by Doodle Pantry I had printed off on white cardstock a long time ago, that has been sitting on my scrap desk. I decided it would be perfect for this card, so I die cut it with a label die from Spellbinders and inked the edges with Mustard Seed Distress Ink and an ink blending tool.

After letting the sun rays panel dry overnight, I applied Spiced Marmalade Distress Ink with my ink blending tool to the uncoated portions of the cardstock panel. I cut a piece of copy paper to 4x5.25", and adhered the rays panel & purple panel to it, so I could work with them as one unit. I matted that with a piece of gold cardstock by American Crafts, and then adhered that to a piece of black paper--a bit of glow with drama. When I went to adhere the sentiment label to the card front, I noticed a couple of small spots of yellow ink in the middle of the label. Probably inconsequential, but I couldn't let it go. And I couldn't ink the whole label, since I knew from experience that it would smear the printing. So I die cut another label from the same yellow cardstock I'd used for the rays panel, and reprinted the sentiment on it. Then I carefully went around the edges with Spiced Marmalade, just to add some dimension, and glued it to the card front. I colored two clear acrylic gems with purple alcohol ink, and glued them to the label ends with Glossy Accents. Finally, I adhered the whole assembly to a card base of white 110# cardstock by Georgia Pacific. Another card for a hero overseas to send home to his significant other.

I am entering this card in the following challenges:

Simon Says Stamp's Monday "D is for Distress"
Simon Says Stamp's Wednesday "Mother's Day or Special Girl"

To the Best Kid Ever

I bought 2 sheets of this patterned paper, "Blast Off" by BoBunny, at my local scrapbooking store, The Crop Spot, a few months ago. Since I don't have any kids in my life, I intended to use it for making kid-friendly cards for Operation Write Home. This is my first card using that paper.

I used this sketch by OWH as the basis for my design:

Since the pattern on the paper was so large, I decided to let it extend below the middle strip, rather than add another paper to the bottom inch of the card, as in the sketch. The greeting is from the "Li'l Hoot" set by Hero Arts. I stamped it in Jet Black Archival ink on white cardstock, and die cut it with a Spellbinders Classic Circle die. Then I applied Crushed Olive Distress Ink to it, which was an almost exact match to the green in the BoBunny paper. I die cut another, slightly larger circle from a scrap of navy blue cardstock to mat the greeting. I used a strip of this same cardstock to mat the middle strip.

For the red star strip, I cut a strip from a scrap of Core'dinations cardstock and dry-embossed the stars with a folder by The Paper Studio. To get the whole strip to emboss, I actually had to cut it in two, and place the sections in the folder. I knew the greeting circle would cover the seam, so I didn't have any qualms about doing this. After I embossed the stars, I took a sanding block and lightly sanded the cardstock on the raised portions, to give it a 2-tone, distressed look. I also roughed up the edges of this strip. I figure this will likely go to a boy, so I wanted kind of a rough-and-tumble look. I adhered the red strip to the blue, and then glued that to the patterned paper, which I had cut to a standard A2 card size.

I decided at that point I hadn't distressed this card enough, and so pulled out my Frayed Burlap Distress Ink pad. I sponged the ink around the edges of the patterned paper, and then went over the rest of the paper as well. That was the undoing of this card. I just went too far with the Distress Ink by applying it over the whole paper piece. But I wasn't about to throw the whole thing into the recycling bin and waste all that time, effort, and paper. So I cut the background paper away along the edges of the strip. One good thing about getting two 12x12" sheets of paper: you have plenty more if you mess up! So I cut another 4.25x5.5" piece, and adhered the smaller strip to the front of that. This time, I went only around the edges with the Frayed Burlap ink, which I think gives it just the right touch. Finally, I adhered the greeting with foam tape, and glued the whole thing to the card base.

I am entering this in the Simon Says Stamp Monday "D is for Distress" challenge.

Miss You All the Time

I was looking through my stencil collection the other day, and came across this "Aspen Trees" stencil, from The Crafter's Workshop. I've had it for quite a while, and have never used it, so I decided it was finally time to do something with it. I found one of Operation Write Home's "bonus" sketches, which I felt would go perfectly with this stenciled image. I decided to use a stamp from an Operation Write Home stamp set by Hero Arts for the sentiment. So now I had an idea, supplies, and a plan.

I taped the stencil to a piece of white cardstock, and went over it with Distress Inks in Faded Jeans, Broken China, and Tumbled Glass, using my ink blending tool to make kind of on ombre sky. I used Black Soot Distress Ink on a small sponge dauber for the black spots on the tree trunks, going in with a Black Soot Distress marker for the really tiny areas, so the black wouldn't bleed into the blue. Then I cut this panel down to the measurements in the sketch, and set it aside.

I cut another piece of white cardstock, and went over it with Iced Spruce Distress Ink & my ink blending tool, to create a soft grey backdrop for the tree panel. I stamped the "miss you all the time" stamp in black on white cardstock, die cut it with a Spellbinder's Classic Circles die, and went over it with the Iced Spruce ink as well.

I decided to mount these pieces on a black background, both to tie the background in with the black in the trees & sentiment, and for a bit of drama. I adhered the Iced Spruce panel first, then the birch trees. Last, I popped the sentiment up on foam tape in the lower right corner. A rather simple masculine card, but I still think a striking one, which will be going to Operation Write Home to send to troops overseas.

I am entering this in Simon Says Stamp's Monday "D is for Distress" challenge.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Koi Thank You Card

Every month, Our Daily Bread Designs sponsors a themed challenge at Operation Write Home's website. The prize is one of two gift certificates to the ODBD store, chosen randomly from the entries. Also, Our Daily Bread Designs sponsors shipping for a box of cards sent by OWH to our troops overseas for each 25 entries, up to 2 boxes total. The theme for March is thank you cards. This is my entry for that challenge.

I started going through my vast stamp collection, looking for a focal image. I came across this koi fish stamp. I have had it for so long, I don't even remember when or where I got it (or even exactly why, except that it's a pretty image), or who made it. And I've never used it before! But I decided now was the time to ink it up. Next, I looked through my binder of Operation Write Home sketches to find one that would work for the size of the image. I found Sketch #36:

I also have a round "thank you" stamp, that I felt would be perfect for the circle element. I actually had to make the circle smaller and the panel larger to make the sketch work with my stamps, particularly the koi. I chose 2 blue patterned papers from my scrap stash for the background layers, which I felt went with the "water" theme in the stamp.

I stamped the koi on watercolor paper with Ranger Archival Jet Black ink, a waterproof ink, since I knew I would be using Inktense & watercolor pencils with water to color the image. After the ink dried thoroughly (I've discovered this takes a few minutes), I started coloring the koi and lily pads. I used mostly Inktense pencils, but also some regular watercolor pencils for colors I didn't have in my Inktense set. When I finished that and it had dried, I smeared some Broken China Distress Ink onto an acrylic block, then used my water brush to pick up the color. I painted around the fish, purposely keeping my brushwork loose to give the look of water. When I had covered the surrounding paper with color, I felt dissatisfied with it. The fish didn't look integrated with the surrounding water. So, with some trepidation, since I knew I risked ruining my image, I took my water brush, loaded my brush with some more Broken China ink, and swiped some ink over the fish a few times. As it turned out, I actually liked the effect; I need not have feared doing this!

I stamped the "thank you" on white cardstock with Versamark ink, heat-embossed it with blue embossing powder, and die cut it with a Spellbinders circle die. To tie it in with the koi, I took the same orange Inktense pencil I used on them, and my water brush, and applied color to the cardstock.

I thought the blue koi panel blended in to the background papers too much, so I added a thin white mat around that panel. I adhered everything to the card base, and declared it done!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

You are in My Heart & Thoughts

This card actually came together fairly quickly, once I had stamped & colored the focal image. The design is based on a sketch by Operation Write Home. I used an image & greeting from the "Hugs" stamp set by Penny Black. I stamped the image with Colorbox's Archival dye ink in "Putty." This is a waterproof ink that I've found stamps really well, and it gives a softer look for images than black.

I saw a video on YouTube today by Darlene Devries, demonstrating coloring with Inktense pencils and water. I've used these pencils before, but getting the blended results I wanted was usually a hit-or-miss endeavor. She suggested putting just a small amount of color with the pencil only where you want the most intense color. Then, with your water brush, start painting in the uncolored area, and slowly work towards the color. This way, you can pull the color into the white area. Also, she said you should wipe your brush often, so it doesn't get too saturated with the color. It is best to work on watercolor paper rather than regular cardstock, since this makes it easier to blend and feather the color. So I tried that on this piece, and it worked! I did used a regular watercolor pencil for the red flowers. I wished afterwards I had used an Inktense pencil for that though, since those dry permanent, and the red did bleed a little when I painted the blue around it.

I stamped the greeting with Ranger Archival Jet Black ink, and heat set it to speed the drying. I die cut & embossed that with a Spellbinder's oval Nestabilities die. While the cardstock was still in the die, I blended Worn Lipstick Distress ink over the center part. This technique gives the look of 2 layers, while only using one in reality.

For the background pink panel, I used a piece of pink cardstock, going over it with Worn Lipstick Distress ink with the Hero Arts "Tweed" stencil, for a tone-on-tone effect. I layered the yellow gingham paper over the bottom of that, matted that with a taupe-colored piece of cardstock, and adhered that to a piece of yellow cardstock. I glued the focal point circle onto the topmost layer, and positioned the greeting over it, adhering it with foam tape. I felt the bottom looked a little empty, so I punched a strip with this punch from a leftover piece of the pink cardstock, and glued it over the gingham section. I feel that gives the perfect finishing touch. Another card for a hero serving overseas to send home to his significant other.

I am entering this in the following challenges:

A Blog Named Hero's "Stencil It!"
Simon Says Stamp's Wednesday "Mother's Day or Special Girl"

Mother's Day Tag Card

This is another card to help Operation Write Home send lots of Mother's Day cards to our heroes, so they can write home to their mothers. I based this card design on a sketch by OWH. I stenciled the three panels that make up the background using Simon Says Stamp's "Moroccan" stencil for the top, "Mini Garden Gate" by The Crafter's Workshop for the middle, and another by Studio Calico for the bottom panel (there was no name for this stencil on its packaging). I used Distress Inks in Faded Jeans & Victorian Velvet. I applied the Faded Jeans to the top panel, and the Victorian Velvet to the bottom. Then I inked the top of the middle panel with the Faded Jeans, and the bottom with Victorian Velvet, blending them in the middle. I inked the edges of each panel with the corresponding ink colors, and adhered them to an A2-size card base.

I cut the tag using a Fiskars template as a guide. I took Spun Sugar & Tumbled Glass Distress Inks and applied them over the tag, using Hero Arts' "Tweed" stencil. I used a very light touch, so that I could put the greeting over the stenciling. I used an image from this digital stamp set by Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps for the greeting, moving the words into a column in Photoshop to fit the tag before printing it directly onto the tag. I felt the tag still needed something, so I found a blue flower-shaped grommet in my stash, and put that through the upper part of the tag. To make it stand out against the background, I backed the tag with dark blue cardstock, trimmed about 1/16" bigger all around. I adhered the tag to the card at an angle, put Glossy Accents into the center hole in the grommet, and poured in light blue seed beads. I squeezed more Glossy Accents over them to make sure they would stay in place, and set the card aside to dry. That finished Mother's Day Card #5.

I am entering this in the following challenges:

Simon Says Stamp's Wednesday "Mother's Day or Special Girl"
Simon Says Stamp's Monday "D is for Distress" (used Distress Inks)
A Blog Named Hero's "Stencil It!"

Chalkboard Love Card

I've been reading about the popularity of the chalkboard technique in paper crafting, but have never really tried it myself. So this card was my big foray into this technique. I chose a stamp from this set by Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps for the focal image, and a greeting stamp by Hero Arts. I also used this stencil for the background. I used Hero Arts' Unicorn pigment ink for the stamping & stenciling.

First, I made masks for the heart & greeting. After adhering them with repositionable adhesive to the black background, I taped my stencil over it, and used a small sponge dauber to apply the Unicorn ink through the dots & dashes. To speed the drying, I hit this panel with my heat gun, being careful not to melt the adhesive holding the masks in place! When it finally dried, I traced around the masks with a white gel pen before removing them, to define those areas better. I used the Unicorn ink to stamp the focal image & greeting, then set it aside to dry again.

While I waited, I cut the pink cardstock to a standard A2 card size of 4.25x5.5", and adhered it to the card base. When the black panel had dried (again helped along by my trusty heat gun!), I drew a small heart next to the greeting with a pink gel pen, just to add a small bit of color and tie in with the pink mat. Then I took a small cotton pad, dabbed it lightly in the Unicorn ink, and rubbed it over the black panel, to add the "chalk dust." Then I mounted that onto the card front. I will be sending this to Operation Write Home for some hero to write home to his sweety.

I am entering this in the following challenges:

A Blog Named Hero's "Stencil It!"
Simon Says Stamp's Wednesday "Mother's Day or Special Girl"

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day Butterfly Tags

 Yes, I know--another Mother's Day card. What can I say? When I'm on a roll, I'm on a roll! I based this one on this sketch by Operation Write Home:

As you can see, I really stayed true to the sketch. But I decided to shake things up a bit with the tags, and have one large image rather than 3 small ones. After I cut the tags from watercolor paper, I adhered them with repositionable adhesive onto a piece of scratch paper, right next to each other. Then I stamped the butterfly using Archival Jet Black ink, and colored it with Inktense pencils, blending the color out with my water brush. Since I had this one image, I placed the tags a bit closer together than they are in the sketch, so the image wouldn't be too disjointed.

For the background, I used a doily stamp from a set by Little Yellow Bicycle. I stamped it 4 times on white cardstock in Versamark ink, then clear heat-embossed it. I applied 3 colors of Distress Inks over this with my ink blending tool. Then I sprayed the panel with water, to get the color moving. (A unique property of Distress Inks is that they react with water.) After the colors blended sufficiently, I set it aside to dry. When it was completely dry, I thought the colors were too pale, so I decided to try a technique I saw Kristina Werner demonstrate on YouTube. I got my non-stick craft sheet, and applied the Distress Inks I'd used directly to it. Then I sprayed that generously with water, and smooshed the cardstock face-down in the puddle of colors. While I did get the more intense color I wanted, the ink also soaked the cardstock & "stained" the clear-embossed doilies. If I were to do this again, I would emboss with white embossing powder instead of clear, and do it on watercolor paper instead of cardstock. But I hadn't realized I'd be using water that much, hence the use of cardstock. I think it still gives a neat effect; just not what I had envisioned when I started.

The striped yellow paper is, again, from my scrap collection. I adhered the tags to that panel, after threading baker's twine through holes I'd punched, then adhered the panel to the card front. For the sentiment, I used a greeting from this stamp set by Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps. I printed it on white cardstock, rounded 2 corners with my We R Memory Keepers Corner Chomper, inked the edges with Distress Ink, and glued it to the card front, which I then adhered to the card base. And there you have it--another Mother's Day card for a hero to send home to his/her mother!

I am entering this in the following challenges:

Simon Says Stamp's Wednesday "Tag It"
Simon Says Stamp's Monday "D is for Distress"

Happy Mother's Day Hexagons

Operation Write Home posted a notice recently that they ran out of Mother's Day cards last year, and asked cardmakers to send in several this year. So I have been on a Mother's Day card kick lately. I had found this sketch on Pinterest some months ago, and had pinned it to my "card sketches" board there.

The other day, I was scrolling through that board, looking for inspiration, and came across this image. I thought hexagons would make a nice substitution for the diamonds in the sketch. I also wanted to try a variation on a technique Gina K. demonstrated in a video on YouTube, about using embossing folders to emboss only part of a card front. She had used two different folders, one each on the top and bottom, with the image in the middle. I decided that I only wanted to have embossing only above the hexagons, since my greeting would be on the lower part of the front. So I chose a folder with a somewhat "dense" floral pattern, and embossed the top of the purple panel.

I also die cut 16 hexagons, using this die set from Lifestyle Crafts. I arranged them in a "beehive"-style pattern, trying for a somewhat random look with the colors (not as easy as you might think!). I popped up 4 of them on foam tape for added interest, and glued the rest directly to the card front panel.

I tried to think of something different to do for a tag, instead of just cutting a tag shape and slapping it on the card. I still have several tag frames that I got when I got my Making Memories Tag Maker tool several years ago. So I dug through that collection until I found one that would work. I cut the tag from yellow cardstock, and printed a greeting from this digital stamp set from Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps on it. Then I popped it in the tag frame and crimped the metal with the Tag Maker tool. For the hole reinforcer, I punched a hole in blue cardstock with an 1/8" hole punch, then punched around that with a 1/4" punch. I honestly had more trouble gluing it to the tag than I did punching it out! I threaded baker's twine through the hole, and adhered the tag to the card front. I matted the purple panel on black, then matted that on teal cardstock, and mounted the whole front to the card base.

I am entering this in Simon Says Stamp's Wednesday "Tag It" challenge.

Stamped Butterfly Mother's Day Card

Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps is having their March Release celebration this week. One of the events is a challenge to stamp on die cuts. This is the card I made. I based the design on the following sketch by Operation Write Home:

I rotated the sketch 90 degrees and substituted the butterfly die cut for the center rectangle. I have a set of nesting butterfly dies, and chose the largest one to die cut the focal point. I used 3 images from a floral stamp set to stamp the flowers, then colored the images with Inktense pencils. I put some Peacock Feathers Distress Ink on an acrylic block, then used my water brush to pick up some color and paint in between the flowers. I pulled the yellow gingham patterned paper from my ample scrap collection. For the sentiment, I used this digital stamp set from Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps. I mapped out the placement on the pink cardstock, opened the stamp in Photoshop, resized & positioned it, then printed it out directly on the cardstock. After that, it was simply a case of adhering the patterned paper and butterfly to the pink cardstock and then that to the card base.

Initially, I was going to leave the butterfly without a body; just the silhouette with the stamped & colored images. But the more I looked at it as I worked on this card, the more "naked" it seemed! I was still having commitment issues, though, so I didn't want to draw & color a body in using a black marker, on the off chance that I didn't like it. So I ended up cutting a body out of black paper. Then I positioned it on the butterfly and judged the effect. I liked it, and so just glued it down. I drew the antennae on the card front in pencil after I glued the butterfly down, then went over them with a black marker. And that finished this card!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Happy Mother's Day!

Operation Write Home's Midweek Throwdown challenge this week is to create Mother's Day cards. So I figured I'd do a couple. So far, I've created four! This is one of them. I used this stencil by Hero Arts for the top part of the background. I taped it directly to the front of the card base, and went over it with Distress Inks in Peacock Feathers, Wild Honey, and Mustard Seed, using my Ranger ink blending tool. I used a piece of patterned paper from a 6x6 pad for the lower panel, adding a piece of green satin ribbon to cover the seam. I cut the tag from white cardstock using an old Coluzzle template. The greeting is from this set by Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps. I stamped the small heart/flourish image above it. I punched a 1/8" hole in the top, threaded yellow baker's twine through, and tied it around the green ribbon. I glued the twine to the ribbon near the middle with Glossy Accents, and then covered that spot with a yellow button, threaded with the same twine.

I am entering this card in the following challenges:

Simon Says Stamp's Wednesday "Tag It" challenge

A Blog Named Hero's Challenge #39: "Stencil It"