Monday, December 31, 2012

The Last Post of 2012

I'm back...with a lesson in busyness and a review of the new Hero Arts catalog.

A Lesson in Busyness

I have a new stamp...a cling background stamp from Hero Arts called Looped Flower Pattern. It came with the new catalog. I love the stamp, but the catalog leaves a tad to be desired. More on the catalog below.

Large background stamps seem a bit antithetical to clean-and-simple design. They take up all that glorious white space, after all. But when used properly, they can add interest to a card without making it fussy or busy. Like this:


For the above card, I paired the Looped Flower Pattern with a large sentiment from A Muse. Three white layers keep the design fresh and light, and adding the light green color to the sentiment links the two stamped layers visually. This works.

For the next card, I changed the orientation to accommodate a vertical sentiment from Papertrey's Beautiful Blessings and added a touch of bling to emphasize the key word and bring blue to the sentiment. The sentiment isn't as clean and simple as the Happy Birthday one, and that creates a bit more busyness on the card. The clean font and straight lines work well with the curves of the background, though.


The final card today crosses my personal line in the sand as being too busy, although I don't think there's anything else wrong with it. The sentiment is from Hero Arts' Dictionary Greetings. The focal point is very busy...lots of little words! I tried to simplify it by highlighting three bold words with lavender, and that's certainly better than the unhighlighted version, but it's still too busy for my taste.

A Bit Too Busy

What saves it, sort of, is the contrast between the very linear text and the curvy background.

Lines love curves.

And don't you forget it.

Anyway, whether or not you like busy cards is more a matter of taste than anything else. I prefer cleaner cards with more white space and very strong focal points. Other people want to look at more stuff. It's all good.

The 2013 Hero Arts Catalog

So you know, I don't receive any free stuff or compensation from Hero Arts. I'm just a long-time customer offering her free and completely personal opinion for what it's worth, which may not be much at all, but it's my blog so here goes.

The Hero Arts catalog is something of a holiday tradition with me. Every year, I buy the new catalog and eagerly peruse it during the holiday break, not just for the new stamps but also for the sample cards, which are always so fun and colorful at a very gray time of year. Unfortunately, as with some other stamp catalogs, every year, the Hero Arts catalog gets smaller, and I find myself feeling cheated. In 2008, it was 90 pages. This year, it's 64 pages...a ten-page drop from 2012.

The price is still $10.

I miss the old catalog value. The 2008 catalog is loaded with tons of sample cards with plenty of cool layouts and ideas--so cool that I still have it even after tossing lots of other companies' old catalogs-- but the 2013 catalog is pretty much just a catalog, with an occasional photo of a card or tag widely scattered throughout. I probably won't keep it past a year.

There's a $3 Card Gallery that I got for "free"...but it's just a four-page, single-fold pamphlet. If I'd paid $3 for it, I'd be upset.

I understand that Hero, like most other stamp companies, is relying more and more on the interwebs for marketing. With all the blogs promoting Hero Arts, it's certainly easy to find inspiration without bothering to look at the catalog. But I perused the new stamps on Ellen Hutson's website (which is a lovely website, by the way) weeks ago, and found that an annoyingly impersonal substitute for the catalog. Ellen sells the stamps (and that's all I expect from her), but Hero should love them and package the catalog in such a way that the love shows.

I miss the old catalogs. I miss the love.

For a full disclaimer, I should note that before children, I worked in marketing and coordinated production of many, many print pieces, brochures, and books. There's a value to beautifully produced print pieces that can actually be quantified, but the world is changing and clearly Hero Arts is following the times. It just makes me sad.

As for the new line of Hero Arts stamps, they're better than last year, but I miss the size indicators in previous catalogs. When stamps were shown at 60%, the old catalogs said so. This one does not, so you're left wondering how big they really are, especially if you're a new customer. That said, the whole line seems fresher to me, yet still clearly Hero Arts. There's some genuinely new stuff, along with some rehashed decade-old stamps, and it all works great together.

Which just goes to show that Hero's designers make stamps that stand the test of time and still seem fresh and fun and appealing. No complaints there.

Now, if they'll just give me an old-style, more inspiring catalog next year, one that I'll want to keep for years to come, I'll have nothing to complain about at all.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

OLW120 on Karen's Blog

Just a reminder that Karen has posted OLW120--Cheers! Make a one-layer card with a drink on it and post it to Karen's blog!!!

I probably won't be able to post until Sunday or Monday, but I sure hope y'all are having a wonderful holiday week. I am!!!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

OLW119 Reminder

Just a reminder (a little late!) that the OLW for last Wednesday is on Heather's blog, and it's Silver and Blue...such a beautiful and appropriate color challenge!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

More Gift Sets

Just a quick post here. My mother arrived yesterday...yippee!!! Like most of you, I will be focusing on family for the next week or so, and posts here will be thin. I want to thank each and every one of you for sticking with me and making Simplicity the very cool place it is. It wouldn't be cool without YOU!

So here are a few more of the note card gift sets I made for my son's teachers, therapists, and aides.

The two-step hearts from Heart Prints (Papertrey) turned out so well, I decided to create an assortment of colors. Here's an example of Memento's really light colors being useful.

More polka dots, this time from Background Basics: Polka Dots (Papertrey). I used the smallest dot border stamp twice to get the green and pink in there. LOVE doing that.

Finally, I pulled out a clear set from Hero Arts and my Memento markers for a citrus-y rainbow.

These are packaged in Papertrey's clear card boxes with envelopes from Marco's Paper...a local establishment with an online store. The employees are so nice, and the shop is a treasure trove of crafting and artsy goodness.

And no, they aren't paying me to say anything. I just like spreading the word when a local small business does a great job!

Merry Christmas to you all!!!!

Friday, December 14, 2012

2012 Stephen Ministry Ornaments

Better late than never. I feel like this is going to be anticlimactic for many of you. Remember, I am the only crafty member of our SM group, so these needed to be basic.

We made these ornaments using the pink Marvy scallop circle punch and the blue Marvy circle punch. The stamps are Hero Arts Clear Set CL459, and the ink is Memento teal. We mass-produced these (about 200), with my son doing a lot of the punching for us...that is hard on hands, and he was such a team player on that!

If I were to dress these up for a smaller production run, I'd pop the smooth circle on dimensionals and attach the string with the dimensionals rather than punching a hole.

These were presented during the worship service following a presentation about peace and how hard it is for people who are suffering to find it during the holidays. The ornaments are to remind everyone to look out for those who are suffering this time of year and to inspire those who are in the midst of suffering to lean on God for that peace that passes understanding.

Peace be with you.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Ho, Ho, Ho

I've been doing church stuff and Santa stuff, which leaves no time for stamping but is enormously satisfying in its own way. I decided I'm not making any promises as to when I'll get any more stamping done...just know that I'm alive and well.

It's good. I'm blessed.

In the meantime, let me share a few craft-related things with you.

1. I liked the comments on the Essential Glue Pad post, especially Colorado Crafter's comment about the Essential Glue Pad absolutely NOT working for her. I qualified my review with the disclaimer that individual results will vary precisely because what works for one person seems not to work for all. For instance, I have loved excessively my Fiskar's 12" paper trimmer for almost ten years now, but my best friend from college--an avid scrapbooker--hated hers. She could never get a right angle with it, the blade never seemed right, yadda, yadda. She bought a Tonic and was happy as Daisy with a tennis ball.

So thank you, Colorado Crafter, for giving the other perspective on the glue pad.

2. KellyRae's comment reminded me that I forgot to tell you that I also press the glitter or flock into the glue with my fingers firmly before tapping off the excess. This really helps A LOT.

3. I have some more birthday cards to share (once they are photographed) that people sent me after I posted the bulk of them. Y'all are so sweet and talented!

4. Patti M. sent me a box a few weeks back that I haven't even thanked her for yet! Here are the goods, which I photographed the day I got them.

Storage case and Memento Inks

Glitter and Pears...oh, my!

So thank you, Patti! I'm going to have so much fun with them. The storage case for the Memento inks works great, and I'm going to hang it on the wall in front of my desk. How cool is that to have the inks at my fingertips instead of in a drawer?

Very cool!

And the pear stamps? Oh, Patti, when I stop laughing, we're going to have some fun with those!

Happy Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Blessings to All!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Essential Glue Pad Review and OLW118 Link

Lots of people have inquired about the glue I used to stamp the three trees from PTI's Through the Trees on THIS card.

Well, I used the Essential Glue Pad from Tsukineko, which I bought because Julie Ebersole told me to. Not me, personally, mind you. She just recommended it on her blog and, easily enabled as I am by the likes of Her Royal Rubberness, I ran right out and bought the kit.

Here's my review of it.

It's "good enough for government work," as we say in our house. Not perfect, but then, I've not found any other product that does what it does as well as it does it...and I have looked. It will hold the ultra-fine glitter I used firmly enough to stand up to light rubbing, although any excess just hanging on or not firmly stuck will rub off easily.

In the end, the stamped image will stay as crisp as glitter will allow.

It will also hold flock, but not very thickly, so using bright or dark colors works better.

At least, that's my experience. Individual results will vary.

I haven't had time to stamp at all lately, so no card today. I was sad to miss the 40% off stamps sale at Archivers...spent all day Monday getting new tires for my car (so painful as three of the tires were still quite good, but all-wheel drive cars require four tires of similar tread, so when one goes, they all go--OUCH). Then, Tuesday, I had the last meeting of our Disciple 4 study, followed by a luncheon. Way more fun than Monday, but alas, no time to drive to the nearest Archivers, which isn't so near.

Enough whining. Shopping and volunteering today, but hopefully, I'll have time to stamp something!!!

Don't forget the OLW118!

It's snowflakes on Cheryl's blog, and I just LOVE snowflakes. Some fell here in Ohio yesterday...not enough to accumulate, but enough to make me feel like Christmas was coming!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Insert Witty Post Title Here

Jibber Jabber

Well, it's been a crazy few days. If you just want to see the card, scroll down and skip the next few paragraphs of jibber-jabber.

Thursday, I ran around town for all sorts of errands, many holiday related, and realized as I crawled into bed that night that I hadn't picked up an ornament at church to photograph for you. Friday, I got a flat tire, the story of which will appear on my other blog sometime this week because it was sort of a good way. That night, George and I left our kids alone for the first time to go to a party. Nick made it an hour and forty-five minutes before he got nervous about being in charge and called me home. I'm so proud of him. (BTW, my hubs was far more nervous than I about this big step for Nick.) Saturday, well, I'm not sure what happened to Saturday, although I did clean up some stuff, take the kids to the public library, get groceries. Sunday, I was liturgist for the first time and had to read Luke 3:1-6, which I tell you has a lot of hard Bible words in it and I NAILED them. Thank Heaven for Google, practice, and a little help from the Holy Spirit.

BUT, I forgot to pull an ornament out of the basket for my own use, so I'm going to make one tomorrow and post it ASAP. I'm so sorry about the delay on this.

Today's Card

Here you, frosty snow!

In keeping with OLW117, I used a glue pad and what looked like white glitter...except it really looks pink on the paper. So what to do with the pink tone? Enhance it with a bright pink sentiment. Why not?

The two lines across the top are Scor-Tape, which is just so perfect to use with glitter.

The stamps are from Through the Trees by Papertrey.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

OLW117: Flocked Snow

It's such a disappointment when my photography skills can't keep up with my stamping. But I did my best with my little Nikon Coolpix and Ott lighting on this one. Pinky swear!

Anyway, I used Papertrey's Out on a Limb and added white flock for the snow. IRL, the card looks really cool, with the fuzzy snow much more visible. In fact, I was amazed at the difference the white flock made on the card.

I hope you'll play along with the OLW this week!

FYI: My second Advent devotional is posted on Questioning my Intelligence. I hope you love it!

stamps: Papertrey Out on a Limb, Silent Night (sentiment)
ink: Memento
paper: PTI
accessories: satin ribbon, Quickie glue pen, white Doodlebug flock

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Teacher Gifts

Regarding the Stephen Ministry ornaments...I should be able to pick one up at the church tomorrow and bring it home to photograph, so it will get posted soon. They really are very simple since I'm the only SM in our group who's crafty. Thanks for all your interest in them.

Now, Christmas always presents me with a present challenge. Our son Jack has autism, and honestly, if it takes a village to raise a neurotypical child, it takes a metropolis to raise a child with autism. I like to acknowledge the metropolis at Christmas and the end of the school year, but with so many people involved, it's tough to stay on budget.

All of  Jack's teachers, aides, therapists, and such use notecards regularly, so notecard sets are a cost-effective and much appreciated gift. I use the clear notecard set boxes from Papertrey for packaging and these envelopes from Marco's Paper. Each set has either 8 or 10 notecards...single-panel, 1/4 sheet cards rather than folded cards. The total cost for each set is around $3.00.

You can't beat that with a stick, eh?

Speaking of sticks, Jack makes these sugar plums, which I add to each gift for a personal touch from him. I like using pipe cleaners and jingle bells to seal the cellophane bags on the sugar plums. It's more festive--not to mention faster and easier--than tying curly ribbon or string on the sticks!

This year, I'm going to share some of the sets to give you ideas for your own gift giving. Isn't it nice to be able to acknowledge the many people who make a difference in your life with special gifts that don't require taking out a second mortgage?

BTW, my sister informed me this year she doesn't want anything practical. She wants a mini iPad and an iPhone4S 'cause she likes talking to Suri. I told her I couldn't afford either of those for her, and she said, yes, she's hard to buy for this year.

I love my sister. She makes me laugh. And she bought me fleece socks for my birthday.

Anyway, here are a couple of the clean-and-simple notecard sets I've made so far. Feel free to steal whatever inspiration you need for your own gift giving.

Stamps: A Muse

Stamps: Papertrey Floral Frenzy

Happy gift giving!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

One-Layer Wednesday #117--Snow

This week's One-Layer Wednesday challenge is to put snow on your card...and not just stamped snow, people! Use glitter, sparkle pens, Smooch, glimmer mist, flower soft, flock, puff paint, artist's paste, or any other simulation of snow you can think of!

I've actually made several cards and will share them over the next few days, but here's my glittery gray and red card. Oh how I hope we get snow in Ohio this year!!!!!

Close-up of my glittery snow!

OLW117 Rules

1. A one-layer card is defined as a single layer of card stock folded in half. No other layers allowed.

2. Add some fake snow to your card in whatever form you want, as long as it's not another layer of paper! Remember to keep embellishments to a minimum.

3. Post your card online and then link to it using the InLinkz button on the sidebar of Simplicity. If you link to your blog, please take care to link to the OLW entry post, not to your blog's main page.

4. The most important rule of all...HAVE FUN!!!!!

stamps: Paptertrey In the Meadow, Through the Trees; Hero Arts snow border from an unknown clear set
ink: Memento
paper: PTI
accessories: velvet ribbon, Scor-Tape, Quickie glue pen, Doodlebug white glitter

Monday, December 3, 2012

OLW116--Scene It

I don't always get a chance to participate in the OLW challenges. Well, mostly I try, but sometimes my efforts are less than blog-worthy. After four or five failed attempts, I give up, as I did with Heather's square challenge.

Why would I flunk a square challenge? Seriously? I'm as square as a gal can get.

Today's card, however, represents a nicely-handled save in my attempt at Karen's OLW116 Challenge, so I thought I'd share it. I had stamped the winter scene once and completely screwed up the image (that's what happens when you don't bother to stand on the big stamps...they turn out all blotchy).

So I stood on it the second time, and there was STILL a tiny blotch in the upper left corner.

Which I covered with the white, sheer bow.

See. Nicely-handled save. Go, me!

Now, this image was embossed with Silver Pearl embossing powder, which is just lovely. I stamped it in a dark blue pigment ink (ColorBox Royal Blue), sprinkled the Silver Pearl powder over it, and heated it to this soft blue, lustrous, shimmery finish.

I just love the softening effect of the Silver Pearl over darker inks. Give it a try sometime. And click over to Karen's OLW116 Challenge!

stamps: unlabeled and very old! 
ink: Colorbox royal blue
paper: PTI white
accessories: Silver Pearl Embossing Powder, heat gun, sheer white ribbon

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Mistletoe Christmas

FYI--I've started my Advent devotional posts on Questioning my Intelligence. If you're interested, the first one is HERE.

Today's card made me happy because I could use those giant pearls. The scale was just right for the large mistletoe stamp. Yippy!

And yes, this card will be shipped in a package rather than mailed in an envelope. Those pearls are huge and not letter-service friendly.

stamps: Papertrey Ink Mistletoe and Holly, Happiest of Holidays
ink: VersaColor green tea, burgundy
paper: PTI white
accessories: large half pearls, dimensionals