Wednesday, September 30, 2015

On a Gray Day, A Girl Needs Some Bright Colors

Yesterday, we had a gray, wet day in southwest Ohio, so I grabbed some citrus colors and made the day brighter.

Hi there, color. I appreciate you.

What are your favorite colors on a gray day?

stamps: My Favorite Things Fall Florals
ink: Hero Arts butter bar, lime, orange soda; Memento cocoa
paper: Papertrey
accessories: epoxy dome sticker

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Artsy Quilt Inspiration

As soon as this photo of a very artistic quilt design by Ursula Kern popped up during my Pinterest browsing, a card popped right into my head.

Yep. An idea came to me, I executed the idea, and it turned out exactly as I wanted it to turn out.

Y'all, success like this NEVER happens to me. Inspiration for me usually proceeds awkwardly and with fits and starts and mistakes and unexpected problems and even more unexpected solutions. Inspiration is a messy PROCESS of creating my own thing from a springboard of someone else's creativity.

This card happened just right the first time. Which is good because stamping all those circles took forever and I won't do it again.

But what a pleasure to have it work so well!

To make this, I drew lines out from the central circle and used My Favorite Things Party Patterns and a few other smaller circle stamps from other random sets to fill in between the lines. After finishing the stamping, I erased the lines, stamped the sentiment, and sat back with a smile on my face.

Don't you love it when a plan comes together so easily?

Of course you do!

stamps: My Favorite Things, miscellaneous circles, Papertrey sentiment
ink: Hero Arts cornflower, soft sky, soft graphite; Memento black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: pencil, eraser

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Don't Forget about the Thanksgiving Crusade!

I've finished all the cards I'm going to make for this year's Thanksgiving Crusade. When Operation Write Home announced it was closing shop, I already had a selection of fall/Thanksgiving cards to send them that suddenly became mine again.

So just because you've already seen all those card doesn't mean I've forgotten about the Crusade! Today's card is the last new one I have to share this year.

I just love Autumn Adornments from Papertrey. This lovely vine can be accessorized with tiny pumpkins, acorns, or leaves in other colors to add depth and interest. Add glitter, and oh the loveliness!

How is your Thanksgiving Crusade going? How many cards do you plan to send? How are you deciding to whom you will send them? Inquiring minds and all that....

stamps: Autumn Adornments by Papertrey
ink: Hero Arts, Memento
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: Stickles

Friday, September 25, 2015

Follow-Up on Tools Post and a Birthday Inspiration

Curious reader Laura emailed me to ask what ThreatCon Alpha and Bravo mean. For those of you unaccustomed to military lingo, ThreatCon is short for Threat Condition, which is how the military ranks the level of threat in the war on terror. Alpha is the lowest level of threat, and Bravo designates a medium threat. Two higher threat levels--Charlie and Delta--are nothing I would joke about. If you're really curious for details, here's a link to an article in the Dayton Daily News.

Now, I used the first two ThreatCon levels as metaphors for needing to clean stamps because dirty stamps represent a threat to my mild OCD. No stamp cleaning situation EVER warrants Charlie or Delta. Those are serious situations, not be be made light of. Alpha and Bravo, however, don't really involve much worry for your average military person other than occasional long delays getting onto base and the weirdness of having a humvee with an active machine-gun turret aimed directly at your vehicle as you drive through the gate onto base.

My husband tells me that to be scrupulously correct, I should tell you that the military changed the name from Threat Condition to Force Protection Condition, or FiPCon, some time since he retired, but in ordinary conversation, most folks I know still use the old verbiage. Keeping up with military acronyms takes far more effort than my retired-military-spouse brain cares to exert.

Anyway, I want everyone to know that our United States military personnel are amazing and work extremely hard to keep us safe and secure and able to fret about things like dirty stamps whether the official FiPCon is Alpha or Delta. They have my respect and admiration and eternal gratitude for their hard work and sacrifice.

Hope that helps explain my military metaphor!

Now, there were several suggestions in the comments on the clean-your-stamps post that I'll share right here so you don't miss them. They are THAT good.

1. Use a toothbrush to get ink out of tiny grooves on detailed stamps.
2. Sponges and absorber cloths work well, too.
3. Instead of stamp cleaner, you can add 2-3 drops of Dawn Dish Detergent to a spritzer bottle of water.

Whew. I'm finally ready to talk about today's card. Thank you for enduring my wordiness today! This card's color scheme was inspired by THIS PIN on my Color My World Pinterest Board.

There's no way I would have thought of this color scheme on my own, and please note the use of six colors (with the addition of dark brown) on a card by me. Seriously. But I love how it turned out, and the chromatic chaos is contained to a tidy strip on the card, with plenty of glorious white space left over.

What a happy birthday card! I hope you all have a happy weekend!

stamps: My Favorite Things Label Maker Sentiments and Party Patterns. 
ink: Hero Arts soft pool, butter bar, pumpkin pie, soft wheat; SU marina mist; VersaMagic jumbo java
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: dimensionals

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Tools: Clean Those Stamps!

Okay, I must confess a certain level of neat freakishness when it comes to cleaning my stamps. Stampers exist (you know who you are!) who rarely clean their stamps.

How do they sleep at night? 


ThreatCon-Alpha Cleaning

Cleaning stamps requires--for us freakish neatniks--two levels of cleaning. The first level, what we might call ThreatCon Alpha, utilizes the amazing cleaning powers of water and friction. I use one of these travel cases for Huggies, left over from the days long past when I carried a diaper bag.

Of course, I don't put Huggies or any sort of baby wipe in here because some wipes contain chemicals that can hurt your stamps over time. (I read that on the internet so it must be true.) Instead, I use old washcloths that are dampened with tap water and wrung out. Washcloths are cheaper anyway.

Important Safety Tip: Do not close the wipe container completely with a wet washcloth in it. The washcloth will grow microscopic bacteria, start to stink, and--if left long enough--will grow visible mold, mildew or bacterial mats to rival what you see in the thermal pools of Yellowstone National Park.

Come to think of it, this particular wipe container is, technically, not the one I used in the diaper bag lo those many years ago. The current case replaced one that grew enough stinky life to walk away on its own.

Just don't close the lid all the way. Leaving it cracked lets evaporation outpace spontaneous generation of mutant life forms.

I keep a supply of old washcloths in a drawer in my craft area and generally change them out every other day or so.

ThreatCon-Alpha cleaning works great on pigment ink (Brilliance, Impress, etc.) and non-staining dye inks (like Memento). These wipe off and don't generally leave a residue behind. For inks that stain stamps or leave residue, however, we need to step up the threat condition a bit.

ThreatCon-Bravo Cleaning

For Hero Arts, Memories, Ancient Page, chalk, hybrid, or other staining inks, simple water and friction won't suffice. We need chemical warfare to get those stamps properly clean.

Have you ever stamped an image in light ink and thought the color was off? You probably hadn't cleaned the stamp properly after previous use. Leaving a dark staining ink on a stamp means running the risk of contamination when using a lighter ink.

Don't take this risk! Two simple, long-lasting supplies will remove the threat and get your stamps sparkling clean in no time.

This scrubber has lasted about ten years and is still going strong, and the bottle of
Ultra Clean is my second--just opened--in the same span of time.

A stamp scrubber and Ultra Clean stamp cleaner work to remove pesky stains and contamination from rubber or photopolymer stamps.

Spray the cleaner on the lower pad (which is thicker and removable for washing), rub your stamp on it, then rub the stamp on the dry top pad (which is thinner and glued to the the plastic container), and your stamp is dandy clean!

The cleaner, which has magical anti-grossness properties, won't grow bacteria if the container is closed, so no worries there.

Important Safety Tip: DO NOT, under any circumstances, leave a photopolymer stamp resting on the cleaning pad for any length of time. The cleaner on the bristles of the pad WILL damage the stamp by leaving impressions of the bristles. Wiping the stamp dry after cleaning will prevent any damage.

Note #1: Staz-On Ink requires its own cleaner...according to the internet. I have that cleaner also, with its sponge applicator built in, but rarely use Staz-On.

Note #2: I love the stamp scrubber thingie but you could just spray the cleaner on a washcloth, too...although some cleaner might be wasted if it gets absorbed into the washcloth.

Note #3: Some inks will permanently stain photopolymer, regardless of cleaners used. This staining in no way affects the performance of the stamps and doesn't bother me at all.

Note #4: How patient you are with notes to have made it this far. Thank you!

Feel free to share your tips and techniques for cleaning stamps in the comments. Perhaps I can pick up some new neat freakishness!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Embrace the Quirk

Fun sentiment + messy acrylic block inking + a stylized pine branch = a fabulous thank you card.

The background was made by inking an acrylic block, spritzing it with water, and stamping it directly on the card stock. This messy method gives a quirky and unpredictable background.

Embrace the quirk.

YES! Usually, the quirky results are imperfectly perfect (as here), but occasionally, the word "blotchy" feels more appropriate, in which case, I have really pretty trash going into the recycling bin. No worries. It's all part of the process.

The branch was inked with Memento markers and stamped AFTER the background had dried thoroughly. Because, well, you know. Right?

Do you make Christmas-specific thank-you cards? I do. And this sentiment from Papertrey's Signature Christmas set is perfect for them.

Have an excellently quirky day!

stamps: Hero Arts (branch), Papertrey (sentiment)
ink: SU marina mist, Memento rich cocoa
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: Memento markers, water spritzer

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A Different Type of Christmas Card

In my extensive stash of envelopes are a bunch of 5 1/8" x 3 5/8" white envelopes that are begging to be used. After seeing some paper-crafty Christmas-tree decorating ideas in an old, old holiday magazine, I decided to try making a hanging Christmas card using a smaller format than the standard 5 1/2" x 4 1/4" card size.

Yay to using up supplies!

Card size 4 7/8" x 3 3/8"

I'll write a greeting on the reverse of the petite single-panel card, and hopefully the recipient will hang it on his/her tree!

stamps: Papertrey Wet Paint Holiday, Hero Arts (flower)
ink: SU Real Red, Hero Arts green
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: 1/16" hole punch, baker's twine, needle-threading tool to make it easier to pull the twine through the small hole!, corner rounder

Monday, September 21, 2015

New Stuff and a Pastel Christmas Card

Continuing the Ironmate gift idea given to me by my sister-in-law, I've ordered some more stamps. Oh, happy stampy time!

As you can see, I picked up a few Christmas sets but also some definitely NOT Christmas sets. What fun I will have playing with all this photopolymer goodness. And isn't it darling how Ellen throws in free ribbon that matches her little thank you card? Love it!

What have you bought recently for your happy stampy time?

And now for the pastel Christmas card I wrote about last week. Looking at the photo, I'm wishing I had used the darker twine rather than the lighter...but in real life, the lighter twine looks great. Ah, the challenges of photographing "subtle" cards!

This card will go to my hip young niece and her fiance. They'll appreciate the iconoclastic color choice! You wouldn't believe how much card stock I ruined getting the balance of greens and gold right. I even tried a soft pink in there (following a color combo from Pinterest), and that looked really, really bad! But I really like this lime-and-gold combo.

stamps: Hero Arts
ink: Versamagic, Impress Fresh Ink
paper: Papertrey
accessories: twine, glue

Sunday, September 20, 2015

IC511 - All Things Tangled, Plus a Pep Talk

Over at Splitcoast Stampers, Audrie (a.k.a. Girlgeek101) heads up the Inspiration Challenge every week, and this week, she's using an "All Things Tangled" theme. Well, I'm starting to cut my teeth on Zentangles, so I thought I'd use this chance to get some more practice by making a thank-you card.

Today's piece is on a 2" x 3.25" rectangle of ordinary Papertrey white card stock. The sentiment is incorporated in the design, although my hubs thought it said, "HANK YOU" because the "T" doesn't stand out quite as well as it should.

It's pretty clear I'm a beginner at this, but it's so much fun I can see myself doing this for years. The meditative quality of it appeals to me as I've been trying to be more mindful anyway. When zentangling, time sort of stops. I just keep adding and tinkering until I get something that seems sort of finished. It's an organic, unstructured process full of imperfections that flows smoothly as long as you don't think about it too much.

If you're like me and are an over-thinker with some obsessive, perfectionist tendencies that get in the way of relaxing and having fun, this is an excellent antidote!

For those of you contemplating Zentangles but feeling insecure about it...dive right in! I am. Like anything we do, doodling gets better with time and practice. (At least, I hope it does!) I want to share my admittedly lame early attempts to let you know that you don't have to be an artist or designer to have fun zentangling.

And why not get started with Audrie's challenge at Splitcoast?

Just a thought.

stamps: none
ink: none
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: dimensionals, Micron extra-fine pen, soft-lead pencil, cardboard blending tool for shading

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Keepin' It Real

It dawned on me the other day that part of my impulse to make clean-and-simple cards stems from my desire--deep-seated and not entirely healthy--to control my environment. I am so NOT in control of much in my life, and lately things have felt particularly chaotic. Several friends are fighting cancer, another friendship has fallen apart, I'm having issues with one of my son's much unexpected chaos and anxiety!

Sitting at my craft desk focuses me, helps me escape temporarily the stress of these real and hard things, and darn it, I want that time to be peaceful and clean, serene and confident. No matter how hard I try to achieve that peace and serenity, however, this is what really happens.

When I sat down this afternoon, here's what I saw. Working left to right (sort of), here we go:

1. Cutter-Bee scissors not in their cup with the other scissors.
2. Peanut M&Ms. Because chocolate makes everything better, and it goes so well with peanuts.
3. A couple of blank cards.
4. The wine cork that protects me from unintended punctures from my awl, The awl itself is in the back center of the desk next to the cork I use to protect me from unintended cuts from my craft knife, which is on the right side of the picture. My goodness, there's dangerous stuff on my desk!
5. A pine tree green ink pad from Memories (Hero Arts) that makes me mad because it's too dull and dark. Where, oh where will I find good dark green inks?!?!?
6. A few random Christmas sets of clear stamps. Probably by Hero Arts and Papertrey, but who knows for sure?
7. The neutral ink pads (black, gray, brown) that stay on my desk at all times for handy access.
8. The white cups and mail sorters that are full of stuff, including a legal pad with a list of cards I need to make, acrylic blocks, and post-it notes.
9. The SU real red ink pad because it's the best red. Ever.
10. A new order from Ellen Hutson, stacked on top of the latest issue of Take Ten.
11. Acrylic block with a Hero Arts sentiment stuck on it.
12. A stipple brush used with the Kaleidacolor ink pad under my Nook HD+. I use the Nook to surf Pinterest at my desk.

Off-camera are a steaming cup of coffee, more stamp sets, and a couple more magazines.

No matter how neat and tidy I try to be, chaos happens. I clean up, put everything away, and then it reverts to this.

Like life.

But at least the cards come out clean.

stamps: Hero Arts
ink: Hero Arts lime green, SU real red
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: SU corner punch, dimensionals

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Lino Print Inspiration

While poking around on Pinterest, I discovered a lovely one-color lino print that just HAD to be made over into a card. And here's what happened:

card size 5" x 6.25"

The new Hero Arts set Holiday Pine Branches pairs perfectly with a VERY old and discontinued Hero Arts sentiment perfectly, don't you think?

The red and white brings it all together, but the raised panel needed a bit of an edge on it. I contemplated matting the panel with red card stock, but felt that would be too strong...I really want the eye to stay in the branch-y collage. So I went with a subtle silver pen border (a go-to move for holiday cards) and love the effect.

One key to successfully organizing a collage like this is to work out from the center and then fill in holes with the dots. The dots all came from different sets (Holiday Pine Branches doesn't have any). Also the very smallest branches come from a different new Hero Arts clear set called Holiday Greetings. Don't be afraid to mix and match sets when you need to!

Note that the size is non-standard. My collage was fairly large, so I tried to put it on a 5" x 7" card, but the mat wasn't even. I adjusted to fit, and will mail this in a standard 5" x 7" envelope.

stamps: Hero Arts
ink: SU real red
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: dimensionals, silver metallic marker

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Brilliant Color Showcased

It's funny, but I love the full range of colors and their values...from soft pastels to bright, bold colors and everything in between. Every color has a place.

Subtle color schemes often appeal to me...and rarely appeal to the blog-reading public. Today, for instance, I made a perfectly beautiful Christmas card in non-traditional, muted colors. It's FABULOUS! But it won't photograph well and may never make it onto this here little blog o' mine.

Not like today's card, which fairly glows off the paper with rich, bright, gorgeously brilliant color!

This curvy, gorgeous leaf from First Fruits by Papertrey pops off the card in Kaleidacolor orange, red, and brown inks! I love, love, love the brilliance here. It looks like fire, doesn't it?

And I love it as much as that pastel Christmas card I made.

Do you find yourself drawn mostly to bright colors, soft colors, or the full range of colors? What appeals to you most about color?

stamps: Papertrey First Fruits; Waltzingmouse Blessed by You
ink: Kaleidacolor
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: dimensionals, corner rounder, rhinestone

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Another Thanksgiving Crusade Card and Something Completely Different

Today's card illustrates exactly why you need to have Kaleidacolor ink pads in your stash. Stippling with them is AMAZINGLY easy!

Those variations in color from red to brown took absolutely no effort on my part. I just tamped the stipple brush over both colors at the same time and pounced it onto the paper through a mask made with a post-it note and a large leaf punch.

Easy peasy.

(Really, I hate that phrase, but it fits.)

Here's a close up so you can see how the Brilliance chocolate ink shimmers over the stippled Kaleidacolor. Cool, eh? Brilliance inks are so much fun!

And now for something completely different new.

(This isn't Monty Python, you know.)

I made this:

Yep. I took a class on Zentangles, and this was my first effort. What a fun activity...very relaxing and engaging. I never would have taken the leap myself, so I have Leslie Hanna to thank for getting me started. If you've contemplated starting but felt intimidated, I highly recommend you just jump right in. It's fun! Taking a class to start is a good idea. There's a whole system to doing Zentangles that makes it so much easier than you might think.

If I'd had my reading glasses with me, those circles would have been smaller, too. Y'all can see the limits of my contact lens prescription right there on the paper, LOL! My eyes are getting older, along with the rest of me.

How is YOUR Thanksgiving Crusade going, and have you tried Zentangles? Share your experiences in the comments, please. I could use a little advice as I move forward with it!

stamps: Hero Arts
ink: Kaleidacolor, Brilliance
paper: Papertrey
accessories: leaf punch, post-it, stipple brush, rhinestones

Monday, September 14, 2015

Tools: Empty Gift Cards and Wire Colanders

The last Tool post showed a fabulous Teflon folder that was a bit pricey as bone folders go. But today, the first tool I'm spotlighting need not cost you a penny.

Here's a freshly re-inked Brilliance ink pad
with the ink mostly smooshed in.

Always ask for your used-up gift cards back from the clerk after you use them. These handy rectangles of flexible plastic are the PERFECT tool for smooshing thick pigment inks into spongy ink pads.

Generally, the instructions on reinker bottles say to use the bottle tip to smoosh the ink in, but that takes forever and a gift card works ever so much faster and cleans up easily, too.

And yes, I made up the verb smoosh. Because it perfectly describes what you have to do.

Reinking dry ink pads is one of my least favorite tasks of paper crafting. Ugh. Just not fun. Neither is cleaning clear stamps that have lost their stick, but a cheap wire mesh colander from Target at least keeps me from losing the tiny ones down the soapy drain.

If your clear stamps lose their stick, all you have to do is put the stamps in the colander, put the colander in a sink with some soapy water, swish the stamps with your fingers, rubbing the backs to remove the dust and oil, rinse with clean water, and dump the stamps out on a lint-free towel to air dry.

That's all there is to it. It's not glamorous, but it works.

So as you can see, not all the tools we use need be expensive...just useful.

What other useful tools have you discovered that are inexpensive/free/re-purposed? Please share!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

We Get There in the End

Okay, many thanks to reader Lynne Phelps for pushing me to get this right. I think we're there.

To compare, here's the second version of this card, which has a too small, too dark leaf focal point. The design is simply unbalanced, and the tiny leaf punch looks like a dark hole in the design.

The small punched maple leaf has been replaced with a large, stamped leaf. This new version makes the leaf's color not quite so dark, and the white veins help us lose the "dark hole in the design" look. I wish I had a slightly smaller leaf stamp (this classic one from the now-out-of-business Stampa Rosa is rather large!), but the balance between the larger stamped leaf and the sentiment is much better.

Anyway, the design is open and spacious now, not cramped onto the bottom two inches of the card. I like it!

But I want serious credit for cutting out that stamped leaf because y'all know I'm generally too lazy to do that level of fussy cutting.

So thanks, Lynne, for pushing me. I'm happy with the result!

stamps: Stampa Rosa leaf, Hero Arts wood grain, Simon Says Stamps sentiment
paper: Papertrey white
ink: VersaMagic jumbo java, Hero Arts mint julep
accessories: scissors, Papertrey twine, dimensionals 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Placement Challenge

Earlier this week, I posted the following card:

Lynne Phelps commented on that post and said, "I would also love to see this same card but with the sentiment moved straight up to just above the panel, to integrate the white space into the panel elements."

Now, I had actually considered putting the sentiment on the white space but decided against it because I felt the unity of the raised panel would suffer. Your eye stays in the raised panel here and moves around it. Dragging the eye to the white card base felt wrong to me.

But Lynne's comment made me wonder, so I made the card she asked for.

Take a look at them side by side.

The side-by-side photo shows clearly how much more "breathing room" there is on Lynne's suggested version than on mine, which feels a bit claustrophobic in comparison.

If I'd put the sentiment on the card where Lynne suggested, however, I would never have left the card that way. I would have added something else to the focal point...making it bigger, perhaps a few more leaves in various shades of brown or a single larger leaf. This placement feels unbalanced to me with such a piddly-looking focal point (the dark brown leaf) separated from the large sentiment. In fact, the little spot of dark brown looks almost like a hole in the more open design, doesn't it? With the sentiment on the stamped panel, at least it looks like they go together.

With just a single brown leaf and twine bow as the focal point, I prefer the sentiment on the stamped panel for my original reason of putting it there: it unifies the stamped panel.

Consider larger and/or more leaves plus the sentiment placed on the card base OR a smaller sentiment on the base with the single smaller leaf. Either would definitely be even better than my original card!

Thanks for suggesting I do this, Lynne. The next step will be trying to make that focal point look bigger and finding a smaller sentiment to use with the single leaf.

We'll see which looks better!

stamps: Simon Says Autumn Blessings, Hero Arts wood grain background
ink: Hero Arts, VersaMagic
paper: Papertrey white, SU chocolate chip
accessories: dimensionals, twine, leaf punch

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Return of Glitter

After years of making so many cards for Operation Write Home, I'm rediscovering the fun and beauty of glitter. (For those who don't know, OWH asked that we not use glitter because if it got on the soldiers' uniforms, it might make them targets...definitely not what we wanted our art to do!)

This card makes my heart go pitter patter with glittery glee! It's the most satisfying card I've made in a very long time.

This card employs the same aqua and dark brown color combination I used on this other card, but to completely different effect. Today's card is lighter, airier, and certainly shinier!

First, I stamped the vine wreath and then added the aqua berries. Then, I pulled out a bottle of Stickles and randomly dotted the glitter around the berries. That looked great by itself, but then I decided to use vellum for the sentiment and needed something to hide the dimensional tape with which I adhered the sentiment banner. Two large, light aqua pearls worked perfectly, but then I thought I'd put a few small ones on the wreath as well.

There's a LOT going on here (especially for a card by me!) but it's all so harmonious, so monochromatic, so balanced! The glitter and pearls work nicely together with the vellum, don't you think?

*happy sigh*

stamps: Papertrey A Wreath for All Seasons,  Keep It Simple Thanksgiving
ink: Memento, Hero Arts
paper: vellum, Papertrey white
accessories: dimensionals, pearls, Stickles, corner rounder

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


Sometimes, people need to be reminded to breathe. To slow down and grab some peace in the chaos of life. Are you in the midst of chaos right now? Are you feeling frazzled and out of breath?

If so, this is for you.

The shadow stamp here is the filler stamp for the larger, square leaf in the set One with Nature by Simon Says Stamp. I like how crispness and chaos fit together in this focal point.

No matter what kind of craziness is going on in your life, don't forget to breathe.

Deep, cleansing breaths.

In and out.

It helps.

And maybe this card will, too.

stamps: Papertrey Grunge Me, Simon Says Stamp One with Nature
ink: Memento, Hero Arts
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

OLS20: What's Your Number?

Greetings from the land of numbers. I've been paying bills this afternoon, dealing with the shrinking numbers in my bank account, but now I get to share my card for the One-Layer Simplicity Challenge #20, which is about numbers but doesn't have any numbers on it.


This was a lot more fun than paying bills.

My one-layer card gives a nice feeling of movement with the curves of the leaves and the opposing rounded corners. While there are no numbers, the card asks the recipient to count his/her blessings...which, if most of us think about it (and are not clinically depressed), add up to a pretty big number!

This also counts for my Thanksgiving Crusade Challenge.  I plan on writing on the inside: "I count you as one of mine!"

stamps: Papertrey First Fruits
ink: Kaleidacolor 
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones, 1/2" radius corner rounder

Monday, September 7, 2015

Thanksgiving Crusade Process

Whenever I undertake a sizable project like the Thanksgiving Crusade, it helps to get a bunch of relevant supplies together. For instance, here's everything I have that's fall-themed in stamps and punches:

Generally, I organize these into plastic baskets so all the stuff I might use is gathered in one handy place, and then the ideas start flowing. As you can see, there's a lot of fall-themed stuff here! It's just a starting point, however. Sometimes ideas spark in very strange ways.

Today's card resulted mostly from a cool color combination on Pinterest of aqua-blue and dark brown. Now, brown is easy for fall, but how do you use aqua on a fall card? Hmmm. As I glanced through a magazine (some random issue of Take Ten), an artsy card with wood grain background caught my eye.

Wood grain? Well, why not!

I like it! Fresh and different. But no way did I think to pull that wood grain stamp out with my fall stamps. Now, it seems a perfect idea (although not always with such a creative color, perhaps!).

So if you pull supplies for a project, don't limit yourself to just what is in front of you. Relax and let random ideas connect in your brain, and see what happens when you play around. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. But you learn something every time!

stamps: Hero Arts wood grain background. Simon Says Stamp Autumn Blessings
ink: Hero Arts, Memento
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: Papertrey twine, Martha Stewart leaf punch, dimensionals, glue pen

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Thanksgiving Crusade Challenge 2015

Welcome to the 2015 Thanksgiving Crusade!

For newcomers to my quixotic Thanksgiving marketing campaign, allow me to explain. As the capitalist marketing machine takes over holidays, certain values fall by the wayside, including gratitude for what we have.

Halloween has become big business, taking over multiple aisles of Target in early September. Halloween is a holiday dedicated to children in store-bought costumes begging for candy and adults dressing up in increasingly clever and competitive costumes for elaborate themed parties that involve a lot of drinking.

These two activities sometimes merge. In our old neighborhood, a number of folks hand out beer and wine to the adults even as they hand candy to children. Crowds of buzzed adults walk from house to house escorting children high on sugar. While entertaining, it's not exactly a celebration of family values, now, is it?

As soon as Halloween gets close, even more Target aisles are filled with Christmas stuff. Christmas has become so commercial, and it's all about getting more least to our public culture. Christians sometimes reign in the commercial aspects in the name of celebrating the Reason for the Season, but under the onslaught of sales and advertising and children's wish lists for Apple products, it can feel rather greedy and grasping, all about getting and spending rather than a baby born two thousand years ago.

Now, consider how many Target aisles are dedicated to Thanksgiving, the holiday stuck between Halloween and Christmas.


Not one.

Thanksgiving gets an end-cap. Maybe two. (Let me note that Hanukkah also just gets an end-cap.) Thanksgiving is a holiday dedicated to being grateful for the harvest, for friends and family, for enough food to get through the winter. The simple things. But these days, it's more about football, parades, the necessary day before Black Friday (which now starts on Thursday night!!!!), and gorging ourselves senseless.

Now, if you've paid attention to all the "happiness research" that's come out in the past decade or so, you know one of the key components to happiness is gratitude...being grateful for what we have, for those small things that make life easier, more comfortable, more beautiful, safer, healthier. Gratitude doesn't feel the need to shop to excess, and thus there is no reason to market Thanksgiving anywhere except the grocery store.

But I've ranted long enough. Years ago, my pastor preached a sermon about saving Thanksgiving. He suggested writing letters to people for whom you are grateful: old teachers, friends you've not seen in years, the barista at Starbucks, your neighbor who always waves at you but whose name you don't know, your mom. His suggestion resonated with the card-maker in me, and ever since, I've done as he suggests. 

There are plenty of excuses not to participate. We're all so busy. There's so much to do, and we don't need ANOTHER item on our agenda. It's football season. I'm making Christmas cards. Yadda, yadda.

Whether you live in a country that observes a formal Thanksgiving Day or not, I challenge you to make the time to express your gratitude to at least five people this fall. My friends in Canada will celebrate Thanksgiving on October 12 this year, and we in the United States will celebrate on November 26. If you're in another country, just pick a deadline that works best for you and play along.

Isn't thanking the special people in your life worth a bit of your time and attention?

Of course it is!

The Thanksgiving Crusade is an actual card-making challenge, with an InLinkz button and everything. I'm even going to send four random entrants a small token of appreciation! You'll find the button on the Thanksgiving Page of this here little blog. 

The InLinkz button will be open on the Thanksgiving Page until midnight on November 26, 2015. Winners will be announced on November 28, and the small tokens will be sent out as soon as possible after receiving addresses!

I'm going to kick off my Thanksgiving Crusade Challenge with the two following cards using the First Fruits set from Papertrey Ink (which is now in the vault).

These crisp, clean images are evocative of the season, and the simple, strong colors make a bold statement. This is what clean-and-simple gratitude is all about. But your challenge card(s) need not be CAS. Mine all will be, but this challenge is open to all styles...and all grateful hearts.

Rules for the Thanksgiving Crusade Challenge

1. Make a card that expresses gratitude: fall, Thanksgiving, or thank-you themed cards will do. It doesn't even need to be CAS! The important thing here is expressing gratitude, not conforming to a particular style or number of layers.

2. Post your card somewhere accessible on the Internet.

3. Link to your card using the InLinkz button on the Thanksgiving Page. If you link to your blog, please make double-darn sure you link to the individual post and not your blog's main page.

4. Enter as many times as you like.

5. Have fun and be grateful!!!!

I hope you will join me in rescuing Thanksgiving from the end-caps. 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

An Addendum to Yesterday's Post

My endorsement of Delicata Golden Glitz ink yesterday prompted several questions, so today's post gives a fuller account of the ink and how I use it.

Delicata ink is a pigment ink...and most definitely NOT the fast-drying kind (like Brilliance or VersaColor). For those who haven't used ordinary pigment inks (a common brand is ColorBox), here are a few characteristics you need to know.

1. Pigment inks are thick, creamy, and opaque.

2. They tend to be archival, color-fast, and suitable for scrapbooking.

3. They dry very slowly on porous paper (like Papertrey, Neenah Solar, and such), making them ideal for heat embossing as they stay wet and hold the embossing powder very well.

4. They may NEVER dry on coated or smooth paper (like vellum or Gina K's white card stock or SU's whisper white). And I mean never. Especially the metallics. I've let them sit for weeks on coated papers to dry and still had them smear. They simply must be heat embossed on smooth papers.

5. There are several really cool techniques, for those inclined to techniques, that can only be done with pigment inks and take advantage of their creamy texture, slow drying time, and blendability. I do not do these techniques myself, being generally technique-challenged, but there are surely hundreds of videos on YouTube to help you explore their virtues.

The card I posted yesterday, made with Papertrey's porous white card stock, sat undisturbed for over a day before I checked it and found the Delicata had, indeed, dried. In excessively humid environments, drying time might be even longer. Had I used Brilliance Galaxy Gold, however, the card would have been dry and ready to handle in a manner of minutes. It would not have been quite as golden-glitzy. I keep this drying time in mind when I make the choice of which gold ink to use, and it's nice for my purposes to have both.

I hope this helps you either a) use your Delicata more effectively or b) make a decision about whether you must have one of your own. I love mine, and am willing to wait for it to dry because of its beautiful, bright shimmer. But when I'm rushed, I stick with Brilliance.

Once again, I have demonstrated how we can NEVER have too many ink pads.

Happy stamping!

Friday, September 4, 2015

A Lovely Gold Ink

What happens when you combine a classic PSX stamp and a lovely gold ink?


This card is extremely simple, so I added a heart to the envelope flap (also PSX) for impact. The wonderful detail of this card is the ink, which is Delicata Golden Glitz. This ink is divine.

I questioned buying this ink pad because I've been happy with Brilliance galaxy gold. But the Delicata is so very lovely. For those of us lazy folks who whine like toddlers because we don't want to go to the bother of plugging in our heat guns to emboss have a simple, easy option when we want gorgeous gold shimmer. 

If you don't have a Delicata golden glitz ink pad, consider getting one. 

That is all.

(Note: this endorsement is entirely unsolicited and given of my own free will with not a single bit of compensation. I share because I love you and want you to be happy. You're welcome.)

stamps: PSX
ink: Delicata golden glitz
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: envelope

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Inspired by Ava Gavloski

It's not often I get 3-dimensional, but sometimes, it's just really appealing. Such was the case with today's card.

The pink isn't quite so bright IRL!

This pink confection comes to us courtesy of Smooch (Leslie, are you reading?). The shimmery ink was brushed loosely onto the card base and covers the wooden heart. So much fun!

Y'all know I can't do cards like this without inspiration from someone more skilled in collage/embellished/layered stuff, and this inspiration comes from Ava Gavloski's card in Take Ten.

I love the softness of Ava's card, with the feathers and burlap string and fabric. It's so textured and well designed! How could I not let it inspire me?!?! Thanks, Ava, for your beautiful card!

Where are you getting inspiration these days?

stamps: Clearly Besotted sentiment
ink: Memento cocoa
paper: Windsor & Newton watercolor paper
accessories: fabric, tape runner, twine, wooden heart, Smooch, glue, heart rhinestones

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Drawing the Line on Christmas

Yes, I'm starting to think--seriously--about Christmas cards, although I will shortly be kicking off my Thanksgiving Crusade to give my Canadian friends time to make cards for their Thanksgiving. But I send over a hundred individually-designed Christmas cards a year, and waiting until the last minute just won't do. I have about twenty in my stash now, but here's the latest one, made with a Wreath for All Seasons by Papertrey.

The vertical line element is not uncommon in graphic design, and you'll find several examples of it on my Pure Inspiration Pinterest board.  I drew it with a metal ruler and the fine end of the Memento cocoa marker. The wreath and word "Christmas" are in cocoa, and the berries and "Merry" are Hero Arts red royal, which is a simply delightful darker Christmas red.

Check out how the wreath makes a C-shape. Get it? C for Christmas?

I'm feeling very clever.*

Random berries are highlighted with red Smooch, although it may be hard to tell even in the close-up, but in real life, the random shimmer adds a nice hint of dimension to the design.

For the last few Christmases, I have purchased cards to send when my output didn't match the need. Many of the recipients don't even know I stamp or don't care. No one has complained so far, and I love that the pressure is off. Christmas shouldn't be about pressure, should it? Of course not!!!

Have you started on your Christmas/holiday cards yet? How many do you usually make? Do you ever send store-bought cards if you can't make enough? Or do you avoid the holiday stress and just send professionally-printed photo or store-bought cards?

*In all honesty, I didn't notice the C of the wreath until the card was finished. I'm not that clever.

stamps: Papertrey A Wreath for All Seasons
ink: Memento cocoa and Hero Arts red royal
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: ruler, Memento marker, Smooch, post-it for masking