Saturday, June 24, 2017

Big Stamp Layout

For several reasons, big stamps are the enemy of clean-and-simple (CAS) design. First, they don't leave much room for white space on a card because, you know, they're big. Second, the size and orientation of a big stamp seriously limit the number of layouts you can create on a small rectangle of cardstock, especially if you're not adding lots of mats, ribbon, gee-gaws, and embellishments.

Consequently, big stamps are not my favorites, but I make an exception for this gorgeous lighthouse stamp from PSX. Tricked out in simple black and white, it makes a wonderful masculine birthday card.


This layout works best with this stamp. A vertical layout puts too much vertical into the design (that lighthouse is VERY vertical, even with the clouds and curvy beach and fence to break it up), and even adding a horizontal sentiment isn't enough to create balance. A horizontal layout, with the image offset, creates some tension and lets the horizontal sentiment stand out more as it's reinforced by the horizontal card. Like I said above, there's only so much you can do positioning a big stamp on a small card.

To explore variations, I've applied all sorts of techniques to this stamp over the years, including heat embossing, watercoloring, colored pencils, markers, and chalks. I've added ribbon, eyelets, brads, twine, designer paper, sand, glitter, buttons...all sorts of embellishments. I've created sponged and stippled backgrounds for the image stamped in black.

None of those cards made me as happy as this simple black-and-white version, sans embellishment. This way, a beautiful scene artistically rendered in red rubber gets to be the star.



It doesn't get more CAS than that.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,
Susan


Supplies
stamps: Papertrey (sentiment), PSX (lighthouse)
ink: Archival black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: dimensionals

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Peace & Love; Lost & Found

There's a story behind today's card. But before we get to that, I must credit THIS PIN which inspired my card's layout. (Check out Lisa Addesa's blog post here.) Isn't Lisa's original beautiful, with its soft colors and clever use of negative space of the die cut? Perfect!

Well, I don't have a die or punch that would achieve the same effect, so I simply lifted the layout and made a holiday card instead. The snowflakes and hearts seemed the perfect accents for the sentiment, don't you think? You could play around with tiny stamps of all sorts to duplicate this lovely, versatile layout!




Now, as you might imagine, to gather that many small snowflake stamps, I had to raid several different sets. Having only one small acrylic block, it was a chore to switch out the tiny stamps over and over to get a good distribution of flakes, hearts, and dots. Keeping track of everything was a challenge, and when I finished the card, I realized that one of the tiniest snowflake stamps was missing.

ARRRGGHHH!!!!

I searched my craft table high and low, and was so agitated that my husband and older son came to help. All three of us were searching and searching and searching for this tiny, clear stamp.

Then, my younger son, Jack, who has autism and is particularly observant, walks down the stairs to find Nick digging through my trash, George on his hands and knees running hands over the carpet, and me sifting through piles of stamp sets on my desk.

"What are you doing?" he asked.

"Looking for a tiny stamp," I exclaimed in frustration.

He calmly asked, "What's that thing in your hair, Mom?"

The stamp. It was the stamp.

How it got trapped in my hair is a mystery, but bless Jack for finding it! Who knows where the thing would have ended up had it fallen out away from my craft area, never to be seen again?!?!




Mercy, grace, snowflakes, and hearts,
Susan

Supplies
stamps: Hero Arts sentiment, various snowflakes
ink: Hero Arts pool, red royal, charcoal
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones
 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Verdure

Today's card came about as a variation on these cards which was inspired by this card. I love the depth created by three shades of green:


In addition to the interest of the three shades of green, I popped up the left end of the banner with a dimensional but glued the right side directly to the card base. The punched leaf is then popped up to the same height as the left end of the banner.



The stamp is an old, old, old Hero Arts set called Real Leaves (which includes yesterday's sprig stamp as well). These cards are part of my "use your stamps to make birthday cards for Karen's Card Shop" challenge. I've mostly abandoned that challenge as I've made plenty of birthday cards AND as kind reader Marcia P. sent me a package full of gorgeous birthday cards as a donation to the shop. We are--for the time being--good with birthday cards. Thank you, Marcia, and thanks to all who have donated in the past.

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and gratitude,
Susan

Supplies
stamps: Hero Arts (leaf), unknown sentiment
ink: Memento new sprout; Hero Arts green hills, green; Archival black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: post-it notes for mask, dimensionals, leaf punch

Monday, June 19, 2017

A Little Sprig and Big Cups

Botanicals provide perfect subject matter for guy-ish birthday cards. Consider this little sprig, colored with markers, spritzed with water, and stamped without fuss or ornament. 



Isn't the little sprig delightful? Sometimes, small things carry big weight, and this was an idea I contemplated in Normandy.

Almost everything about Normandy impressed me, from the tiny flowers in the grass, to the giant castles we visited, to virtually every meal we ate, to the hard-working servers of those meals. With my crafter's eye, I soaked in French culture and atmosphere, paying attention to little things: the spray of color on stone from stained glass, the quick glimpse of a beautiful 18th century home through a break in a wall as we drove by, the pansies in a window box, the baa-ing of the goats at Point du Hoc, the perfection of a Nutella crepe or pain au chocolat, the swans floating in the moat at our hotel, a private home made from a German bunker. That last one proves you can turn a sow's ear into a silk purse.

And not least of all, I deeply appreciated the fact that not one of the French people laughed in my face when I asked them if they spoke English woman. Apparently, that final s on Anglais is silent. Who knew?

But one tiny thing didn't make me happy. 

Can you guess what that might be?




The French drink tiny cups of coffee. Perhaps the rest of the world drinks tiny cups of coffee as well...my coffee-drinking experience is limited to the U.S. But I was all astonishment when I beheld the itty bitty cups of coffee in Normandy. 

Now, generally speaking, I understand that we Americans are vulgar in our need to super-size everything...cars, houses, hair, steaks, sodas, etc. But how in the world would anyone find satisfaction in such a tiny cup of coffee? It's baffling to this thoroughly vulgar American coffee addict. 


Source



While little cups of coffee don't compute for me, a little sprig on a birthday card makes total sense.  

Life is weird, isn't it? 

Or maybe it's just me.


Mercy, grace, peace, and love overflowing a very big cup,
Susan

Supplies
stamps: Hero Arts, StampinUp
ink: Memento
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: Memento markers, water spritzer

Sunday, June 18, 2017

A Forgotten Anniversary

Hello! It's good to be back, and I'm happy to report that the past two weeks have been full of fun, solemnity, adventure, and--not insignificantly--pain au chocolat. 

Our family went to Normandy. I'll be blogging more about the trip on my other blog later, but for now, here's photographic proof I was on a different continent.


Yes, that's me beaming with happiness in front of Mont St. Michel, which has been on my bucket list since I was 15.  I'm 50 now. Woohoo!!!

A few days after this photo was taken, we received a text from my husband's mom wishing us a happy anniversary. We had been so absorbed in our amazing adventure that we forgot our 31st anniversary. Neither of us cared. We had more important things to occupy our attention.

Things like pain au chocolat and William the Conqueror's extremely cool castle at Falaise. 

Today's card is in honor of our forgotten anniversary because 31 years is no small accomplishment. 




This card was inspired by a handful of cards on Pinterest that had sprays of flowers topped with a banner. I love the softness of the leaves and flowers combined with the crispness of the banner and all that glorious white space. 

*happy sigh*

And now I'm off to deal with a "mont" of laundry and to love on the dog, who seems to think that we might disappear again if she stops demanding to be petted. 

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,
Susan

Supplies
stamps: Papertrey Embellished Elegance, Hero Arts sentiment
ink: various Hero Arts and Archival dye inks
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: dimensionals

Friday, June 2, 2017

Flowers with Style...and a Blogging Break

Announcement: I am taking a Simplicity blogging break for about two weeks. While I'll miss posting here, I'm going to try to post on Questioning my Intelligence, the personal blog I've neglected far too long. I promise nothing, however, as living life will take priority over documenting it for the next few weeks. Honestly, the past months have been personally quite draining, and it's time to give myself a break and re-energize. Don't worry. Simplicity will be back!

And now for today's card.

I adore crisp, clean, stylized images...images like this stylized flower from Hero Arts.



Combine that crisp, clean image with fun colors and some bling, and you've got a simple winner!




Simple winners are the best winners, at least in my book.

Back in a few weeks.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,
Susan


Supplies
stamps: Hero Arts, Papertrey
ink: Archival and Hero Arts
paper: Papertrey
accessories: rhinestones

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Peace Like a Seashell

An Odd Request: Would any readers who live in or have spent some time vacationing in Normandy, France, please send me a quick email? I have a few questions. susanraihala at roadrunner dot com


My Tuesday post of a shell card was copiously colorful, but today's shell card goes in a different direction: subtle and soft.



These beautiful shell stamps come from a VERY old Hero Arts wood-mounted set that I love immoderately. Each shell was stamped in a soft ink and cut out. Originally, I didn't include the starfish, but it seemed necessary to fill in a bit of space there at the bottom of the pile.

The shells at the back of the pile are glued to the card base at the bottom but popped up on the top edge to add dimension. The two bottom shells are attached with dimensionals only, and the starfish is glued to them and hanging off the edge.




I love the peace of this card, the subtlety, the calm.

That's very much unlike my Facebook feed at the moment. As several different extraordinarily dysfunctional conflicts swirl around my feed right now, I'm reminded of a wonderful motto I found on Pinterest.




Before posting a snarky, politicized, gossipy, angry, or fearful comment on social media, remember this: destructive conflict needs your participation to keep it going.

Post puppy or kitty or owl photos instead. Name something you are grateful for (my blog readers). Share a funny coffee saying ("In dog coffees, I've only had one"). Recommend a great book you just finished reading (The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin). Put up an inspirational quotation or a delightful berry crisp recipe.

Feed what is positive in the world of social media; know when to be wise and say nothing. And then go to your seaside happy place in your mind, listen to a seashell, and feel the peace.

Mercy, grace, love, and mucho peace to you,
Susan


Supplies
stamps: Hero Arts, StampinUp
ink: various dye inks
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: dimensionals, glue, CutterBee scissors

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Simple Daisy

After yesterday's copious Copic shell card, today's card seems impossibly simple. Because it is.


This sketchy daisy stamp is perfect...whimsical and fun and pretty all at once. Stamped in simple black and accented with yellow Stickles (the only spot of color on the card), the daisy makes a dramatic statement.



The banner anchors the floating daisy, and the sentiment's business-like font provides some contrast with the loose, flowing sketch of the main image.

Some of you may know that daisies are one of my favorite flowers (the other is pansies). I like daisies so much I named my golden retriever Daisy. She's prettier than any card I've ever made.



This picture shows a very satisfied Daisy. George and I sat close together on the sofa, and Daisy decided that was unacceptable. She pushed her way between us until I scooted over.

Here's the evidence. That's my blue-jean-clad knee.



Once we were separated and her job was accomplished, she walked out to the ottoman and curled up for a nap, using George's foot as a pillow.

Based on this episode, you might think George is her favorite, but the whole family acknowledges that she prefers me. George, however, is most excellent furniture.

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and daisies,
Susan

Supplies
stamps: Hampton Art Stamps daisy, Papertrey Birthday Basics
ink: Archival black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: yellow Stickles, dimensionals

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Copics (and a Blogger) Going a Little Crazy

Normally minimalist in my tendencies, I got a tad carried away with coloring these beautiful old PSX images, using a ridiculous number of Copics here, but the results...well, they are satisfying.


There are two shell stamps on this card: a two-inch-wide border stamp and a trio of shells. My preferred color scheme for beachy cards is pale blues and greens and browns. This card got much more colorful.

In fact, several shells went through color changes. If the purplish shell below looks odd, it's because it started in warm grays and went pinkish and turned out (finally) purple.


Indecision may or may not be my problem.

Still, it's enormously satisfying to finish a card like this. It has me longing for gentle waves and sea birds and salty air.

Did I ever tell the story of my Lamaze class? Pretty sure I have, but what the hay, let's tell it again.

Our teacher told us to practice our "hee, hee, hee" breathing while imagining our happy place.The happy place I settled on was a gentle, white-sand North Carolina beach as the sun rose. To complete the scene, a bagpiper in full Highland dress, standing on a boardwalk, played to the rising sun.

I'd experienced this incredible scene years before and ne'er forgot what peace it brought me. All through the Lamaze practice sessions, I envisioned this scene and felt immediately peaceful and relaxed.

What they don't tell you in Lamaze is that contractions really involve your whole uterus, which at nine months gestation is roughly the size of a giant beach ball. As many of you already know, the whole giant thing contracts to push that baby out.

Seriously. The whole. dang. thing!

That's a b-i-g pain. Much bigger than my feeble imagination, aided by weeks of feeble little Braxton Hicks contractions, could handle. In actual labor, I couldn't picture my piper on the beach with gentle waves. Oh, no. I pictured the Pacific coast, south of Stinson, where jagged rocks shoot up and waves crash violently against them.

Highland piper, where were you when I needed you?

In the midst of violent waves crashing into my abdomen, I met the very nice epidural man, for whom I would gladly have named my firstborn son had we not already decided he would be Nicholas. Nick for short. Yeah, Nick. Nick's a real name. Nick's your buddy. Nick's the kind of guy you can trust, the kind of guy you can drink a beer with, the kind of guy who doesn't mind if you puke in his car, Nick!

Name that movie.

Anyway, this story may or may not have become embellished over the years since that terrible realization that Lamaze is inadequate to the task of childbirth (at least for wimpy me), and that my OB had been correct. The best pain management during childbirth is "hee, hee, epidural."

All hail the Epidural Man! 

By the way, the sea shells and sand dollars on my card would have been pulverized into mulch on that rocky Pacific shore. 

Perhaps I should stop now.  

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,
Susan

Supplies
stamps: PSX (shells), Papertrey Sign Language (sentiment) 

ink: Memento black
paper: Gina K deluxe white, StampinUp black
accessories: copious Copic markers, craft foam, glue
And I did tell the epidural story seven years ago. Gosh, it can't have been that long!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day and Sympathy--Edited

In the United States, Memorial Day is set aside to remember all who have died in service to our country. It's a day to celebrate our freedoms while also acknowledging that we "drink those freedoms from a well we did not dig." Others dug it, some at the cost of their lives.

For some, Memorial Day will never be happy. So I wish you a sincere Memorial Day. Remember those who served and died...men and women like Maj. Gregory Stone, one of my husband's friends who died in the Iraq War. Honor their memory, known and unknown to you, for their commitment, their sacrifice, their love of country.

I know many bloggers will post patriotic cards today, but I'm posting a sympathy card because of a post I read on Facebook. A wife of a fallen soldier (and the mother of a child he never met) wrote about how hard this day is, especially when people wish her a happy Memorial Day.  So here's a sympathy card, because every one of those whose memory we honor today left behind family and friends who personally grieve them.

For those who mourn, a card of comfort.

Inspired completely by Loll's layout 


Mercy, grace, peace, love, and remembrance,
Susan

Supplies
stamps: Uniko
paper: Papertrey white
inks: Ranger Distress
accessories: acetate sheet, spray bottle, butterfly punch, rhinestones, craft foam, glue

Friday, May 26, 2017

There's No School Like Old School

One of the first techniques I learned (after heat embossing) was using watercolor markers directly on wood-mounted rubber stamps. This old-school technique allows you to put multiple colors of ink on a single stamp easily. Once inked, the stamp can be spritzed with water for a watercolor effect or simply huffed with the stamper's breath for crisper images.

For newbies, make sure the markers you use are, indeed, watercolor markers. Tombow, StampinUp, and Memento all make suitable markers, and perhaps readers will add more to the list in the comments below. Sharpies, Copics, Bic, and other alcohol-based, permanent markers will NOT work.

Anyway, as I've explored my neglected rubber stamps, I came across four beautiful stamps from Hero Arts. The Watercolor Marguerite, Coneflower, Sunflower, and Dahlia are designed to look like watercolors even when stamped with plain ink. Spritz them, and they are even more beautiful.

I'd come across THIS GORGEOUS PIN on my Cards Pinterest Board, and it inspired me to make this set of cards.







The background is from a Hero Arts clear set called Dictionary Greetings. It's stamped in black on each of the above cards to help the brightly colored flowers pop.

After finishing this floral set, I decided to make a masculine version of the card. It's nowhere near as nice as the more colorful versions, though. The flat color of the Hero Arts soft leaf ink over the cup o' Joe brown just doesn't do much for me. I should have used the same technique as above and used brighter colors.

But that's okay. Live and learn.


I found that many of my red-rubber floral stamps invite this technique, so you'll see it a few more times over the next week or so.

In the meantime, what are your favorite old-school techniques?

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,
Susan

Supplies
stamps: Hero Arts Dictionary Greetings, watercolor flowers, leaf
ink: Archival black, Hero Arts cup o' Joe
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: Memento and StampinUp markers, water spritzer bottle

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Even More Joy

When I made this card, I stamped another j-o-y from a different Hero Arts alphabet set. It sat for a week or so on my desk until this idea popped into my head.




Postage-stamp punch, holly stickers, and cancelled-postage wavy lines...festive! I like how the postage, which signifies cards travelling all over, reinforces the "to the world" sentiment.




The sparkly holly stickers also make me joyful!

It's been a weird week. I hope to be able to share more birthday cards from my informal wood-mounted stamps challenge starting tomorrow.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,
Susan

Supplies
stamps: Hero Arts
ink: Archival red geranium, watering can
paper: Papertrey white, StampinUp real red
accessories: holly stickers, postage punch

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Happy Birthday, Office Supplies!

It was fun making this geeky birthday card using some stamps from my Office Supply wood-mounted stamps.



I tore out a mask to use with the large Cornish Heritage Farms grid paper background and built the little collage of cut-out ruler image, paperclip stamps, and enamel dots.

The simple color scheme and focused area keep the collage simple and clean, and the triangle of enamel dots lends balance to the design.




Hope you like it!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,
Susan

Supplies
stamps: Cornish Heritage Farms (grid), Hero Arts (ruler, paperclip), Papertrey (sentiment)
ink Archival French ultramarine, black; Hero Arts charcoal
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: craft foam, glue, enamel dots, copy paper (for mask)

Monday, May 22, 2017

I'd Rather Be Lucky than Good

In my quest to make birthday cards using all my wood-mounted stamps (or as many of the stamps as will be practical), I stumbled across a lovely Celtic knot square. Staring at it gave me the idea of using one of the Hero Arts ombre ink pads. Then this happened:




I inked the stamp on the diagonal for no other reason than it felt interesting and then realized I could arrange the squares so the colors slide from one square to the next. Isn't that incredibly cool? My husband has an appropriate saying from his Air Force days: "I'd rather be lucky than good." In this case, that's absolutely true.




The card has a matching envelope and will go to a relative who loves all things Celtic. The birthday sentiment is inside as it would have merely distracted from the pretty, colorful squares.


Card size: 7.25" x 3.5"

So much of the creative process is serendipitous...sometimes things work out spectacularly, and sometimes, well, they make pretty trash. I used to resent the failures but now see them as inevitable, resulting in teachable moments, a lesson learned.

Besides, when something like this happens, the failures hardly matter.

What is your attitude toward failure? Do you get angry at wasting supplies, or do you accept the cost of creativity and just move on?

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,
Susan

Supplies
stamps: Stampabilities Celtic knotwork, Papertrey sentiment (not shown)
ink: Hero Arts ombre mermaid
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones, craft foam, glue

Sunday, May 21, 2017

MISTI and Color Layering Rooster

You might remember Leslie Hanna (a.k.a. The Crooked Stamper) who passed away on Christmas Day, 2015.

Leslie often advised me on new products because she tried everything and I'm cautious. One day, we discussed the MISTI, which was new at the time. She advised against my getting one because my style is so CAS and my hand so steady that such an expensive tool would be a waste of money.

Some time later, Hero Arts came out with Color Layering Seahorse (three layers) and Color Layering Octopus (two layers), and I started drooling over the layered flowers from Altenew.  So I started to think maybe Leslie's advice wasn't so good two years on.

I posted a question on my personal Facebook page asking MISTI or Mini MISTI, thinking I would get one or the other for Mother's Day. That's when Tina S., who was Leslie's BFF and neighbor, offered to give me a MISTI.

For nothing.

Yep. She just happened to have an extra lying around and gave it to me. *SQUEE*

New in the box.


Several people have told me that my life is about to change. Instead of ordering a MISTI for Mother's Day, I ordered several more of Hero's color layering sets, including Color Layering Rooster.

Now, it's important that I noted the Seahorse and Octopus sets have three and two layers respectively because the Rooster has about 42 layers, some of which are almost microscopic in size. (Yes, I'm exaggerating for comic effect, but still...simple, the Rooster is not.)

The MISTI was hugely helpful in positioning all but the beak/eye stamp of the Rooster, which was so tiny and so sticky it would NOT stay where it needed to for use with the MISTI. Still, Cock-a-doodle looks handsome, does he not?



The Color Layering Sea Turtle has 13 separate stamps. I strongly encourage you to count layers before you buy if you, like me, are not a patient stamper.

Sigh.

At least I've got a MISTI to help me not lose my cool altogether. And it's all thanks to Tina. What a sweetheart she is, and my stampy self is eternally grateful.

Supplies
stamps: Hero Arts Color Layering Rooster
ink: a whole bunch of different colors of Hero Arts and Archival inks
paper: Papertrey white, StampinUp black
accessories: MISTI

Saturday, May 20, 2017

A Double Post Because Y'all Just Won't Believe This

Okay, we're going to start with the expected...a card you will recognize as completely CAS, full of white space, and therefore Susan-y. In fact, there's so much white space, I suspect some of you will get itchy just looking at it.



Am I right? Do you need some Benadryl?

Of course I love it. In fact, this might be one of the Christmas cards I make multiples of this year.




And now for a card that you're not going to believe I made.

I don't believe it.

But I do love it, for reasons that have nothing to do with design and everything to do with books.



I made this card for Audrie's IC598 at Splitcoast. The inspiration piece is from Autumn's blog HERE. The connection between the inspiration piece and mine is obvious...layout, colors, cut words, image at the top. I did preserve some crispness in my simple, white word pieces and the background for my shelf, but otherwise, it's pretty not crisp.

The quotation is from Anne McCaffrey, a science-fiction writer I've read since forever. Her Pern series is on my comfort shelf.

To make the background, I used the Tim Holtz mini blenders to blend the frayed burlap and faded jeans on the bottom 3/4 of the card base. Then, I spattered water over it to add a dreamy effect. 

The words were printed on Neenah 80lb and cut out as per Autumn's inspiration piece. 

The bookshelf was stamped on a smaller piece of 80lb Neenah using various distress inks so the stamping wouldn't be too crisp. I added a small plant on the stack on the right to symbolize how books turn the CO2 of life back into oxygen. 

The base is Neenah 110lb cardstock, which held up beautifully to all the ink and water spatters. 

So this might not look at all like a card I would make given my passion for white space and crisp, clean stamping, but ohmygosh does it capture my absolute and passionate love of and need for books. 

Many thanks to Audrie and Autumn for such a great afternoon of stampy fun!


So, I leave you with a question. What books do you consider comfort books? 

Inquiring minds, and all that.

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and books,
Susan

Supplies for Christmas Card
stamps: Winnie and Walter The Big, the Bold, and the Merry
ink: Fresh Ink Tuscan olive, Memento Luxe rhubarb stalk
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: not a one

Supplies for Comfort Book Card
stamps: Simon Says Stamp To Thine Own Shelf
ink: Tim Holtz distress
paper: Neenah 110lb and 80lb
accessories: craft foam, glue, toothbrush, water, mini blending tools

Friday, May 19, 2017

New Tab on Card Shop and Simple Friday Card

The tab on Karen's Card Shop is now live on the blog. You can find the tabs by clicking to the blog itself (if you read Simplicity by email or in a reader), and on the bar below the blog title, you'll see Home, Subscribe, Product Talk, Use Your Hoard, and Karen's Card Shop. Click on Karen's Card Shop (or this link right here), and you'll find all the details of the shop.

If you still have questions, please ask them on the Karen's Card Shop page in the comments if possible, or email me at susanraihala at roadrunner dot com.

I will update the page as questions come in. Surely I haven't covered everything.

Today's card is simple because I've been typing entirely too much. Isn't that matting sublime?




Happy Friday.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,
Susan

Supplies 
stamps: StampinUp Letters from Friends
ink: Archival black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: none, because it's super simple

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

More Christmas Joy

Using alphabet stamps on Christmas cards is particularly easy with short words like joy, noel, and peace. Christmas is a harder word to work with, but you can cover it with a nice Merry Christmas sentiment on the inside of the card.

Today's card uses the easiest holiday word a stamper can use.



To add interest to this simple card, I got jiggy with the layered matting. Instead of using all white layers, I replaced the largest layer with StampinUp real red. So the layers from top to bottom are

1. the raised, stamped circles
2. a solid white panel
3. a 1/16" larger white panel
4. a 1/2" larger red panel
5. a 1/16" larger white panel
6. a white card base

Whew! Six layers on a Lateblossom card!



And a candy-cane stamped envelope completes the project.



And there you go. Joy to you!

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and joy,
Susan

Supplies
stamps: Papertrey Candy Cane Christmas; Hero Arts wood-mounted alphabet (old, old, old!)
ink: Archival red geranium
paper: Papertrey white; StampinUp real red
accessories: circle punch, dimensionals

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Karen's Card Shop: Birthday Card

Many of you know that last summer I started a card shop in my church in memory of my friend Karen, who viewed sending cards as one of her God-led missions in life. Several of you kindly have donated cards to Karen's Card Shop, and I'm happy to say we've sold at least 320 cards in less than 11 months, making $640 for the church.

This money goes to the church's general fund and to supply Cancer: What Now? books for anyone in our congregation who gets diagnosed. Karen died of pneumonia while fighting leukemia. She was just two days from her transplant. She mailed my birthday card the day before she died, just before the ambulance carried her to the James Center in Columbus, OH.

I'm going to set up a tab on the blog with details of how I run the card shop for those who want to set one up yourselves. Look for that in the next day or two. One thing I've learned in the past year is that people want to buy very specific types of cards: birthday, thank you, get well, and sympathy sell best, and anniversary cards are slow but steady sellers.

Thinking of you, hello, blank, love and friendship, and holiday cards don't sell that well (with the exception of Easter). I use thinking of you and love and friendship cards a LOT and am surprised buyers don't seem to like them. Also, mass-produced cards don't sell well; I guess people who buy handmade cards want to feel like they are buying something truly unique!

The popular themes are hard to keep in stock, and right now we're particularly low on birthday cards. Hence, today's card.





Greens and blues are always a great combination, and this card highlights those colors in a fun way using the little stamps from Papertrey's Good Times stamp set.




And yes, I stamped an envelope to match.




This card and envelope will be packaged in a cellophane bag, sealed up, and put in our shop. I predict a quick sale!

On another note...feeling the need to give my rubber stamps some love, I've challenged myself to make at least one birthday card using images from each box of wood-mounted stamps on my shelf. I've made three already, and it's so much fun!

It's a shame the idea for Karen's Card Shop didn't come to me until Operation Write Home folded. Karen would have been our biggest customer.

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and memories,
Susan

Supplies
stamps: Papertrey Good Times
ink: assorted Archival and Memento
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: craft foam, glue

Monday, May 15, 2017

Big Tree, Super Simple

The Papertrey set called In the Meadow certainly seems like it's right up my alley...solid, block images of various holiday motifs such as a tree, deer, snowflakes, and a horse-drawn sleigh. The tree is extremely large, though, which doesn't leave much opportunity for white space.

This layout, however, works for me.


Instead of decorating the tree with rhinestones (which is usually my go-to move with this set), I stamped it in Impress Fresh Ink Tuscan olive, which is a very yellow-ish green and certainly non-traditional! With the Merry Christmas in traditional red placed on it banner-style, no other decoration is needed. There's sufficient interest in the colors and layout alone to carry the message.

Which makes my heart go pitter-patter with glee.

Also note placement of the sentiment. The banners sit atop the one-third horizon, which makes their low placement work to ground the design even though that tree is floating in space. The top word is smaller than the bottom word, which also lends stability and works with the tree shape.

I stamped the grazing deer on the envelope. Such a graceful image. *happy sigh*



The words come from Winnie and Walter's The Big, the Bold, and the Merry. This is a great set with LOTS of words in it for holiday-themed cards.




While it might feel strange to see Christmas cards in May, I encourage you to see if you can adapt this design to some more current theme (graduation card, wedding, birthday, Memorial Day...). Look through your stash for images or blocky stencils to create a solid backdrop for banner words...if you don't have something large, scale everything down to smaller panels. Choose unusual colors to build interest, get busy, and see what happens!

Supplies
stamps: Winnie & Walter The Big, the Bold, and the Merry; Papertrey In the Meadow
ink: Impress Fresh Ink Tuscan olive, Memento Luxe rhubarb stalk
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: dimensionals