Thursday, June 30, 2016

Grown-Up Crayons: Thoughts and Questions

Watercolor crayons are so much fun! And the look you can achieve on stamps by coloring and spritzing is simply amazing.

How to use watercolor crayons with stamps
Just apply the crayon directly to the stamp (no precision needed here!), spritz with enough water to loosen the pigments, let it sit for a few seconds so the pigments get good and wet and blend-y, and stamp on the paper.  I typically hold the stamp down for a few seconds extra so the paper can absorb most of the water.

You can also spritz a second time and get a lovely second, slightly lighter impression from one coloring.

Here's the set I have:

The two stamps on today's cards (Hero Arts, discontinued) are specially made to give a watercolor effect with regular ink, but I much prefer them with watercolor crayons.

Two shades of orange on the petals and brown for the center, and the blending effects are so lovely! What sunshiny results!

Two shades of pink, one each of yellow and green, and what happy results!

Thoughts and Questions
1. Spritzing can yield quite irregular results, whether you use watercolor crayons or markers or regular ink. It's tricky figuring out how much water to put on the stamp--not enough, and there's inadequate blending; too much, and there's an ugly, shapeless blob. That's why I typically use this technique on scraps rather than one-layer cards. Too many times, the one-layer card became scraps after a mess!

2. I have the Caran D'ache 40-color set, and some colors don't seem to react as smoothly with water as others. Also, some colors that appear quite dark show up very light, even with heavy spritzing and extra time to sit, which is weird. This is my experience with the set, and I would love to hear about your experiences with the same brand or different ones. Have you found other brands more consistent from color to color? What other techniques do you use with watercolor crayons?

stamps: Hero Arts, StampinUp (sentiment)
ink: Memento Luxe 
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: watercolor crayons, spritz bottle of water

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Masking and Breaking Boundaries

Continuing with Papertrey's Peaceful Garden, let's explore the idea of breaking boundaries. Defining a space on a one-layer card can eliminate that so-called "floaty" design flaw many people don't like. I'm not put off by "floaty" images, necessarily, because there's a crisp simplicity to them, but it is true that grounded images are more pleasing to the eye.

Anyway, if you define a space on a card, you focus attention and ground your image. Today's card uses a large irregular circle from My Favorite Things Party Patterns set to do just that.

I wanted the bamboo to be defined across the bottom by the border of the circle, but I wanted it to extend beyond the top. This adds interest (I think) and can make a design feel less fussy.

To mask the bottom half of the circle, I stamped it on a post-it (sticky strip at the bottom) and cut out only the bottom half of the circle. Quite easy with a simple shape, don't you think?

Break some boundaries in your stamping! It feels good.

stamps: Papertrey Peaceful Garden, MFT Party Patterns
ink: Hero Arts soft pool, Memento bamboo leaves, Memento Luxe rich cocoa
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: post it, scissors, rhinestone

Monday, June 27, 2016

Whimsy and Me

Y'all might notice there aren't many "kid" cards on this here blog o' mine. I joke about my inner child being murdered in my teens by depression and other unpleasantness, but the truth is, whimsy is hard for me. I do, however, try.

The peace love joy sentiment (from Papertrey's Peaceful Garden) is very much my style. My mantra is Mercy, Grace, Peace, and Love. (Even in my head, I use that Oxford comma!) Whenever I want to lose my cool, smack someone, or spew profanity, I repeat, "Mercy, grace, peace, and love. Mercy, grace, peace, and love."

When we cultivate those four things, joy results. Eventually.

But joy isn't whimsy.

I'd made this card with just the grass and knew something was missing, even with the bling-y "dew drops." It needed a focal point, something to grab the eye. But that focal point needed to be something that embodied the sentiment, and it needed to be small. I went searching and found the whimsical butterfly. Yay! Focal point!

Peace, love, and joy to you!

Care to share your mantra? What do you repeat to yourself to keep yourself under control and moving in the right direction?

stamps: Papertrey Peaceful Garden, Hero Arts (discontinued)
ink: Memento
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones, markers

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Birds of a Feather is a Keeper

Today's post will be the last in the series on Papertrey's Birds of a Feather. The series kicked off with a simple idea: how can I combine random stamps in a (sort of) collage-y way while still staying true to my style? Birds of a Feather was the perfect set to do this with because it has an outstanding combination of images and sentiments that ended up working with lots of different stamps.

This card combines a musical background from A Muse with a flying bird and sentiment from Birds of a Feather. I just love how the background is lends such a sense of movement with the swooping bird, don't you think?

This stamped panel is smaller than the panels on the previous cards...1.25" x 2.5". It was a scrap lying around, so I used it. It's amazing how little space you need to have big impact on a card. Note that the background was stamped with dye ink, but the bird and sentiment were stamped with pigment inks. The denser pigment inks cover better than dye and will stand out better on a busy background, with higher contrast.

Whether you're doing the Use-Your-Hoard Challenge or not, I encourage you to pick a stamp set you rarely use or haven't used in a long time. Play with it. Combine it with stamps from other companies...especially if you haven't used them in a while either. This was enormously fun, and I plan on repeating the idea with other sets.

Happy stamping!

stamps: Papertrey Birds of a Feather, A Muse musical background
ink: Memento London fog, Impress merlot, Memento Luxe tuxedo black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: silver metallic marker, craft foam, glue

Saturday, June 25, 2016

And Our Winner Is...

Marilyn in Michigan, who wrote,

"I love the creative aspect of papercrafting. And it's also quicker than counted cross stitch (usually)."

Marilyn, please send me your snail mail address at susanraihala at roadrunner dot com. Also, let me know which vendor you want the gift card for!

Thanks to all of you who entered the give-away. There were so many good answers to the question of what is your favorite thing about paper crafting. A few themes seemed to rise to the top.

1. The community of stampers, who really are amazing people!
2. The creative outlet that feeds the soul.
3. Trying new things and playing around.
4. Giving what we make away...and knowing the joy when people get a piece of our heart!
5. Relaxation.

Blessings to you all, and happy stamping!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Mother Nature Gets All PMS-y

Don't forget about the give-away on yesterday's post. You have until midnight eastern daylight savings time on Friday to comment!

Wow. The past 36 hours have been, well, challenging. We had a horrid storm blow through at 3:00 AM Thursday morning, killing power and taking down trees all across our town. Thank God there were no reports of injuries, but roads were closed, trees and limbs and shredded leaves all over the place, houses with shutters gone or hanging half off. It was Mother Nature on a serious PMS rant.

Our house was one of the luck last 100 in the area to have power restored 32.5 hours after it went out (today around 11:30). Needless to say, the contents of my fridge are trashed...and some of what was in the freezer. We are just so grateful that our house had no damage and that we have a finished basement with beds and sofas that provided a cool, comfortable place to crash when temperatures soared upstairs.

So if you're wondering why I didn't post last night, now you know. No weefees, as we say in our house.

Now that I'm back on the grid and rolling in weefees, let's take a look at a kinder side of Mother Nature with today's card, another one featuring Papertrey's Birds of a Feather combined with Turning a New Leaf (also by Papertrey).

This arrangement--so organic and flowing--seemed to need some angles to frame it, so I layered three white mats underneath. Love the effect!

This card is appropriate today, though it makes me sad. For you Methodists out there, you'll get where I'm coming from. Our pastor received a new appointment this morning and will be leaving our church as of July 24th. Ugh. I love this woman, her leadership, her kindness, her sermons. God is leading her elsewhere, and He will no doubt take care of the flock at our church with a worthy successor. But I'm grieving an ending right now and will grieve properly before celebrating a new beginning.

May Mother Nature be kind to you as her oxytocin levels rise, and may your new beginnings not be preceded by sadness.

And that's all I have to say about that.

stamps: Papertrey Birds of a Feather, Turning a New Leaf
ink: Impress Fresh pool, grass; VersaMagic jumbo java
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: none, unless you count glue

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

More Flow with Birds of a Feather and a Little Celebration

Of all the cards I made with Birds of a Feather (an old Papertrey set), this one is the most "LateBlossom-y." The monochromatic color scheme, the bright pops of color, and the super clean feel of it make me really happy!

A close-up shows the background, stamped in Memento's angel pink, which is very, very light. The flower is from Mama Elephant. I chose a flower background because the bird's long beak indicates it's a nectar-sipping bird rather than an early bird who gets the worm.

After stamping the bird and sentiment, I knew something was off. The single pop of pink looked sort of floating and awkward, so I pulled out Faux Ribbon and added a pink border to the left side of the panel. That balanced the design nicely, at least to my eye.

Now for a little celebration!

This blog has been around for over seven years and contains over 2100 posts. When I started it, at the urging of several people at Splitcoast, I didn't see it going anywhere. Yet here we are. YOU are the reason for that. You read. You subscribe. You comment. Over 330 of you follow Simplicity on Facebook. Over 500 of you follow it on Pinterest. Over 1,100 of you subscribe via email. Over 725 of you put it in your Bloglovin' feed. Over 900 use Google Friend Connect. Thank you!

To celebrate, I'm going to give away a little grab-bag of supplies and a $25 (US) gift certificate to the online store of the winner's choice. To enter, just leave a comment ON THE BLOG POST* answering the question below before 12:00 midnight, eastern daylight savings time, Friday, June 24, 2016. The winner will be chosen at random and notified via this blog on June 25, 2016.

Here's the question:
What do you like best about papercrafting?

Don't overthink...just share the first thing to pop into your head.  Good luck!

stamps: Papertrey Birds of a Feather, Faux Ribbon; Mama Elephant Freestyle Florals
ink: Memento angel pink; Memento Luxe rose bud, black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: craft foam, glue

*Note that comments left on Facebook or other websites, or emailed to me directly, will not be included in the give-away...but are still very much appreciated!