Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Color Layering, Part 1

Many stamp companies are coming out with color-layering stamps...images with two, three, four, or 14 separate stamps to give a life-like and vastly more interesting look to flowers, animals, scenery, and such.

These used to be called (by StampinUp, at least) two-step stamps, back in the day when all good-quality stamps were red rubber mounted on wood. I hated two-step stamps. Even when I used a good stamp positioner, the images NEVER turned out right. Two-step rubber stamps were (for me) an exercise in frustration and wasted paper.

Then photopolymer stamps became all the rage, the idea being that they would be EASY to line up for multi-step stamping because you could see right through them, and golly gee, isn't this amazing?

Except they weren't. Well, they were better than red rubber but not good enough. My hands are pretty steady but not steady enough to line up many two-step stamps perfectly enough to satisfy my perfectionist eye. More frustration. More wasted paper.

Until brilliant stamping gurus invented the MISTI. NOW it's supposed to be easy to do multi-step stamping.

Well, sort of. Again, it's an improvement, but it's still not perfect. Either I'm loosening up in my old age, letting go of my insidious perfectionism, or I've just stopped caring so much.

Lately, however, with Altenew's amazing floral layered stamps and Hero Arts' layered animals, this whole concept of color layering is reaching new levels of complexity and crazy.

So I thought I'd weigh in on the subject as I'm certain there are other stampers out there whose experience parallels mine...and they will feel vindicated and comforted by my bumbling mistakes on this front in my war to be creative.

Because it's war, folks. War between my Wish List and my Checking Account. Two sides in horrible, horrible conflict that leaves me bloody and bruised and wondering where everything went terribly wrong in my life.

I knew things were nuts when I ordered the Color Layering Sea Turtle from Hero Arts. We'd been to Hawaii and snorkeled with a sea turtle, so the set called to me.

Until I realized that the thing had not two, not three, not five, but THIRTEEN individual stamps to line up. Or, as I liked to call it after making a lot of trash, THIRTEEN OPPORTUNITIES TO FAIL.

Seriously?

With a MISTI, it took almost 15 minutes of futzing for me to stamp a sea turtle...and it still wasn't perfect. The color-layering peacock isn't much better at seven stamps, and the rooster has eight stamps. The sea horse, however, only has three, and the octopus a delightfully simple two.

Guess which sets I have kept.

Oh, yeah.




This octopus makes me so very happy, especially stamped in Hero Arts dark quartz and Papertrey's terra cotta. He's waving that tentacle to say hello, and darn it, he makes me smile. TWO STAMPS, people. And with a MISTI, he's incredibly easy to line up almost every single time.




Also, the branching coral in the set is one of my favorite stamps ever. Not sure why, but it is so very pretty and the coordinating die makes it incredibly versatile, too. It looks great with the Hero Arts ombre inks, too.

To make the water background, I rubbed an acrylic block with Tim Holtz distress inks (tumbled glass and mermaid lagoon), spritzed it with water, and stamped it onto Hero Arts handmade watercolor paper. The top panel uses a die (unknown) to create the window and is popped up using craft foam. The octopus is glued to the top panel and has dimensionals under him as well. The coral is popped using very thin dimensionals.

So my first piece of advice as you consider purchasing color-layered images for stamping is this: don't buy sets that have tons of layers to create an image unless you have a high tolerance for imperfection and/or a lot of time and huge paper stash for making mistakes and starting over again.

Just sayin'.

Supplies
stamps: Hero Arts Color Layering Octopus
ink: Hero Arts dark quartz; Papertrey terra cotta; Archival black; distress tumbled glass, mermaid lagoon
paper: Hero Arts handmade watercolor paper, Papertrey white
accessories: frame die (Simon Says Stamp, I think but am not sure), craft foam, glue, coordinating dies, dimensionals

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Text Style Strikes Again

I woke up at 5:10 this morning in a panic over the job situation. Perhaps you know how it goes...your brain boards the Negative Train and, dang, that little engine can ruin sleep better than caffeine and police helicopters!

So I got out of bed, made coffee, and read a book in an attempt to derail that sucker. Feeling slightly better (because coffee and books make everything better), I checked my email and received a lovely, positive, affirming prayer from reader Patti M., who recently donated a bunch of beautiful cards to Karen's Card Shop.

With spring in my step and hope in my heart, I set about my day, which just ended with a doe and very tiny fawn cavorting across my back yard.

Take that, Negative Train!

So today's card is my version of a warm fuzzy shabby chic...without the warm or the fuzzy or the shabby or the chic. Okay, so I used Text Style askew. That counts, right?



Gray and grape are such a lovely color combination.




And now I'm off to the Land of Nod with a firm faith that whatever happens will be good, and I thank Patti for her confidence in God's plan and reminding me to rest in hope.

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and hope,
Susan

Supplies
stamps: Papertrey Life, Text Style; Clearly Besotted sentiment
ink: Hero Arts grape soda, soft granite
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: Martha Stewart butterfly punches, rhinestones, Sharpie to color the rhinestones, craft foam, and love


Monday, July 16, 2018

Post Vacation Prayers

Wow. Why do I always forget how much there is to do when we come back from vacation?

We had so much fun kayaking, watching bald eagles and muskrats and loons, reading, swimming, eating walleye, and generally relaxing. Of course, no Raihala family vacation at Lake Vermilion is complete until someone's gone to the Cook emergency room (George this time...ear infection), but otherwise, it was great fun.

He's doing better, now. I, however, feel run ragged. And it's only Monday. Tomorrow afternoon, I'll have a little time to breathe and meditate and slow down before hitting the job hunt again. Next resume will be tailored for freelance/contract writing and editing jobs.

I really, really hope a teaching job comes through, though. If you're the praying kind, please say a little prayer for that.

Anyway, here's another card using Wildflower Garden from Altenew. Such a wonderfully versatile set.




The colors are Hero Arts robin's egg and bird nest, both from the February kit. I put some pearls on there to add some dimension and shine...but not too much shine.




Mercy, grace, peace, and love,
Susan

Supplies
stamps: Altenew Wildflower Garden
ink: Hero Arts robin's egg, bird nest
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: pearls

Thursday, July 12, 2018

With Deepest Sympathy

Sympathy cards are always hard to make when you need them. I needed this one. Altenew's Wildflower Garden made making this card easier.

Can you tell I love this set?



The colors are soft and serene, but the movement of the stems adds interest and a bit of wildness to the design.





Our time at Lake Vermilion is winding down. Friday will be our last full day, with an early departure on Saturday. We've had a lovely week, and as always, I'm sad to be leaving and happy at the thought of getting home.

Here's last night's sunset from our cabin's deck, looking across the bay.



Mercy, grace, peace, and love,
Susan

Supplies
stamps: Altenew Wildflower Garden
ink: Hero Arts soft granite; Archival sky blue, black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: none


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Wildflower Garden Again

The next few posts will return us to Altenew's Wildlife Garden, which is a lovely and versatile set. Today's card shows how you can achieve a lovely watercolor effect with these stamps.



These stamps were inked with Memento inks and markers (StampinUp and Memento), spritzed with water, and stamped. I've found that, at least for me, Hero Arts and Archival inks don't respond as well to this technique. The stamped panel wasn't proportional to the card size, so I put the sentiment below the stamped panel. That placement also allows the plant to grow up out of the bottom of the panel rather than be floating above the sentiment.




So this card provides a really good reason to have Memento inks and markers. As if we need a reason to have any supplies.

Seriously.

*insert eye roll here*

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,
Susan

Supplies
stamps: Altenew Wildflower Garden, Papertrey sentiment
ink: Memento, Archival black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: Memento and StampinUp markers, water spritz bottle, rhinestones


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Visual Triangles

Snowflake cards are perfect for practicing visual triangles. Today's cards do just that...one with a portrait layout and the other with a landscape layout.





The three snowflakes on a strip of background are arranged in a visual triangle. I've noted before that the best triangles are irregular. Equilateral or isosceles triangles yield odd-looking designs. I placed the two larger snowflakes on the left and the smallest on the right; balance is maintained by the sentiment. The rhinestones reinforce the triangle.

The background "grounds" the design, but note that the two larger flakes and the sentiment go outside the lines. That keeps the design from being too boxed-in and linear. Both backgrounds were applied with mini ink applicators from Tim Holtz.



The colors were experimental. I wanted a snowflake card that wasn't blue, hence the pink. I really like it, but it doesn't say "Christmas" to me. Pink is also a high-energy color to my eye, and the sentiment calls for something more relaxing...like blue violet.

My preference would be to make the blue-violet version in a portrait orientation. The triangle seems too spread out on the landscape version, at least to my eye.

And that is all I have for Christmas in July, so reader Marilyn will be happy for me to abandon Christmas in July for something floral and summery tomorrow.

We continue to relax on Lake Vermilion. I actually swam in the lake...first time in four visits since 2012 for this Girl Raised in the South, where lake water tends to feel like bath water. This summer, Lake Vermilion is warmer than ever, and I didn't scream like a little girl when I dangled my toe in water that was still ice at the end of April.

Did y'all know that Dante made the lowest level of hell a frozen lake? Being raised in the South, I had always imagined hell as a hot, hot, hot. But then I lived on Lake Huron a few decades ago and learned that, indeed, Dante was right.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,
Susan

Supplies
stamps: Mama Elephant Holly's Snowflakes, Hero Arts sentiment
ink: various dye inks
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones, Sharpies to color them

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Peace

I am currently in northern Minnesota in a cabin on Lake Vermilion.

Peace.

We find peace in so many ways, sometimes stumbling on it accidentally and sometimes working hard for it in our relationships, families, communities, nations, and world. It's also wise to cultivate peace deep inside of ourselves.

Today, I went out on the lake in a kayak. Guaranteed peace. There's something about skimming gently over the water in a kayak that instantly relaxes me. Today, I had the added treat of encountering a loon with two babies. The adult loon started vocalizing that wonderful, eerie call. The trio was shortly joined by another adult, exchanging calls with the first. When the newcomer was about twenty feet from the trio, the two babies paddled like crazy toward the newcomer. The four then floated off toward the shore.

This little reunion was so sweet, so gentle, so natural, so simple. What a blessing of peace on a day that started stormy and rough.

Seek after peace and pursue it. 

Here's a third card with Holly's Snowflakes from Mama Elephant. Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All.








Mercy, grace, PEACE, and love from the lake,
Susan

Supplies
stamps: Mama Elephant Holly's Snowflakes, Papertrey Signature Christmas
ink: various dye inks
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: silver PrismaColor marker, ruler, rhinestone