Saturday, May 23, 2015

Butterfly Sympathy

Making sympathy cards is never easy, and I--like so many of you--prefer making them when I don't need them, keeping a variety of cards ready. It's hard to generate much creative enthusiasm when your heart is hurting.

When I was in my teens, my mom took me to the Hallmark store to buy a sympathy card for a friend. As I looked over the cards, mom told me to find something with just a few words and soft images. When, years later, I received a sympathy card that looked like a child's birthday card with a sympathy sentiment stuck on it, the truth of mom's advice hit me. (Moms are always right, aren't they?)

Now that I make my own cards, I try to use soft colors and simple statements of sympathy. The sentiment from Papertrey's Beautiful Butterflies is perfect not just for sympathy but for any "difficult time" someone might be experiencing. It works inside the card as well as on the front, too.

I always keep my handwritten comments inside as simple and short as possible, avoiding the empty platitudes or upsetting phrases that can add to people's suffering. As a Stephen Minister, I can assure you that saying "it was God's will" or "she's in a better place" is NOT helpful. Ever. Let the grieving persons come to these conclusions on their own, and then affirm them if/when they do. But don't be the first to say them. Fact is, there are NO words that really help, unless you can share a positive memory of the deceased. The blessing of a sympathy card is that you let the grieving know you are thinking of them, acknowledge and share their grief, and offer kindness and support.

I'll get off my soapbox now.

The colors here are Brilliance platinum planet, pearlescent beige, and pearlescent chocolate. I love how the curly antennae mimics the flourishes of the sentiment, and how the focal point is a stable triangle. Chocolate is softer than black would have been, but it's dark enough to anchor the design and create a very strong focal point. It's hard for your eye to move to the border, isn't it?

That shimmer works so well for butterflies!

So why create the border in the first place? Well, my thinking behind this card is that our loved ones leave this earth alone, but they go to join the saints who've gone before. (In the Methodist and other protestant traditions, all who go to God are saints.) The background here, shown only as a narrow border, represents those we see again, the hope of heaven and reunion, and butterflies are such a lovely representation of death and resurrection.

Maybe I'm being too English major about this, but it works for me.

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

Do you have any rules you follow while making sympathy cards? Have you ever received one that was particularly comforting or particularly hurtful?

stamps: Hero Arts Color Layering Butterflies, Papertrey Beautiful Butterflies
ink: Brilliance
paper: Papertrey
accessories: corner rounder, dimensionals

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Vellum Feather Fun

Here's the first card I made using the feather die cuts sent to me by Sonya. YAY! Thank you again, Sonya, for your generosity!

I love the translucence of the vellum and how the two feathers provide a border for the gorgeous sentiment (one of my favorites!). Who doesn't love Emily Dickinson?

stamps: Waltzingmouse Fine Feathers
ink: Memento Luxe black, Memento Bahama blue
paper: Papertrey
accessories: die cuts (Waltzingmouse, courtesy of Sonya), dimensionals, vellum tape, corner rounder

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Kindness and Generosity

Recently, reader Sonya sent me an email asking for my snail mail address because she wanted to send me die cuts of the Waltzingmouse set Fine Feathers. She knew I had the set but didn't have a die cut machine. What a kind and generous offer!

Beautiful Card by Sonya!

I certainly did smile when I opened this Canadian envelope full of goodness: a beautiful CAS card and several dozen feathers cut from white card stock and white vellum! Don't you just love that iridescent butterfly!?!

Sonya's generosity delighted me...and reminds me how truly blessed I am in my readers. Y'all are the best.

Thank you, Sonya, for making my day!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Using My Hoard: Watercolor Crayons

Note: Reader Amy asked about how I organize my inks. I did a post HERE on the subject, but I've changed inks quite a bit since then. I'll take some pictures and do another post in the next few days to show the updated hoard, but the gist of the system is covered on that previous post.

Some products in the Use-My-Hoard challenge are no-brainers. While I might not use watercolor crayons all that often, they are delightful, easy, and a bit unpredictable. In other words, watercolor crayons are FUN!!!

To use watercolor crayons, you simply color them onto a clean, dry stamp, starting with the lightest color and moving to the darkest, then spritz with water (2-3 sprays with a mister will usually work), and let the stamp sit wet for a few seconds as the pigments dissolve. Stamp the image onto heavy card stock or watercolor paper. (I use Papertrey white, and it doesn't buckle.) Depending on the color saturation, sometimes you can mist the stamp again and get another good impression, though slightly lighter than the first.

There's Wink of Stella on the flowers, though it's hard to see even in the close-up. I used a light hand since adding a liquid to watercolor crayons can make them run or smear. Be careful to let the watercolor dry before adding anything over it.

Two Variations with Watercolor Crayons
  1. Shade as I did above with a light and dark shade of the same color. (I used two shades of pink and two shades of green.) No need to be terribly precise, either. It adds some depth to the image.
  2. Spritz with Glimmer Mist instead of water for a shimmery finish.
And that's all I have to say about that.

stamps: SU, Clear and Simple Stamps (sentiment)
ink: Memento
paper: Papertrey White
accessories: watercolor crayons, dimensionals, silver metallic marker, clear Wink of Stella pen

Monday, May 18, 2015

More Butterflies

Let me apologize now to any of you who are sick of butterflies. I know the feeling of disgust over-familiarity can breed. I feel the same way about the color brown. But butterflies are so pretty, so colorful, so delicate and helpless and symbolic.

The world can't have too many butterflies. So for today's cards, I created borders using lots butterflies.

Up first is a study in warm colors...Hero Arts rust and Ancient Page henna combine with the layered stamping for warmth and richness. The sentiment is stamped in Memento cocoa. The border line is metallic copper ink. Rather than stamping the butterfly bodies, I put a single large dark-red pearl in the center. This keeps the design cleaner. And I like how the butterflies are beside the sentiment as if they really are flitting by!

Next, we have cooler blues (Hero Arts cornflower and Memento Danube blue), combined with silver metallic ink and silver half beads. The sentiment is stamped in Memento tuxedo black. These butterflies are heading up like a happy thought!

This stamp set--Hero Arts Color Layering Butterflies--has been a delight to work with. I'd really been wanting to play with combining colors, and my experiments yielded lots of scrap paper with some weird and wacky color combos, some that looked okay, and some that were amazing! This play proved to me once and for all that we stampers truly can never, ever, never have too many colors of ink.

It also proved that organizing stamps by type (dye vs. pigment) and then by color, rather than by vendor, is useful. Note that each of today's cards uses ink from multiple vendors, but the colors work so very well together.


stamps: Hero Arts, Gina K (thinking of you sentiment)
paper: Papertrey white
ink: various
accessories: half pearls, half beads, silver and copper metallic markers

Sunday, May 17, 2015

A Butterfly on the Edge

Y'all know I don't do fancy cutting. It's too hard. My fingers hurt. I might cut myself. Mars is in ascension. Life's too short....

But every now and then, a project is so simple that a little careful knife work with an exact-o doesn't bother me.

A close-up, angled picture.

This sort of cut--smooth, not too big, no notches or weirdness--is easy to do with a craft knife and quilting ruler. And it adds interest to an otherwise very simple card.

So YAY!!!!

By the way, is Mars in ascension? What does that even mean?

Never mind. It's not important.

stamps: Hero Arts Color Layering Butterflies
ink: Hero Arts ultra pink, Ancient Page amethyst
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: dimensionals, gemstone, craft knife, quilting ruler

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Goldilocks of Stamp Sets

First up, let me share my last two orders with you. These used the last of my Christmas cash, and I must say it's been fun going on a wild spending spree in May.

From Impress Rubber Stamps. Yes, that's a Tim Holtz set. In case
you didn't know, I love coffee. That's also my first Mama Elephant set.

From Gina K. The order qualified for their incentive program,
so I got the dimensionals and canvas stickers for free.
The paper is 120# white, and I picked up another long, narrow
gridded acrylic block for convenience sake. That stamp set
is gin-ormous! Lots of goodness!

It'll likely be a while before I buy anything else. After all, I have to use all the stamps before putting them away, and with the earlier orders from Ellen Hutson, that's a LOT of stamps!

Now, today's cards. The first set I played with was Color Layering Butterflies from Hero Arts. You can catch a peek of it in this picture:

To my knowledge (which is incomplete and entirely unreliable), this is the first release for which Hero Arts has multi-step stamp sets. Generally speaking, I avoid this sort of set because lining things up perfectly, even with clear sets, can be tough, and y'all know how I like perfect. But I threw this set into the order to give it a try, and I'm so glad I did!

The set is sort of forgiving...things can be a little off but not really noticeable. And I had a BLAST playing with all my colorful inks to come up with color combinations that would work. I found, however, that for my style, using all three layers for the butterflies resulted in a pretty--but busy--image. The butterfly below was stamped with Hero Arts mint julep, tide pool, and ocean.

Too Much!!!
So next I just used the base layer for the same layout. I like it much better, but it's not really enough.

Too Little!!!
So I made a third card, and it's just right!

Just Right
This card, made with Hero Arts fresh peach and red royal, leaves out the middle layer stamp. It has interesting detail but isn't too busy for my style. Yay!

This large butterfly stamp trio allows for flexibility. The solid base stamp could stand alone with a spritz of water or Glimmer Mist, stamped in Kaleidacolor ink or using a rock-and-roll technique, or  colored with watercolor crayon.... Lots of options. I'm also going to experiment with just using the top detail stamp as well.

The smaller butterfly trio in the set turned out a little differently, but more on that in a later post.

Anyway, I'm definitely happy I bought this set. We'll see if I feel that way about all the sets I just splurged on.

Only time will tell if they're all "just right."

stamps: Hero Arts Color Layering Butterflies
ink: Hero Arts
paper: Papertrey Ink white
accessories: none