Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Inspired by Art

Let's begin by taking a look at this absolutely gorgeous pin:

Isn't this card amazing?!?!!?

Yes. Yes, it is.

At one point in my life, I dabbled in calligraphy and illumination. At my best, I was not even close to this good.

Not. Even. Close.

It's sad that the pin of this person's work only leads to a cached picture...no blog or website. If any of you know who this artist is and can point me in the direction of learning more about her/him, I would so appreciate it.

While drooling over this beauty, I realized that the general layout would work with stamps and set to work playing around with the idea. Here are a few of the results.

This book-themed card will go to the founder of our Book-Worm Babes Book Club.* (Stamps: Papertrey Text Style, All Booked Up)

This second card will go (duh) to my sister. It was totally inspired by the pillowcases at our grandparents' house when we were little. Those cases had green and yellow cross-stitch patterns on them and made us feel so special! When my parents divorced, Mom, Lisa, and I moved in with my mom's parents, who enveloped us all in a great big safe haven of love.  (Stamps: Papertrey Sew Simple Borders, Quilters Sampler Sentiments)

Finally, this colorful floral card just happened. I think it would be a lot of fun for a teenage girl...perhaps my niece! (Stamps: Simon Says Stamp Spring Flowers, Papertrey Keep It Simple Birthday)

All my cards are 3.5" x 6.25" folded, and 10.5" x 6.25" open. I scored at 3.5" and 7" to create the accordion. That's a lot of real estate for stamping, and while my designs stick to the general layout of the pin that inspired me, there is so much more that could be done with this tri-fold idea. If you have any truly large stamps, get them out and play because there's plenty of room for them here!

These cards fit a standard #6 3/4 size business envelope.

One tip: Score before you stamp, but wait to fold it after stamping. That way, you know where the folds are for placement purposes, but the paper is nice and flat for stamping.

*Our book club got its name from a rather strange event that happened to me when I lived in Wichita, Kansas, in the mid-1990s. George and I were leaving Barnes & Noble when two teenage boys drove past. One was hanging out the window of the car and screamed, "Book-worm bi***!" George and I looked at each other in puzzlement. It's the weirdest insult we've ever heard, and ultimately I decided to take it as a compliment. Our book club (which includes many women-of-a-certain-age who have delicate feelings regarding the female-dog epithet) decided to call ourselves the Book-Worm Babes after I told the story. *giggle*

Monday, February 20, 2017

An Experiment: Day Twelve

My original intent was to post two cards today, but one met with the unfortunate fate of being catastrophically ugly.

These things happen sometimes.

Anyway, the card that DID turn out was completely inspired by my friend Audrie (she of the Inspiration Challenge at SCS). She has sent me a number of cards that feature black bases...and they are so lovely! As I examined the completed watercolor panel, I realized that a white or watercolor paper base would simply not do it justice. I thought of Audrie and pulled out some black card stock. The background colors pop right off the black.

4.25" square card; raised panel is 3.25" square

Thanks to Audrie for the inspiration!

A few loose ends. Several questions have come in. First, yesterday's card base is watercolor paper...the same paper used for the painted panel. The watercolor paper isn't stark white but is a softer off-white, and that set off the pinks and golds beautifully.

Second, the brush I used to paint these watercolor panels was a Crayola children's paintbrush...very large and round, with a tapered tip. Most of my nice watercolor brushes are too small to work this big because I collected them back when I was painting illuminations, which generally require very small brushes. When I found a pack of four Crayola brushes my son hadn't opened even though he's had them for a year, I stole them.

He's not noticed.

The brush worked great.

And now we say goodbye to the experiment with Papertrey's Life stamp set. When we started, I was in a creative slump, but this exploration of different products and techniques...using stuff I already had in my stash...jolted me out of the slump spectacularly.

This is a good idea to tuck away for future slumps, don't you think?

Tomorrow we'll move on to something completely different. Oh, my. What fun!

stamps: Papertrey Life, My Favorite Things Cheerful Blessings
ink: Memento Luxe black
paper: watercolor paper, StampinUp black
accessories: Twinkling H2Os, craft foam, glue

Sunday, February 19, 2017

An Experiment: Day Eleven

Wow, I can't believe we've milked Papertrey's Life for eleven days! I'll have one final post on the set tomorrow, and then we'll move on to other things. But I truly hope that this experiment has inspired you to experiment for yourselves with a single set. Well-designed sets--like Life--can be incredibly versatile and allow you to use lots of different products, color schemes, designs, and techniques for lots of fun!

The final cards utilize backgrounds I painted onto watercolor paper using Twinkling H2Os, which are delightful sparkly watercolors. I started with a watercolor paper block (sheets of watercolor paper glued on the edges into a block), which keeps the paper flat after it dries. After painting an area of the sheet with plain water, I picked up paint on the brush and added it to the wet area. There's no plan when I do this...I just add paint until it looks interesting, let it dry, and hope for the best.

Once dry, I separated the sheet from the block with a butter knife and cut out sections of the painted areas that look pretty.

Today's stamped panel used gold and pink paint because there's a LOT of gold and pink out there on the interwebs right now, and the color combo inspired me. It's so pretty and feminine!

What a stroke of luck that pink lemonade Impress Fresh Ink was a perfect match for the pink peony Twinkling H2O. The Fresh Ink is a pigment ink, so its opacity covered the gold paint well.

The Blogger website is trying to tell me that the previous sentence should say "...it's opacity covered...." Never trust grammar check.

The sentiment and stem of the flower are stamped in Delicata golden glitz. A close-up shows how shimmery and pretty this card is!

Now, you might pick up on the similarities between this layout and the one from Day Two of the Experiment. Here's that card again for contrast.

Note how completely different these two cards feel. The cool, crisp white-on-white card has simple pops of color. The pink-and-gold card is warm and shimmery and far more subtle. There's so different, in fact, it's hard to compare them (although I think we can all agree that the card from Day Two definitely looks more like I made it).

If this experiment has taught me anything, it's that different supplies yield wildly different results...and it's tons of fun to play around with similar layouts to see just how much variation your liberally-stocked craft room can provide!

stamps: Papertrey Life, My Favorite Things Cheerful Blessings
ink: Delicata gold, Impress Fresh Ink pink lemonade
paper: watercolor paper
accessories: Twinkling H2Os, brush, craft foam, glue

Saturday, February 18, 2017

An Experiment: Day Ten

Yesterday, I read our pastor's weekly email and discovered that two of our congregation had lost loved ones during the week. When I went to my stash of sympathy cards, there was but one card. With this on my mind as I fell asleep, I got the idea to focus on a very basic layout similar to Day Four of An Experiment and see what different monochromatic color variations would look like.

It was a great opportunity to use up a lot of white scraps that had accumulated over the past few months. Each scrap panel was cut to a proportional size (see this post here) before being stamped, and then mats at increments of 1/16", 1/4", and 1/16" were cut to give the panels a pretty frame, just as on Day Seven of An Experiment. (See below for details on cutting these.)

As you can see, some stamped panels were larger than others, but all follow the same basic layout. Each color scheme uses a very pale shade, a medium shade, and a dark shade, and for most the sentiment is stamped in the dark shade. It was fun experimenting with colors. The blues and purples of course look "sympathy-ish" but I was surprised at how good the yellow card turned out.

It uses Hero Arts soft vanilla and Archival saffron and sienna. Its warmth really made this work for me.

The red card, however, feels a little too bright for a sympathy card. Plus, red's association with blood sort of makes this disturbing to me. The colors are Hero Arts soft blossom, Memento rhubarb stalk, and Archival plum. What do you think?

Note that what makes this layout so solid and balanced is the use of the Rule of Thirds. The flowers cover about a third of each panel, with the weight in the bottom right, while the sentiment sits in the upper left sweet spot. The diagonal adds movement and interest as well.

At least now I have a goodly selection of sympathy cards for my personal stash, and a severely depleted scrap drawer...both of which were absolutely worth it.

Cutting Perfect Mats
I cut mats exclusively with a craft knife and quilting ruler. The ruler's registration allows for perfect 1/8" increments and always gives me a perfect right angle. To cut these particular mats, I took the panel dimensions and added 1/8" to cut the first mat, then added 1/2" the first mat's dimensions to cut the second mat, and finally added 1/8" to the second mat's dimensions to get the third, largest mat.

For example, a 3 1/4" x 2" panel would have mats that are 3 3/8" x 2 1/8", 3 7/8" x 2 5/8", and 4" x 2 3/4".

Glue the mats from top to bottom. I use Scotch Tacky Glue in a thin bead around the edge of the back of the stamped panel to start, then position it on the smallest mat. The liquid glue gives me a little wiggle room to reposition. Then, flip those two layers over, add another bead of glue, and place it on the middle mat. Repeat with the third mat, and finally the card base.

Here's a pictorial guide to how I cut the mats that might help.

Whew. There's a lot in this post. I've decided to add a tab to the blog that lists useful posts like how to cut mats and proportional matting. That way, those posts will be easier to find. Look for that soon!

stamps: Papertrey Life and Mega Mixed Messages
ink: various dye inks
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: quilting ruler, craft knife, glue

Friday, February 17, 2017

An Experiment: Day Nine, plus a Grammatical Digression

Today, we're going to look at two different cards using Kaleidacolor pads and Papertrey's Life stamp set. Before we get to the cards, however, here is the link to an older post about Kaleidacolor pads

What I Know about Kaleidacolor Pads

That post details tips on getting good images with Kaleidacolor pads, which really are a lot of fun once you figure them out!

Now, The first card today is a simple one-layer card that uses Stickles for added umph.

The simple blossom stamp from Life is inked with the Melon Melody pad and stamped repeatedly across the bottom of the card. This looked fine, but the lighter colors needed a little something extra, so I pulled out my yellow Stickles and went to work.

The results are lovely...so cheerful and sunny. The sentiment nestles nicely down into the blossoms. The only bad thing about this card is that I used all my yellow Stickles on it! Darn. Must place an order. What else do I need to buy to get free shipping on a $2.95 bottle of Stickles? What a situation!

The second Kaleidacolor card goes in a completely different direction color-wise...from sunshine to rich gemstone shades.

Here, there's bling to create some shine amidst the dark, lush shades.

Now, let's digress on the word alright. There's debate about using alright instead of all right, and today's sentiment calls for me to weigh in on this controversy.

I've always emphasized rhetorical situation in composition...in other words, who's your audience, why are you writing to them, and for what purpose are you writing? In broad terms, there are two main categories of rhetorical situations: formal and informal. In formal writing, it's best to be absolutely correct and, well, formal. Don't use slang, don't abbreviate or contract, always punctuate properly, and always use the most correct word choice.

Informal writing, however, allows some latitude. This blog, for instance, is definitely informal. I'd like you to feel as if you're sitting down for coffee and conversation with your best friend...or at least sitting down with someone who totally understands the need to order enough stamping product to get free shipping. Some of you read Simplicity more for the writing than the stamping, and that's alright (or all right) by me. I'm so happy you're here and hope you're having fun!

If I wrote Simplicity in the same style I wrote my master's thesis, none of you would hang around long. My thesis was awesome. I won an award for it, but it's not exactly fun reading. The title is As Gold Is Proved in the Furnace: Chaucer's Wife of Bath and Medieval Disputatio. I would never, ever have included a word like alright in something so academic. My thesis advisor's head would have exploded.

What a mess that would have been.

So if reading the sentiment on the second card makes you itchy and twitchy and generally on the verge of head-popping, then don't use it. I happen to like the sentiment a lot, and I'm fairly certain that Bob Marley wasn't writing a New Historical analysis of medieval debate as played out in the Wife's discourse in Canterbury Tales. Nope. He was writing a friendly little song of encouragement, probably while high on weed, which will certainly render a person just a tad informal.

It's a sweet song, and that's all I have to say about that.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Thursday, February 16, 2017

An Experiment: Day Eight

Playing with the Kaleidacolor pads was fun yesterday, and I have a couple of those cards to share tomorrow. For today, we're looking at a shockingly successful (yet also very subtle) watercolor-ish background card that highlights Papertrey's Life stamp set.

6.25" x 3.5"

It's hard to believe, but the small panel was made with the same Distress inks used on this card...inks that look so bright full strength but become beautifully muted with a heavy spritz of Dazzling Diamonds Glimmer Mist. I took a large piece of transparency, smooshed the ink directly onto it, spritzed with the Glimmer Mist, and then applied the scrap of card stock directly to the transparency. After the paper had absorbed most of the ink, I pressed it between pieces of waxed paper and two squares of plywood I keep for the purpose. Once dry, the piece was almost completely flat and easy to stamp on.

This is a cool technique to use with all sorts of water-based media: watercolor crayons, Smooch, Twinkling H2Os, even acrylic paints. Just remember that the colors will become diluted and soften, so choose brighter colors than you want on your finished product.

Note that matting this on black really helps highlight the soft color...unlike yesterday's card, which a black mat actually detracted from. Also, because it's such a narrow, tall panel, I wanted to emphasize that with a narrow, tall card.

The photo doesn't capture the shimmer of the Glimmer Mist, but I assure you, it's there!

Still fighting this cough, and still taking naps. I feel like a toddler...a cranky toddler. Aren't you glad our relationship is virtual? Much better that way. For you, at least!

stamps: Papertrey Mega Mixed Messages, Life
paper: Papertrey white, StampinUp black
ink: Memento Luxe black; Distress shaded lilac, tumbled glass
accessories: transparency, Glimmer Mist Dazzling Diamonds, craft foam, glue

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

An Experiment: Day Seven

Well, I may have turned the corner a bit (let's say a little prayer!), so let's try to get back on track here with our Life Experiment, or How Many Ways Can We Use Papertrey's Life Set before Everyone Gets Bored?

Today's card is without exception my favorite with Life so far.

The crisp, white layers showcase the brilliantly glittery stems, and the blue just pops right off the paper! Check out the close-up below. There are two shades of Stickles on here...Waterfall and Twilight...and the variation creates a lovely depth effect. I applied Waterfall (the lighter color) first, randomly dabbing it around. Once it was dry, I added the Twilight everywhere else.

With this stamp, Stickles is an excellent embellishment. There's no need for precision, and the effect is almost impressionistic. But the glitter! Wow! It has a powerful impact and draws the eye so prettily.

My first instinct was to mat this panel on black, but the black looked too heavy and distracted from the glittery blue goodness. That's when I decided a triple white mat (1/16", 1/4", 1/16") would be pretty.

And it is!

During my next crafty session, I plan on tackling this set with my Kaleidacolor pads. A month or so ago, someone asked me to explain how to use those spectrum-style pads, and I'll try to answer that tomorrow. Also, I've created some watercolor backgrounds to mess around with using Twinkling H2Os. It's not uncommon for me to make those pretty panels, mess around with them until they are destroyed, and then give up, so you may or may not see any fruit from that particular vine.

Which leads me to ask: any requests for our Life Experiment? What more would you like to see?

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey Life, Scripted
ink: Hero Arts sky blue, Memento Luxe tuxedo black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: Stickles