Friday, October 31, 2014

Making Holiday Cards with Alphabet Stamps

Whenever you're stuck for inspiration, just create your own challenge. After spending a week showcasing cards with the thank you sentiments from a single set, I'm now setting my sights on making Christmas cards with alphabet stamps.

Here's my first effort, using an alphabet from Hero Arts and a sprig of holly from Clearly Besotted.

This color combo of traditional red and green with a little lime thrown in was inspired by a photo in a BH&G Christmas magazine.

My original intent with the holly was to put just two berries to make a trema (or umlaut) over the e. But I stamped the holly just a smidge too high, and it looked odd with the two the holly was floating above the letter rather than related to it. There was room for the third berry, though, so I added it. Design-wise, it's definitely better with the third berry, and who's going to be a stickler really? Many people fret when the trema is missing altogether, and others don't understand the fuss.

I'm implying a trema, and if that's not good enough for someone, I'll make sure not to send the card to him or her!

Feeling both inspired and sassy on this gloomy Friday morning.

stamps: Hero Arts, Clearly Besotted
ink: Hero Arts
paper: Papertrey
accessories: red rhinestones

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Making a Bibliophile Christmas Tree


It's just around the corner.

Time to get crafting.

Last year, I put up a 7' slim artificial tree in our finished basement and decorated it entirely with paper ornaments. Over the years, I've made a variety of paper ornaments and tiny little books, and several people have sent me paper ornaments as gifts, so the tree had plenty on it and made me happy every time I went downstairs during the holidays.  (I spend a lot of time downstairs and positioned the tree so I could see it from my craft desk.)

That tree was so satisfying, in fact, that I've decided to buy a somewhat smaller artificial tree to decorate with a more specific theme than just "paper ornaments." It's going to be a Bibliophile Tree! All things bookish will make there way onto this tree. The possibilities are endless...from more tiny books, to bookmarks, to stamped scenes of books, to library cards and pockets, to writing implements (feathers, too!), to ornaments made out of old books (yes, I will cut up old books when they are bought expressly for that purpose!).

And here are the first ornaments I've made for the new tree. Aren't they delightful?!?!

Here's another picture of them on a green background.

Which photo do you like better? The ornaments pop better on the green, but y'all know how much I like white.

Anyway, these were made with Papertrey's All Booked Up set. And yes, I used eyelets! Wow. Haven't used those in forever. But they do finish off the holes for the strings so nicely, don't you think?

Of course you do.

So, do you have themed trees in your home for the holidays? What sort of themes? Do you change them up every year or stick with one theme year after year? Inquiring minds...and all that.

Please share!

stamps: Papertrey All Booked Up
ink: Hero Arts red royal, VersaMagic tea leaves
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: white eyelets, small circle hole punch, eyelet setter and hammer, string, corner rounder

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Silver and Gold Christmas

So far, TiaraHelen is the only one to have put a suggestion on yesterday's post. Thanks, Helen! I hope more of you will take the time to read the post and share your ideas.

In the meantime, here's a little silver and gold for Christmas, courtesy of Brilliance gold and Hero Arts soft silver!

I tried making a CAS collage-style card using an angel image on the front as well (inspired by a card in the Hero Arts mini catalog from earlier this year). But that card didn't turn out well at all. Left with an extra stamped angel, I decided to put her inside the more successful (and far less collage-y) card!

To make the card, I cut a mask out of copy paper and stamped the A Muse music sheet background in soft silver. Then, I edged the sentiment and angel panels (stamps by PSX) with a silver metallic pen (PrismaColor). The stars were punched out of shimmery gold card stock.

There's more going on here than I generally use, but it's a pretty card that's perfect for someone on my Christmas card list!

stamps: PSX, Hero Arts
ink: Brilliance, Hero Arts
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: silver metallic pen, ruler, dimensionals, star punches

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Season of Hope

This will be the fourth year our Stephen Ministry group has handed out paper-craft ornaments during Advent. For those who don't know, Stephen Ministry provides one-on-one, confidential care for people who are hurting. There are currently Stephen Ministry groups in over 12,000 congregations world-wide and in over 180 denominations. Our church, First United Methodist of Springboro, has been a Stephen Ministry congregation for over six years.

At Christmas, people who are suffering grief, loss of a job, divorce, illness, or any number of other problems often feel even more isolated and lonely than in other seasons. The joy of the season highlights their lack of joy, painfully.

During worship service one Sunday in Advent, our Stephen group gives a presentation and hands out ornaments as a reminder to the congregation of our responsibility as Christians to reach out to those who are hurting in whatever way we can. We also remind them that Stephen Ministers are here to help, too. If they or someone they know might benefit from having a formal caring relationship with a trained Stephen Minister, we invite them to talk with us or our pastor. No one should suffer alone.

I'm pretty much the only crafty member of our group (one lady scraps, but she doesn't stamp), and over the years, my design for our ornaments has become increasingly, ahem, basic. Y'all know I intensely dislike mass-production, even for an amazingly awesome cause. This year, I found some ready-made tags at Marco's Paper, bought 250 of them, and set to work designing our easiest ornament yet.

I'll admit I'd be happier if the tags were white, but hey, they don't even require cutting and tying on strings (you'd be surprised the complaining I heard last year regarding that step!).

This year, our presentation will be on Advent's first Sunday...the Sunday we light the Candle of Hope on the Advent wreath. I stamped the tags with an old Impression Obsession alphabet and Brilliance cosmic copper ink. The verse we're putting on the back of each ornament is Jeremiah 29:11, one of my favorites:

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future."

What a lovely, comforting thought. I'll write a speech to go along with that and post it on my other blog (transforming common days) that Sunday.

We're printing the verses on Avery address labels and attaching them to the back of the tags. One of the Stephen Ministers volunteered to help with that...she's nicely OCD and will put them on straight!

I cannot begin to tell you the amazing ripples sent out by this small thing. We have people ask for extras to send to their family and friends who are grieving or who have some other challenge in their lives. We have at least a few referrals to start new caring relationships with Stephen Ministers. We see the ornaments used as bookmarks in Bibles. We've received thanks from the most unusual sources...all for providing a simple, paper ornament that offers comfort to those who need it.

I'd love to hear from my readers about things they, their churches/synagogues/mosques/temples, or other religious or community groups do to reach out to hurting people during the holiday season. The comments for this post could become a wonderful idea board for others to take up the challenge of reaching out to the holiday season and throughout the year.

And if you're interested in more information about Stephen Ministry, visit the links below or email me. I'm a passionate advocate for this ministry!

What is Stephen Ministry?
Care Receivers Tell Their Stories (all the videos are amazing...have a hankie handy!)

Friday, October 24, 2014

Keeping Thanks Simple: Day 6, and a Link to a Tutorial on Random Stamping

Here's the last in the series "Keeping Thanks Simple." We've looked at all six of the sentiments in the mini set Keep It Simple: Thank You from Papertrey Ink. This time, I found an amazing inspiration for creating a border on a card...a border that has no focal point but enhances the sentiment nicely.

This photo is in the latest issue of Real Simple magazine, which, by the way, is always loaded with CAS inspiration. Those graphic designers at Real Simple totally get white space. Anyway, check out those amazing colors...and I'm not even a fan of beets.

I pulled out ink pads that closely matched the colors of the beets, and then set to work stamping a random border after masking the card with post-it notes.

Doesn't this card say "thank you bunches"? Get it?

This is a perfect use for all those tiny little flowers and leaves and curlicues that come in stamp sets. (All the stamps on this card came from a variety of Papertrey sets.) The line was drawn with a copper metallic marker, and I stamped the sentiment in Staz-On timber brown so it would stamp nicely over the metallic line. Other inks won't always work over the metallic marker, so test your ink on a scrap before stamping on the card.

Staz-On is great...and it even smells good, in a don't-sniff-for-too-long sort of way.

I received an email from Sue C. asking how I manage to get balanced randomness on cards like this one from earlier this week. I told her I would do a tutorial on random stamping, and then remembered that I already had posted such a tutorial back in January 2013. (Actually, I had to search the blog for it because I can't remember what I posted last week, much less what I posted 21 months ago.)

The tutorial is HERE. Enjoy!

stamps: Papertrey
ink: Hero Arts, Memento, Staz-On
paper: Papertrey
accessories: copper metallic marker, ruler, post-it notes

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Keeping Thanks Simple: Day 5 (And a Question about Yesterday's Card)

Today's use of the Keep It Simple: Thank You set from Papertrey shows how easy it can be to set the sentiment off by a lovely stamped this case from Embellished Elegance.

I wanted to make a Christmas-y thank you and the Hero Arts green and royal red inks worked perfectly. The tiny red rhinestones come from a rhinestone alphabet sheet I bought on sale at Michael's. You get ever so many tiny rhinestones in those sets, and it's easy as pie to cut them off the letters with a craft knife.

The only reason why the sentiment is popped up is that I accidentally stamped it in green the first time. I'd meant to stamp it in red, and may or may not have said something vulgar when I realized my my mistake. So I stamped it properly in red on a strip of card stock, cut it to size, and rounded the corners slightly with a pair of scallop-edge scissors.

You'd never know I messed up except I blabbed it all over the interwebs.

And now to address a question regarding yesterday's card. Kathy Mc asked why I placed the sentiment where I did, in the upper-left sweet spot rather than in the lower-right sweet spot. Well, Kathy, two reasons. First, sometimes I get tired of putting the sentiment where it's "expected" to be. Shaking things up a bit adds interest and makes me feel daring and irresponsible. Second, I liked the idea that the sentiment would be cascading down with the flowers rather than being showered by them, as it would have in the lower-right sweet spot.

There's no "right" place to put the sentiment, and it would look perfectly lovely in the more traditional spot. But never, ever be afraid to shake things up a bit. It might flop, but it's worth the risk to be rebellious every now and then.

I hope that clarifies things.

And of course today's sentiment is centered because the frame is simply too large to fit neatly into a sweet spot.

stamps: Papertrey
ink: Hero Arts
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Keeping Thanks Simple: Day 4

Today's card features another thank-you sentiment from Keep It Simple: Thank You. This time, the sentiment is falling with a cascade of autumnal flowers...accented with bling.

These simple, stylized daisies come in three sizes in Beautiful Blooms II from Papertrey. I love, love, love that there are three sizes! The largest are stamped in the lightest color, the mediums in the medium shade, and the smallest in the darkest orange. This ordering of shades and sizes--aside from satisfying my obsessive tendencies--keeps the card light and fun, and provides a better contrasting background so the very dark sentiment stands out.

stamps: Papertrey
ink: Hero Arts, Memento
paper: Papertrey
accessories: rhinestones