Thursday, June 30, 2011

You Color My World

My apologies for this quick post, but today got away from me. Also, I tried adding this photo in Edit mode, and it wouldn't transfer for some odd reason. I've decided the internet gremlins are messing with my head. More apologies to all who get a red x in your email. Please click to the blog. It's a cool card, I promise!

This is a GREAT sentiment. Oh how I love it! Just think of all you can do with it! *squeal*

For my readers in the US of A, have a lovely long weekend! For everyone else, have a lovely weekend!

stamps: Papertrey Happy Trails, Grunge Me
ink: memento
paper: PTI
accessories: square punch, dimensionals

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Stress Reduction, Colored Card Bases, and Pursuit of Missing Photos

First up, my new favorite toy in my craft room:

A stress-reduction sound machine. My favorite setting right now is Ocean. I bought this beauty on Monday, when my children were driving me up the wall with their bickering and whining. Summer's not half-over, folks, and now I'm so much calmer after spending a half hour in my craft room drowning out the bickering and Pokemon battle noises with this lifesaver. If you need one, I highly recommend you run to Target and get one.

Today's cards are on colored card bases and use my new Mehndi Medallion set from Papertrey. What a very cool set. Yippy!!!! Or should I say, "Ohmmmm." Yeah, that works better, doesn't it?

The pink card above uses the large, medium, and small medallions, although there are a few extra-small ones in the set that I haven't used yet. The inks are Memento, and the papers are SU's pretty in pink and chocolate chip, with a random white popped on dimensionals. The sentiment is from Clear and Simple Stamps.

The baja breeze (SU ink and cardstock) card is cleaner than the first, using just the large medallion, and has a slightly smaller white panel. The sentiment is another from Clear and Simple Stamps.

Okay, the mystery of the missing photos deepens. A number of you have had problems, and a few have figured them out. Others are still as baffled as I am; certainly the feed shows normally for me in both Google Reader and in my email, so why in the world wouldn't it show normally for everyone? It's a mystery.

Here's what I've learned...any one of which or all of which or none of which might be true for you. The answer could be something completely different, which is entirely possible because I am VERY much out of my element with tech stuff.

1. Some email programs have security settings that block photos from downloading automatically. I use Windows Mail and I get a bar across the top of emails asking if I want to download pictures. I click the bar, and the photos appear. For other programs (or different settings in Windows Mail), if you right click on the photo box, a drop-down menu might appear offering you the option of downloading photos. If neither of these work, check your security settings to see if there's some other way to get photos. At least two people have fixed the problem this way.

2. Some of you just started experiencing problems in the past week or so. I assure you I am doing nothing differently, so the mystery thickens. One reader suggested using Edit mode to add photos to the post, so I added the sound machine photo in Compose Mode and the card photos in Edit Mode as a test. If you have been experiencing this problem, PLEASE LET ME KNOW if you can see any photos on this post and tell me which ones. If this is the problem, clearly there's a code difference in how they load, and perhaps there was a browser or Blogger or Feedburner change that's invisible to me but affects the way the photos show depending on the code.

I read all the code on the photos on this post (what the heck does it all mean?!?!), and it's definitely different depending on the mode in which the photo was loaded.

Thanks so much for all your patience and help in getting this problem solved.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Quick Question

How many of you are still getting little x's where the photos should be? I have no idea what is going on with that, as everything looks normal on my emails and on the blog from my computer. Any ideas?

One-Layer Wednesday 60: Quick Layers of Ink

This week's OLW challenge is to make quick and easy cards with nothing but layers of ink by overlapping the stamped images and/or sentiment. The idea here is to practice whipping up a quick card or even an easy card set at the last minute with just ink and cardstock!

Come on. You KNOW you've been caught needing a card or gift and having next to no time to produce it. Here's your chance to eliminate the sense of panic and feel confident that you CAN respond with a GREAT card with just a moment's notice any time you have a need!

In a pinch isn't the time to reinvent the wheel, and for this challenge, you can't use techniques like masking or sponging...they'd just slow you down! Stick to layouts that work for you, too. Some things that make these types of cards more interesting include fun color combinations, textured or natural cardstock, strong images, asymmetry, and plenty of white space.

I used my Grunge Me set to make these two cards. The first takes just two stamps in bright, punchy colors and puts them in the lower right "sweet spot" of the card (the place where imaginary lines dividing the card into thirds meet). The bright blue sentiment overlaps the grunge circles by about a third of its length, which lends nice balance to the focal point and helps it look deliberately placed, not accidental or random.

The second card uses three stamps overlapping in gray, black, and a punch of bright blue. The right angle of the sentiment and vertical blue element is softened and balanced by the random spatter background.

Layering ink adds interest and takes WAY less time than layering cardstock. So whip up some easy, peasy, QUICK cards this week!

OLW60 Rules

1. A one-layer card is just that: one layer of cardstock folded in other layers of cardstock allowed!

2. Make a card that layers ink. USE ONLY STAMPED IMAGES AND/OR SENTIMENTS. No masking, no sponging, no embellishments of any kind!

3. Post your card somewhere on the internet and link to it using the InLinkz button on the sidebar.

4. The most important rule of all: HAVE FUN!!!!

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Muse Hey, Man

One of the A Muse sets I bought was Hey, Man. Actually, the real title is Hey, Man! with an egregious exclamation point, but you all know how I feel about those. Marketers really should not do that. Only bloggers are allowed. And people commenting on blogs. Oh how I love when you're so happy you have to hold down the exclamation key!!!!!!!!!!

Anyway, Hey, Man has this groovy television set in it. Not sure a guy card should have pearls on it, but hey, man, orange pearls work for you. Dude!!!!!!!!!!!

How-To Chatter: The sentiment is from an old, old, old Hero Arts set...I have a whole bunch this size that happen to fit perfectly into the tv screen. YEEE-Haaa! I colored this with markers and without shading because it's too small for my meager shading skills. The line was drawn with a pen and ruler. That's about it.
A few bits of news...

1. I'm going to post some SU stamp sets for sale soon. I'm also selling two stacks of assorted SU cardstock (about 90 sheets per stack) because I figured I'd have to live to be 250 years old to use up all that I have. Please buy them so I need not feel guilty about buying new stuff.

2. Stampin'Treasures is still open for business and has bunch of product--especially Hero Arts--on serious discount. Yes, I placed an order, and no, they are not paying me to promote their sale. I'm just telling you because I love you and can't help myself.

3. And for something entirely non-stamp golden retriever, who embodies the word enthusiasm in canine form, has to take doggy downers while she recovers from her knee surgery. Every time she starts to behave like her normal self (that is to say, when she starts behaving like Tigger...bouncy, jouncy, flouncy, pouncy, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun!), I have to push a pill down her throat. It's the saddest thing I've ever done. Well, that's not true. Saying goodbye to people is the saddest thing, saying goodbye to dogs is the second saddest, drugging my dog so she doesn't injure herself by being perky is the third saddest. PLUS, the recovery is really slow...three whole months. And at the end of three months, we get to do it all again on the other knee.

I feel like I'm taking her downers. Woe is the Daisy. Woe is me.

I'll shut up now. Thank you for listening.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Grunge Me...More Color Contrasts

For today's Grunge Me cards, I'm sharing a pair of one-layer cards that use essentially the same stamps as yesterday's cards only in a cleaner way...sort of what you'd expect of me, I suppose. *wink*

Who asked for happy colors? Marty? Well, there isn't any green, but here you go with Memento Bermuda, tangelo, grape, and whatever they call the hot pink.

While I like the happy colors, they are just a tad too bright to have the sentiment stamped over them. The words are too hard to read with all the background noise of color. It's a bit--just a bit--visually confusing.

So here is the same idea with softer colors of Memento ink: cantaloupe, yellow, lavender, and pear tart.

See? That's so much easier on the eye.

And I got to type the word pear, which makes me giggle.

Oh, the spatters from Grunge Me are enhanced by the ink blots from Happy Trails, also a PTI set.

stamps: PTI Grunge Me, Happy Trails
ink: Memento
paper: Beckett Expressions Iceberg
accessories: not a blessed one

Saturday, June 25, 2011

And Now for Something Completely Different...

One of my biggest challenges in crafting is to loosen up and have fun. Ninety-nine percent of everything I make is tightly controlled, carefully planned, and precise. But as Betsy's acrylic block proves, loosening up and not fretting over a smudge here or there has its distinct advantages.

When I bought the Grunge Me set from Papertrey, I immediately sat down and made half a dozen cards that are what you expect from me: neat and tidy with lots of white space and fun color combinations. I'll share those later, of course. But then, I made this:

It made me smile. It's loose, happy, and fun. But something about it didn't feel right. The colors are some of my favorites...SU pumpkin pie, Memento canteloupe, and rich cocoa...but the warm scheme seemed a bit off considering the sentiment. The "paint" looks like earth, terra cotta, dust.

So I reached for SU marina mist and baja breeze and Memento black and tried again.

Oh. My. Gosh.

The cool, water colors on the crisp white are perfect. Just perfect.

Now, if you look closely, you'll see some order in the chaos. For instance, I stamped the big spatter three times in full-up marina mist in a triangle arrangement. The small spatter is also stamped three times full strength in baja breeze. Then I filled in all the holes with off-stamped, lighter images.

See, this AR/OC tiger won't change her stripes.

But she might spatter some ink around every now and then.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Bamboo and Dragonflies

Hero Arts has been a tad neglected here of late, so I'm showing an Asian-themed card using Hero Arts bamboo and sentiment stamps and my (relatively) new dragonfly punch.

The color scheme is actually prettier in real life...issues with contrast in Picasa made it impossible for me to edit it to be more accurate. The red is Cherry Cobbler from SU (so it's not as dark as the photo makes it look but still a nice, rich red). The gray is Memento London Fog.

Have a lovely weekend!

True Artists

Okey-dokey. Maybe I should add a new label for posts here: Proof that Susan Is Loony.

I got my Papertrey design email this morning and clicked over to Betsy Veldman's blog. For years, Betsy has blown me away with her creativity and artistic eye, and I've CASified a number of her designs. Today's tutorial is totally fab, but you want to know what struck me most? Click over, take a look for yourself, and then come back to see if you guessed.


Are you back? Did you figure it out?

How in the HECK does she work with all those ink stains on her acrylic block?!?!?!?!? Dang, I'd go crazy and be completely unable to stamp anything straight with the block...all that ink would distract me hugely!

Betsy, however, is a true artist like all the other true artists I've known in my 44 years. True artists are never distracted by silly stuff like ink stains on a block. Have you ever looked at a true artist's watercolor or oils palette? They dive right in and make a mess and wodge colors together and slop stuff around.

And out comes beauty.

How do they do it?!?!

As both Popeye and my friend Nicole P. say, "I am what I am, and that's all I am." I am AR/OC. Betsy, clearly, is not. We both make pretty stuff and get pleasure from it, and that's all that matters. As much as I want to go to her house and clean her blocks, she'd just mess them up again.

I so completely admire her for that.

Now, go back to Betsy's blog and read her tutorial. I'm so going to use her ideas for sentiment, in my own clean and simple way. I bet you'll be inspired, too!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Stick 'em Up!

Before I show you today's card, I want to share the box wrappers of my latest Papertrey order.

Be still, my  heart. Aren't they beautiful. Just beautiful! So much potential, so much stampilicious goodness!

So why, when I was adding these to my stamp catalog, did I experience pangs of what-do-you-think-you're-doing-buying-more-stamps-don't-you-have-enough-already?

But I got over it.

Today's card uses an older PTI set that I don't use enough. Sue Berker was kind enough to send me some die cuts to go with it, but Daisy ate them...ate them like candy, leaving only a small piece of the plastic bag behind as proof of her crime.

Dogs. They just don't get it, do they?

I didn't need die cuts here, though, because this card is totally, completely flat. Please note with amazement the use of five colors on one doesn't even need any bling, does it?

I love this sentiment used in this context...but I can't help but think of a hold-up, or the gunfight at the O. K. Corral, or Sheriff Woody in Toy Story. Sort of a sinister meaning if you want to send the card to someone starting a new endeavor or graduating from college or high school.

So that's my question for you, today. Are there any sentiments that you use even though they bother you slightly? Please do share.

stamps: Papertrey Ink
paper: PTI
ink: Memento
accessories: corner chomper, post-it for mask

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

One-Layer Wednesday Challenge #59...I Am an Idiot (Edited)

Jennifer and I arranged a month ago that I would post OLW59...and I promptly forgot. So of course, it's late going up. Sorry, folks. I totally dropped the ball.

Before I go into it, let me say you all did an AWESOME job with OLW58. I'll finish leaving comments today (I'm getting better about that!), but seriously, you all ROCK!

Here is OLW59, and I will come up with a card later today to share. OLW59 is an inspiration challenge based on this photo I stole from Pinterest:

Now, I know some of you are intimidated by inspiration challenges. Let me remind you that the inspiration piece is just a starting point. You can take your own interpretation of it in any direction that you want. For instance, with this picture, you might use a jar and flowers image, just the colors, a grid of circles, flowers without a jar, a ribbon wrapped around your card, a wood-grain background, a collection of something other than flowers,  etc. Really, there's so much you can do with this picture. Don't let my list limit you!

Edited to Add my Cards:

First up a tidy arrangement using Gracious PTI order arrived today! I used crystal effects on the vase and three yellow blings on the flowers (they look too dark in the photo, thought).

Next, a whimsical thank you card based on the grid of the jars in the photo. The flowers were arraned to form a triangle, and the thanks sentiments are from Clear and Simple, Papertrey, and Hero Arts.

Some of you have already posted cards, and I'm off to look at them now!
OLW59 Rules

1. A one-layer card is defined as a single layer of cardstock folded in half. No other layers allowed.

2. Make a card using the above photo as inspiration. Remember to keep embellishments to a minimum.

3. Upload your card somewhere online and link to it using the InLinkz button on the sidebar of Simplicity.

4. Most important of all: have fun!!!!

A Muse Chatter and a Couple of Cards

Conversation in my head last night as I crawled into bed:

Me: Darn! I forgot to post a card on Simplicity! How could I do that?

Me: You got too wrapped up writing your essay for Questioning. You could go back downstairs, boot up your computer, and create a post, if you wanted to.

Me: Zzzzzzzzz.

Sometimes, Z happens.

Anyway, it was my intention to share a bit more chatter about A Muse along with two simple cards using their stamps. So here you go.

Before my order arrived, I watched a video tutorial on Mary Dawn's blog about A Muse stamps. In it, she showed how she keeps the extra rubber for storing the stamps so she will know immediately if one is missing. This seems absolutely, totally brilliant, so I'm doing that. Plus, the cases can hold post-it masks for images so you don't have to make a new one each time!

Here are a few more simple cards using the A Muse Keep Swimming set. I colored the whale with Copic and Bic markers, cut it out, popped it up, and accented it with the bling.

Same concept with this card, except that adorable killer whale (the main reason I bought this set) doesn't need to be colored. Oh how I love simple!

stamps: A Muse
ink: Memento
paper: white, SU bashful blue
accessories: rhinestones, Bic and Copic markers, dimensionals

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

And the Winner of the Scor-Tape Is...

Sharon D, who said:

My June PTI order (don't have it yet) will include Gracious Vases and Mehndi Medallion--so I can't wait to see what you do with those sets! Please use them often! I also ordered Daydreamer, Tag-its 5 and Think Big Faves 5.

I had so much fun reading all your comments. It's surprisingly satisfying to live vicariously through other people's purchases, LOL! Also, I loved Amy S's comment about shopping her own stash. I've had periods of doing that myself, and it's very healthy and satisfying in its own way!

Sharon D, please send me your snail mail address at susanraihala at woh dot rr dot com so I can send out your roll of scor-tape!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Fourth of July

After being married to the Air Force for twenty years, I have quite a fondness for emotional patriotic displays of the red, white, and blue. It's been many years since I spent much time around 5:00 pm on a military base, but recently, I was leaving the hospital at Wright Patterson AFB after an appointment for my son. We had just climbed in the car when the loudspeakers started broadcasting the National Anthem. Seeing all the uniformed people on the sidewalks stop, turn to the nearest flag, and salute brought a tear to my eye. I rolled down the windows of the car and had my son cover his heart while we sat respectfully with all the others in their cars across the whole base.

When we lived on Wurtsmith AFB in the early 1990s, this happened to me all the time.

And every time, it makes me proud to be an American.

We're coming up on July 4th, that fateful anniversary of the founding of our nation, and I wanted to make a couple of cards to celebrate the date.

I made this card using the Headline Numbers set from StampinUp, the th from another SU alphabet, and the July from the Hero Arts clear set called July. The little row of four rhinestones completes the visual triangle of blue and reinforces the giant red number.

The stamp here is from the Hero Arts July set and is all one stamp. I masked each part and stamped the colors separately.  Here, I used just three rhinestones to echo the three stars.

Last year, I read a book called Signing Their Lives Away, a fascinating and casually readable book written my friends of my sister. Each chapter dishes up the sometimes sordid, controversial, or tragic story of a signer of the Declaration of Independence (which wasn't signed by anyone but John Hancock and Charles Thomson on July 4th). I highly recommend it if you're looking for some riveting and decidedly unstodgy history on our founding fathers. I plan on reading it again with my elder son this year!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Pair of Cards from Talented Readers, a Sparkly Dolphin, and a Happy Stamper

When George and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary last week, two kind and talented Simplicity readers sent us cards. Check out the pretty piece of lace tucked into the knot of ribbon on Patti's card, as well as the masking she did on the oval for the sentiment and the rounded bottom corners. Sweet!

Card by Patti M.
While Patti went romantic and sweet with her card, Linda E. decided on taking a more, shall we say, risque approach to our 25th.

Oh. My. Gosh.

I died.


Card by Linda E.

Seriously, this is a pretty card, even if you're a perverted Engish major. Look at Linda's lovely rock-and-roll shading on the pears, and I love how the die cut stamped panel and mat corners mimic the shape of the pear bottoms.

*snort* She said, "Bottoms."

I can't do this. The card just makes me laugh, giggle, and think naughty thoughts, which was entirely Linda's intent. If you are new to Simplicity, and perhaps feeling a tad lost as to why Linda sent me a pear card to make me laugh and think naughty thoughts, please read this post to get in on this ongoing and extremely juvenile, yet oddly intellectual joke. You'll never look at pears the same way again.

Geeks are fun!

They also, occasionally, make punny, sparkly dolphin cards.

The sparkles may be hard to see (click to make it big), but the dolphin has been colored with a gray Bic marker and then colored again with a clear Sakura Stardust pen. The waves were stamped with Brilliance Sky ink, so they also shimmer a bit. Stamps are by A Muse, and the paper is SU bashful blue and PTI white.

My son took the following photo. He doesn't know his mother is a weird English major. He just knows she spends a lot of time sitting at her craft desk playing with paper and pens. He occasionally likes to play along. But mostly, he wants to take pictures of his feet. I kid you not.

Please don't forget to comment on the give-away post for your chance to win a free roll of 1/8" Scor-Tape!

Sunday Vacation and a Sticky Little Give-Away

No card today, but I am so happy I got a ship notice on my latest PTI order! In celebration, I'm going to give away a roll of 1/8" Scor-Tape to a random comment on today's post. All you have to do is share what papercraft supplies you ordered or bought recently. Leave a comment before midnight Monday, June 20.

IMPORTANT NOTES: 1) For those reading Simplicity in your email, you must click to the blog and leave a comment in order to be entered in the drawing. 2) Also, if you're having a problem leaving your comment, keep clicking the comment button...I sometimes have to click it four or five times before a comment will post on blogger blogs. If you keep being returned to the sign-in page of Google, uncheck the Stay Logged In box. That should allow you to leave comments not only on my blog, but on all blogger blogs as well.

My PTI order includes Gracious Vases, Happy Trails, Mehndi Medallion, Grunge Me, and the Gingham background set. Oh, I can't wait!!!!!

So, what have YOU bought recently?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Go Fly a Kite

I love kites and kite images, and this one is so simple and clean and cute, I just had to give it a simple and clean and cute treatment.

I colored this kite with Memento markers...a bit of an experiment in shading with them. Seems to work okay, don't you think?

Sadly, no time for chit chat tonight. Still no time in the craft room, either. Sigh.

Have a lovely weekend, and may each of you have some beneficial time creating something wonderful!

stamps: A Muse
ink: Memento
paper: Mark's Finest
accessories: Memento markers, dimensional

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Breezy Life

My new A Muse stamps have been fun! What neat sets they have...very fun and versatile and perfect for clean-and-simple cards.

The idea for today's card came from some of the dies I've seen for chevrons and banners. Since I don't have a die cut machine, I wondered what I could make with my cheapo deco scissors. The wavy strips were made with wavy deco scissors and were not as hard to make as I thought, thought surely it's a bit more effort than a die would be. Also, I wanted the card to have both the peaceful stasis of the beach chair and the movement of wind and waves. I think I got that.

How-To Tips: Cut your strips longer than you want so you can trim them in alignment with each other, as I have done here. Always remember when using deco scissors: DO NOT CLOSE THE SCISSORS COMPLETELY! This creates unsightly divets. Instead, work in short segments, carefully aligning the blades with what has already been cut.

Chit Chat: I'm hoping to get back into my craft room Thursday. It feels like FOREVER, and in truth it's been NINE days. Just call me Ferris Bueller. I currently have over 500 unread blog posts in my Google Reader, a trashed house, and golden furry dust bunnies that are starting to attain sentience. Clearly, I need to catch up on stuff. I'm going to shake it up, baby. But right now, I just want to go to sleep.

Bueller?... Bueller?... Bueller?

stamps: A Muse
ink: Marina Mist, River Rock
paper: SU river rock, marina mist, bashful blue; PTI white
accessories: corner chomper, wavy deco scissors, dimensionals, glue pen, half pearls

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

One-Layer Wednesday 58: Yellow, Orange, and Aqua

This week's One-Layer Wednesday is to use yellow, orange, and aqua on a card. These are such summery, fun colors, and I'm sure y'all will come up with all sorts of fun ideas for them.

I used some of my new A Muse stamps, and watercolored them with SU inks and an aqua painter. Since I didn't have aqua rhinestones, I simply colored some clear ones with a Bic marker to match the ribbon.

OLW58 Rules

1. A one-layer card is defined as a single sheet of cardstock folded in half.

2. Make a one-layer card using yellow, orange, and aqua. Remember to keep embellishments to a minimum.

3. Post your card somewhere online, and link back to it using the InLinkz button on the sidebar of Simplicity.

4. The most important rule of all: HAVE FUN!

stamps: A Muse
ink: Palette noir; SU summer sun, pumpkin pie
paper: PTI
accessories: aqua painter, rhinestones, Bic Marker, ribbon, scor-tape

Monday, June 13, 2011

Carrot Smooch...I'm in Love!

Safely home from my trip, need to get resettled, so no chit-chat tonight. Just a fun little card using 1) a colored card base, 2) A Muse stamps, and 3) Carrot Smooch.

Th-, Th-, Th-That's All, Folks!

stamps: A Muse
ink: Palette noir, SU bordering blue
paper: SU bordering blue, PTI white (for fish)
accessories: Smooch, Sharpie marker, dimensional

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Thank You Butterflies

This set of cards went to one of my boys' teachers for an end-of-year gift. The butterfly is from the SU hostess set my demo gave me for being such a long-term loyal customer. She's a sweetie! I thought the alphabet butterfly would be perfect for a teacher.

Monday, I'm driving home from visiting my sister in Maryland for the past four days. Many thanks to everyone who has been so good about leaving comments...please know that I appreciate each and every one of them, even if I haven't replied!

stamps: SU (butterfly), Papertrey (sentiment)
ink: Memento
paper: Mark's Finest Papers
accessories: black half-pearls

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Inspiration Takes an Unusual Direction, Part 3 and a Word about Thick Embellishments

As I've said for the past two days, seeing some peat pot cards in Take Ten made me want to play with textures, but another part of the appeal of the inspiration cards was their use of different, unusual collage-type elements (buttons, twine, snaps, dymo label, etc.) in a very simple way. On my first card, I used the wooden heart and twine, on yesterday's card I tried to use buttons and papyrus with a bird punch.  Here's a much more successful attempt using the StampinUp bird punch.

This design is much more unified than yesterday's, which felt like too much stuff and somewhat disjointed. The musical acrylic piece (a RAK from Audrey...thank you!) relates to the bird in color and theme, the pearls are a tiny bit egg-like, and string belongs on a bird's nest.

The marbled paper is from a scrap left over from previous projects. The swirly soft-pink colors have a hint of gold shimmer (like the gold ink of the music on the acrylic piece) which is absolutely lovely in real life and complements the shimmer and color of the pearls as well. 

For those of you who, like me, rarely use big thick embellishments on cards, it really can be fun to play around with them on occasion. To duplicate the idea without the bulk, however, would be fairly easy if you have either musical patterned paper or a music stamp. Punch a circle of the music and use either a) a thin acrylic sticker over it (i.e., Page Pebbles) or b) Crystal Effects. That way, you could easily mail it in a standard envelope.

Or you can just say the heck with it and use a ridiculously thick embellishment. Whatever works for you.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Inspiration Takes an Unusual Direction, Part 2 and a Critique

Inspired by the rad texture of peat pot cards in Take Ten, I pulled out several different textured papers and played, just to see what would happen. Sometimes, as with yesterday's card, playing around works happily. Sometimes, well, it doesn't quite hit the mark.

Today's card uses papyrus, some lovely textured white cardstock from Marco's Papers, and some handmade inclusion paper that has rose petals, twigs, and leaves imbedded in it. It's also an example of good things taken just a bit too far. I'd like to share my analysis of what went wrong, particularly as it relates to adapting collage/shabby styles to clean-and-simple design.

I'm not fishing for compliments...just sharing my thoughts in the hope that they will help inspire you to play around and not to be afraid of making something you don't like.

I don't like this card nearly as much as yesterday's card mainly because it's not as visually simple. The punched bird has a lot going on with it...the petal on its wing and the twig on its body, combined with the handmade texture of the paper are a LOT to look at. Add the two differently toned buttons with twine, the rough natural edge of the papyrus, and the curly sentiment, and the card crosses the line from CAS to, well, I'm not sure what, but it's not exactly CAS, is it?

Also, the balance is off. The ivory bird and button need a third element to ground them visually, and I thought the white base would do that...but it doesn't. Perhaps it's because the papyrus panel is just a titch too big. Perhaps the layout itself is simply not effective. Perhaps the sentiment needs more visual weight. Whatever. It's a card that almost works but, in the end, doesn't.

I love all the individual elements of this card....I just should have limited how many I used and rearranged them a bit. This bird card shows how tempting it is to keep adding more stuff...and how in the interest of clean-and-simple design, more stuff often isn't better.

But you never know what will happen if you don't even try.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Inspiration Takes an Unusual Direction

A set of cards in Take Ten was made with peat know, those inexpensive pots for growing plants. Now, I kill pretty much any plant I touch, so no peat pots hang around my house. But I loved the pot texture as well as the white space of the layouts in the magazine, so I decided to see what sorts of exotic papers I had that might add some texture and fun to similar layouts.

Here's the first card I made, which shows off the lovely reedy texture and golden color of papyrus:

I punched the label shape (EK Success) out of papyrus and stamped the sentiment in VersaColor burgundy ink. Sometimes, dye inks will bleed on papyrus so I made sure to use the nice, thick VersaColor. The papyrus is attached to the card base with scor-tape. Then, I took a small wooden heart and tapped the Memento rhubarb dewdrop pad on it, stopping short of complete coverage to give a bit of a weathered look to it. That looked too plain, so I glued a small knot of Papertrey's dark twine to it...a love knot.

Oh how I love this card! Methinks I'll give it to my hubby for our 25th wedding anniversary next week.

I'll show you a few more of my cards inspired by the peat pots over the next few days. In the meantime, why not look through your own paper stash for unusually textured pieces in natural colors to play with?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

On the Fence

In keeping with yesterday's post about the joy of new stuff, I recently purchased a few new punches at Michael's, including this fab Martha Stewart fence border punch. The first version of this card used a kraft card base. It looked dreadful. Oh how I wish I had the gift of kraft. Alas, plain ol' white tends to work better for me. Especially when I stamp Memento Pear Tart on it. *swoon*

I'll bet there's no one else in the world who thinks that the name "pear tart" makes reference to ANYTHING but a fruity dessert. Am I right?

stamps: Papertrey Through the Trees, Paper Tray
ink: Memento
paper: PTI
accessories: MS fence border punch, rhinestones

Monday, June 6, 2011

Musings on New Product and Variations on a Set: Dot Spot Again

Two comments on yesterday's post really stood out for me. Take a gander:

Marty: "good news and bad news. good news...i LOVE these cards. bad news...i need BOTH of these sets and that is going to mess with my "no more ordering new stamps till i use the ones i already have" project."

Yoona: "My initial reaction: I wish I had those sets. My better judgement: Susan, you are actually showing me that I should and could use what I have to make totally different cards. And that's truly CREATING!"

Despite the fact that these two comments are polar opposites in meaning, they both reflect what I consider to be an essential truth about papercrafting: new product is both everything and nothing.

Whatever do I mean? Well, on the one hand, very little in papercrafting is as inspiring and satisfying as getting a cardboard box of new product on your doorstep. New product, if we have the discipline to use it rather than just collect it, is fun and necessary to keep us excited about what we're doing. It's like the rush we get when we buy new clothes...we feel pretty and hip and happy when we put them on. What a lift that is to our ego and sense of style! After a while, however, clothes stop being so wonderful and fresh. They start to look dated or shabby or ill-fitting. We get bored with them and start looking for something new, and the whole process starts over again.

On the other hand, creativity doesn't really need new product. Instead, seeing new product can make us look at our old product differently. What do I have on hand that would work in a similar way to the new stuff out there? How can I take something old and languishing and make it look fresh and new with a new color combo, embellishment, or layout? That's the essence of my Variations on a Set strategy: pull out old stuff and play around with it in fresh new ways.

My purchasing has slowed down considerably in the past two years. Partly, this slowdown is the result of my having accumulated a stash of stuff so big it stands as a lasting tribute to my obsessive nature. When you already have a bazzilion flower stamps, it's hard to keep buying more and feel fiscally and morally responsible at the same time.

But when too much time lapses between purchases, I find myself getting bored and creatively stale. It's time for an infusion of fun new things to stimulate my creativity.

The key, I think, is balance. After a couple of days playing with my new A Muse stamps, for instance, I found myself pulling out some paper that I haven't messed with in over a year and doing something completely different with it, something inspired by a set of cards in a magazine. The creative flourish that resulted will show up here, soon!

I guess the point behind these musings is to enjoy new stuff but don't forget about what you already have.

Now that I've typed that, it sounds pretty trivial. But I still think it's important.

Anyway, today's card using Papertrey's Dot Spot (an old set for me) really made me happy, mainly because it could be sent to a guy even though it has bling on it. The dark colors (Memento Rhubarb and Danube) work pretty well with all the white space, I think. Plus, the design is stable, solid, balanced, symmetrical, and somehow oddly serious. Just like guys can be.

How-To Tips: To line up the dot circles perfectly, use a gridded acrylic block. Stamp the center circle first, then the two smaller circles, and finally the outside blue circles. The sentiment is a horizontal one, so I stamped the Birthday first, then the Happy over it, also using the gridded block to get everything nice and straight and centered.

stamps: Papertrey Birthday Basics, Dot Spot
ink: Memento
paper: Papertrey
accessories: rhinestones, corner chomper

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Variations on a Set: Dot Spot Goes Pastel

Yesterday's cards used Dot Spot by Papertrey in bright, bold colors. But the set is equally at home in soft and subtle colors.

For the first card, I layered white on white and combined Everyday Button Bits with Dot Spot again, this time to make a little flower garden. The sentiment is from Birthday Basics, also from PTI.

The second card uses some very simple layering of three different circles from Dot Spot, with the top two layers popped up on dimensionals.

Simple Tip: Most of you probably already know this, but those who don't...prepare to be amazed! When you don't have the right color bling, use a Bic, Sharpie, or Copic marker to color clear bling to match whatever you need! That's what I had to do with the purple bling on both of these cards.

Now, aren't you going to stock up on clear bling next time you're at Michael's?

stamps: Dot Spot, Birthday Basics, Everyday Button Bits
ink: Memento
paper: white
accessories: rhinestones, Bic marker, corner chomper, circle punches, dimensionals

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Variations on a Set: Dot Spot

Note: If you are reading this in email, don't miss the two posts below!

Today's two cards with Dot Spot feature the big flower in dramatic settings. On both cards, I combined lines with the design to balance all the great big roundness of the big flower.

First up, a pink and black card. I stamped the small dot circle in pink in the middle of the black and accented it with a bit of pink bling. The lines come from Background Basics: Retro.

Creating a center for this monster-sized flower is important for obsessive stampers. Leaving it empty is like not putting thread on a button. You could do it, but it almost always looks like something is missing.

Note that I said almost. There are exceptions to every rule. But you won't see an exception on this post, and you know why. Because I'm obsessive.

The next card is a 4.25" square card. The lines were drawn with a Memento marker and ruler. Blue and orange are complementary colors, meaning they are opposite each other on the color wheel. Any time you want a peppy, high-energy color combo, pick complementary colors in bright hues. Guaranteed happiness!

And speaking of color wheels, if you don't have one and feel a bit color challenged, I highly recommend getting one. Small ones are available at the big box stores for very reasonable prices. There are all sorts of tried and true color combinations that a color wheel can help you find easily.

stamps: Papertrey Dot spot, Background Basics Retro, and one I don't remember for the friend sentiment; the thanks sentiment is from Hero Arts
ink: Memento
paper: Mark's Finest (top), PTI (bottom)
accessories: rhinestones, marker, ruler, corner chomper

Stuff and Things

First of all, I'm all off schedule, and this bothers me. I hope to get back on my regular posting schedule (so those of you who receive Simplicity in your email get it first thing in the morning), but the next few weeks may be a bit, um, unpredictable. It doesn't help that I can't trust Blogger to post when I pre-set the time for posting.

Second, my personal review of the summer issue of Take Ten is lukewarm. After a couple of perusings, I think there are some truly FABULOUS things in it (and you'll be seeing me playing with some brilliant ideas in the next month, I'm sure!), but the summer issue has nowhere near as much clean-and-simple gorgeousness as the spring issue. If you're looking for more embellished, shabby chic, distressed, or artsy card inspiration, however, you'll be extremely happy with it.

Third, here's my latest order from Mark's Finest Papers. [Full Disclosure: I paid for this stuff as I'm no longer on the DT. I will continue to use the free stuff I received during my time on the DT, but I want you to know that I'm putting real money there as well. The products and customer service are fabulous!]

The Smooch colors are Carrot and Kiwi. LOVE them for summer! The twine is nice, too, and I love the fact that it's wrapped on wooden clothespins. It's easy to tuck the loose end into the groove of the pin and it stays in place nicely. The orange twine is a fab summer color...very bright and happy. The lime twine, however, is more of a soft mint...a bit bluer, rather than yellower. Still very pretty but not true lime to my eyes.

The limeade cardstock is a perfect match for Memento's Pear Tart, and as I'd used up all my DT sheets of it, I had to order the pack. Also, the white 140lb cardstock is so nice and heavy and perfect for card bases. This is actually my second purchase of this particular cardstock, which is equal to PTI's in quality but has a smoother finish. That little difference is fun to play with for me, but then, I'm a white cardstock whore.

Fourth, here's my first order from A Muse. I ordered from Krystie, who was kind enough to send me a catalog when they first became available. All I've done with these cuties so far is put them in my catalog. The images are what you would expect from A Muse: crisp, perfect, and very clean. More on them later, after I've had a chance to play with them.  As you can tell, I'm in a summer groove right now....

Fifth, here's today's card. When I posted recently that Dot Spot was one of my favorite PTI sets, several people asked for ideas on how to use it. I've made about six cards this week with it and will post them over the next few days. This one is my favorite of the bunch, only because it's so incredibly simple, and y'all know how simple I am. Give me paper and ink, and I'm happy!

How-To and Design Tips: I stamped the cherry stem from Everyday Button Bits in Memento bamboo and then added the two smallest Dot Spot circles in Memento rhubarb. I filled in the center of the dotty circles with the solid circles in the set. The sentiment, from EBB like the cherry stem, is one line, but I stamped it as two to tuck it into the cherries. The red sweet and green you're so create two visual triangles of color that unify the very simple design. Rounding the bottom corners works with the round cherries and polka dot leaves.

Sixth, because five things just are not enough, please check the previous post for the winner of the washi tape!

Have a lovely, sunny weekend!

And the Washi Tape Goes to...

Katie! #61 said,

Oh good I'm not the only one that wasn't happy with a hot new item. It is ok to not have to have all the hot items. Sewing cloths is something I can't seem to master. I can quilt fine but when it comes to cloths I'm lost.

Katie, please send me your snail mail address at susanraihala at woh dot rr dot com so I can get this stuff out of my house send you a fun new toy to play with! Congratulations!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Variations on a Set: A Wreath for All Seasons, Part 3 and Some Mindless Blathering Thrown in for Free

Thursday is the last day of school.

I'm scared.

Very scared.

The noise.

You have no idea.

Unless you have or had small, loud boys living with you.

Then, you have an idea.

Pray for me.


At least this card is quiet. And pretty. And makes me happy.

Those three statements in the previous paragraph, however, do not make me happy. They are not grammatically parallel, thus rendering the use of the two fragments rhetorically ineffective rather than casually cute. More properly, the three statements should be combined and punctuated as follows: "At least this card is quiet and pretty, and makes me happy."

Now that I think about it, the corrected sentence might provoke scholarly debate over the comma. Some experts prefer the comma in such situations, but others avoid commas like split infinitives. Both groups of experts have a point, but I like the comma. Truly uptight grammarians might insist I add an it before makes. I used to be an uptight grammarian.

I have recovered.

I think.

I'll shut up now about grammar and get back to the card. First, it uses Memento's Pear Tart and SU's Real Red. Then, it uses some little flat red metallic nail heads (Hobby Lobby) as berries on the wreath, which means it's super flat and easy to mail. Finally, it has rounded corners, accomplished using my new corner-rounder thingy that Marty sent to me because she's the nicest person ever.

stamps: PTI A Wreath for All Seasons, Signature Christmas
ink: Memento and SU
paper: white
accessories: nail heads, corner rounder