Monday, December 8, 2014

Variations on a Big Stamp

Long, long ago, I read about "determined" art supplies in a book on book binding, and the lesson stuck with me even if the title of the book didn't. The author encouraged book artists to look for "undetermined" that didn't already convey a pre-determined meaning to the world. Highly determined supplies could become clichés after a while, like a red rose symbolizing love.

This got me thinking about stamping supplies. When I first started stamping, harlequin stamps (you know, court jesters in harlequin-print clothes) were everywhere. So were pears, vintage paper dolls, and the Mona Lisa. When you use these images, you limit the meaning of your creations.

Now, don't get me wrong; limiting the meaning of something is often a very good thing, until, of course it becomes a cliché and people start wanting to spray-paint BVDs on those obscene pears. (If you're new here, you might want to read this post to understand my, ahem, interpretation of pear images. And thanks, by the way, to those of you who continue to share particularly egregious examples of the phallic fruit with me. It's always good for a laugh!)

Where was I? Oh, yes, determined supplies. Okay. Less determined stamps are usually ones that don't carry a lot of meaning and thus can be used to create all sorts of meanings. Often, however, big stamp images can be difficult to use because they are often so determined. Getting different looks is harder when the image takes up a lot of real estate on the card, and it's easy to feel like you've exhausted the stamp's possibilities after just one or two cards.

Consider Hero Arts Winter Moon stamp:

This stylized night scene is just over three inches wide and four inches high. It's also quite lovely, and I bought it for my birthday last month. What meaning does this convey? Well, it's a winter scene, perfect for peaceful winter-holiday cards, and perhaps thinking-of-you cards. It's a little serene for a happy birthday card, and it might be weird with a thank you sentiment. (Cold, snowy nights don't conjure thoughts of warm gratitude...unless you're inside by the fire! But hey, do whatever you want...all this is just stuff to think about, not rules to follow.)

I bought Winter Moon specifically for holiday cards. But I was worried that I'd make one card and not really be able to vary it enough to make lots more.

Of course, if you have tons of different inks, embossing powders, and embellishments, you can certainly do more with even the most determined large stamp. As I will prove in the next few days.


I started with a light blue ink from VersaColor called Atlantic. It's such a soft blue! (That makes it hard to photograph, actually, and hence the dark background.) I edged the raised panel and filled in the moon with my new clear Wink of Stella brush pen (too subtle to show in the photo, though it's lovely in real life). To position the panel, I placed it unconventionally toward the bottom of a standard A2 if it were softly falling like the snow. The italic Christ in the sentiment contributes to the overall softness of the card.

The second version takes a darker turn, for a higher-contrast scene. Here, the image is stamped in Hero Arts Navy ink, and the raised panel is edged with silver metallic marker. I also switched the sentiment to a more stylized font to emphasize the graphic nature of the design. The moon is punched from a piece of white cardstock colored with the silver marker, so it stands out a bit more and ties the border into the design.

For some reason, this looked odd placed the same as the first panel, so I cut a bit from the bottom of the card for an even mat all the way around.

Note how color tone alone changes everything about this stamp!

Tomorrow, we'll take a look at a few more uses for this very determined stamp!

stamps: Hero Arts Winter Moon, Papertrey sentiments
ink: VersaColor, Hero Arts
paper: Papertrey
accessories: Wink of Stella pen, silver metallic pen (Prismacolor), dimensionals


  1. On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me...
    A partridge in a phallic-fruit tree.

    On the second day of Christmas, my true love sent to me...
    Two nekkid pears... no, wait, they're wearing their BVD's.

    On the third day of Christmas, my good friend sent to me...
    The card with the background in na-vee!

    (Love 'em both, but adore the 2nd one. And it's not like you didn't ask for the song...)

    1. I spell "nekkid" the same way Lewis Grizzard did:

      n - e - double k, by God - i - d.

    2. THANK YOU for starting my day off with a laugh! That is fabulous!!!! Navy card coming your way....

  2. This conversation about determined art supplies intrigues me! I love that stamp and I would thought of it as limited in it's uses on a card, but you are proving me wrong and I like the word determined much better! Can't wait to see the next post on this subject!

  3. :lovely cards= I do remember all the funny past posts and your aversion to pears, and I remember laughing out loud. What a great memory!

  4. Haha - great post although I'm not sure what BVD stands for!

  5. Perfect timing! For various reasons I am just starting my cards and I have this stamp. I haven't commented for a while but I have been looking. You always give me some great ideas.

  6. Love this stamp! It's gorgeous, and I particularly enjoyed the darker version.

  7. "Determined" stamps -- I like that! I might have several, including this one. I'm jealous you can draw a straight border.

    Note: If you did layers, this would be a good outdoor scene through a window. I might have to try it.


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