Tuesday, March 20, 2018

A Cross and News

The layered cross in Papertrey's Celtic Knots set is absolutely stunning. I've made a number of cards with it but find this simple black-gray-white version to be my absolute favorite of the bunch.

There are two layers of paper popped up with craft foam and dimensionals. First, the die cut of the the cross, which has three different stamps. The MISTI is essential when stamping these three stamps...and it seemed the more I stamped, the harder the three were to line up, even with the MISTI. Second, the center of the cross, which has two different stamps...also harder to line up the more I stamped.


Anyway, the close-up shows how pretty the layers are.

Now for the news, and it's not good. Although Cooper's surgery went extremely well and he is now neutered, his X-rays showed problems with his hips and elbows. Serious problems. Both his parents were certified clear on hips and elbows (common issues with goldens), and none of the other pups from either parent has ever presented with problems in either area. These things happen, and Cooper is just unlucky.

Or lucky, if you consider that he's ours, and we will do all we can to keep him happy, healthy, and comfortable.

Cooper wearing the latest fashion from Paris for post-operative couture.
(He freaked out with the E-collar at the vet, so the T-shirt covers
his incisions.)
It's pretty obvious Cooper isn't letting hip and elbow problems--or having his boy parts removed--get him down. He's a happy boy!

But I am sad. Chronic joint issues will not be fun for him. If you're the praying type, we'd appreciate  a little prayer for our Cooper.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey Celtic Knots
ink: Archival black, Hero Arts soft granite
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: coordinating dies, craft foam, dimensionals, glue, MISTI

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Celtic Notecards

Some of you know that I used to do calligraphy and illumination (medieval book painting). That gave me a deep and abiding love for Celtic knotwork. So when Papertrey came out with a knotwork set, I jumped on it and the coordinating dies.

Like many stamps, these are ones that I love in theory rather than practice, and I spent too many hours making okay-but-not-great cards with this set. Finally, I actually made four cards (using just one of the stamps) that make my CAS-lovin' heart go pitter patter.

To start, I embossed the outline border stamp in detail silver embossing powder several times on a scrap of paper. Then, I colored the images with cool colors of Copics.

Then, I embossed a few of the same stamp with extra-fine gold embossing powder and colored them with warm colors of Copics. (Sorry I forgot to shoot a close-up of the orange knotwork.)

These cards are 6 1/4" x 3.5" and fit a standard envelope I buy at Marco's paper. I die cut extras to stack for a bit more dimension, but otherwise, these cards are as simple as they look.

A Note on Papertrey Dies: I've noticed that some Papertrey dies leave marks on the die cuts, but the Celtic Knots dies cut cleanly. The big border die needs some shimming to cut all the way through, though, especially on the long sides. Not sure why, but I may have violated my no-swearing resolution trying to push out all those chads before deciding to just cut the thing again.

I'll show a few of my cards with this stamp set over the next few days, but by far my favorite technique is the one I showed today. Such a pretty result!

As for changes to the blog, I'm still ruminating.

If you think of it on Monday, say a little prayer for the Cooper. He's going to have a rough day at the vet. Thanks!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey Celtic Knots
ink: VersaMark
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: Copic markers, coordinating dies, glue, embossing powder, heat gun, Embossing Buddy

Saturday, March 17, 2018


A quick post of an easy but dramatic card:

The movement of that fabulous bird-in-flight enhances this card so much, and the dark purple adds bold interest.

I hope you are having a lovely weekend. We are!

stamps: Hero Arts My Monthly Hero February kit
ink: can't remember
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: coordinating dies, dimensionals

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Ode to a Sunny March Day (and Dog Pictures)

Karen's Card Shop Update
Several of you have asked what (if anything) Karen's Card Shop needs at this time. We are running low on thank you cards, and in the next few months might need more sympathy, get well, and thinking of you cards. Fresh birthday cards are always welcome, as are cards with Bible verses or religious sentiments. If you want to donate, please keep in mind that the insides of cards should be blank (I put them in bags so people don't see what's inside before they buy!) and any sentiments other than the ones I request do not sell well. Please email me when you're ready to ship, and I'll send you my snail mail address.

Thanks so much to all who have donated already. The card shop benefits our church's general fund and Stephen Ministry program. For details, please see my page on Karen's Card Shop

Today's Card
It's not warm in Ohio yet, but we had a delightfully sunny day today, so I'm posting a delightfully sunny card.

This sunny flower comes from Hero Arts' Happy Day Flowers set. That sentiment is a wonderful one for using different colors since thank and you are two separate stamps. You can tuck the you to the right or the left, depending on what works best for your particular layout. I put it on the right to balance out the flower on the left.

And now for dog pictures. Several of you requested dog pictures, and I'm more than happy to oblige.

We clearly don't provide the Cooper with enough
chew toys. He's eight months old and 65 pounds.

Daisy's got your back, Cooper.

"Ready for my profile, Mr. DeMille."

"I'm being cuddled against my will."

"I'm at the vet and smilin'!"

Despite his smile, that last picture is kind of sad. Cooper has some weird issues going on with his elbows (right one very swollen, left somewhat painful) and his hips (worries about dysplasia). He's also been running a fever for a week, although he doesn't act sick at all. If you're the praying type, please pray for him. He's going to be neutered on Monday and get X-rays on his elbows and hips while under anesthesia. I'll keep you posted.

stamps: Hero Arts Happy Days Flowers
ink: Hero Arts butter bar, Papertrey terra cotta, Archival potting soil
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: craft foam, glue

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Renaissance Flourish

Sometimes, I buy a stamp or stamp set for sentimental reasons. This always generates creative issues because stamps purchased for sentimental reasons often don't make me happy when I start to make cards with them.

I like the idea of the set, not working with the actual set.


Such is the case with Shakespearean Poetry from Hero Arts. I adore the idea of this set but have struggled mightily to make satisfyingly LateBlossom-y cards using it. When I saw this card by Rosemary Dennis in Take Ten, however, I decided to give the set another try.

At first glance, this choice may seem out of left field. Rosemary's card has a lovely, natural, rustic feel combined with Papertrey's Dot Spot, which is so delightfully geometric. The tension between those two styles works perfectly in Rosemary's card, but why in the world would it make me think "Renaissance flourish"?

Well, that great layout is incredibly versatile and can be adapted to any number of styles. It focuses on a stamped background with a clean border demarcated by a ribbon. You could use all sorts of stamps for this...including the large flourish in Shakespearean Poetry, and here's the result.

How very satisfying! Note that I switched from portrait to landscape orientation for the card. Now, I don't care what your orientation is, truly, but sometimes stamps work better oriented one way and sometimes they work better oriented another way. That big flourish works better oriented horizontally, and we shan't judge it for that.

Rosemary works with squares and circles and dots and lots of asymmetry on her card, all to excellent effect. But my big stamp needed a bigger panel, which in turn required symmetrical matting. Tweaks like these are de rigueur in adapting layouts. Go with them. Flow. It's fun!

The aquamarine and charcoal inks, combined with satin ribbon and pearls, make an elegant statement, don't they? I love how the basic layout of Rosemary's card works equally well for both her rustic, dotty interpretation and my elegant Renaissance flourish.

When you're looking at a layout for inspiration, don't be at all afraid to experiment with a completely different style and whatever tweaks you need to make that work.

You might end up with a flourish!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love (and apologies for the very bad last sentence),

stamps: Hero Arts Shakespearean Poetry, Clear and Simple sentiment
ink: Hero Arts charcoal and ocean
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: satin ribbon, half pearls, ScorTape (to attach ribbon), dimensionals, scallop scissors (to snip the corners of the stamped panel)

Tuesday, March 13, 2018


Y'all know how I feel about distressing. I prefer to de-stress, not cause distress. But when I saw this picture in GreenCraft, I simply had to make some distressed cards.

Lavender Dryer Pillows...so sweet and soft!

The fabric pillows look so soft and touchable, and by softening up the edges of my paper with a scissor blade, I was able to evoke a similar feel with my cards.

The stamped panels and colored mats are adhered using glue only in the middle, not along the edges. You can see the shadows cast by the slightly upturned edges. The effect is subtle, but adds that extra little something to a very simple design.

Slight imperfections in the stamping didn't bother me, either...they enhance the softness without drawing too much attention to themselves.

These cards make me feel so relaxed and calm. Who knew distressing could be so de-stressing!?!

Perhaps you did. But it's news to crisp-and-clean me.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Simon Says Stamp One With Nature, Clear and Simple thank you
paper: Papertrey white and various colors (also by Papertrey)
ink: Hero Arts charcoal, lime, soft leaf, soft olive
accessories: scissor blade, glue

Monday, March 12, 2018

Love...and Not Love

Many, many thanks to all who have commented on yesterday's post. You've given me a lot to think about, and I'm finding that very helpful. If you haven't commented yet, please do weigh in on my question of how you'd like to see me shake things up on Simplicity...or how you would like me to not shake things up.

At least we know that hardly anyone wants to see unicorns and fairy farts. That's a relief.

Today's two cards show two different techniques using an adorable little envelope stamp from Hero Arts' Love Notes set.

First up, a clean-and-simple faux collage inspired by many different real collage cards.

Y'all, this card makes my heart happy. So simple, so sweet, so heart-bling-y!

The second card didn't make my heart so happy. It started off as an attempt to use frisket...a resist liquid that, when it dries, keeps watercolor off the paper. After the paint dries, you can remove the dry frisket gently from the paper, leaving the white space free of paint.

Unfortunately, though I was gentle as can be, the Tim Holtz white watercolor paper peeled off with the frisket, leaving an unsightly mess. I quickly stamped the envelope on a scrap, cut it out, and glued it over the mess. I was quite disappointed, though, that the frisket damaged the paper.

So one version is crisp and clean and fresh, and the other is soft and sweet and romantic. They use essentially the exact same layout, but they certainly have different moods.

Which do you prefer?

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Hero Arts Love Notes
ink: various
paper: Papertrey white, Tim Holtz watercolor paper
accessories: Arteza brush watercolor pen, brush, frisket, heart rhinestones

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Shaking Things Up

This here little blog is starting to feel a little stale and predictable to me, so it's time to shake things up. I have some ideas, but I wonder what YOU want from Simplicity.

Maybe unicorns and fairy farts?

Chatty posts about product? Organization? Design? How 18-year-olds are bat-crap crazy?

Series of posts using a single technique or product lots of different ways?

My husband's recipe for Asian chicken thighs?

Book recommendations from my alter-ego, Literature Lady?

Videos of my talking about stamping or life or why I can't leave Barnes & Noble without buying a book? (Video tutorials are a bit beyond my techie ability, but I think I could go live on Facebook pretty easily. But going live on Facebook also feels a bit narcissistic for me...oh, look at me, I'm so important! Ugh.)

Something else entirely?

Your input is greatly appreciated.

And now for a card project that isn't your ordinary card.

This book card was inspired by the following book in the Autumn 2017 issue of GreenCraft magazine (a Stampington & Co. publication) which I borrowed from the library yesterday.

The inspiration book uses corrugated cardboard liberally smeared with gesso...an artsy technique that results in a more distressed look than I can pull off while staying true to my clean-and-simple style. So I opted to run a portrait-cut white card base through my paper crimper and go from there. 

My color scheme includes the Hero Arts robin's egg ink that came with the February My Monthly Hero kit for the cover. I rubbed it on the flap for contrast, and the distressed nature of the results pays homage to the inspiration piece.

Inside, the single-sheet page leaves ample white space and highlights an Emerson quotation and the fun leaves from Simon Says Stamp One With Nature. The green ink is also from the My Monthly Hero kit and is called feather.

The binding for the book was sewn through three holes punched with an awl through the page and cover. The thread is DMC floss that just so happened to match perfectly the robin's egg ink.

Let's pause for a moment to savor how spectacular it feels to have an embellishment in the perfect color for a project. Ahhhhhh.

That feels good.

The quotation is perfect for a graduation card, so this card will go to my son in May. He will appreciate it. I just hope he doesn't get drunk on the wild air.

I love that boy more than myself. And he's driving me batty with his teen-brain hijinx. Lord, grant me patience because if you give me strength, I'mma gonna need bail money to go with that. Amen. 

I left long tails on both ends of the binding thread and added a circle attached with a black fastener. The black fastener ties in with the black ink inside the card and lends gravitas to pastel-and-white cover.

Gravitas is a great word. Eighteen-year-olds think they have gravitas, but they don't. They just don't.

This project was enormously fun and satisfying, and it wouldn't have happened without seeing that little inspiring book in GreenCraft magazine. Yay, inspiration!

So what do you think? How can Simplicity shake things up and be a more satisfying place for you and for me to spend our time? Thank you in advance for your suggestions.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Simon Says Stamp One With Nature
ink: Hero Arts robin's egg, feather; Archival black
paper: Papertrey white, random lightweight white cardstock for inside page
accessories: black brad, 5/8" circle punch, Fiskars paper crimper, awl, needle, DMC floss

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Sweet as Honey

One of my favorite cute sets is Hero Arts Busy As A. Despite its odd name, the set is adorable and has some great images in it. I ordered the coordinating die set and went to work. This was the second card I made...the first was pretty trash. I'll explain below.

The watercolor used on these images came from two different sources. The bees are painted with StampinUp summer sun and more mustard inks that were squished into the lids of the old-style cases. The hive is painted with an Arteza brown real brush marker that was squished onto an acrylic block.

There's a lot of squishing going on.

Anyway, I added Wink of Stella to the wings and flower, and a bling on the flower creates a visual triangle of yellow.

My first attempt at this card involved painting a large scrap with the summer sun ink. I stamped the bees and die cut them out of the painted scrap. Wow, that was ugly. Didn't think about how the wings would be yellow, too, and just no.

What are your favorite "cute" sets?

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Hero Arts Busy As A
ink: Archival potting soil; StampinUp summer sun and more mustard
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: Wink of Stella (clear), dimensionals, coordinating dies, Arteza real brush marker in brown

Monday, March 5, 2018

Old Technique, New Stamps, Fresh Colors

Sometimes, it's fun to mix up old and new, and today's card gives a fresh example of just that. It combines and old, old technique with new stamps and a fresh color combination...with a bit of bling.


That little birdy was inked with VersaMagic aquatic splash and then rock-and-rolled with VersaMagic turquoise gem on the wings and back, and Memento Luxe espresso truffle on the beak.

The the two-step-stamp flower was inked with Impress Fresh Ink persimmon and papaya. The contrast of the aqua bird and orange flower gives this card a bunch of energy and pop.

The rock-and-roll technique is one of my favorites for thick pigment and chalk inks. It's delightful and almost always yields good results, as long as the ink pads are juicy. If you've never rocked and rolled, here are the incredibly complicated, step-by-step instructions.

1. Ink the solid block stamp in a light shade of pigment or chalk ink.
2. Roll a portion of the stamp across a darker pigment or chalk pad. It might take a few rolls to get good coverage.
3. Press the stamp to paper.

That's it! Using small cubes or dew drop ink pads will give you better control, but full-size pads will work, too. If you're not sure, just practice a bit on scraps to see which colors work best together.

What's an old technique you've used lately with new stamps? Please share!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Hero Arts February kit, Happy Days Flowers
ink: Memento Luxe espresso truffle; VersaMagic aquatic splash, turquoise gem; Impress Fresh Ink persimmon, papaya
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: coordinating die, dimensionals, rhinestones, Copics to color the rhinestones 

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Four for One

The Genevieve layered butterfly dies are amazing, and they fit with my white-on-white style as well as color-with-white. Take a look at these two cards: one white and wonderful and the other cool Caribbean and wonderful, too.

This card is pretty, but it has one simple design flaw...lack of contrast.  The cool Caribbean from StampinUp is such an awesome color, but just using a few pops of that color--with some amazing sparkly bling--doesn't provide adequate contrast with all that white.

As you can see when you look at the second card, which has more color and spots of black, contrast truly enhances design. The second card fills more of the rules of good design...from contrast and color balance to scale.

This card makes me happier...even though it's got a colored card base. There's just so much harmony and bold color. The corners were rounded with old-school scallop scissors, and the pretty pearls come in two sizes for additional visual interest.

In the past few weeks, I received a couple of cards that I must share! First up, a Valentine from Michele K. Check out her excellent combination of colors and textures in a fabulous design.

Note how she brings the green into the stamped focal point, but then gives the card a pop of very bright pink/red. This complementary color combination gives the card so much energy to balance with the harmony of the monochromatic backdrop. Perfect!

Janet E. sent her card in response to my Wonderful World card...and included a stamp with the line from the song! Janet used this delightful floral designer paper that includes lots of labeled flowers for the background of the stamp sentiment, and then she picked out two complementary colors from the paper (purple and yellow) for the base and mat. The effect is harmonious and ever so pretty and feminine!

Janet embossed the sentiment on the designer paper in a lovely soft green color, and the effect is delightful on the black background!

Many thanks to Michele and Janet for thinking of me and sending cards. Many thanks to Joan for the butterfly (and other) dies and Janet for the stamp. All three of you are such sweet, generous people!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,