Sunday, June 2, 2019

Max Bling

Have you, too, hoarded embellishments? Have you, too, saved "the good stuff" for . . . what? The future? When you're a better stamper? When you have more confidence?

Seriously. I'm guilty.

But not anymore.

Thirty-seven little embellishments picked up on a whim at Marco's one day at least a year ago...used on one card. There are still some left but not enough to make a duplicate of this. This has to be a record for use of bling on a card.

And it was totally worth it!

Release your hoard! Use the bling!

After all, there's more where it came from. ;-)

The die is from Sizzix, the stamp is from Papertrey, and the bling is from Queen and Company.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Flower Fun

I have a confession to make.

I burned out on flowers.

There. I said it.

It's been a while since any flower stamps made me happy, but flowers often sell well in Karen's Card Shop. My flower stamps felt old and stale to me. On a whim, I bought a couple of floral sets from Simon Says and am feeling flower fun again.

This set (Favorite Flowers from SSS) is incredibly easy to work with because the loose design is very forgiving on the two-step stamping. There's lots of movement in the lines, too, so the images have lots of energy. Fun. Easy. Flowers!

The color combo here came from Pinterest and looks so spring-y and fun.

Random-stamped designs seem to be very popular right now, and I'm happy to see that. If you're stuck figuring them out, take a look at my old post on random stamping here: Tutorial on Random Stamping. It's not a terribly sophisticated tutorial, but there are some good tips!

Happy June to you! I hope you're enjoying the season. We've had storms pass through Monday night just 20 miles north of us. Tornados destroyed homes and businesses, and the clean-up will take a long time. Other areas of the U.S. have been hard-hit by floods and storms as well. My thoughts and prayers for all who have been affected.

Stay safe, listen to the weather service and police, and comply with take-shelter orders.

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and safety,

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Sending Happy Thoughts

Before we get started on today's post, let me thank Carol, Lisa, and Patti for their donations of cards to Karen's Card Shop! I've already restocked the shop with some of Lisa and Patti's cards (which arrived first), and Carol's will go in next week. Such lovely cards...and lovely hearts to share them with First United Methodist Church of Springboro!

Thanks in advance to all who said they were sending cards, too!

Now for today's card, which uses two new set from Simon Says Stamp: Sending Happy Thoughts and Artsy Flower Parts.

Breaking the stem over the sentiment made me so very happy! It enhances the unity of the card nicely.

And isn't that Archival black ink so very, very black?!?!?! Loving a well-inked, high-quality inkpad.

Now, let's talk about memory and stamps.

When one doesn't spend at least an hour a day in one's craft room, one forgets what one has...and it's much harder to stamp. I spent about two hours today making nothing, and what I learned from my frustration is that I need to go through all my stamps again to remember what I've got.

First-world problems. Definitely.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Monday, May 13, 2019

Revisiting an Old Set

Since Karen's Card Shop is particularly low on get-well cards, I decided to make a few using an old favorite from Papertrey: Modern Basics. 

Hadn't noticed that I photographed them in increasing order of simplicity, but there you go.

The first card contains sequins...and I actually like how it turned out! What a surprise. Sequins and I don't usually get along, but these from Hero Arts are kind of cooperative. So yay!

The second card takes advantage of opposites on the color wheel; blue and orange create such high energy.

And finally, a little green leaf with three tiny bling. Sweet!

The cardstock used for these cards is Neenah Solar White in 80lb and 110lb weights. The base is, obviously, the heavier weight. I have a huge stash of Papertrey Stampers Select and love it, but have experimented with shifting to Neenah simply for the two weights to lighten up my white-on-white layered cards. I'm not sure this shift will be permanent, but the Neenah sure works great!

Karen's Card Shop is in need of cards if you are interested in donating. Our best sellers are Get Well, Thank You, Thinking of You, Love and Friendship, and Birthday. All proceeds from the shop go to our church's general fund and Stephen Ministry program. Shoot me an email at susanraihala at roadrunner dot com if you would like my address!

Blessings to you all for sticking with me despite my sparse posting since I've gone back to teaching. Words can't express how satisfying and joyful it is to be working with students again. After a successful second semester, I've been offered one class over the summer and am waiting to hear about the fall. Nevertheless, I'm happy to have a lighter summer which will allow for more stamping, and the short summer semester doesn't start until June 11. Yay! Thanks so much for all the good wishes and encouragement you've offered up. My heart is full. Mwah!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Happy Stamping

Turns out my optimism that teaching wouldn't interfere with stamping too much was hopelessly silly. It's rare I can sit down and stamp during a semester (much less blog about it), but I have made a few cards and want to share them with you in a quick post.

The first card up is much prettier in real life. The front is cut away with polka dots stamped on the inside of the card. It's a lovely effect!

The wreath is loosely colored (basically, I didn't even try to stay in the lines) and the effect is soft and pretty. I used three different shades of yellow green Copics.

For this card, my Copic coloring is quite amateurish, but I love the violet and green color scheme.

The envelope couldn't handle Copics, so I stamped a gradient on the side in a straight line, on the theory that curves love lines. The effect works...for me. You might have a different opinion.

This uses a new-to-me stamp set from Papertrey.

I used a fun gold and purple color scheme for this birthday card.

The gold dots were made with a gold pen.

Finally, this wedding shower card was designed to match a store-bought gift bag (on left). It was shockingly hard to find inks that would match. But it turned out pretty nifty, especially since some sequins made it onto the card and the card did NOT end up in the trash as a result. Sequins don't like me, for some reason. But they cooperated here, and I thank them for it.

And that's that. Until next time, which will probably come after I turn in final grades on May 8, I hope you are stamping happily--and more than I am!

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Yay! I Stamped!

First off, let me thank Lu C for sending me a Martha Stewart scoring board. What a kind and generous gift!

Someone somewhere at some time in the past recommended marking the key scoring lines on this device, so that's what I did. Thanks, some person on the interwebs!

And now for a card I made today using a new acquisition from Simon Says Stamp called Sending Happy Thoughts. The top panel is slightly raised by using an extra layer of card stock under it, cut slightly smaller. I didn't want to pop it up on craft foam because that makes cards hard to mail.

The black and white with just a pop of hot pink makes me very, very happy!

I hope it makes you happy, too, because I've been thinking about you all. Classes are swell, and I'm thoroughly enjoying all aspects of teaching again (even grading!). But I desperately miss my craft space and the interactions with you. Balance is hard to find right now, but it'll come.

Lord willing and the creek don't rise, as my grandmother used to say.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

After the Purge, Part 4

As promised, I'd like to share some of my favorite tools and supplies with you. These are work-a-day items for which I'm extremely grateful. Perhaps you already have tools and supplies you love (feel free to share them in the comments!), and perhaps you'll get a few ideas for things to try.

1. The Scor-Pal. This is the original pal, which I purchased at an Archiver's many years ago with a coupon. The scoring tool that came with it wore down very quickly, so I used my sturdier bone folder (the bottom ivory-colored one), which has worked well for many years. The folder on top is a teflon folder that is BRILLIANT! No matter how much you rub the paper, it won't leave shiny marks. It's too soft to score with, but once I score a piece of paper with the harder tool on the Scor-Pal, I fold the paper and burnish the fold with the teflon tool. When one tool won't do, use two!

Every now and then, I wish I had the more current Scor-Pal or the Martha Stewart score board with lines every 1/8". The oddly-spaced scores on this board do irritate me on occasion...but not enough to buy the new one until this one cracks!

2. Ott-Lites. I have two on my desk and love, love, love them. The bulbs last forever and give such clean light that stamping at night is no problem. The clarity of the light is easy on my eyes and shows the true colors of ink, paper, and embellishments.

3. Adhesives. These are my favorite adhesives. The Tombow Mono Multi and Scotch Tacky Glue are white liquid glues that won't warp cardstock. Ninety percent of my sticking happens with them. The glue pens from Zig have different tips: one a ball-point for tiny glueing and one a felt tip for bigger gluing. They work perfectly for gluing die cuts or punched shapes. The Scotch temporary tape runner serves all sorts of purposes...especially for attaching masks to cardstock for sponged or stippled backgrounds. The large tape role at top is Scor-Tape, which I keep in 1/8", 1/4", and 1/2" widths. Because. You know. Options. For dimensional tape, I mainly use StampinUp or the squares from Michael's, but recently, my new favorite is Thin 3D Foam Squares, which are very thin and perfect for subtler dimensional pieces that are ever so much easier to mail. I've also combined them with thicker pieces to add two layers of pop to a card, which is ever so cool!

I have a whole drawer full of other adhesives for specialty applications. Again. Options.

4. Stamp cleaning. Such a mundane topic, but cleaning stamps is rather important, as anyone knows who's gone to stamp an image in a light pink only to realize that residual ink on the stamp turned that light pink into mud. Mud, I say! The Huggies container holds a damp washcloth for general cleaning needs, but to remove the residue, I spray Hero Arts Extra Clean stamp cleaner onto one side of the stamp scrubber. That stuff gets off anything and makes your next image true color every time. I do generally wipe a stamp on the damp washcloth after using the scrubber...just to be sure.

OCD? Me? Heavens, yes!

5. For small cutting, my 6" Omnigrid quilting ruler and craft knife work splendidly. The guidelines allow me to cut in 1/8" increments very easily, and as long as I keep my fingers out of the way, nothing gets stained with blood. Yay!

6. Must give a shout-out to Tina S., who gave me a MISTI a few years back. What a handy tool this is, especially for all the multi-step layering stamps that are so popular these days. I did spring for the magnet bars to hold paper down and wrapped them in a few layers of washi tape to give them tabs for easy placement.

A word of caution...these magnet bars are strong, and if you get them too close together, it might take a big, strong man to separate them. Very frustrating.

7. A mascot. He's my fuzzy good-luck charm lording benevolently over my workspace. And when I ruin something despite his good influence, holding this soft, warm squishy owl calms me down.

8. Dear hubby bought me a Fiskars 12" cutter about 17 years ago for Christmas. This workhorse has cut perfectly straight lines at perfectly right angles for me all these years. I replace the blade and cutting track periodically...and have several of each on hand just in case. (One note: the cutting track rotates on four sides before needing to be replaced. Those things last a very long time!)

9. To store paper, nothing beats these Cropper Hopper paper holders. The accordion files hold scraps, and the magazine holders hold full 8.5"x11" sheets. Dividers keep the different white cardstocks labeled clearly and also separate my PTI and StampinUp colored cardstocks.

My favorite white cardstocks are Papertrey Stampers Select, Neenah Solar White in 80# and 110#, and Gina K Deluxe White. The Gina K is coated and perfect for coloring with Copics on one-layer bleed-through.

10. Sterilite Storage Drawers. These 3-drawer plastic storage units are indispensable for me. The three drawers in the picture hold embellishments, but I have plastic drawer units stacked all over my craft area to store everything from fabric scraps to stencils to envelopes to inks to spare blades for my craft knife. The drawers are labeled with simple return address Avery labels, which peel easily off if I decide to rearrange things. The drawers are removable, which makes them super handy. 

11. My embellishment drawers sort my doo-dads and gee-gaws by color. Shown is my neutrals drawer. It's representative of what's held in the drawers for other colors: rhinestones, sequins, Stickles, Smooch, Stardust pens, Wink of Stella (although I only have those in clear). The neutrals overflow into the next drawer, which contains thread, twine, and other embellishments.

If you don't sort your embellishments by color, consider giving it a try. It's pretty awesome.

12. This darling Irish tea mug was a gift from my sister. It holds my Tim Holtz watercolor brushes and aqua brushes. These brushes work very well for cardmaking purposes and come in a nice assortment of sizes and shapes. I do have some finer watercolor brushes purchased in my book illumination days, and those are in a protected case for when I get back to illuminating.

13. Tools in my cup. A sturdy metal cup next to an OttLite holds my tools. The needle-nose pliers are handy for holding paper that's being heat embossed, and the scallop scissors snip the corners off a piece of cardstock to give a more finished look. The butter knife is handy for all sorts of odd jobs, including scoring, removing staples, and such. CutterBee scissors cut fussy or otherwise very precisely. The tweezers are ever so helpful for placing small die cuts or punched shapes, and the wood-handled awl on the end with a wine cork protecting me from punctures pokes holes where needed. It's proof that once upon a time, I practiced bookbinding.

14. Thanks to my friend Eva, I have a Cuttlebug. And this little darling makes me very happy indeed!

What tools and supplies do you find indispensable in your stash? I invite you to share!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Valentines and the Birthday Card Holder

For Valentine's Day I sent care packages to the four college students whom I have adopted and to my son. The packages included lots of candy, gift cards to Starbucks, and the following cards:

These little cards were fun to make with a new-to-me stamp set from Papertrey called Be Mine, Valentine. The giant gem was so easy to cut out, and I went with a vintage-y, gender-neutral color scheme.

Now, the birthday card holder several of you asked to see.

A friend gave me this years ago, and it still looks pretty new.

It has a pocket for each month that holds cards.

I created a chart for making all the family birthday cards.
As you can see, I'm not quite finished with 2019.

Marjolein Bastin makes lovely stuff for Hallmark.

It never stays flat, so it takes up a lot of room on the bookshelf. 
Pretty cool, eh?

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Thursday, January 31, 2019

After the Purge, Part 3 (and Bonus Dog Pictures)

Well, the before and after pictures for this side of the room aren't all that different, so here is an after picture.


On the left of the picture is my cutting and scoring station and a white basket to hold finished cards. Behind the basket is an electric pencil sharpener used by the whole family, which means it doesn't count as a craft expense, right? Of course I'm right. Also on the side table are an old Fiskar's 12" paper trimmer that has served me very well for at least 15 years and a first-generation Scor-Pal.

There are two paper folders on the Scor-Pal: one regular and one teflon. I score with the regular folder and use the teflon folder to press the fold down. (The teflon folders tend to wear out oddly if used to score on the scoring board, and they are so expensive!) The teflon folders don't make the paper shiny where they rub and are a critical tool when using heavy-weight cardstock. Learned about them from the fabulous Julie Ebersole. She's a genius!

The white drawers under the table hold embellishments (sorted by color), StampinUp and Brilliance inks, heat embossing supplies, and adhesives. There's also a larger drawer of surplus adhesives and rarely used adhesives in the unfinished area of the basement.

How does a stamper function without a bazillion kinds of adhesive? It's a mystery.

Now let's explore the desk.

The artwork on the wall includes three paintings by my mom. Mom derisively called them "sketches" and was going to throw them away...but the colors are too fun to trash! She also painted the darling owls on the right. The Celtic cross hanging on the left was a gift from my aunt, and the trivet with leaves in relief on the right was a gift from my friend Liz. The framed cork board in the middle holds a bird calendar, my color wheel, a list of birthday cards I need to make, and other miscellaneous things that don't have another place to live.

On top of the left drawer tower rests a CD storage basket full of sentiment sets and an adorable little owl stuffie that is so-soft-I'm-gonna-die! Whenever I get stressed, I look at the cute little guy or hold him in my hand. Instant blood pressure control! The top five drawers hold dye inks (mostly Archival, Memento, and Hero Arts). The bottom drawer holds white cardstock scraps because I have so many of them and need them to be handy.

Tucked against the tower is a pencil cup with Tombow mono adhesive and Scotch tacky glue, both of which are my primary glues for gluing papers. I store the Scotch bottle upside down so it's always ready to go. Behind the glue are squirt bottles of Glimmer Mist, Hero Arts stamp cleaner, and distilled water.

There are two Ott lights on my desk, and yes it bothers me that one is black and the other is green. They don't match. Ugh. But they both work great. It's so nice to have good light, even when I'm stamping at midnight, which doesn't happen as often now as it used to.

In between the Ott lights are pencil cups that hold, well, pencils, pens, and other tools (scissors, extra bone folders, pop-up white erasers, needle-nose pliers, etc.). The stationery organizer holds acrylic blocks, the stamps I use on the backs of cards, a CD case holding stamps to use on envelopes, post-it notes, and an adorable decorated clipboard made for me by my friend Lisa...whose craft room is miles ahead of mine. Having all these frequently-used tools front and center is so convenient.

The small, 6-drawer tower holds Copics and my embossing buddy and embossing ink (don't ask why they aren't in the drawer with the rest of my heat embossing supplies because I don't have a good answer for that). Stamp cleaning supplies are on top. I use an old Huggies travel case with a damp washcloth for regular cleaning, and a stamp scrubber sprayed with Hero Arts stamp cleaner for dye inks that stain stamps. I have an extra stamp scrubber across the room in a drawer with extra washcloths. Because. You know. Extras.

Tucked between the small drawer tower and the larger one on the right are my Omni-Grid quilting rulers and MISTI, along with the ink index I created because the colors on ink-pad cases often bear only a passing resemblance to the actual color of the ink inside them. The 6"x6" quilting ruler and my craft knife are the most used tools in my arsenal. A word of caution: if you've never used a craft knife and quilting ruler to cut paper, BE CAREFUL. Just sayin'.

The large tower on the right holds ink: pigment inks of the fast-drying kind (Fresh Ink, among others), Hero Arts ombre pads, and Kaleidacolor pads. On top of the tower is a coffee cup my sister bought me in Ireland. It's too small for coffee (I like big cups, and I cannot lie) but perfect for looking pretty and holding Tim Holtz watercolor brushes.

And there you have the full craft room. Up next, the hidden area in the unfinished basement, the birthday card organizer, and a few more of my favorite products.

And now what you really wanted to see....

It's much easier to photograph them when they are tired, LOL!

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and pups,

Saturday, January 26, 2019

After the Purge, Part 2

Thanks for the lovely feedback and questions about organization! I answered comments on After the Purge, Part 1, and will be happy to answer more after today's post.

Note that Part 3 of this series will include the other side of my craft space, which includes my desk, embellishment storage, paper trimmer, etc. In Part 4, I'll go into more detail on some of my favorite products and storage details (including the birthday card organizer that several of you asked about!).

For Part 2, let's take a look at my big bookshelf and the baker's rack. Here's the before photo.

Before the Purge

The bookshelf is a 7' tall shelf, so it holds A LOT of stuff.


1. The white photo boxes on the top two shelves hold wood-mounted stamps. Very few of these were purged in The Latest Purge as I've already purged wood-mounts so many times. Most of these are classics...timeless and wonderful. Some clear stamps get put into the photo boxes, especially very specialized stamps that only get used occasionally (Valentine's Day sets, for instance, and vintage sets).

2. The two little boxes on the right of the second shelf are full of random ephemera. The boxes originally held Christmas cards from Barnes & Noble. The lids are magnetically sealed and lift easily. The contents are useful for those rare shabby chic/collage cards I make. Their contents were seriously purged to include only small stuff that will work on cards with lots of white space!

3. The green boxes and wire CD case on the third shelf contain clear stamps, organized by theme. These include Autumn, Odds & Ends, Food & Drink, Graphics (borders, backgrounds geometric shapes), Botany, Birds & Bees (actually all animals), and Christmas. I purged enough sets that I might be able to move the Christmas stamps into the green boxes and eliminate the wire CD rack, but just didn't think of it before looking at the pictures. (Edited to add...I did eliminate the wire rack. YAY, me!)

4. The fourth shelf contains four white photo boxes: office supplies (post-it notes, pencils, erasers, binder rings, staples, etc.), Christmas cards I make throughout the year, Karen's Card Shop cello bags, and miscellaneous cards I've made for my own use, organized by theme (thank you, get well, etc.). The two green plastic baskets contain Cuttlebug accessories and dies. As I said last post, I'm trying to have a minimalist approach to dies: I'm not going to go wild with them. So far, I've held to that resolution.

5. The fifth shelf holds a three-hole punch, corner rounder, basket of bottles (alcohol, Friskit, rubber cement, etc.) and empty CD cases, and two pretty aqua-colored boxes full of Zentangle supplies.

6. The bottom shelf contains books and magazines of a crafty nature and my super-long metal ruler for cutting large sheets of watercolor and bristol paper.

And now for the baker's rack.


1. The large jar on the top shelf holds washi tape and my natural-noise sound machine. Love the ocean waves setting...very relaxing!

2, The second shelf holds my Buddha board and a basket of blank A2 envelopes.

3. The third shelf stores my paper. In the green hanging file box, we have specialty papers such as glitter paper, handmade inclusion papers, vellum, map pages, old book pages, marbled papers, and such. One of the Cropper Hopper accordion files holds smaller watercolor paper, and the other holds scraps of colored card stock. The Cropper Hopper vertical paper holders obviously hold whole sheets of card stock, starting with the white card (Papertrey Ink, Neenah 80# and 110#, and Gina K) and then colored card (StampinUp and Papertrey mostly). There are extra packs of Papertrey white on the far right because I get hives if I have fewer than two back-up packs.

4. Across the bottom of the baker's rack reside four 12x12, three-drawer storage units. They hold things like stencils, Creative Memories circle and oval cutters, fabric and accessories, cutting supplies (spare blades for trimmer and craft knife, eyelet setter, and such), odd-sized envelopes, washcloths for cleaning stamps, small punches in basic shapes (circles and squares). These are supplies I use but not all the time. There's also a large pad of watercolor paper tucked on the floor between the baker's rack and bookshelf.

5. Tucked under the baker's rack are a couple of dumbbells and two 12" squares of plywood. These make a lovely book press when I'm covering boards or need to flatten watercolor panels. I just wrap whatever is in the press with waxed paper, put it between the boards, and place a dumbbell or two on top. Works like a charm!

For context, the entire craft nook looks like this:

A bit of explanation of the overall organization. First, I don't want everything to be too convenient for me as I sit at the desk. For instance, if I am sitting and get an idea, I have to stand up and cross the space to pick paper, stamps, and most tools. If I decide to use the Cuttlebug, I have to stand up and move. I can't sit and trim or score at the desk...I have to stand up. This is all by design. I have some back issues and sitting too long isn't good for anyone. 

As I'll show in the next post, the stuff on the desk is super handy.

I feel so blessed to have this dedicated stamping space. It's fun and functional and not horribly expensive. The sliding door behind the curtain is HUGE (the ceiling is 8.5'), and the door looks out on a four-stair walk-up to our backyard (a dreary sight right now, not to mention the mess of giant muddy paw marks all over the outside of the glass...hence the closed curtains!). The natural light is fabulous, and I'm out in the open of our large finished basement, so I'm not isolated even when on a creative binge! Also, there's a wet bar to the left with a sink for convenience and a Keurig for refreshment.

Because coffee is warm liquid happiness.

I'd love to know what about your craft space makes you happy. Please share!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,