Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Butterfly Blues

Ninety-nine percent of the time, my decision to eschew dies and die cutters fills me with minimalist satisfaction, for I know without a doubt my need to have EVERY DIE OUT THERE to justify the cost of whichever die-cut machine I purchased would exceed rational, healthy boundaries.

But one percent of the time, this decision makes me blue.

This one-percent blue was sparked by seeing a number of cards on Pinterest that use dies to cut out a wide range of interesting shapes so a pretty background can show through. While I'm able to achieve the look of this technique with punches, it's neither easy nor entirely satisfying.

Punches just don't give a stamper the range to reach all over a panel...even a small panel like this. The negative of the punched shape must stay near the edge of the panel. Martha Stewart makes some "anywhere" punches, but I've not purchased them because they are a dozen more things to buy.

My blue background was stamped with a variety of splatter stamps in three shades of blue. Those blues do make me so very, very happy.

Tomorrow, I'll have recovered from my moody blues, but today, I'm feeling a tinge of regret for my minimalism.

But the blues sure are pretty in the negative space of that butterfly, aren't they?

And a 99 is still an A+. I'm happy with that grade!

How do you feel about the supplies you've chosen not to buy? Where do you draw the line? Do you draw a line!?!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey (sentiment) and various splatter stamps
ink: various dye inks
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: Martha Stewart butterfly punch, square punches, dimensionals 

Monday, June 26, 2017

We Have Both Kinds of Flowers: Horizontal AND Vertical

Altenew's Extra Special stamp set includes a lovely layered flower...perfect for my MISTI and for one-layer cards in a horizontal or vertical orientation.

Now, the MISTI was given to me by Tina S., who lives in my small town and works in our school district and treats my kids right. She's a wonderful person, generous and kind. As you can see on both of today's cards, the MISTI is extremely helpful with layered stamping, and we can thank Tina for that.

Cheerful yellow with bling for flower centers and as accents...lovely thank you! I like how the sentiment's font mimics the flow of the black outline.

Blissful blue and a bit of black Stickles for flower centers...sister blessings!

The blue and black sentiment enhance the card's unity.

Playing around with colors for layered stamp sets highlights how a simple color change can completely alter the atmosphere of a card. Bright, happy energy or serene beauty...either way, it works!

stamps: Altenew Extra Special, Papertrey (sentiment on yellow card)
ink: various dye inks
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: MISTI, rhinestones, Stickles

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Bold Color, Bright Bling

Today's card was inspired by a number of cards featuring brightly-colored backgrounds for white die cuts, like this card here by Loll Thompson. Loll used alcohol inks to create her lovely background, but I don't have alcohol inks (a lack I may or may not correct). Using my Tim Holtz Distress Inks, I sponged an ombre backdrop for my white, punched flowers.

I love the way the Distress Inks blend so smoothly with the Tim Holtz mini blending tools. The intensity of the color is wonderful and pops right off the white card base. I added rhinestones to my daisies after coloring them with Sharpies. Because, you know, BLING!

This weekend, we put a downpayment on a new puppy! She's not been born yet, but we have second pick of a litter between two adorable adult golden retrievers. Here are the mom (Annie, left) and dad (Grady, right).

Their previous litter was full of adorable pups!

Around Labor Day, our lives will become very, very chewy and furry. Please say a prayer for Daisy, who will no longer be the only pup. She may not be amused by a little furball.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: My Favorite Things Label Maker Sentiments
ink: Tim Holtz Distress Inks, Memento black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: flower punch, rhinestones, Sharpie markers

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Big Stamp Layout

For several reasons, big stamps are the enemy of clean-and-simple (CAS) design. First, they don't leave much room for white space on a card because, you know, they're big. Second, the size and orientation of a big stamp seriously limit the number of layouts you can create on a small rectangle of cardstock, especially if you're not adding lots of mats, ribbon, gee-gaws, and embellishments.

Consequently, big stamps are not my favorites, but I make an exception for this gorgeous lighthouse stamp from PSX. Tricked out in simple black and white, it makes a wonderful masculine birthday card.

This layout works best with this stamp. A vertical layout puts too much vertical into the design (that lighthouse is VERY vertical, even with the clouds and curvy beach and fence to break it up), and even adding a horizontal sentiment isn't enough to create balance. A horizontal layout, with the image offset, creates some tension and lets the horizontal sentiment stand out more as it's reinforced by the horizontal card. Like I said above, there's only so much you can do positioning a big stamp on a small card.

To explore variations, I've applied all sorts of techniques to this stamp over the years, including heat embossing, watercoloring, colored pencils, markers, and chalks. I've added ribbon, eyelets, brads, twine, designer paper, sand, glitter, buttons...all sorts of embellishments. I've created sponged and stippled backgrounds for the image stamped in black.

None of those cards made me as happy as this simple black-and-white version, sans embellishment. This way, a beautiful scene artistically rendered in red rubber gets to be the star.

It doesn't get more CAS than that.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey (sentiment), PSX (lighthouse)
ink: Archival black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: dimensionals

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Peace & Love; Lost & Found

There's a story behind today's card. But before we get to that, I must credit THIS PIN which inspired my card's layout. (Check out Lisa Addesa's blog post here.) Isn't Lisa's original beautiful, with its soft colors and clever use of negative space of the die cut? Perfect!

Well, I don't have a die or punch that would achieve the same effect, so I simply lifted the layout and made a holiday card instead. The snowflakes and hearts seemed the perfect accents for the sentiment, don't you think? You could play around with tiny stamps of all sorts to duplicate this lovely, versatile layout!

Now, as you might imagine, to gather that many small snowflake stamps, I had to raid several different sets. Having only one small acrylic block, it was a chore to switch out the tiny stamps over and over to get a good distribution of flakes, hearts, and dots. Keeping track of everything was a challenge, and when I finished the card, I realized that one of the tiniest snowflake stamps was missing.


I searched my craft table high and low, and was so agitated that my husband and older son came to help. All three of us were searching and searching and searching for this tiny, clear stamp.

Then, my younger son, Jack, who has autism and is particularly observant, walks down the stairs to find Nick digging through my trash, George on his hands and knees running hands over the carpet, and me sifting through piles of stamp sets on my desk.

"What are you doing?" he asked.

"Looking for a tiny stamp," I exclaimed in frustration.

He calmly asked, "What's that thing in your hair, Mom?"

The stamp. It was the stamp.

How it got trapped in my hair is a mystery, but bless Jack for finding it! Who knows where the thing would have ended up had it fallen out away from my craft area, never to be seen again?!?!

Mercy, grace, snowflakes, and hearts,

stamps: Hero Arts sentiment, various snowflakes
ink: Hero Arts pool, red royal, charcoal
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


Today's card came about as a variation on these cards which was inspired by this card. I love the depth created by three shades of green:

In addition to the interest of the three shades of green, I popped up the left end of the banner with a dimensional but glued the right side directly to the card base. The punched leaf is then popped up to the same height as the left end of the banner.

The stamp is an old, old, old Hero Arts set called Real Leaves (which includes yesterday's sprig stamp as well). These cards are part of my "use your stamps to make birthday cards for Karen's Card Shop" challenge. I've mostly abandoned that challenge as I've made plenty of birthday cards AND as kind reader Marcia P. sent me a package full of gorgeous birthday cards as a donation to the shop. We are--for the time being--good with birthday cards. Thank you, Marcia, and thanks to all who have donated in the past.

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and gratitude,

stamps: Hero Arts (leaf), unknown sentiment
ink: Memento new sprout; Hero Arts green hills, green; Archival black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: post-it notes for mask, dimensionals, leaf punch

Monday, June 19, 2017

A Little Sprig and Big Cups

Botanicals provide perfect subject matter for guy-ish birthday cards. Consider this little sprig, colored with markers, spritzed with water, and stamped without fuss or ornament. 

Isn't the little sprig delightful? Sometimes, small things carry big weight, and this was an idea I contemplated in Normandy.

Almost everything about Normandy impressed me, from the tiny flowers in the grass, to the giant castles we visited, to virtually every meal we ate, to the hard-working servers of those meals. With my crafter's eye, I soaked in French culture and atmosphere, paying attention to little things: the spray of color on stone from stained glass, the quick glimpse of a beautiful 18th century home through a break in a wall as we drove by, the pansies in a window box, the baa-ing of the goats at Point du Hoc, the perfection of a Nutella crepe or pain au chocolat, the swans floating in the moat at our hotel, a private home made from a German bunker. That last one proves you can turn a sow's ear into a silk purse.

And not least of all, I deeply appreciated the fact that not one of the French people laughed in my face when I asked them if they spoke English woman. Apparently, that final s on Anglais is silent. Who knew?

But one tiny thing didn't make me happy. 

Can you guess what that might be?

The French drink tiny cups of coffee. Perhaps the rest of the world drinks tiny cups of coffee as well...my coffee-drinking experience is limited to the U.S. But I was all astonishment when I beheld the itty bitty cups of coffee in Normandy. 

Now, generally speaking, I understand that we Americans are vulgar in our need to super-size everything...cars, houses, hair, steaks, sodas, etc. But how in the world would anyone find satisfaction in such a tiny cup of coffee? It's baffling to this thoroughly vulgar American coffee addict. 


While little cups of coffee don't compute for me, a little sprig on a birthday card makes total sense.  

Life is weird, isn't it? 

Or maybe it's just me.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love overflowing a very big cup,

stamps: Hero Arts, StampinUp
ink: Memento
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: Memento markers, water spritzer