Monday, October 31, 2011

Inspired by Chelsea Edwards: Day 2, or How to Cheat at Collage

To see Chelsea's original card that inspired this series of cards with little collages surrounded by white space, please visit yesterday's post.

The Basic Gray Indian Summer paper has several sheets that are complex with layered images, bright colors, and fun shapes. . No work needed, other than to select an area of the designer paper that looks particularly appealing.

How much easier can it get? Not much. Yet it's pretty. Simple. Quick. Easy to mass produce, if you go in for that sort of thing.

Today's post was a cheat, but tomorrow's post will show a LOT more work.

Which, let's face it, isn't hard to do given how little work went into the above card.


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Inspired by Chelsea Edwards: Day 1

I thought it would be fun to share multiple card variations inspired by an idea from a published card, so I settled on this fab card from Chelsea Edwards in the fall issue of Take Ten.

Card by Chelsea Edwards, Take Ten, Fall 2011
Chelsea's card not only caught my eye because of all the lovely white space, but because the complex little collage of patterned paper looked so fresh framed by all that white space. I decided to experiment with multiple variations on that look, moving things around and changing colors and papers and such, and here's my first effort.

Notice that my white space is pink, but really it's still white space, no matter the color. The dark papers from Basic Gray's Indian Summer collection looked a tad odd against a white backdrop, but they still pop in a fresh way against this very soft pink. The sentiment, from PTI's Birthday Basics set, is stamped in SU pomegranate ink. The collage, which measures 1 3/4" x 3", is wrapped in PTI twine and attached to the base with dimensionals.

This card is going to a dear friend of mine who has a birthday this how it's autumnal without being orange. How cool is it that you can mix and match all sorts of different patterned papers to change the look and feel of the little collage completely?

Pretty cool, I say!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

52 Weeks of Mail Check-In

So, how many of you are doing the 52 Weeks of Mail Challenge?

We're in week 3, and I've sent 13 cards.

I always was an over-achiever.

It's never too late to start. After all, what is the point of making all these cards if we're not going to send them to someone?

Besides, it's time for those of you who took on the Gratitude Challenge to start sending those Thanksgiving cards to your friends and family. Why not spread them out over the whole month of November?

And you know, if you live in Canada, we Americans won't mind at all if you do the Gratitude Challenge on our schedule. After all, your Thanksgiving is so very early (as it should be that far north!), and you may simply need more time to make cards for it.

Besides, if you so desire, you could send ME (and your other American friends, of course) a Thanksgiving card.

I love snail mail.

*hint, hint*

Today's card uses one of my new A Muse sets. I copied a layout I'd already copied from a card published by Ryann Salamon. These stamps really are scaled just a bit too big to work for this layout, but all those floaty images falling to the bottom of the card seem to echo my life at the moment. And like the card says, I'm trying to enjoy the harvest of blessings rather than completely freak out over it.

It's not working. *sigh*

Enough of my melodramatic whining. Please tell me about your progress in the 52 Weeks Challenge and/or Gratitude Challenge. I'd love to hear how you're doing!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Feeling Silly...

I just received an email from Memory Box.

The title of the email is "New Video - Painted Pears!"

Oh. My. I'm helpless.

First, let me say that Dave Brethauer is my hero, and not just because his company turned one of my ideas into a penguin stamp. He's amazingly talented, and I own one of his books which is completely fabulous.

The new video is a bit long, and I didn't make it much past Dave's awesome line "We're going to be doing pears today" for the obvious reason that my mind is in the English-major gutter. But the technique he's demonstrating is beautiful anyway, despite the pears, so if you've never painted with Twinkling H2Os on a solid block stamp, I'm sure it's worth watching.

Just please don't do pears. 

Or if you do, please don't tell me about it.

You really should keep that sort of thing to yourself.

BTW, if you're new to Simplicity and haven't been corrupted by my feelings about pears, please read this post.

One-Layer Wednesday 70: Red and White

Thank you for your patience regarding this week's One-Layer Wednesday, which is actually being posted on Friday.

The challenge this week is a color challenge: use either red and white or red and cream on a one-layer card. My card is a holiday card, but that is NOT a requirement of the challenge. Whatever your theme, just use red and white/cream exclusively.

6.25" x 4.5" premade card

OLW70 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 that uses only the colors red and white OR red and cream. The theme of the card is up to you, but it's certainly an excellent challenge to get started on your holiday cards if you haven't already. ;-)

3. Upload your card on the internet and then link to it using the InLinkz button on the sidebar of Simplicity. If you upload at SplitcoastStampers, please use the keyword OLW70.

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

stamps: A Muse
ink: SU real red
paper: Marco's Paper pre-made cards
accessories: red nail heads

Monday, October 24, 2011

Taking a Little Blogging Vacation

Don't Panic!

Nothing is wrong, nothing is tragic, nothing is falling apart. I just need to breathe a bit. I'll be back when I can, hopefully with a One-Layer Wednesday challenge, but maybe not until Thursday or Friday. Have a lovely week!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Blessings to You and the Value of Cheap Copy Paper

Do you have any sets with stamps that you're just not sure how to use? My stampin' friend Sue Berker recently posted about this very dilemma, and she solved it by checking out the PTI gallery (which I've done before myself.) The other day, however, I had First Fruits from Papertrey out on my desk and realized that the wheat flourish-bracket-y stamp intimidated me.

Well, it's just plain silly to let a lil' ol' stamp intimidate me, so I pulled out a piece of copy paper and played around a bit. This is a very easy way to cut loose and experiment with those stamps that are blocking your creativity. This simple one-layer card is what I came up with.

Keeping it simple, I used the stamp to frame a sentiment. Nothing cosmic, but I like the results. Unfortunately, I didn't get it vertically centered quite right, so I trimmed 1/4" of the bottom off the card, rounded the corners, and there you go. The "to you" stamp is from Gracious Vases, while the "blessings" is from First Fruits.

Have you ever just played with a stamp on cheap copy paper or cardstock to get a feel for what it can do?

stamps: Papertrey
ink: SU more mustard, Memento rich cocoa
paper: PTI vintage cream
accessories: not a blessed one

Saturday, October 22, 2011

One Set, Two Seasons

Papertrey Ink's Falling Leaves set is a lovely set for fall. Here's a card using it as intended, with a nice, long sentiment from Beautiful Blessings.

But then, I thought it might look fun with snowflakes, too.

Lo and behold, it does.When I couldn't find a long sentiment with an appropriate font to fill the 5.5" width of the first card, I simply cut the card down to 4.25" square. Instant balance.

When stamps are a bit whimsical and/or stylized in design, it's fun to play around like this. If the tree trunk and branches were more realistic, however, this sort of playing around might look a bit odd.

Feel like putting on your thinking cap and breaking out of a rut with a set? Play around and see what you can do!

Don't forget about the OLW69 at Jennifer's Blog. It's stripes! I hope I'll have time to put something together for it this weekend. Lots of looking at houses planned and hopefully we'll make a firm decision on what we're going to do. This state of indeceision is really frustrating. If we do what I secretly hope we do, I'm gonna have an AWESOME craft room!

Of course, I already have an awesome craft room, so really, it's a win-win.

In the meantime, enjoy another funny picture from Pinterest in honor of the OLW69, this one slightly off-color and hopefully not offensive to anyone (especially to you, Jennifer!).

By the way, is anyone upset that I've not been labeling my posts? The new Blogger format makes labelling especially annoying, and since there is a search engine on the sidebar of Simplicity, you should still be able to find what you need. Let me know if my not labelling is rocking your world, though.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fun Font for Christmas

Today's Christmas card comes to us courtesy of Hampton Art Stamps' Da Vinci Alphabet. All the circles, curves and right angles make for interesting letters, no?

These letters are delightfully architectural and complex, so letting them stand unadorned on a clean white background makes sense. I flirted with the idea of adding bling, but really, it doesn't need bling. (Shhhh! Don't tell anyone I typed that!)

I really wish there were an architect on my Christmas list. Wouldn't this be the perfect card...remade, of course, in blueprint blue?

And since we're being font-y today, let's enjoy this picture from Pinterest.

But I did not shoot the descender.


OMG, I'm a geek.

Many thanks to those of you who offered your support and cyber-hugs on the issues in my personal life. I really do appreciate your encouragement and advice, especially about the cookies.  I feel super silly for stressing so much over the possible new house...I mean, what a ridiculous "problem" to have, right? The meds for my son are, however, a very legitimate concern. So far, the doctor is very pleased.

Have a lovely weekend, everyone!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Getting out of the Box

For some reason, I've felt inspired to try to get really different looks from sets that are intended for fall/harvest/Thanksgiving. Today's card uses a fall set from Papertrey called First Fruits. The stamp is a background builder that mimics the design on the pineapple stamp in the set, but it always reminded me of a peacock. So I took it in that direction, alternating layers of SU's green galore and tempting turquoise.

This doesn't look autumnal at all, does it? Of course not. What do you think of this layout? I can't remember ever using it before, but it's nice for those longer sentiments. This sentiment is from Beautiful Blessings, also by Papertrey.

Please note that I used three layers of cardstock. All white. This isn't making any dent in my colored cardstock collection!

Personal Digression: Lately I've been very distracted. George and I have started our younger son (who has autism) on some medication...a very difficult and stressful decision. I'm watching the pook kid like a hawk for any scary symptoms and also signs that the medicine is working. Plus, George decided several weeks ago to look into buying/building a new home, which means that I have to get off my butt and get our current digs presentable in case they go on the market. The deep cleaning is certainly needed, regardless of our final decision about moving. Also, cleaning is helping me work out my stress...I don't handle drugging my child or big financial decisions well at all, and cleaning my kitchen cupboards with Murphy Oil Soap is rather therapeutic. Smells nice, too. Crafting is rather hit or miss right now, but I just photographed enough projects to finish out this week. 

And let me say that if your over-the-stove microwave is looking sorta filmy, Formula 409 and a little elbow grease will make it shiny as new. Who knew?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

OLW69 and a Shiny Christmas Card

The One-Layer Wednesday this week is STRIPES! Click on over to Styles Ink for details. Hope I have time to play tomorrow!

Today's card is another Christmas card in non-traditional shimmery pink, purple, and silver. It uses ornaments from Papertrey's Take a Bough set, one of the older sets. I edged the stamped panel with a silver metallic marker.

The inks are Brilliance, so there is a lovely shimmer to the card that steps it up a notch. Check out the close up.

I've had very little time in my craft room lately. Certain distractions in life have been extremely demanding lately, clamoring for my attention far too loudly and keeping my blogging to bare facts and pictures. I hope to get inky tomorrow and find my sense of humor again soon. (And don't worry...nothing life-threatening or disastrous is going on.)


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Stepping It Up

Correction: I incorrectly identified the alphabet stamps from yesterday's post as from Impression Obsession. It is the Art Warehouse Mini Monogram set.

When I made this card, I was so happy. Gray and red make such a striking combination, and their simplicity and contrast are so effective.

As happy as it made me, I decided to step it up a bit. I made another identical card and pulled out a Sakura Stardust clear pen. After outlining all the gray, this was the result.

The Stardust pen worked like magic and made an already fab card so sparkly and frosty! 

Design Tips: The birds are from Through The Trees (Papertrey), and I arranged them so they are looking at each other. Also, the red of the sentiment forms a nice triangle, which is reinforced by the triangle of trees.

If you don't have a Stardust Clear pen, get one. Immediately.

stamps: Papertrey Through the Trees, Masculine Motifs, Sign Language
ink: Memento gray and SU real red
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: Stardust clear pen

Monday, October 17, 2011

Text-y Christmas

I've always loved type, fonts, and printer-themed stuff. The writer in me gets all giddy. Text-y type projects seemed to jump out at me as I was looking through some magazines, so I pulled out my fonts and played around. This is one result.

Pretty cool, eh? This alpha is from Art Warehouse and I love how the letters are all distressed and interesting...perfect to stand alone (with a little bling, of course).

Edited to correct the stamp manufacturer.

stamps: Art Warehouse
ink: SU old olive, cherry cobbler
paper: PTI white
accessories: dark red rhinestones 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Thanksgiving Tags

I originally made these tags for my Gratitude Trees, but they ended up being too big. I decided we would use them on Thanksgiving to write down what we are grateful for.

We'll fill them out after we eat our feast on Thanksgiving, and then I'll eventually put them in a scrapbook.

Sunday, we hiked one of the Metro Parks in our area and enjoyed a warm and breezy fall day. Then George cooked his orange chicken recipe, and I collapsed into a food coma.

I hope y'all had a lovely weekend full of fun and food, too.

stamps: Papertrey (various)
ink: Memento
paper: SU chocolate chip, cherry cobbler, more mustard, pumpkin pie; PTI natural
accessories: tab punch (Marvy), circle punches, corner punch (SU), burlap thread

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Thankful Trees, Phase 3, and Egg on my Face

I finally finished my Thankful Trees. I fuddled and fitzed with them for hours, making new pieces, fixing broken ones (yep, more on that later). Indecision may or may not be my problem, but in the end, I made two trees with different concepts rather than a mish-mash on both trees. Instead of putting them both on the mantle, my plan is to separate them in different rooms.

Here's the first one, which is monochromatic. As you might imagine it is my favorite. Shades of red. Yum.

The second tree uses a range of autumn colors. My bet is that plenty of you will prefer this tree for its variety.

By the way, I used the punched circles from the scallop ornaments to make a card I'll post later. How very thrifty of me. I made those ornaments by first punching the smaller, smooth circle, then the larger scallop circle. I glued two "flowers" onto either side of a medium circle to frame the leaf and acorn images.

Now, let's discuss the egg on my face. These pleated ornaments are gorgeous, are they not? I got the idea from a BH&G magazine.

When I first made the pleated ornaments, I used glue dots rather than the glue gun the instructions called for because I hate glue guns. Hate is a strong word, but I'd rather have my teeth cleaned, get a vaccine, and spend two hours locked in a small room full of sticky, loud toddlers than use a glue gun.

But this is what happens when you use the wrong adhesive: complete destruction.

So of course, I pulled this out of my basement storage.

And promptly gave myself burns. But the ornaments are holding together nicely now.

I guess we have to suffer for our hobby.

But at least my Thankful Trees are finished.

How is your Gratitude Challenge coming? Do share, please.

Friday, October 14, 2011

It's a Pink Christmas

Pink and orange peacocks, pink Christmas cards....whatever is the world coming to?

This card makes me feel preppy and young. Like 10th grade young, when I wore pink and green wrap-around skirts with alligator shirts, and carried a wood-handle purse with a cloth cover that matched perfectly my skirt. And add-a-beads. And penny loafers. With pennies in them.

Those were the days.

That lone pink pearl on the ground? Yeah, that's covering  a mis-matched border. Sometimes it's hard to line up even clear stamps perfectly. Mistakes are simply opportunities for embellishment. Right?

I hope to get a big Gratitude Challenge post up soon, but I'm too tired tonight. It's been a deeply weird week, and I need some beauty rest. Hope you are getting set for a lovely, restful weekend!

stamps: Papertrey Masculine Motifs, Take a Bough
ink: Memento pear tart, SU real red, pretty in pink
paper: PTI
accessories: half pearls

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pink and Orange Peacock

Blingity, bling, bling, bling.

Oh how I love bling.

I know Mother Nature prefers blues and greens for her peacocks, but I think a happy pink and orange peacock would be quite cheerful and pretty, don't you?

So here's today's question: How do you feel about unnatural colors for animals on cards? For me, it "don't make me no nevermind," as my grandmother used to say. Translation: I don't really care. Artistic license on color usage rarely offends me, but I can see how some people might think differently.

Grandma also used to call bras "zizzers." She was a hoot. If she were alive, I'd send this card to her. She enjoyed bling, too.

stamps: Hero Arts
ink: Memento Black
paper: PTI white
accessories: rhinestones, ribbon, Memento orange and pink markers

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pink and Orange 'Possum

Honestly, I had some point with this card when I made it two weeks ago, but I'll be et fer a 'possum if I can remember what it was.

It's pretty, though, no?

I suspect this may have been inspired by something I saw in a magazine, but the orange and pink color scheme always makes me think of Dawn McVey. So this one's for Dawn.

How-To Tips: The silhouette stem stamp was inked first with the pear tart ink pad, then tapped with the bamboo Memento marker. Then, the whole thing was spritzed with a few squirts of water and stamped. I held the stamp in place for a few seconds. Repeat with the flower stamp, tangelo pad, and hot pink marker.

No opossums were injured in the creation of this post.

Neither was I.

stamps: Papertrey Botanical Silhouettes
ink: Memento
paper: Passion Pink (SU), white (PTI)
accessories: dimensionals, markers, rhinestones

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

One-Layer Wednesday 68: Get Triangular

This week's One-Layer Wednesday Challenge is to use at least one triangle on a card. You may use a real triangle (stamped, sponged) or images that are have an overall triangular profile or embellishments arranged in triangles. You may even choose to make a triangular card base!

In my example, there are essentially two triangles: the trio of rhinestones and the overall shape of the stamped area.

Triangles are extremely versatile design elements. First, by arranging three elements in a triangle, you automatically relate all three items to each other, which gives a sense of unity within a design. Second, triangular designs can create a feeling of stability and harmony, especially when the bottom of the triangle is parallel to the bottom of the card, as above. Triangles can also create movement and energy on a card, especially when they are obtuse (with one angle greater than 90 degrees).

So give triangles a go this week!

OLW68 Rules

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

2. Use one or more triangles on your card. These can be definite triangle shapes or implied in the design by arrangement or the shape of the card.

3. Post your card somewhere on the Internet and link to it using the button in the sidebar of Simplicity.

4. Most importantly, HAVE FUN!!!!

stamps: Papertrey Holly Jolly
ink: SU real red, Memento cottage green
paper: PTI white
accessories: rhinestones

Monday, October 10, 2011

OLW67 Again

Here are two more cards for the OLW67 challenge. The first will go to my friend Ragan, who just finished a brutal chemo treatment for breast cancer. He's doing well and will appreciate the masculine green and brown colors of this card, especially after the pink ribbon card I sent him last week as a joke. ;)

This one is for Janelle Hayes, who also finished radiation and a round of chemo recently. Cheery gold seems a good color choice for her.

Since both Ragan and Janelle are Christians, I've stamped a Bible verse inside, but general Thinking of You cards are appropriate for just about anyone battling cancer. It's a nice, neutral sentiment that lets people know they are in your thoughts without putting anything on them like get well or religious sentiments might do.

As one commenter said on yesterday's post, sometimes people worry that they'll do or say something inappropriate or hurtful to someone fighting cancer, so they do or say nothing.

Nothing is less than helpful.

If you're ever at a loss, remember that one of the best things you can do is listen, listen without judgment and without trying to fix away all their problems or worries or fears. One friend fighting cancer got mad at her mother for trying to force her to look on the bright side of her situation; my friend vented to me for ten minutes about how she just wanted her mom to acknowledge that her situation sucked. All she wanted--needed, really--was validation of her lousy feelings.

Pretending those lousy feelings aren't there just isn't healthy.

Just be there, whether it is on the phone or in email, through the snail mail, or in person. Don't be afraid to ask questions, ask what you can do to help, tell them you don't know what to say or do.

And if you're feeling too uncertain and are afraid to do anything, make a Thinking of You card and mail it. It's appropriate every time.

stamps: PTI
paper: PTI
ink: Memento, SU mellow moss
accessories: ribbon scraps

Happy Thanksgiving, Canada!!!!

I hope all my blogland friends in Canada are enjoying the three-day weekend and eating to their hearts' content!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Miscellaneous FYI

If you're using pages torn from a book on a card or other art project, make sure you read the content of the page before using it.

Just sayin'.

You could be inadvertently, um, inappropriate.

Of course, if you mean to be inappropriate, well, that's just fine.

I just don't want you to embarrass yourself.

You're welcome.

OLW67 Thoughtsgiving

Making a card for someone fighting cancer can be a tricky thing. Some people like humorous cards, but for others, laughter seems very far away at times. Some people are religious and find comfort in religious cards, and some people are not religious or get very angry at God during their battle. I've known some people fighting breast cancer who got so sick and tired of seeing pink they wanted to scream.

Many people I know who are fighting cancer right now (Ragan, who's fighting breast cancer; Karen, who's fighting intestinal cancer; Mary, whose stage-4 colon cancer has been in remission four months; Janelle, who's fighting inoperable brain cancer) are people of strong Christian faith. The following cards are for Karen and Mary and will go out to them on Tuesday, following our postal holiday.

Ragan (who is one of the rare men fighting breast cancer) will also get a card this week, but I decided blingy asterisk flowers weren't quite his style. I'll post his and Janelle's cards tomorrow.

I encourage you to play along with the OLW67 challenge this week. Cancer touches all of our lives eventually, whether we fight the battle ourselves or help support friends and loved ones in their battles.

For the OLW67 Challenge, make a card and send it to someone fighting cancer. And if you are able and feel moved to do so, please take this opportunity to make a donation to the cancer organization of your choice. A donation is not required by the challenge, though.

I donated to the American Cancer Society.

stamps: Hero Arts (asterisk), Papertrey Ink (sentiment)
paper: PTI white
ink: Memento
accessories: corner chomper, rhinestones

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Kicking It Up a Notch

First, let's announce the winners of the super-minimalist card from my last post:

Danielle Daws

Please email me your snail-mail addresses so I can add you to my Christmas list. My email address is susanraihala at woh dot rr dot com. Oh, I'm so excited!!!!

And now for those of you who thought the last card was a bit too, um, plain, here are two cards I made immediately after finishing the first. As you can see, adding simple little elements does kick the original design up a notch.

Denise, great minds think alike. I had PTI's Holly Jolly set out on my desk and just had to add a little holly and bling, although your idea of red pearls would be just as lovely.

And I just love the clean and graphic elements in Faux Ribbon. Adding a little border of double lines gives a hint (just a hint, really) of movement on the card by guiding your eye.

It's interesting to pay attention to how your eye moves (or doesn't) on a card. The top card requires very little eye movement and as such has a more peaceful, traditional feel to it.  The bottom card is more modern and fresh, with just a bit of eye movement added by the double line.

Neat, eh?

stamps: Papertrey Peaceful Poinsettias, Faux Ribbon, Holly Jolly
ink: Memento cottage ivy, SU real red
paper: Papertrey
accessories: red rhinestones

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Simple Rant

I'm feeling hormonally hostile this week, and waking up this morning to notice that I used "roll" when I should have used "role" in the first paragraph of yesterday's Simplicity post did NOT help my mood. My apologies for the error, and many thanks to any of you who noticed but refrained from commenting on it. Who knows how ALL CAPS I might have gone on your butt in my current state.

My hostility is pervasive. This week's brief essay on my Questioning blog--generally such a happy, positive, upbeat place where puppies fart rainbows and there's a saccharine saying for every problem--contains a rant about our Screen Nation...screens everywhere! Oy! I also left a stern letter in a neighbor's mailbox which I concluded with the following two sentences: "Please stop leaving your dogs out to bark. It is cruel to the dogs to leave them chained and barking for any length of time, it is disrespectful of your neighbors, and it is against both HOA rules and the law."

Yep. I'm rhetorically hostile.

So it should come as no surprise that my most favoritest card I've made in a year got me thinking hostile thoughts. (And yes, Spell Check, I typed favoritest, and you can't stop me.)

Isn't it simple? Just about the simplest card you can imagine. It's not even embossed or anything. Just SU real red ink on white PTI card stock. The beautiful font stands alone. I might round the corners of the card ever so slightly with scallop scissors for a bit more finished look before sending it, but basically, it's perfect because I've been reading a lot about minimalism lately and while I have little desire to go radically minimalist in most areas of my life, I find the style for card making irresistible.

And then I thought, "To whom do I send this?" And then I thought, "Will the recipient feel like I don't think they are special because there's next to nothing to this card? Will they get what I've done here with minimalism? And furthermore, will they appreciate it or feel like I just didn't want to put much effort into their card? Should I send it to anyone at all?"

And then I got angry at myself for even having these thoughts. Clean-and-simple cards do not need apologies. They do not need excuses, justification, or validation. Minimalism and simplicity have their place in the world of paper crafts, and those of us who enjoy them should go boldly forth and proclaim our allegiance!

Of course, not everyone will jump onto the minimalist bandwagon or even understand what we who are on the wagon are trying to do, and that is just fine.

Variety is the spice of life. I'm so grateful there are all sorts of styles out there, from the above uber-simplicity to twenty-layer card confections. How boring and scary the world would be if we all had the same perspective, the same way of seeing beauty, the same self-expressive style!!!

So, who would like me to send them this card? Who will appreciate it for its minimalist message?

The first five readers to request it via the comments or email will receive a copy of this card for Christmas this year. I'll mail them anywhere, so don't be shy if you live outside the United States. Please don't post your snail-mail address in the it to me if you are selected.

And thank you all for reading my rant. I feel so much better now.

52 Weeks of Mail

Blogger V-Grrrl tapped me on Facebook to let me know about 52 Weeks of Mail, a challenge to send at least one card a week for a year, starting October 9th (this Sunday). It's sponsored by Etsy Greetings Team. Here's the FB Info blurb from their page:

"52 Weeks of Mail, brought to you by Etsy Greetings Team, is designed to encourage people to be more intentional about relationships and keeping in touch with friends and family by sending out a card or letter each week, for the next year. I don't know about you, but I LOVE getting a personal, hand-written card or letter in the mail.

"Throughout 52 Weeks of Mail, we are asking everyone to commit sending just ONE card or letter each week. You can send more than one, of course! 52 Weeks of Mail BEGINS on October 9th, 2011, and ends on October 7th, 2012. Please feel free to blog about this event, or share it on your Facebook page. Share it on Twitter, or any other social networking site too!"

What a wonderful idea! I'm totally on this like white on rice, like fur on a golden retriever, like a spine on a book, like ink on paper, like a stamp on an envelope, like...okay, I'll stop with the similes.

Are you on with me?

If you want to buy handmade cards or to encourage non-cardmaking friends to buy handmade cards on Etsy, here's the link.

But I expect most of you will, like me, make your own cards. What a fab incentive to use some stamps that have been gathering dust!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Lesson on White Space and Surprises

White space plays a key role in clean-and-simple cards. It might seem like "just empty space," but its purpose is to provide focus for a clearly defined central image. A tiny image, like an ornament, can sparkle all by itself on a card if it has a good balance of white space around it and a few unexpected touches.

Consider first the white space on the stamped panel: upper far left image, balanced with lower  far right alignment of the sentiment in strong (and mildly surprising) colors. Remember how the "sweet" spots on a card design are the intersections of lines drawn that divide a card into thirds? The ornament and sentiment are NOT in the "sweet spots" of the stamped panel; they are too far to the left and lower right for that. But their positioning puts them in the sweet spots for the whole card...which makes the stamped panel visually relate to the gloriously empty white space of the base of the card, making the whole card seem more unified and balanced.

The detail of two rounded corners and two pointed ones somewhat echoes the shape of the ornament, which again creates unity in the design and also adds some fun interest as well. Combine those corners with the use of lime green on a Christmas card with traditional red, and you've got a fresh-looking creation.

Bling needs no reason. Before I put it on, the card was sweet. Now, it's fabulous.

If I do say so myself. ;-)

stamps: Papertrey Take a Bough (ornament), Peaceful Poinsettia (sentiment)
ink: Memento Pear Tart, SU REal Red
paper: PTI white, Mark's Finest Lime (LOVE this lime!!!)
accessories: dimensionals, corner chomper, rhinestones

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Telling a Story

Off-hand, I can't remember exactly where this sketch comes from, though it's probably a Papercrafts magazine sketch. When I randomly pulled this Hero Arts stamp set out of its drawer to play with it, I thought of this sentiment from Friend's 'Til the End (Papertrey Ink) and realized it would work perfectly with this sketch.

Those two little owls want to be together for a good chat on the stump, but they have to stay alone in their own squares. Poor little owls! I'm sending this to a friend I haven't seen since May 2000.

I just love a card that can tell a little story.

Update on Comments....

I've commented on all the OLW66 cards. If you don't have a comment on your blog post, I tried and couldn't do it. There's apparently a cookie problem with embedded comment forms.

I've changed my comment form on Simplicity to be a pop-up. These annoy me, but they are not prone to the cookie problem. If anyone is still having trouble commenting, please send me an email and let me know. Thanks so much!

Also, the OLW66 cards are amazing. Y'all did a great job honoring Janelle!

Our HERO!!!!

Okay, Jennifer's husband is our hero!!! He kicked the hackers out in under ten minutes. Jennifer has a few things to clean up, and the challenge will be good to go.

OLW67 Is On Hold

Jennifer's blog is being hacked, and until she gets the mess straightened out, the One-Layer Wednesday challenge is on hold.

Wouldn't this world be a wonderful place if the people who put their energy into hacking used their talents for good and not evil?

UPDATE: Jennifer's darling husband, whom we now all love and adore, defeated the hackers. The challenge should be up later this afternoon.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

On Stamp Organization and Inventories

This post is for those of you who want to whip your hoard of stamps into some semblance of order and system, with an inventory to match. The post is LONG, and there is LOTS of information here, as well as lots of food for thought. Every person's collection is a little different and requires a little different handling, but I hope my obsessive-compulsive blatherings help you!

Of course, you may just be sorry you asked.

First of all, let's ask two obvious questions: a) Why is it so hard to organize stamps? and b) Why is it so hard to create an inventory of the stamps we have?

1. Stamps come in essentially three formats: wood-mounted rubber, unmounted rubber, and clear. If you only have one format, you're in luck because a single storage system will usually work. CD cases fit nicely in standard CD storage, clamshell boxes on a shelf, loose wood-mounted stamps fit in shallow drawers or trays.

If you're like me and have all three, however, storage and inventory are extra complicated to accommodate sets, individual loose stamps, and both CD and DVD cases, as well as clear stamps that come in clear folders of different sizes and clam-shell boxes of SU stamps that also come in different sizes. 

2. Stamp sets are mostly hard to categorize. Take Papertrey's Everyday Button Bits set. It has stamps for birds, topiary, hot air balloons, birthday balloons, even a bicycle. The sentiments are also incredibly diverse. How could you possibly put it in single, meaningful category? Do you break it up? If so, how? All these decisions make my brain hurt.

3. Storing by manufacturer makes sense sometimes, such as when you are on a design team and need to make specific projects using just one manufacturer or if you frequently submit work for publication and need an accurate supply list. When I was on MFP's design team, I kept all their stamps and supplies separate from my stash for convenience. Now, they are mixed in.

Neither way is fully satisfactory, though. Companies with distinct styles make stamps that go together across themes and from different releases, and when you mix them with other company's stamps, you lose the ability to link different sets together easily. But what if you're making an ocean-themed card and then have to look through five or six different manufacturer collections just to find your ocean stamps? Annoying.

4. We're constantly adding to and (for some of us) deleting from our collections. Creating a system of storage and inventory that accommodates these changes is a pain in the butt.

Basically, all these problems make me wish I were a devil-may-care, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants type stamper who doesn't give a rip how things are organized and relishes the serendipity of sifting through randomly arranged stamps to create to her heart's content. I want to embrace the chaos.

I cannot.

So here goes.

Organizing a Diverse Stamp Collection

My current stamp organization system consists of two parts: PTI sets (stored in CD cases in three bins from Target, sorted using tabbed dividers) and everything else (stored in plasic drawer units with labels on each drawer). There is minor cross-over between the two systems, in that a few Hero Arts' sentiment sets are with the PTI sentiments, and a few PTI sets are in the drawers. These accommodate how I actually use those sets. More on that later.

Part 1: PTI Sets

The PTI tabs are fairly basic.

1. Sentiments (just sentiments: Mixed Messages, Mega Mixed Messages, Signature Greetings, etc.)

2. Mixed Sets (sets with a mix of different themed images, plus lots of different sentiments: Everyday Classics, Simple Little Things, etc.)

3. Miscellaneous (single-theme sets that don't belong in the Nature category: Up, Up, and Away, All Booked Up, Quilter's Sampler, etc.)

4. Nature (plant and animal image sets: Turning a New Leaf, Friends 'til the End, Love Birds, Pond Life, etc.)

5. Background/Borders/Frames (Framed, Background Basics, Heart Prints, Text Style, Grunge Me, etc.)

6. Christmas

Click to see it bigger

I'm not always consistent with set placement into a particular category, and there are fuzzy sets that don't fit exactly anywhere. Heart Prints, for instance, lives in Backgrounds/Frames/Borders, when it might more properly fit in Miscellaneous. Faux Ribbon is in Sentiments when it should be either in Miscellaneous or Background/Borders/Frames. A Wreath for All Seasons is in Christmas, not Nature. I don't have reasons for these deviations from the plan, but I always know where to find those sets.

I keep most of the PTI sets separate for one reason: it's a pain to look through so many CD cases stored in plastic drawers with my other stamps. They slide around untidily and make a mess. Flipping through the CD bins is SO MUCH EASIER!

Part 2: Plastic Drawers

The plastic drawers hold everything else, including DVD cases of unmounted rubber from SU and A Muse, clamshell boxes from SU, and loose wood-mounted stamps. The drawers have many more specific categories for sorting. My categories are dictated by how many stamps I have of each and what will fit primarily in one layer in a drawer. Your categories will be different, depending on how many and what you have.

Home (furniture, food, drink)
SU Flora
Seasons (includes all 12 Hero Arts month-themed clear sets)
Office Supply
Thank You/Birthday
Thinking of You (includes get well, sympathy, hello stamps)
Heart Occasions
Holiday (not Christmas)
Hero Arts Christmas
SU Christmas

None of these categories is perfect, and my use of them is not always consistent, either. For instance, where would you put a pine tree stamp, in Trees or Winter/Nature? I put them in Winter/Nature because mostly, when I use a pine tree, I'm making Christmas cards.

In a few cases, I've put PTI sets in the drawers because they just belong there. Birthday Basics has only Happy Birthday sentiments for the outside and inside of a card, so it's in the Birthday drawer. A Day at the Beach is in the Ocean/Beach drawer. My tea and coffee sets are in the Home drawer. That way, I don't forget about them.

As you can see, the system isn't perfect. I make exceptions to rules all the time. For now, this works for me, though.

Other Storage Category Options

Pull out an SU, Hero Arts, or A Muse catalog and see how they organize in more general categories. These, or variations on them, might work better for you, depending on the size and depth of your stamp hoard.

A Muse Categories
Flora and Fauna
Young at Heart
Everyday Celebrations
Just for Fun
Elements and Sentiments

SU Categories
Growing Up
All Natural

Hero Arts Categories
Poly Clear

Inventory Ideas

My first inventory was organized by manufacturer, and then roughly organized by themes. I put no more than two sets per page, which made it really easy to eliminate or expand the inventory as I deleted or added stamps to my collection.

I had all my PTI sets inventoried in one binder, all my Hero Arts and loose wood-mounted stamps from all manufacturers in another, and all my MFP, A Muse, Memory Box, and Clear and Simple Stamps in another. Here's a page from that inventory.

Visually, it's pretty appealing and easy to look at, with plenty of white space. Problem was, these binders were getting really full of all that white space, and having three binders was awkward, although less so than using a 3" binder...those suckers are bulky! 

So in the spring I decided to redo the whole inventory and gave myself wrist problems and golfer's elbow as a result.

For the new system, there were essentially two broad categories: sentiments and themes. The first section was just sentiments, stamped by set. The themes section combined all manufacturers' stamps for each theme (categories were basically the same as the plastic drawer categories).

Here are some standard pages from that inventory. As you can see, everything is jumbled...which makes it hard to look at. These pages were making me squirm with annoyance every time I looked at them.

The new inventory was about 80% finished before I abandoned it from excuciating pain and sheer boredom. It would have been more compact, though, fitting into a single binder.

Then, when I purged about a third of my stamps last month, the new, 80%-completed inventory was worse than useless. I look in it now, see a stamp and think to myself, "Did this get purged? Can't remember...."

What would I do now?

Well, as my elbow still isn't fully healed, I'm not going to create another inventory anytime soon. But if I were to do so, I would organize it by manufacturer again and use as much white space and as many binders as I needed. Why? Well, here's my reasoning:

1. My stamps are organized by category as much as possible. I can pull out a drawer or grab some CD cases by theme pretty easily. So a themed inventory seems redundant.

2. Unfortunately, I've lost the concept of a single manufacturer's stamps working together for the greater good. Other than the Papertrey, everything is wodged together. An inventory by manufacturer would be a nice complement to the collection.

The Special Case of Sentiments

Sentiments in sets drive me nuts. I've got far too many sets to keep straight which sentiments are where, and it's extraordinarily frustrating when I know I've got a sentiment to fit on a particular card but have to look through a bunch of drawers and CD cases to find it. I think having a few pages in an inventory dedicated to the most frequently used sentiments might be helpful, even if a stamper doesn't have a full inventory of images. I may actually do this one day when my elbow is fully healed.

Some Sentiment Categories
Thank you
Get Well
Best Wishes
Merry Christmas

The problem here is that you might have to label each sentiment so you know where it is in your stash.

And that's all I have to say about stamp organization and inventory.

For now.


Feel free to ask more specific questions if you need. I'll try to answer them as best I can.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Keeping Track of Stamps

Please scroll down for today's card post. I'm rather fond of it!

Persistent reader Carolyn has asked me to discuss how I keep track of stamps using a stamp inventory.

I, um...mumble, mumble...

Well, uh, pfft, brrr, snodgrass, elephant...


Truth is, the Great September Stamp Purge rendered the system that I had, imperfect and unsatisfactory as it was, completely useless.

What I will do--just for you, Carolyn--is suggest a few systems for organizing a stamp inventory. Because really, I just love that sort of thing. Yes, I'm obsessive. No, that's not always a bad thing.

Ask and ye shall receive. By the end of the week.

Inspired by Scandinavia

My husband is one-half Finnish (Raihala...hint: when vowels outnumber consonants, it's probably Finnish), one-eighth Norwegian, one-eighth Swedish, and, for contrast, one-quarter Italian. Fortunately, since he's the chef in our house, the Italian dominates in the kitchen because one thing I've learned in 25 years of marriage to a Scandinavian mutt is that Scandinavians eat some weird sh..., um, stuff.

No offense intended to the lutefisk lovers out there. 

I don't think any of George's ancestors came to America before about 1890. Some came through Ellis Island. His paternal grandmother was born in Finland, and in her old age, she swore like a sailor in Finnish, thinking no one would know what she was saying. Many of George's great-grandparents didn't speak English or learned it as a second language. When his family visited Italy in his youth, they hooked up with family. Close family. That's when he learned the saying, "Drinka more wine! Ita pushes the food down." I think that sort of rich ethnic heritage is just smashing cool and is part of what makes America great.

 I, on the other hand, am a thoroughly American mutt, most of whose ancestors were on these blessed shores before 1800--and a fair few well before 1700. I had 16 ancestors who came over on the Mayflower (including the famous Miles Standish, who was known by those who didn't like him much as Captain Shrimp, because he was short and red of face....not much has changed in the gene pool, I'll tell ya!). The rest were a North-Carolina-and-Massachusetts gumbo of French, Swiss, English, Scottish, and French Canadians, and perhaps some Native American, but we aren't quite sure about that one.

Anyway, ethnic pride isn't exactly a part of my heritage. I was always envious of the Greeks in Charlotte...they got their own festival. All I got was barbecue, which is everywhere in the South. Every. Where. Awesome, but not special in quite the same way as baklava, if you know what I mean.

Perhaps it was the Scot in me that made me taste haggis when in Edinburgh, but no amount of pride in my touch o' the Scot could make me like it. I suppose every nationality has its disgusting cuisine.

Back to George's Scandinavian heritage. Scandinavian style (unlike Scandinavian food) fascinates me, and it's so exciting to see it making an appearance in the latest trends. What a refreshingly clean and simple and colorful style! This picture is from Better Homes and Gardens' Holiday Crafts.

Those little birdies make me sooooo happy! I just had to see what I could do with stamps and my bird punch from StampinUp.

Design Discussion: I tried several small Papertrey Ink stamps on the birds, but none looked as good as this snowflake from Limitless Labels (or Holiday Labels...can't remember). The sentiment is from Silent Night. The ink is Memento Bahama Blue, and I used the matching marker to make the eyes on the birds. The base is SU bashful blue. LOVE simple, so easy, so clean and fresh! So easy to mass produce, if you're so inclined.

I think the Scandinavian trend is one I will buy into, as in spending real money. Certainly, George's extended family will appreciate it!

Now, if only some company will make North Carolina barbecue-themed stamps. All my kin in Cleveland County will eat that up!!!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Getting Excessive with Bling

I have a lot of Christmas-green bling. What do you do with it? Really.

I usually use red bling on Christmas cards, and opportunities to use dark green bling are pretty thin on the ground outside of, say, St. Patrick's Day.

As a result, green bling has accummulated in my stash over the years.

What's a girl to do?

It seems pretty obvious.

Let the green bling shine.

Isn't this radical? No? Well, at least it's shiny.

You can see the green better in the close-up.

That's a lot of bling. And it's beautiful. Simple and beautiful.

Here are some reminders (and the associated links) since we have had so much going on here at Simplicity lately.

OLW66...Inspired by Janelle, deadline Tuesday at 11:59 PM.

CraftyJC Challenge...Simplicity theme, deadline end of October

Gratitude Challenge...buttons and banner available here, deadline Thanksgiving US or Canada, take your pick

For Sale...still some stuff for sale on my blog, if you're interested

Wow, that's a lot, especially for a blog called Simplicity.

Good stuff, though. Good stuff.

stamps: Hero Arts clear set
ink: Memento black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: assorted green rhinestones

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Gratitude Challenge Gets All, Like, Official

Okay, so criminalgrace (a.k.a. Sarah) has totally gotten on board for the Gratitude Challenge. She made a FABULOUS banner for the Collection!

And she made a couple of buttons for the challenge as well.

Thank you, Sarah! I'm blown away by your creativity and initiative!

Feel free to copy these onto your blog and get the challenge out there! If you don't know about the challenge, here's a crash course:

Thanksgiving here in the United States gets lost between Halloween and Christmas. It's become just another day to over-eat and watch football. Sadly, its original purpose--to celebrate and give thanks for the blessings of a plentiful harvest--has been lost. The Gratitude Challenge asks you to make cards and send them to people for whom you are grateful, to those who have contributed to the plentiful harvest of your own life.

Thanksgiving is a good time for Americans and Canadians to do this, but really, shouldn't we ALL express our gratitude for those people in our lives who have made a difference through their love, friendship, kindness, and generosity? You don't have to be in a particular country or faith to do this. Show those whom you love how grateful you are to have them in your life by sending cards. It's easy, and we're making them anyway, right?

Now, I sincerely wish I had a Gratitutde Collection card for today because it would make my sense of unity and consistency.

[card deleted by author]