Thursday, March 20, 2014

What Does "One Layer" Mean?

Let's start with an example of a one-layer card that makes me utterly, completely happy.

This card makes my minimalist heart go pitter-patter. But for some of you, if you made a card like this, you might respond by breaking out in hives. "Is that it?" you fret. "Doesn't it need something else?"

Not for me. But for you, it might need more to feel finished. And that is okay!

I recently had a great lunch with Leslie Hanna of The Crooked Stamper blog, and we had another marathon gab-fest about all sorts of things but mostly stamping as I rarely get to talk in person with another obsessive dedicated stamper. She's taking a one-layer design class online, and we discussed differing opinions about what constitutes a one-layer card.

Have you ever noticed how such questions can lead to pretty extreme responses in people? On the one hand, you have the legalists (or, as I like to call them, the Pharisees) for whom a rule is law and if you break it you're going to hell. On the other hand are the "it's all good" hippies who do their own thing no matter what.

And then you have the LateBlossoms of the world. We're in the middle. We recognize that rules help the world run smoothly so we respect them, but we're not about to let them become oppressive either. Sometimes they need to be broken in the interest of truth, justice, and the American way.

Or just because it makes more sense in a particular situation.

In other words, we middle-grounders consider the big-picture perspective, and often, we feel there's not a lot of point in getting worked up about these things.

Leslie makes cards on a quarter sheet of card stock and then mounts that on a card base. This saves her having to do what I have to do, which is have a drawer of scraps that are mostly the backs of failed cards. I like my scrap drawer and use the scraps well, but just because I do something doesn't mean everyone should do it. Leslie does what works for her, and I do what works for me. In spirit, we end up with the same result.

My personal commitment to one-layer cards is extremely minimalist because that's what makes me jump up and down like a giddy schoolgirl. I don't consider a card of mine one layer if it has washi tape or punched shapes on it. In my mind, those constitute additional layers.

But an extremely valid argument can be made that washi, punched shapes, and die cuts are embellishments, not layers at all.

At the One-Layer Simplicity Challenge, we stick to stricter standards of one layer (no washi, no punches, no die cuts) for one reason only: it's a CHALLENGE. The whole point is to push people outside their comfort zone to try something that is surprisingly difficult and surprisingly satisfying. That doesn't mean we're establishing the definition of one layer for all time and all people. It's just a simplicity challenge, and I hope people take it that way. I also hope they'll jump in and play along. Certainly we've had excellent participation so far!

We still have four days left in this month's challenge, hosted by Karen Dunbrook. I'm going to post a few more cards for the challenge tomorrow that I couldn't have made without Leslie's generosity.

Thanks, Leslie, for lunch, the goodie bag, and excellent conversation!

stamps: Papertrey Dot Spot, Gina K sentiment
ink: Hero Arts soft blue, Memento tuxedo black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestone


  1. I see 'one layer' as just that...I don't even think gems or anything should be used - it should be the card blank and that's that but then, that's my definition of one layer.
    Like your use of space on your card.

  2. I think it is interesting to look at the one-layer challenge card designs and see so many interesting takes on the same challenge. To me, when I do one-layer cards, speed and cuteness are the name of the game. I want to avoid obsessing, but I can see how obsessing enters its bossy little head into everything. Coloring of the image is that area. To me, simple does not require a set of Copics. Some would disagree. I laughed out loud at your descriptions of the rule interpreters. So true. I think I might fall on the Pharisee side of that...

  3. Personally, I prefer to use the quarter sheet method, but i like to do one layers once in a while, precisely for the challenge.

    Last year, I challenged my stamp club gals to do a one layer, which none of them had ever tried before. There was a lot of trepidation, but they ended up having fun with it, and were super pleased with their results. I think we will see the return of the one layer challenge this year!

  4. I love it but am not brave enough to try it just yet. Also, I think, I do not have the right sort of stamps to accomplish something this simple but beautifully effective!

    1. Hope you don't mind me replying but there's no special set of stamps for accomplishing anything simple and effective. Why not take some scrap paper and just play with whatever stamps you'll be amazed by how much you learn and develop by just messing about on scraps. Give it a go Annalize!

    2. I completely agree with Paula. It's not the stamps but what you do with them that matters. You can use outline stamps, solid stamps, detailed stamps, simple stamps, big stamps, small stamps, realistic stamps, cartoon stamps...whatever you have. Playing around with scraps really is fun, and as Paula says, educational, too!

    3. Im a happy crafter but love one layer in particular (which Iam not always successful with-practice makes perfect ) I agree with you totally =- any stamp can be onelayer -its where you put it that counts .I just wish people realise how difficult they are to get right - keep up the inspiration x

  5. this card make my heart sing!

  6. Excellent points! I hope to play along in your challenges in the following months as I clear off my schedule!

    Beautiful card!!!

  7. For a one layer challenge, I totally get no embellies. However, when I make one layer cards for my own purposes, I may add simple embellishments such as sequins or Washi tape. But all my cards are CAS, though not as artfully designed as yours. I like the idea of a quarter sheet panel. That's something I plan to try :) Once again, thank you for a great lesson :)

  8. LMHO - great post (again)!

    I tend to use the "quarter sheet" method, for exactly the reason you stated Susan! I have a room full of card, every colour of the rainbow - but I break out in a sweat at the thought of it being "wasted" - LOL.

  9. Interesting, Susan ... one layer for me fits the Simplicity challenge definition ... I do add bling from time to time where I think it adds something. Your recent bracket card was an excellent example of how bling can change a card from great to amazing, without compromising the one layer nature of it. Anita :)

  10. Oops, forgot to add how much I love your minimalist card here! Anita :)

  11. How fun to see you use this Dots stamp again! Two days ago I just happened to use mine in light purple ink with a gem colored with a Sharpie put in the middle too. No greeting or anything! Probably a CASE from you from ages ago! Thank you :-)

  12. I love your cards, but all that white space makes me itch. :)

    I'm glad to have provided blog fodder, and yes, it's always fun to sit and chat with a fellow stampy person!


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