Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Blog Email Problems

Some of you who subscribe to Simplicity via email may be experiencing problems receiving posts in your email.

Unfortunately, if you are one of those subscribers, you won't be getting this post in your email.

Irony will bite your butt every time.

I'm going to try to keep this post at the top of the blog until the matter gets resolved, but apparently readers who have yahoo, gmail, and other various email accounts are not receiving FeedBurner RSS emails, for technical reasons that exceed my very meager technical understanding of technical webby things.

I hope those of you who are having problems will keep us posted in the comments here to let us know when the problem is resolved because I have no other way of knowing. Also, if you actually understand what is going on, feel free to explain it to the rest of us because dang I'm lost and confused.

Thank you for your help in this, and please, please, please know that it was nothing I did. I love you all and want you to read my blatherings. Why else would I put them out here on the interwebs? I would never do anything to run you away!

Hugs and blessings to you all.

Hearts and Stripes

A little patriotic love for Operation Write Home...using a Hero Arts set that that was developed just for OWH and a sentiment from an old set from October Afternoon.

It's a bit hard to tell in the photo, but yes indeed-y the bling is a red heart. Much easier to distinguish in real life.

I wish you all a heart-y hump day tomorrow.


Y'all have dirty minds. I meant Wednesday. Sheesh.

By the way, my brother-in-law Mike hates that Geico commercial. In case you were interested.

I'm going to bed now and will shut up.

You're welcome.

stamps: Hero Arts Year Round Sentiments, October Afternoon Owl Be Yours
ink: Memento
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: heart rhinestone

Monday, April 28, 2014

Love with Twine

Very often, I like to let images float on my cards. Technically, this goes against the rules of good design, but I work around that technicality by making sure that my floating images are at least related to each other in some way that makes sense and unifies everything (visual triangles, rows, grids, overlapping, etc.).

But really, grounding is good in design, and I was reminded of that when I made today's card.

You see, I punched four tags (trying to use old punches) and stamped LOVE out on the tags in large letters (trying to use old alphabet stamps). My original vision was to tie twine bows or knots on the tags and pop them on the card as simply as possible, but when I did that, it looked...meh.

So I stared at it for a while, scratched my head in bemusement, and finally came up with this.

A few strips of kraft card stock, and Bob's your uncle. Or whatever.

The next time your design looks meh, try a little grounding.

The twine is optional.

stamps: SU
ink: Hero Arts
paper: Papertrey
accessories: twine (Papertrey), tag punch, dimensionals, 1/8" circle punch

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Old and New

My new (temporarily) favorite color combination today unites both old and new...an old stamp from SU's Define Your Life set and a new embellishment from Doodlebug (enamel dots).

Oh frabjous day! (Name that famous author!)

I just love those enamel dots. They are flatter than I thought they would be, and they give such a nice shine and pop to a card. The kicky teal soft pool and orange soda color combo makes this, though.


I hope you all had a lovely weekend. Things were a bit crazier than usual around here as hubs ramped up for his first business trip in over a year. Now I can ALMOST breathe. Got a few little things to do, and the boys and I can relax into our family-of-three routine. We will miss our head chef and baseball-throwing buddy though.

Mom doesn't throw baseballs. She throws like a sissy, and runs when it's her turn to catch. Those balls are hard, people! I will, however, play plenty of Jenga and watch movies until the cows come home.

Off to walk the dog. Peace, my friends.

stamps: SU Define Your Life, Papertrey Beautiful Blooms II
ink: Hero Arts
paper: Papertrey White
accessories: Doodlebug enamel dots

Friday, April 25, 2014

Combining Quilt Inspiration

A few days ago, I shared this quilt that inspired me.


Today, let's add this quilt.


And out of all this gloriously quilty inspiration pops this card.

Oh, yes. Quilts are an excellent source of inspiration for cards. Excellent!

stamps: Papertrey Love Birds, Faux Ribbon
ink: Hero Arts
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: dimensionals

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Throw-Back Thursday, Stamp Version

I keep seeing TBT on Facebook and wonder, "How do people have time to search for old photos to post every week on Thursday when I'm still trying to figure out how three inches of dust and dog fur accumulated under my living room chair?"

After I made today's card on a Sunday, I realized that I could post it on a Thursday for my own stamping version of TBT. This way, I can at least pretend to be a part of whatever hip trend is going on right now.

I am totally loving spring in Ohio. The white and purple tree blossoms are peaking, and pretty soon I'll look out my back windows and see nothing but green...green grass (already there), green bushes (started), green trees (not yet), topped by blue sky and sunshine.

I love my back yard.

Anyway, consider pulling out older stamps (these have copyright dates of 2000 and 2005) and make something with them and post whatever you make on Thursdays. Then you, too, will be right on trend.

Like me.

Yeah, right.

Now, does anyone want to help me with the sentient dust bunnies currently breeding under my chair? I think they would make excellent pets. They are very quiet.

stamps: Hero Arts
ink: Hero Arts
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: half pearls, dimensionals

Jonah Update

While I was typing up my silly little post yesterday, poor Jonah was dealing with constipation once again...and is now in the hospital, once again. Oh how my heart is breaking for him! To have celebrated his final chemo treatment and turning five so recently, and now to be sick in this scary, painful way...it's just so sad.

Please say a prayer for or send good thoughts to Jonah, Molly, and Ben if you feel so moved, and also the staff at Dayton Children's Hospital as they seek to do what is necessary and best to help Jonah get better.

To read the details and to follow the situation, check out Molly's posts on the Facebook page.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Inspiration Is a Process: Part 1

Have you ever noticed that most of the really important things in life are processes? Marriage, for instance. You say, "I do," and that makes you married, but marriage is a process of growing and nurturing love for your spouse over the long haul...even when you want to smack him upside the head with a toilet brush.

Y'all know what I'm talkin' about.

And parenthood. Somebody places that tiny, helpless infant in your arms and trusts you not to drop it. Are they stupid? I've been a mom for going on 15 years now, and I've metaphorically dropped my children so many times they've learned to bounce. All part of the process.

And inspiration. Something utterly cool and wonderful comes your way and you just have to play with the ideas it sparks, even if some of them look like you smacked the card with a toilet brush.

Here's the inspiration piece, taken from my Pure Inspiration board on Pinterest.


Honestly, I tried to post the first card I made from this inspiration piece, but I just couldn't. It's a collage, but it's too busy. So disorganized. And it has a spacing problem. That's just unforgiveable. Looking at the photo of it on my computer screen made my skin itch. So I deleted it and will instead post the next card I made, the second step in the process, which took me a bit too far in the opposite direction of super-simple.

A Bit Too Simple

See what I mean? I love this color combination. But the three-leaf arrangement, though nice, needs a little something-something to pull it all together, to give it a reason for being...in design parlance, to unify it. As it is, it's just three oddly-colored leaves in the sweet spot of a landscape-oriented card.

What does it mean?!?!

So I tried to place a sentiment on it. Y'all would not believe how hard it was, how many different sentiments I tried, how many times I re-stamped these same three leaves because I ruined them.

If anyone tries to tell me Clean and Simple is also Quick and Easy, I'll smack them upside the head with a toilet brush.

(I'm hostile and have raging PMS, both of which bring out the Southern in me. Y'all.)

Soooo, in a fit of pique, I triple-stamped that sweet sentiment from Clear and Simple Stamps, and lo, there was joy once again in the process.

Just Right

Cute, isn't it?

We get there in the end. Most of the time.

But this isn't the end of the inspiration. This color combination of Soft Pool, Orange Soda, and Soft Granite makes me so very happy. So you'll be seeing a few more cards made with this terrific trio, cards inspired by a quilt, cards that came out of this process we call inspiration.

No matter how PMS-y I am, I can't help but feel all warm and fuzzy knowing today is little Willy Shakespeare's 450th birthday! In honor of the Bard, I'll share one of my (many) favorite lines from his talented quill:

"A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool."

Isn't that right, y'all?

stamps: Hero Arts, Clear and Simple Stamps (both discontinued)
ink: Hero Arts
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: nary a one that I can see

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Digging out the Odd Embellishment

Just a reminder that time's running short on the April One-Layer Simplicity Challenge: Road Trip! Go check it out and play before the buzzer on the 24th!

I wish I could recreate for you the convoluted and bizarre thought process that brought about this particular card, but I can't. I just can't. It defies description.

Lavender photo corners? I know. Weird. But pretty, yes?

The leaf is stamped in Hero Arts Soft Pool, which is quickly becoming my favorite blue for the season. Color slut that I am, I could never commit to a single shade of blue for life, but Soft Pool makes me happy this spring, for sure. Love it!

The leaf stamp is an old, old, old stamp from Hero Arts. The date on it is 2001. The sentiment is part of a discontinued Clear and Simple Stamps set called, coincidentally, Thinking of You. I love that handwritten font, which is stamped in Soft Granite by Hero Arts.

Dig through your stash of embellishments and find something you've not used in, oh, forever, and use it on a card. It's fun!

stamps: Hero Arts, Clear and Simple Stamps
ink: Hero Arts
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: lavender photo corners, dimensionals

Monday, April 21, 2014

Pulling Punches

Every now and then, I remember that I have a bunch of punches and decide to pull them out and use them.

Might as well.

This first card is okay. It would be better with a larger butterfly on that middle square...the little one sort of gets lost, plus some variation in scale would add interest to the design. This is just a little too blah.

So I decided to try again, with livelier colors and some variation in size of the punched shapes. And bling. Because, you know, BLING makes everything better. Better, don't you think?

The three squares come from a larger shadow stamp from Hero Arts. The stamp has a row of five squares, so I masked two.

What a fun stamp, and I wish Hero Arts would re-release some of its best shadow stamps as clear sets. Wouldn't that be cool? I'd be all over them.

Do you hear me, Hero Arts? Pretty please, with sugar on top?

stamps: Hero Arts
ink: Hero Arts, Memento
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: various punches, rhinestones, post-it notes for masking, dimensionals, glue pen

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Happy Easter

The tomb is empty!

May you all have a blessed day!

Inspired by Pinterest and Matthew Mead, and a Comment on Ink

In a further attempt to justify my many hours on Pinterest, I used the following pin as inspiration for a pair of cards.

Original Source
Cool, eh? This was made by Matthew Mead, and I fell in love with it. Replicating it on a card was both fun and a little messy.

I started by pulling a bunch of stamp sets of flowers, insects, and leaves out of my stash. I also pulled out my scrap drawer of white card stock and a 1" square punch. Yep. I made inchies!

After punching the squares, I randomly stamped various images on them, using mostly block stamps and a spritz of water to blend rock-and-rolled inks or to soften the solid colors. I didn't overthink this phase of the design...just grabbed inks and images, and went to work. When all the squares were stamped, I inked the edges with a sponge and Memento Pear Tart ink. (That was the messy part. And no, I'm not making a pear joke. Y'all have dirty minds.)

Next came the "random" arrangement of the inchies on a card. Y'all know that random only looks random. Really, it's a carefully planned placement to create balance and harmony. Notice that the upper left and lower right corners contain very strong colors that begin and end the arrangement. The other squares are placed to keep your eye in the grid. If I'd planned a bit more in the stamping phase, my arrangement would look a little different (and the orange leaves and red spindly branch really should switch places), but overall, I'm pleased with how this turned out, especially as it reflects Matthew's inspiration piece!

Three of the left-over squares had particularly bold, solid images on them, and they worked so nicely together that I made another card using just those three and my favorite, classic CAS layout. Notice how the center of the red flower is the same orange as the first leaf and acts as final punctuation for the series. THAT is a lovely bit of serendipity!

Designs like this make me happy, and not just because it required no embellishment. The softness of the sponged squares contrasts so nicely with the crisp, white background, and the vivid colors seem to glow right off the card. (Take a peek at the pic of the inchies laid out on my burgundy stamping mat. They look duller than they do on the cards, partly because of photo editing, but also partly because the white enhances the colors.)

All in all, a very good justification for hours spent on Pinterest!

A Comment on Inks
For this technique, I used Memento dye inks rather than my new Hero Arts inks. I find that with Hero Arts inks, spritzing with water results in an odd separation of the ink that causes very blotchy, unpleasant images. I wonder if anyone else has experienced this problem. The separation seems consistent across the ink colors I have of Hero Arts and must be connected to the inks' chemical formula.

For those of you considering buying ink, keep this limitation in mind. I love both brands, just for different things. If you can only afford one, though, and think you might spritz, I recommend Memento over Hero Arts. If you can afford both, get both. The Hero Arts color selection is much better than Memento, and the inks give lovely, vivid results...when not spritzed with water.

stamps: Various
ink: Memento
paper: Papertrey Ink
accessories: spritz bottle with water, 1" square punch, dimensionals, sponge

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Using My Pinterest Boards

Today's card was inspired by a pin on my Pure Inspiration Pinterest board. I'm trying to make more of an effort to use--actually use--my pins.

Somehow, if I use them, all the time I spend on Pinterest doesn't seem such a waste.

Anyway, here is the pin I used to make today's card:


And here is the card I made:

Quilts provide a huge amount of inspiration for card-making. Why not check out quilt pins and get inspired?

Do you use your Pinterest boards? Do you pin at all? Inquiring minds and all that....

stamps: Hero Arts
ink: Hero Arts
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: dimensionals

Friday, April 11, 2014

Happy Easter

During Holy Week, my posting will be sporadic. We're having family in town for a visit, and I need to focus on them. But I wanted to wish you all a very happy Easter!

For those of you who are not familiar with Christianity, you might be interested to know that for the followers of Christ, this week--from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday--is the holiest time of our liturgical year. I'll post more on my blog Transforming Common Days for anyone who is interested in the meaning of Easter.

Blessings to you all!

stamps: StampinUp, Hero Arts (sentiment)
ink: Memento
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: pink rhinestones, SU pretty in pink marker

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Jonah Update and Cards I've Received from Nice People

I've received a LOT of birthday cards for Jonah and will deliver the second batch to his house tomorrow morning. Don't worry if your name isn't on the list of received cards yet. Jonah cannot open all these cards at one time. He's two days shy of five years old, and his attention span isn't long enough to open more than a few a day. Molly told me that Jonah really appreciates the creativity of all your cards and is very interested in where they come from. Rest assured, I will continue to deliver any cards that come in late because they are reaching a VERY appreciative audience!

Several of you have asked if Jonah is getting his dog or not. Here's what Molly, Jonah's mom, posted on Facebook:

Some of you have asked if Jonah is getting his big, black dog; something he has been looking forward to getting "when he turns five." We have decided not to get a dog this year. Jonah decided about a month ago that he'd like to wait another year - when he turns 6 - to get a "big black dog."

When we asked why the change of heart, he mentioned that he wanted to wait until his legs got stronger and he could balance better. We think he has anxiety about his peripheral neuropathy, his poor balance and muscle control, and being able to walk a dog that might put tension on the lead.
Also, Jonah's muscles fatigue easily - even when going for short walks. A big dog would require nice, long walks and a sure hand on the leash. Jonah's mobility, endurance and balance has, indeed, gotten a little worse this past chemo session. It takes a long time for these things to come back once chemo has stopped. So, waiting a bit longer to get a "big, black dog" is probably not a bad idea.

Jonah is demonstrating wisdom beyond his years and we respect his choice - as sad as it is to understand the "why" behind it. We are in no rush. We will wait until the time is right for us to get the "perfect" furry friend for our family.

This sounds like a very smart decision, especially given what we are dealing with in our house right now. Daisy is a very gentle golden retriever, but she is also very active. Keeping her quiet for 10 days while her surgical wound heals is nigh on impossible. A big, black puppy around an unsteady little guy would be tough. Very tough.

It warms my heart that so many of you have taken Jonah into your hearts, and I appreciate what you've done for him and his family through this incredibly difficult time. Y'all are amazing!

Several of you included cards for me in your mail to Jonah, and I want to share those here. Thank you so much to Heather, Joann, and Suzanne for brightening my day with your beautiful artwork!

Notice how gorgeous Heather's coloring is...and the
perfect touch of the white lines to add dimension.

Joann's use of black brings her beautiful card a great sense of unity, and
the fun paper folding offers a lot of movement.

Suzanne's use of washi is just so perfect and happy and fun!
The butterflies form a fab visual triangle, and BLING!

These three will be added to my inspiration boards. Again, thank you!!!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

OLS4: Road Trip!

The One-Layer Simplicity Challenge this month is to make a card with a travel theme...showcasing either a destination or a mode of transportation.

I struggled with finding stamps for this in my collection. I used to have several travel-themed sets but sold them last year. Darn. Then, I remembered that Hero Arts Screen Shots set had some travel-themed stamps and sentiments AND I have the fabulous Hero Arts Map of America background stamp.

Here's what happened.

First up, I cut a piece of copy paper into quarters, and then used an exacto knife to cut a curve in it. Masking off the top of the card, I stamped the Map of America background in Hero Arts Tidal Pool ink. The edges of the stamped image looked odd on the standard card, so I trimmed both edges to just outside the inside portion of the image's frame.

(You know you're an experienced stamper if you can follow that last sentence.)

Then, I nudged the mask slightly up the card and used a silver metallic marker to define the curve better. I added the sentiment, which I love, from the Screen Shot set, curving it on the acrylic block to fit into the curve of the pen line. I added some bling, sat back, and said, "YAY!"

The second card uses all stamps from the Screen Shot set and a little Stickles to make the sun sparkle. I'm going to send this one to my mom, who's coming to see me next week!

Why don't you get into the spirit of travel? Join us at the One-Layer Simplicity challenge! Entries will be accepted until the 24th of the April. Looking forward to seeing your Road Trip!

stamps: Hero Arts
ink: Hero Arts, VersaColor, VersaMagic, Memento Luxe (quite the mishmash)
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: metallic pen, rhinestones, Stickles

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

New Stuff and One-Layer Simplicity

First off, I'd like to remind you to play along with the One-Layer Simplicity Challenge this month! The theme is Road Trip! Just make a card that is either destination-based (your dream spot for travel!) or journey-based (the transportation used to get there). I've made a couple of cards that I'll share as soon as I get a chance to photograph them!

Next, I'll share the new product I used on today's card.

Aren't all those colors GORGEOUS!!! Almost too pretty to use!!!


And now for the card.

This card sat on my desk for the longest time, just in ink-and-paper form. It was missing something. When my shipment of Doodlebug Enamel Dots arrived, I knew I'd want to try one out on this card...and I like it! These aren't as thick as I thought they'd be, which is good, although I don't know why my photo editing software made the dot look red on my screen when it's in fact hot pink, just a bit darker than the butterfly ink. I hope it looks good on your screen!

Anywho, these dots are going to be so much fun to play with in the coming weeks!

Thanks for all the good wishes for Daisy. She's doing better today.

Finally, we got 7 more cards for Jonah today, including two from Canada and one from Australia! Thanks so much. I'll be adding the new senders' names to my Jonah Cards Page here shortly so you can see if your card has arrived yet.

stamps: Papertrey Modern Basics, Birthday Bash Sentiments
ink: Memento
paperL Papertrey Ink
accessories: enamel dot

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Quickie

Tonight's post is a quickie because I've spent the evening coddling a drugged-out golden retriever with a six-inch surgical wound on her neck. Daisy's going to be fine...the tumor the vet removed is likely a benign teratoma. Yay. After losing a golden to osteosarcoma, a gross little teratoma full of hair and teeth feels like winning the lottery.

And on that appealing note, I give you today's card.

Perfect card for Operation Write Home or my honey.

PS I received 9 cards for Jonah today!

stamps: Papertrey Wonderful Words: Hello, Heart Prints; Mama Elephant Trifecta
ink: Hero Arts tomato, Memento black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: dimensionals

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Importance of Properly Inked Stamps...and Bling

Today's card took two attempts to get right. Let's start with the second, "good" version.

In my second stamping, everything looked reasonably good, so I added an abundance of bling in shades of green to coordinate with the green spectrum ink. Note how five groupings of bling form a rough line from the upper left to lower right, with two other bunches creating a zigzag effect across each fern. Movement in a design is important, and you want the eye to move through the design pleasingly. I hope I achieved that with all this bling.

Yay, bling!

Now, I'm going to show you the unblinged version that I didn't stamp properly. The branch on the top left smeared close to the edge of the card. Now, this wasn't a huge deal (I debated trashing it at this point but figured I keep going just to make sure the design worked), and the second branch stamped nicely. Hmm, maybe bling would distract enough from the slight smearing on the top left.

But then I didn't properly ink the sentiment so that the final "L" looks awful. You can click on the image to see this better. Since I had dorked up the first branch AND the focal-point sentiment, I knew this version was not bling-worthy. But I took a picture to show you that yes, indeed-ee, I screw up. Regularly.

I'll cut the front off the card, put the clean back in my scrap drawer, and pitch the front in the recycling. Lots of people might flip the stamped front over and use it, but I generally don't, as paper does have two sides!

Most of my layers, however, go on plain white bases with dimensionals, and I noticed long ago that colors on the back of popped panels reflect out onto the white base, often with unfortunate, ugly results. If you layer on colored card stock or use mats of colored card stock, this won't be a problem for you.

And there you have it. My AR/OC thought process for this card.

stamps: Hero Arts branch (discontinued wood-mounted rubber), Papertrey Signature Greetings
ink: Kaleidacolor
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: lots of rhinestones

Saturday, April 5, 2014

What I Know about Using Kaleidacolor Ink Pads and Why CAS Isn't Easy

An anonymous commenter asked how I get such good impressions with the Kaleidacolor ink pads, so here's all I know about using them, gleaned from good ol' trial and error.

1. Kaleidacolor pads have five narrow ink pads with different colors on each pad. The ink is runny and water-based, meaning it will blend extremely well, but if the pads touched all the time, the colors would bleed and get muddy. For this reason, when you're not using the pads or when you just want to use one color, they are separated like this.

To use the pad for its spectrum effect, you just slide the five pads together, using the handle on the left of the pads to squish them all together like this.

2. If you try to ink an image just by pressing it once or twice on the pad, you'll not be happy with the results. The colors won't blend well, and you'll likely get lines where the stamp didn't even ink at all, as with the image on the left below. The image on the right was made after tapping the stamp on the pad repeatedly and moving the stamp right and left about one-quarter inch or so between tappings. By moving the stamp around a bit and repeatedly touching the pad, you'll blend the separate colors and get a smoother spectrum effect. You should be able to see the proper blending on the stamp before you press it to the paper, too.

The slight blotchiness on the right is probably because I
hadn't used an eraser on this new stamp yet, so the film
from manufacturing is still on it.

Here is another example of blending using a different Kaleidacolor pad.


Side-by-side comparison. The blended version on the
right is much, much better!

3. Yes, you will get some bleeding across pads as a result of blending, but that's okay. It will actually make the pad easier to use over time, so don't fret.

4. You can also spritz the stamp with water or glimmer mist after inking for even more blending and a lovely watercolor effect if you want.

5. I always stamp my first inking of an image on scrap paper to see how the blending is going, then ink again using the multiple-taps/moving-around method before stamping on my project. It pays to play it safe here.

6. ALWAYS remember to separate the five pads by sliding them apart BEFORE putting the lid on and storing the Kaleidacolor inks. ALWAYS. ETA: Reader Anne reminded me that you actually can't put the lid on properly if the inks aren't separated. So no worries there!

And that's what I know about Kaleidacolor pads. Get some. Play. Experiment for yourself. They really are lots of fun. See!!!

To make this card, I inked up the arrow border from Hero Arts Borders and Arrows set and stamped it on a scrap. Then, I inked the sentiment so that it would match the colors on the right side of the border, thus instantly connecting the sentiment to the border and enhancing the unity of the design. The sentiment, which is the focal point of the card, is about 1/3 up the raised panel, taking advantage of the rule of thirds.

And now let's talk about Clean-And-Simple (or CAS) stamping.

Sandy at Operation Write Home did a video recently on how to make CAS cards. You can watch it HERE. It's got some excellent advice for beginners and experienced card makers alike. Sandy points out several things that make a huge difference in CAS stamping, and I'd like to share some key points in my process as well.

Today's card shows that even with all that gloriously beautiful white space, each and every element was deliberately planned and placed to work together. There is nothing random about the design. Also, it looks incredibly simple and easy, but think about all the skill and thought that went into it:

1. Inking of stamps.  My husband once joked that stamping is easy...just plop the stamp on the ink pad, then plop it on paper, and you're done! Oh, if only it were that easy! I got lucky on the above card, and my first attempt turned out great, but I trash a lot of poorly inked/blotchy images or sentiments. I'll show an example of this tomorrow as proof.

2. Carefully placed, straight images and sentiments. There's no eyeballing going on here. I use gridded acrylic blocks for clear stamps and stamp positioners for rubber stamps. No exceptions. For this card, I stamped on a larger piece of card stock and trimmed it down with an Omnigrid Quilting Ruler and an exacto knife...a skill that requires lots of practice and attention to detail. I made sure there was exactly a quarter-inch of white on either end of the border stamp for perfect centering, and that the whole popped piece was proportioned to fit with an even border on a standard 5.5"x4.25" card. You can see my proportional matting chart on Pinterest HERE. The panel on this card is 4"x2 3/4".

3. Coordinated images and sentiment. Fonts matter. This serif font from Hero Arts Year Round Sentiments is crisp and angular and goes great with the style of the arrow border. A cursive or curvy font would look weird here. All the elements on a card have to work together to create unity...especially when there are so very few of them. So I make sure the fonts fit. (Which means a stamper truly can NEVER have too many sentiments!)

4. High-quality materials. My card stock is high-quality, 110# cover stock, extra thick and wonderful to the touch. The ink is high quality, name brand, and juicy. The dimensionals are from SU...very sticky and uniform, and there are six of them behind that panel for extra-strong adhesion. If you use cheap supplies or skimp on quality construction, your cards will look cheap or fall apart...a lesson I learned from the amazing Julie Ebersole. It's absolutely worth the money to buy fewer, better-quality supplies than a bunch of low-quality supplies. You'll be so much happier in the long run! And to those of you who don't want to waste "good" supplies...it's not waste. It's use. Even if you screw up, you're learning what not to do.

In short, clean-and-simple stamping isn't easy. On a CAS card, your eye will notice anything that doesn't fit or isn't straight or absolutely perfect...and once your eye sees the mistake, it will see nothing else.

And this explains why my recycle bin is always full. I'm not perfect.

At all.

These are my standards for CAS because I'm AR/OC and weird and have been doing this for roughly 12 years. If you're just starting as a card maker or trying CAS for the first time after years of making highly embellished cards, don't be intimidated. JUST PLAY. Seriously! Be willing to make mistakes, embrace the mistakes, learn from them. Slow down and enjoy the process of creation and relish the details...even if they're only a quarter of an inch!

Jumping into CAS with a spirit of play and fun is MUCH better than aiming for perfection out of the starting gate. I've been at this for years and still make wretched mistakes each and every time I sit down at my craft desk. CAS isn't easy, but it is worth it.

I've got the white space to prove it!

Do you have any suggestions for good CAS design? Please share!

stamps: Hero Arts
ink: Kaleidacolor
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: dimensionals

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Jonah Update and Spectrum Birthday Card

Jonah is going through a rough time with the tail-end of chemo...a lot of pain and some gross-motor coordination problems. This means he is really going to appreciate the positive distraction of the birthday cards y'all are sending! Thought I'd share a bit of the batch I'm dropping at his house tomorrow.

The farthest card so far has come all the way from The Netherlands!

Prayers and well wishes for this little guy are very much appreciated, too.

And now for a super clean and simple birthday card that has color and bling. What more could a birthday card need?

This card uses a spectrum pad from Kaleidacolor that Leslie Hanna gave me...just LOVE those pads!!! The starbursts follow the spectrum across the card, which gives the card, despite its shockingly small number of elements, a very unified feeling.

The starbursts also make a triangle, with the focal point sentiment in the middle. Yay!

On an unrelated note, I am so grateful to have had breakfast this morning with another stamper from Ohio...Bobbi! It's so much fun connecting with locals who are as into stamping as I am. Check out Bobbi's blog and see her gorgeous, layered cards and all the goodness she's doing for Operation Write Home.

stamps: Papertrey Birthday Bash Sentiments
ink: Kaleidacolor spectrum
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: corner rounder, rhinestones

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Variations on an Old Standard

The other day, I wondered what would happen if I took a single sketch--an old, reliable one--and tried to make a bunch of different-looking cards with it. I grabbed random sets, played around with colors, trashed several unsuccessful cards, and made these successful ones in a spirit of playful creativity. This was HUGE fun to do, and you can count on seeing more posts like this.

First up, I stamped Hero Arts Three Ferns in Hero Arts lime green on the left edge of a card and nestled a sentiment from Gina K's Hello Sunshine in Memento Cocoa. It looked a little plain, so I added three yellow half-pearls. Note how each fern points in a different direction, for a bit of natural randomness. The result is crisp, clean, unisex.

Next, I pulled out the Hero Arts Konnichiwa Lanterns set and a spectrum of yellow-orange-rust inks (also Hero Arts), and cascaded the lanterns down the left side of the card. The sentiment (Gina K again) was added in Memento cocoa. Note that the lanterns aren't exactly perfectly lined up...but they are very tidy-looking nevertheless.

Here in the third card, the hearts and rhinestone stars are placed completely randomly in a two-color scheme for lots of contrast. The shapes are scattered, with the straight-line stripes, angles, and curves all mixed together. Note how the largest heart is beside the sentiment and draws attention to it. I used Hero Arts Year Round Sentiments for the whole card, and Hero Arts inks as well (denim and the dark red whose name escapes me). The effect is fun, patriotic, and perfect for OWH.

Finally, I went all AR-OC and lined up the stylized feathers from Waltzingmouse's Funky Feathers set, paired with a sentiment from their Fine Feathers set. Shades of blue Hero Arts ink unify the design. I really like how different this one looks and feels from the others, although from a design standpoint, I think the looser ones actually work better.

Here's a shot of all four lined up so you can see the variations clearly!

Which is YOUR favorite and why?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Beautiful Blue Inspiration and, Contritely, TS Eliot

Today's card was inspired by a beautiful blue card in Card Creations, Vol. 12 by Angela Mansfield. I just love those shades of blue!!!!

So I made this card, using Papertrey's Beautiful Blooms II and Turning a New Leaf, and a sentiment from Gina K's Hello Sunshine set.

Thank you, Angela, for inspiring me to use beautiful blue...a color I really should use more often!!

On another subject entirely...

My apologies to anyone who was offended by my reference to the opening lines of TS Eliot's The Waste Land in yesterday's post. My use of a literary allusion (which was clearly more obscure than I thought it was) led some to believe that I was dissing April out of pure meanness or negativity when in fact I was merely trying to creatively emphasize the importance of lifting people up when they are sad.

Eliot opens The Waste Land with the following lines: "April is the cruelest month, breeding / Lilacs out of the dead land...." He draws on a rich literary tradition of April as a month of starvation, illness, and death happening at the same time flowers are starting to bloom...cruel, indeed, especially from Eliot's point of view. The tension between those two themes of death and new life is poetically powerful and sets the tone for his entire masterpiece of modernist poetry.

My card yesterday was intended for someone who was in need of hope and encouragement (a state of affairs that cannot be limited to any one month in the calendar), but as I was posting it for delivery to in-boxes on April 1, I decided to make timely reference to Eliot's poem to show how cards can be a positive influence even in the "cruelest" month. That's what we English majors do...make connections. Clearly it backfired on me here, with unintended consequences.

My only intention was to encourage all y'all to send an encouraging card to someone who needs a lift. Again, my apologies for any misunderstanding, and I promise to keep future literary allusions limited to Shakespeare and Harry Potter, where there's less chance of confusion or offense!