Monday, June 30, 2014

Book Mark and a Lesson in Ink

Here's a fun book mark I'm going to send to a friend I've been neglecting lately.

Perhaps you prefer it on a green backdrop.

Either way, you should know it took FOUR tries to get this very simple bookmark made. I struggled hugely with ink. The Hero Arts inks just wouldn't cooperate with the Papertrey stamps. Just. Would. Not.

The leaves looked blotchy and ugly. These are inks that I've used quite successfully with other Papertrey stamps, so it was particularly frustrating and annoying that they. would. not. work. with. Mighty. Oak.

Extra periods emphasize my pique. Because periods just aren't fun.

Speaking of which, have you heard the joke about periods being like Dementors? They suck the joy out of everything, and the cure is chocolate.

Thank you. Thank you. I'll be here all week.

Anyway, back to the inks. I really love the Hero Arts inks, but since they weren't playing nicely with this set, I pulled out my VersaColor, VersaMagic, and Memento Luxe inks. These are thick and creamy, and they've never failed me when it comes to stamping with clear stamps.

That's when I realized that I don't have the bright, happy greens that Hero Arts has in creamy, thick inks. The greens in my chalky, pigment inks are more olive-y. Which is fine, too.

But I love the bright, happy greens.


Go buy more ink. You'll thank me for it.

stamps: Papertrey Mighty Oak
ink: VersaColor, VersaMagic, Memento Luxe
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: ribbon, 1/8" circle punch, corner rounder

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Fun Folds and Stamping along a Curve

I've spent a lot of time recently looking through my extensive hoard collection of books on bookbinding and artist books, and they're giving me so many ideas for accordion-fold cards. Today's card uses some free-hand craft knife skills to give a fun, slightly more organic shape to standard rectangles.

To make this, I started with a 9" x 6" piece of card stock and scored it at three and six inches.

Scoring Tip for Obsessive-Compulsive Stampers: When you score a line to fold card stock, the scored side (with the canal, not the bump) should be the outside of the fold...the mountain, not the valley. The scored canal keeps the paper fibers from cracking and looking unsightly as you bend and press the paper down. When making an accordion, you alternate mountains and valleys, so you need to flip the card stock as you score if you are a purist and want perfectly clean folds. Since I'm using a heavy white card stock, I scored one side of the accordion at 3" and then flipped the card stock over and scored at 6". The folds are lovely and clean!

I then cut the cascade using a craft knife, starting at the back fold about 1/4-1/3 the way down, and added curves as I cut down to roughly the bottom 1/3 line. Once the curve was cut, I put a quilt ruler on the back fold and cut a straight line to the top and removed the extra card stock.

The sentiment comes from a very old set from October Afternoon called Love Notes. The stamp is very bendy, so I was able to reposition it easily to match the curved edge for each impression. I cleaned the stamp between each impression so I did not get ink on my fingers and smudge the card).

Note that the two red sentiments and the hearts form a visual triangle, and the three hearts, of course, form their own triangle.

Side view of inside of card

Side view of "outside" of card

It will be fun to write on this card...nooks and crannies! I plan on giving it to my husband, sneaking it into his lunch box one day this week.

stamps: October Afternoon (sentiment, Love Notes), Papertrey Ink (hearts, Love Birds)
ink: Memento
paper: Papertrey Ink
accessories: ScorPal, craft knife, quilt ruler, corner rounder

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Gettin' Fancy with Pamphlet Stitch

Yesterday's tutorial on adding inserts to your cards with pamphlet stitching shows a very basic card. Today's card gets all fancy and stuff.

This card (which fits in a 7.5" x 3.5" standard envelope) uses a textured card stock with a deckle edge for the cover. I folded the card base so the bottom of the card stuck out a bit from the deckle edge on the top of the card. I masked the back of the card's inside edge and sponged Brilliance Galaxy Gold ink. That sponging creates a nice contrast that highlights the deckling.

Gold metallic thread and pleasantly yellowed adhesive epoxy letter stickers give a nice feel of unity this very simple but striking card.

The insert is made from 90lb, hot-press watercolor paper. Hot-press watercolor paper is very smooth and easy to write on, unlike the textured paper on the outside of the card.

As you can see, this technique of the pamphlet stitch is incredibly versatile. You can keep it very simple or dress it up and take it out to a fancy restaurant.

Why not see what sort of variation YOU can come up with? I double-dog dare ya!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Kicking a Card up a Notch: Pamphlet Stitch Insert

If you want to take a card to the next level, you can always insert a paper lining. The lining essentially turns a simple card into a (very) simple book, with the main card acting as a cover and the insert acting as pages. The insert is usually slightly smaller than the outside of the card.

In store-bought cards, these inserts are usually "tipped in" to a card...attached to the main card with a narrow strip of adhesive that runs along the fold on the back of the insert. Tipping in is a very simple, tidy way of adding an insert, but if you want to get really fancy, you can sew the insert into the card using an easy, three-hole pamphlet stitch.

Here's how.

  1. A finished card made with heavy card stock
  2. Coordinating thread or twine
  3. Text-weight paper (standard copy paper is fine) measuring 1/8" smaller than card when folded in half
  4. Scrap of text-weight paper the height of the fold of the card and no more than 2" wide
  5. Sewing needle
  6. Little wire-and-metal needle threader thingie (optional but recommended if you're thick-fingered like I am)
  7. Awl (optional)

Start with a finished card and some coordinating thread. You
will see the thread on the finished pamphlet, so you can get as fancy
as you want...metallics, twine, baker's twine, etc.

The insert can be a simple piece of copy paper, or you can coordinate
any light-weight paper to the outside of your decorated card. This piece is
5.25" x 8.25" so that, when folded in half, it will be 1/8" smaller on the
top, bottom, and side than the standard 5.5" x 4.25" card.

Nest the folded insert into the card and open them both. Notice the even
border formed by the card base. The insert looks evenly matted.

You'll need to make a template for poking holes in the card.
This template is 5.5" x 2" and folded in half lengthwise.
I pierced holes 3/4" from the top and bottom, and one in the middle.
I used a ruler to mark these. You may, of course, skip the template and
place the ruler in the card to poke the holes, but if you make a template,
you can use it again and, it's easier to poke clean holes
when you can pick the whole card up and manipulate it. Rulers are
bulky and slide around. Make a template.

Nest the template in the fold of the card and insert, making sure
the insert is centered inside the card. Then, using a large needle or awl, gently
poke holes in the guide holes provided by the template.

If you're using a big awl,
don't poke too far through or your hole will be unsightly.

Here you can see the finished holes from the outside of the card.

Here, you have a choice. You may start sewing inside the card...
in which case the knot will be on the inside of the card. Or you may start
outside the which case you can finish the sewing with a decorative
knot and even add beads or braids. I, of course, went for the simple option, starting by
poking my needle through the center hole working from the inside to the outside. Leave a
tail long enough to tie a knot when you're finished.  

Bring your needle back inside the card through the bottom hole, and go back out
through the top hole.

Finally, return to the center hole, bringing the needle up on the opposite side
of the center thread from the original tail. It's important to make sure that the two ends
of the thread are on opposite sides of the long stitch going from the bottom hole to the
top. Gently pull the ends so that there is no slack in the thread either outside
or inside the card. If you pull too tight, you might rip the paper.

Tie a standard square knot around the long stitch and snip the ends.
This pamphlet stitch will be sturdy and the thread won't side around.
You're finished! 

Here's the finished card outside.

You can see the brown thread really well against the
white card stock. If you don't want to draw attention to
the thread, just use thread in the same color as the card stock.  

And here you can see the insert, and how it's smaller than the cover.

There you have it. You're no longer making cards; you're making pamphlets!

Pretty cool, eh?

Card supplies
stamps: Hero Arts
ink: Kaleidacolor
paper: Papertrey Ink white
accessories: see above

Thursday, June 26, 2014


As I sat at my craft desk for the first time in almost two weeks, I experienced that mental blank that comes from being away. What in the world should I make? How do I choose among so many options? Have I lost my touch? Will my Muse show up for this? Will my own brain show up for this? Oh, man, my head hurts....

Flailing around randomly, I pulled out several sets in my new stamps bin and stared at them for a bit. What would happen if I used that frame in the Clearly Besotted set? Maybe off to the left, vertically like that room d├ęcor pin, with a sentiment to the right? Nah. I already did that. What about centered and sponged, with butterflies stamped over it? Let's see.

I stamped the frame in the center of the card and surrounded it with post-it notes, pulled out my plastic drawer with sponges in it, consulted my ink chart to choose two colors to create a gradient in that small rectangular frame, and withdrew Hero Arts Butter Bar and Orange Soda.

Butter Bar went down first, thoroughly saturating the whole space. Then, working up from the bottom, I added Orange Soda only to the bottom half of the space. When I was satisfied that there was sufficient gradient, I pulled off the post-its and stared at the results for a bit.

That's when I decided the sentiment belonged in the frame...a sentiment in a clean font that would allow the gradient to show beautifully. Hero Arts has an old clear set with a fabulously neutral font for a hello stamp. Yep. That works.

What to do to create a bit more interest?  Stamping butterflies didn't feel right, but I still had butterflies on my brain, mainly because I saw so many in Minnesota that I never see in Ohio, plus the die cuts from Joyce were sitting on my desk...looking way too big for this card. Out came the Martha Stewart butterfly punch. I tried to arrange three in a good little visual triangle, but it looked like too much. TOO MUCH, I say!

So much of design requires using the Force, don't you think?

Anyway, with two butterflies on opposite corners arranged to keep attention on the sentiment, I was mostly happy. But of course, it needed bling. I searched my orange/yellow embellishment drawer and found a small zip bag with about 8 or 9 Swarovski crystals in it. I have lots of these in various colors thanks to a reader who sent me a huge stash years ago, but I don't use them often because gluing those tiny things is sort of a pain.

But those little crystals are so much prettier than the cheap self-adhesive kind, and they truly are worth the extra effort. My friend Joan once posted this saying, which I love: "Do Simple Things Well."

In my lazy, get-'er-done-quick mentality, I too often forget that.

So I glued the crystals down, and here's the final result.

Lots of white, a pop of strong color, bling. What more could I want?

As I wrote this post, I realized that the way we make design decisions is so personal, individual. You, for instance, may have chosen different colors, either because you don't like yellow and orange or because you didn't have good dye inks in the those colors. You might have placed your frame in a sweet spot instead of dead center, or vertically in a pair, or falling off the edge of the card. You might have punched butterflies in colored card stock or vellum or patterned paper, or gone with something entirely different, like lady bug buttons or flowers. You might have used pearls or several smaller gems rather than one larger one as I did. You might have popped or layered any or all elements on this card.

Isn't it wonderful how we're all different!

But the main point here is that we HAVE to make decisions, choose one way or another, repeatedly. Otherwise, nothing ever gets made. Some of you may have no problems at all making design decisions, but others (I suspect most of us) get all insecure and question and doubt and second-guess our decisions and gum up the process. Overcoming those road-blocks is powerful and empowering, and requires that we trust ourselves and the process itself and accept that we will fail sometimes...and that failure is okay. Really, it is only paper.

Trust the process. Trust yourself.

And thus endeth today's lesson.

stamps: Clearly Besotted, Hero Arts
ink: Hero Arts, Memento
paper: Papertrey Ink white
accessories: MS butterfly punch, Swarovski crystals, glue, sponge, post-it notes

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Gradual Return to "Normal"

Catching up after being away is exhausting. It's after 10 a.m., and I'm still in my jammies today, finally feeling like maybe I can settle down. I still have to pick up Jack's fish, who vacationed at a friend's house, but that's about it.

Going through the mail that accumulated while we were away was surprisingly fun as there were two pieces of happy mail amidst all the junk and magazines and bills.

First up, here's a lovely card George and I received before we left from Patti M., who remembered our anniversary. I love the combination of patterns and solids on this monochromatic beauty, and the sweet sentiment written inside touched my heart.

Up next is a package from my friend Linda E., who really went overboard with the thanks with a card, change purse, and white card stock samples.

Don't you love how she decorated the envelope to match the card?

Awesome vivid and cheerful!

A felt change purse with such happy colors and detailing!

Finally, Joyce M. sent a fabulous one-layer card along with a generous assortment of butterfly die cuts packaged in an adorable handmade envelope.

Gorgeous colors plus debossing to add definition and texture

Another great use for washi tape

These are going to be so much fun to play with!

Y'all are so talented, and you have no idea how uplifted I am that you share your talent with me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

And now, to shower and go pick up a fish...and then, hopefully, to stamp!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Mad Sponging Skilz?

Not me. If you want mad sponging skilz, skip on over to Heather Telford's blog. SHE's the Queen of Sponging. She can do things with a sponge I can only dream about.

But I can handle the basics, as displayed in these two cards that were inspired by packaging in 1,000 Bags, Tags, and Labels. In the inspiration piece, text straddled two colors. That's VERY HARD to do with two layers of card stock, so sponging a second color makes perfect sense.

I wanted very dense color on the yellow card, so I used thick and creamy VersaMagic mango chalk ink, and then stamped the stars in VersaColor poppy, which was very opaque. For the second card, though, I wanted a more translucent effect, so I used dye ink (Hero Arts Soft Pool, I think). Amazing the different effects achieved by changing the type of ink and using a lighter touch.

On another topic, we are home safe and sound after a week at the lake. I have about fifty things to do tomorrow (community-school relations meeting, rent a trumpet for Jack, take Jack to his first trumpet lesson, pick Daisy up at the kennel and the fish at a friend's house, go through the held mail, yadda, yadda), so I may or may not post tomorrow. Don't worry. We're just getting back to normal.

What is normal? I'm confused because I haven't felt anything like normal since we had kids. Does normal still exist? Or is it just a setting on the dryer?

Happy summer.

stamps: Hero Arts (first card), Gina K (second card)
ink: VersaMagic, Hero Arts
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: half pearls and rhinestones, sponge, post-it notes (for mask)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Spectrum Pads and Bling: A Match Made in Heaven

Unless you're new to Simplicity, you probably know I love the Kaleidacolor spectrum ink pads almost as much as I love bling. Today's cards allow me to use both with joyful abandon. much "joyful abandon" as one can express while still leaving tons of glorious white space. But you know what I mean.

To match the bling with so many different ink colors was easy. I just used clear rhinestones and colored them with Sharpie and Bic markers. You can blend the markers on the rhinestones to get close to exact matches. Just keep adding color until you get there.

I keep a sheet of clear rhinestones for just this purpose. Occasionally, I'll color bling and then decide not to use it. No worries. I'll use them all eventually. But you can see the smaller rhinestones on this sheet are colored to match the inks on the card. I transfer the bling to the card using a craft knife for exact placement.

So don't fret if you don't have the right color of rhinestone for your project. Just pull out those nice, inexpensive Sharpie and Bic markers and color away!

Footnote: Copics work well for this, too, but most of my Copics are light shades to match the darker, brighter Sharpies and Bics--the cheap stamper's alternative to buying dozens of expensive Copics. Light shades don't show up on the rhinestones well at all. I generally find that the dark markers give the best colors.

stamps: Clearly Besotted, I think (will double check when I get home from vacation)
ink: Kaleidacolor, Memento black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones, assorted Bic and Sharpie markers

Friday, June 20, 2014

Life Is Good

Life is good.

The surf boards are stamped in Hero Arts inks, and the sentiment is stamped in Memento Luxe tuxedo black for extra density of color. Given the opacity of the pigment ink, Memento Luxe holds up much better than regular Memento ink when stamped over a darker or brighter dye ink, as here it's stamped over Hero Arts Ocean.

I added the two sequins to draw the eye to the sentiment. Before I added the sequins, my eye stopped at the ocean-colored board. The sequins unify the whole design better and draw the eye to the sentiment.

Sometimes, embellishments, like life, are good.

Sometimes, simple is good.

I hope this post finds your life good.

stamps: Echo Park Paper
ink: Memento Luxe, Hero Arts
paper: Papertrey Ink white
accessories: sequins

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Hello, Sunshine

FYI--Regarding yesterday's post about conditioning stamps...I was very satisfied with the MFT stamps. Only the bold font images needed a little light rubbing with an eraser, just as one would expect. The Echo Park Paper stamps were the ones that gave me trouble, and once I broke the code on them and went the extra mile with cleaner and rubbing, they work just fine, and I really like the images.  I will report the problem with them to Echo Park. Thanks for all your input!

We're enjoying lovely weather in northern Minnesota...sunny and highs in the 70s. The water is a tad chilly for this southern wimp, but the kids have enjoyed it.

Obviously, we're not in a tropical paradise, but I love today's card with its stylized scene of just that.

The beach and water were made using an old, discontinued Hero Arts stamp from a set of fun shapes. I inked part of the stamp in brown and part in blue to create the idea of a beach, using the bigger side for sand because that big umbrella would have looked dorky sticking up out of that little hump. I like how this card layout balanced both weight and color.

I don't like the missing comma in the sentiment. Alas!

stamps: Echo Park Paper, Gina K (sentiment), Hero Arts (shadow)
ink: Memento, Hero Arts
paper: Papertrey Ink white
accessories: none

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Extreme Clear-Stamp Conditioning...Ick

ETA...The My Favorite Things set worked just fine with a little normal conditioning with an eraser for the bolder fonts, and the lighter lines work fine without any conditioning at all. I want to be clear that I'm very satisfied with them.

The Echo Park stamps work great after I went the extra mile conditioning them, and both sets are grand additions to my hoard collection.

Recently, I purchased a couple of clear stamp sets at a brick-and-mortar scrapbooking store. Both were new companies for me...Echo Park Paper and My Favorite Things.

The Echo Park Paper set definitely required conditioning. The first time I inked one of the stamps, it didn't take ink well. This isn't unusual, as the manufacturing process can leave a residue on clear stamps that can be removed easily with an eraser and quick cleaning with a damp washcloth to remove all the eraser nubbins.

Normally, this doesn't bother me much. I whipped out my white eraser and went to work, but the results were unlike any I'd experienced before. The eraser simply smeared the residue around in a very sticky mess instead of removing it.

I tried wiping this on a wet washcloth, and all that accomplished was to smear the sticky mess around.

Finally, I sprayed Ultimate Stamp Cleaner directly on the stamp to thoroughly wet it, let it sit a bit, and wiped it off with a clean, damp washcloth. The results were satisfactory.

Every stamp in the set required this treatment to get clean, and by the end I'd used about a quarter of my bottle of stamp cleaner. The MFT set didn't cause this much of a problem, and it left me wondering, "Has anyone else has experienced this level of icky sticky mess when conditioning stamps?" I really like the's very summery and fun, and I've made some cute cards with it now that it's all clean. But I wonder what would cause such a problem. Any ideas?

And here's a card that pretty much sums up my Tuesday on Lake Vermilion. Or it would sum up the day if the surf board were a kayak. Not much surf here in Minnesota.

Hope you're having a beautiful day, too.

stamps: Echo Park Paper
ink: Memento, Hero Arts
paper: Papertrey
accessories: rhinestones, dimensionals, scissors

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Washi Tape: Part 4

Parts 1-3 in this series have focused on using washi tape on the card base. Today's cards raise the washi tape to a, ahem, higher level.

These two washi rolls are adorable together...the thin row of hearts over the wider pink-and-red "LOVE" makes a wonderful border. The card, however, lacked a little something, so I added a couple of red heart-shaped rhinestones. Perfect!

Stars and stripes--even if they aren't horizontal--combine for a perfect Operation Write Home card.

Coordinating tapes don't have to be set side-by-side. At right angles works just as well. The solid green tape, however, seemed a bit blah with the stripes, so I added the bling. Of course.

And finally, what if you have a great sentiment that just one washi tape can accent perfectly. No need to go overboard, right? Just be simple.

I love simple.

Simple is good.

Happy washi-ing!

(If you want to know any of these supplies, I'll be happy to share them with you when I get home from vacation. Just let me know.)

Monday, June 16, 2014

A Break for Father's Day Cards and First-World Whining

I am on vacation in the wilds of northern Minnesota (really, a resort on Lake Vermilion...beautiful cabin, loons floating on the water, eagles flying overhead...a rough life), and after three days, I finally have internet access. (Yes, I'd scheduled the past two posts ahead of time.) Anyway, the internet here is as slow as molasses in winter, but it's internet access. I'm not sure how trustworthy this service is. The past two days rained, and apparently that killed the Wi-Fi. Six humans trapped in a cabin without Wi-Fi or cell phone service.

The horror. The horror.


Whatever. (Name that literary reference!)

I'm going to (hopefully, God willing and the creek don't rise) post my final entry in the washi tape series tomorrow, but for now, I want to talk about Father's Day, because I couldn't yesterday, and what a bummer that was.

I have mixed feelings about Father's Day, as do all children of fathers who were not exactly Ward Cleaver. My usual response to the day is to focus on those men who were LIKE fathers for me, who were and are wonderful, positive, loving, supportive men. My uncle Darius, my grandfather D.L., my father-in-law Roger...and a variety of male teachers who went above and beyond in the setting-an-example-of-good-men department.

On Father's Day, I am incredibly thankful for these men in my life, but mostly, I'm thankful for my husband, the father of my own children, who are more important to me than myself. He's pretty awesome in the dad department (and no slouch in the husband department, either). So I made him a Father's Day card inspired by the view off our back deck because it's his happiest place in the wonderful home he's provided for us.

The design focuses on the tree with giant leaves in two shades of green and a single red bird (evocative of our cardinal Louis, who is stupid beyond the usual bird brain and constantly tries to head-butt his way through our windows). 

And while we're on the topic of Father's Day cards, here's the one I made for my husband to send to his father, who is a fan of petroglyphs and all things southwestern.

And here's a close-up of the marvelous shimmer of the Brilliance rust ink. I outlined the rectangles with copper metallic marker since without it they looked a little blah. The results are fabulous, I think.

I hope you had a lovely Father's Day. For those of you who have great fathers still alive, know you are blessed. For those of you who have great fathers who have passed on, know that I prayed for you on Father's Day. And for those whose fathers are not or were not Ward Cleaver, know that you are not alone and it's all going to be okay.

Supplies for Tree Card
stamps:  Papertrey
ink: Memento and Hero Arts
paper: Papertrey Ink white
accessories: green grosgrain ribbon, leather circle punch

Supplies for Southwest Card
stamps: Stampabilities, PSX, Hero Arts
ink: Brilliance, Memento
paper: Papertrey Ink white
accessories: dimensionals, copper metallic pen, straight metal ruler

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Washi Tape: Part 3

Yesterday's washi card showed how the tape can be used to create a tidy border, and today's cards show how it can be used to ground a design these cases, a punched label.

The strip of tape connects the card base and the tag in a colorful, interesting way, although I do love the purist white-on-white look myself.

Note that you could always use a piece of designer paper to achieve the same effect.

In other news...

Today--Flag Day--is our 28th wedding anniversary. I feel like I'm 32 years old, which means I married George when I was four. That sounds about right. Time is very relative, isn't it?

Many thanks to Patti M., who sent us a gorgeous anniversary card that I'll share soon.

We're on vacation now in northern Minnesota...the land of a thousand lakes...with George's sister and her husband. In July, we're joining my sister and her family for their "stay"-cation in Maryland. Then, in August, I'm going to Pittsburg by myself for Stephen Ministry Leadership Training. Finally, the weekend after Labor Day, George and I are going to Madison for Ironman Wisconsin, again joining up with his sister and her husband. The guys will do the race. Angela and I will drink mimosas for breakfast and drink wine with dinner while they sweat and suffer their way through 140.6 miles. Good times.

It's going to be a busy summer! I'd love to hear where you are going for your vacation. Please share!

stamps: Hero Arts Year Round Sentiments
ink: VersaColor
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: washi tape, rhinestones, EK Success label punch, dimensionals