Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Life and Stuff

I have run out of cards to post.

The horror!

I had hoped to have more time between my trip to Maryland (finished) and my trip to Pittsburgh (pending) to make a bunch of cards to continue posting uninterrupted through Pittsburgh and beyond.

Bwaaa haaa haaaa! What an optimist I am!

Instead, I only found time to make four cards for August's One-Layer Simplicity #8, which I am hosting.

And no way am I posting one of those cards before August 1st. I don't want to spoil the surprise.

So this post is to give you a heads-up that my posting between now and whenever I can get into my craft room will be sporadic and perhaps nonexistent. There will be three posts on OLS#8 coming up, but beyond that, you'll hear crickets around Simplicity.

Nothing is wrong. I am fine. I will be back. In fact, I'm scared I'll lose all common sense in the next week or so and order a bunch of stuff I don't need just so I'll have fun stuff to play with when I do get back into my stamping nook!

If you want to keep up with what I'm doing next week in Pittsburgh, feel free to check out my other blog called Transforming Common Days.

In short, I'll be back soon. In the meantime, stuff is happening.

And life is good.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Stop the Presses!!!!!

LateBlossom used kraft!!!!

And she actually enjoyed it!!!!

stamps: My Favorite Things First Class Friend
ink: Memento Luxe Danube blue, VersaMagic Rocket Red
paper: Papertrey Ink kraft
accessories: circle punch, dimensional

Monday, July 28, 2014

Another Thank-You Set and Some Words on Ink

As I've mentioned before, my sister-in-law Angela and her husband Mike are coming this weekend to watch my boys while I go to the Stephen Ministry Leadership Training Course. I made a set of thank-you cards for Angela and now it's her husband's turn.

He's an Ironman like George. He likes bikes. A lot. So I made a set of nine cards in three colors featuring...a bike.

Masculine colors, a road, and a bike. I think Mike will appreciate these!

And now, some unsolicited and unpaid words on ink....

I have covered inks on my Favorite Products page and stand by all I say there. Now, however, I have a new quick-drying pigment ink to add to the list of favorites: Impress Fresh Ink. This ink is a lovely, rich ink that works extremely well with clear stamps. It offers great coverage, a wide range of colors, and juicy pads that aren't over-inked (a problem I've noticed with some brands that leads to goopy images).

I only have three colors right now, but my birthday is coming up in a few months. My hubby will definitely be widening my color options for me.

If I can wait that long.

And that's all I have to say about that.

For now.

stamps: Hero Arts (bike, ribbon), Clearly Besotted (sentiment)
ink: VersaColor, VersaMagic
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: none

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Seeing the Potential

Do you ever find yourself staring at a card you've made and thinking that something about it just isn't right?

Of course you do.

We all do.

That's all part of the process.

So today I found myself staring at this card. It uses a layout I've used before...found it in the book 1,000 Labels, Tags, and Bags, I think. But this particular card just isn't right. Instead of pitching it, I sat and stared at it, contemplating the problem and possible solutions.

A Not Right Card

What's not right? Well, there is simply no unity here, as if two cards were stuck together...the one on top and the one on bottom. The light blue was supposed to unify the two halves of the design, but it fails miserably.

As if two cards were stuck together...two cards...could I divide this into two cards?

Why not?

The bottom half got a sentiment and bling to give a visual triangle of dark ocean green that unifies and completes this design perfectly.

The top half needed nothing because lots of empty space reinforces the sentiment so well. I rounded the corners because those pointy right angles definitely didn't fit with the single image of circles. Sometimes curves love angles, and sometimes they don't. Plus, I like how the curves remind me of hugs, and people who miss each other need hugs.

So today's lesson is "Don't give up." I could have pitched this card into the recycling bin, but I relaxed, contemplated, proposed ideas to myself, and got there in the end, with two cards out of the process.

Go, me!

stamps: Papertrey Grunge Me, Birthday Basics, Paper Tray; Clearly Besotted A Little Sentimental
ink: Hero Arts, Memento
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: dimensionals, corner rounder, rhinestone

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Holiday Sentiments, Part 5

I saved the card with the most white space for last. Just 'cause that's how I roll.

Up to this point, the cards in Parts 1-4 were made exclusively with stamps from Holiday Sentiments. No matter how fully functional a stamp set is on its own, however, don't forget to check your stash for other stamps to work with it.

As I stared at the smaller word stamps in the Clearly Besotted set, I realized that the "peace on earth" sentiment could benefit from an actual earth image.

Oh, yeah. I love how that font looks with the lines on the globe image. That's a very, very cool coincidence since the earth image is from Masculine Motifs by Papertrey Ink...different company, different theme altogether.

Think outside the set.

And that concludes this series on Clearly Besotted's Holiday Sentiments. As I said yesterday, this set is incredibly easy to work with. I came up with all five cards very quickly, with next to no hard thinking, and with shockingly few missteps. Pushing harder will no doubt yield a very good crop of creativity!!!

It's always exciting when a new purchase justifies itself in a first inking. I wish--sincerely, truly wish--that I could crack the code and make all my purchases so satisfying. I'm better than I used to be, but there are still those purchases that leave me wondering what in the name of little juicy ink pads I was thinking!

Do you have sets that "clicked" with your style easily? Do you have criteria by which you purchase new sets that minimize buyer's remorse? Please do share!

stamps: Clearly Besotted Holiday Sentiments
ink: VersaColor/VersaMagic
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: corner rounder, circle punch, dimensionals

Friday, July 25, 2014

Holiday Sentiments, Part 4

In my quest to stack the stamps in Holiday Sentiments from Clearly Besotted, I felt compelled to push the bounds of my usual minimalist style.

I also wanted to play with my new inks from Impress:

The talented enabler Erin Taylor told me to buy these quick-drying pigment inks. She actually told me to buy a few more colors, and I plan to take her advice. Fresh Ink is fabulous. Where has it been all my life? Never mind.

I'm happy I don't know all the great products out there. That way, there's always something new to discover.

Thanks, Erin, for enabling a new ink passion!

I stacked in shades of wonderful green to give the effect of a Christmas tree. This shape is simply perfect, and the flourished tree stand makes me so happy.

This card is two layers because I was worried I'd mess up with so much stamping, so I stamped on a card back salvaged from a failed card. Turned out to be a good thing, because my stacked tree was slightly off-center. I trimmed it to line up better and mounted it on a white card base.

There's still enough white space to make me happy, plus the image is made with words. Words are good. I love words.

Bet you didn't know that about me.

Yeah. Right.

Just one more card to share in this series, but rest assured that Holiday Sentiments will continue to provide me with crisp, clean Christmas cards for years to come.

stamps: Clearly Besotted Holiday Sentiments
ink: Impress Fresh Ink
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones, dimensionals

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Holiday Sentiments, Part 3

Creating a border with words seemed a natural choice for my next card with Clearly Besotted's Holiday Sentiments set. So I did it.

After I'd stamped the border, I wasn't sure what to do with it. The card was pretty and all, but it had no focal point, and I stared at the card for the longest time trying to come up with something, anything, to pull this card together.

So I borrowed the idea of topping joy with holly from yesterday's card, and God bless us, every one!

And now I have to vent. About five minutes after leaving my sister's house this morning to drive back to Ohio, my car was rear-ended while stopped at a traffic light. STOPPED, people! My big Mazda CX-9 in dark RED. How did the guy not see it?!?!?! Arrrghhh! Fortunately, we were not injured, he was not injured, and my car was drivable, which is more than I can say for his car, which was probably totaled. But the rest of my day was pretty miserable (500 miles, plus a few extra for missed exits and poorly chosen exits...sigh), and now I'm home, tired, and wined up.

Let it go, Susan. Let. It. Go.

I still have to talk to insurance companies. And a body shop. And a car rental place. I can't let it go, people. This will go on for weeks. WEEKS!!!

I'm happy to be home. But it sure was fun visiting my mom, sister, and her family. Pictures forthcoming on my other blog. As soon as I knock this chip off my shoulder.

stamps: Clearly Besotted
ink: various
paper: Papertrey Ink white
accessories: rhinestones

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Holiday Sentiments, Part 2

Yesterday's post showed a white-on-white layered card with a fresh red and green color combination. Today's card utilizes a similar "stacked" layout to yesterday's...a layout that stacks words or images vertically on a card...but has a somewhat different feel.

Well, different to me.

As you can see, there are four items stacked, just like yesterday's card. But instead of a wide, two-word sentiment, we have one short word. Smaller holly leaves and berries top it, and the base of the design is the slightly wider, flourished image.

I love how this set from Clearly Besotted has two different sizes of holly!

A few things to note. The wide base image lends stability to the design, sort of like a Weeble. Remember how they wobble but don't fall down? The holly points downward and really forces the eye onto the focal-point word, Joy, just as the strong horizontal line at the top of the flourish stops the eye from moving down. The traditional Christmas red of Joy (Hero Arts Red Royal) and the traditional green of the holly and flourish (Hero Arts Green) reinforce the theme and the focal point.

The fact that today's card is a simple, one-layer card makes it ideal for mass production and mailing. The rhinestones are affordable in bulk and add a shot of bling to give the card a little something special, but you could simply stamp the berries in red for a completely flat card, and it would still look fabulous.

Think of how you can use this stacking idea with stamps you already have. See if you can create a Weeble effect. It's extremely fun and, with the right words and images, can result in a lovely CAS card!

stamps: Clearly Besotted Holiday Sentiments
ink: Hero Arts
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Holiday Sentiments, Part 1

When I placed an order a few months back with Clearly Besotted, I threw (or clicked...whatever) Holiday Sentiments into my cart. What a smart purchase for me!

I wish all my impulse purchases were that smart.

My friend Joan B has started a series on her blog called Sunday Savings, in which she discusses what she's learned about buying and not buying stamping supplies. Joan is smart (she's a lawyer), and she has also made a lot of mistakes spending money on this hobby...mistakes I have made.


It's delightful reading how someone else screws up just like I do, and it's educational reading about how she has tried to do better. You can find last Sunday's installment HERE. I can't wait for next Sunday's installment, which will be titled "Anatomy of the Impulsive Purchase."

Which brings me back to Clearly Besotted's Holiday Sentiments.

It's a very flexible set, mostly words in a couple of different fonts, with a few very clean-and-simple images in different sizes. I've had a delightful time playing around with it and will show five different cards made with this one set, using the stamps in different ways each time.

I have not one single regret about this impulsive purchase and hope this means I'm learning something...after all, I chose to be impulsive at Clearly Besotted, and there's not much that Clearly Besotted puts out that I wouldn't happily own.

And no, they aren't paying me to say that. I just love their stuff.

Today's card features white-on-white layering (gotta use those white scraps!) and a very simple, stacked layout.

The polka-dot font of merry freshens up this stacked layout, along with the alternating layers of red and berries over green holly over red merry over green Christmas. All the white helps the colors pop right off the card.

Note that the berries could easily be brads given that the popped layer would hide the brad butts; however, I used enamel dots. Love those things! But they are very impractical for mass production...brads are much cheaper.

Good thing I rarely do mass production.

Anyway, for inks I can't remember the exact colors I used (and I'm three states away from my craft supplies at the moment, so no way to check), but for this card I intentionally went with a brighter, lighter red than I usually like (been lovin' Hero Arts Red Royal rich and deep!). Here, however, I wanted to use a more olive-toned medium green for the holly and felt a lighter red would be a bright counter-note to it.

Yep. Works for me!

Tomorrow, we'll take a look at a different stacked layout with a completely different feel.

And to those of you who think of boobs when you read must be English majors or have naturally dirty minds.

Because seriously, that's what I thought after I typed it, too.

stamps: Clearly Besotted
ink: various
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: enamel dots, dimensionals

Monday, July 21, 2014

Another for the Blue at Heart

Operation Write Home usually requests missing-you cards, and I just love using blue and hearts for these. And when something like this simple and perfect pops out of my head, there's generally squealing involved. (Although it took a few tries to get it right....)

To make this, I used the large and medium solid hearts from Papertrey's Heart Prints and then added a Sharpie-colored heart-shaped rhinestone to the middle. The inks are Hero Arts cornflower and denim, layered onto a one-layer card.

Simple, sincere, and sweet...suitable for a man or woman to send.

I wish I had some design insight into this card, but I'm too tired. A day at Rehoboth Beach on the coast of Delaware was exhaustingly fun. We even saw dolphins!

May your July be as much fun as mine has been.

stamps: Papertrey Heart Prints, Clearly Besotted A Little Sentimental
ink: Hero Arts cornflower, denim; Memento black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: Copic marker, clear heart rhinestone

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Thank-You Gift Set and More on Embellishment Storage

In a few weeks I'm going to Pittsburg for the Stephen Ministry Leadership Training Course. This trip was made possible by my church (they're paying the bill), my Stephen Ministry group (they're encouraging me), and my sister-in-law (who's watching my kids).

My sister-in-law Angela, in fact, got the whole ball rolling for me to attend this year. I'd originally planned on going in either 2015 or 2016, assuming by then my boys have quit bickering enough for me to trust them not to kill each other during the 40 hours of the week that George will be at work. When I mentioned this to Angela last year, she said she would watch them and that I should go in 2014.

Her offer made this trip possible, and I'm so very grateful.

Obviously, I must put together something to thank her for this enormous gift she's giving me. As a small part of her OMGosh, how-can-I-ever-thank-you? gift, I made this card set. It will be included in a basket full of stuff expressing my gratitude...a basket that will include at least three bottles of wine to be consumed during her stay so she doesn't kill the bickering Bickersons.

Despite the bickering, I really do like them.

Anyway, the set includes three cards of each color, with coordinating envelopes.

The darling tiny rhinestone brads for the flower centers have been in my stash for years. It was so much fun to use them for such a special gift! Also, note that the white-on-white layering was necessary to hide the brad butts (or legs, as my friend Leslie insists on calling them...but butts is more fun to say).

Using brads on one-layer cards is simply not done by obsessive-compulsive stampers.

Now, for a little more discussion of embellishment storage. Reader Janeen asked what type of container I use to store embellishments by color. Long-time readers might remember this picture from a long-ago post on my craft room in our old house.

I store embellishments and other crafting supplies in 12"x12" storage drawers by color. My current set-up is slightly different from what's shown in this picture, but the idea is the same.

I now have two drawers for neutral embellishments (white, gray, black, cream, brown) and single drawers for blue/violet, green, yellow/orange, red/pink, and metallic. Each drawer includes all the little embellishments for specific colors, plus things like Sakura Stardust pens, Stickles, flock, thread, bling, pearls, glitter, and Smooch. This arrangement helps me enormously because when a card needs a little something, I pull out the drawer or drawers for corresponding colors and get ideas...often that I never would have thought of if the supplies were not organized they way they are.

I combined some colors into a single drawer simply because I've used down my stash enough that they fit well together. This system has really helped me see which embellishments I actually enjoy using and which ones just get hoarded. Over the years since this picture was taken, many of the hoarded supplies have been purged.

The whole system is extraordinarily efficient, and as I said in yesterday's post, it's all thanks to Stacy Julian and her book Big Picture Scrapbooking

It changed my life.

Well, at least my crafting life.

Give it a go if you haven't already. It really is a very sensible plan.

If you made it this far, you might also like to know that I'm currently at my sister's house in Maryland getting some quality time with my niece, nephews, sister, brother-in-law, and mother. Yay! But if you've emailed in the past four or five days, I probably haven't answered you. I'm sorry. I'll try to get back with you when the boys and I get home late this week. In the meantime, please pray for George, who doesn't get to be with us. He's got to work while we play.

Poor George!

stamps: Papertrey Beautiful Blooms II, Clear and Simple Stamps (sentiment, discontinued)
ink: Hero Arts
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestone brads, dimensionals

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Stardust Pens Are Cool

We have so many cool toys to play with, but if you're anything like me, you sort of forget about things as they disappear into your stash. Finding things again, just when you need them, can be a challenge, especially if you don't store your embellishments and other supplies by color.

I'm a genius.

Not really. Stacy Julian is the genius. She wrote about storing embellishments by color years ago. I am so glad I took her advice. It makes finding those supplies you forget about sooooo much easier!

I had this card started and stared at it for a bit, trying to think what could kick it up a notch.

It needed a little something, so I opened my green embellishment drawer and saw this:

I pulled out that green pen and started tracing the lines of the feather. This was incredibly easy, and look how shimmery that ink is!

After I finished inking the whole feather, I added some bling to the card, and was very, very pleased with the results.

If Stardust pens are cool, so is storing your embellishments and other supplies by color rather than type.

Thank you, Stacy Julian.

stamps: Waltzingmouse Fine Feathers
ink: Hero Arts, Memento
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: Sakura Stardust pen, rhinestones, corner rounder

Friday, July 18, 2014

Use Your Smooch Again: Pointillism

Before I started my "Use Your Smooch" series, I made a list of possible ideas for using Smooch, and once I got started, I forgot all about the list.

I found it.

And there was an idea that was too good to pass up. It was easy, much quicker than expected, and turned out so nicely, I just have to share it.


I'm no fine artist, so my pointillist experiment keeps things nice and simple...a blue heart for a missing you card for Operation Write Home.

Let's start with a heart template. I used my Fiskar's ShapeCutter template to pencil a heart on a piece of card stock.

See. It's a simple shape and not too big.

Next, fill in the shape with dots of two shades of Smooch. I used light and dark blue because being away from your family gives you the blues.

Once the shape is filled in, LET IT DRY COMPLETELY!!!! Then, erase the pencil marks and cut or punch it out. I used a large heart punch rather than the ShapeCutter because it's easier to punch than to use the UFO. Also, I liked the look of a white border around the blue heart.

Next, create a ground for the punched shape on a card base. I went with a simple, straight-line border.



Then, mount your pretty--yet somehow sad--blue heart on the line, stamp a sentiment, and you've made a perfect card for OWH!

Yay, pointillism!

stamps: Papertrey Simple Little Things (sentiment)
ink: Memento
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: Smooch, dimensionals, heart template, heart punch, pencil, eraser

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Question of Scale

The wonderful snowflakes in the Hero Arts set I bought a while back inspired me to make a couple of cards that explore the concept of scale.

First up, what do you do with a rather large image? Well, spreading repeats of it out on a large space in a nice visual triangle works well.

3.75" x 7.25"

The large snowflake is so pretty in Hero Arts Soft Pool ink and the red sentiment pops right off the card...a very fun--and different--color combination! There's plenty of restful white space, and the asymmetrical triangle keeps your eye moving nicely across the space.

I deliberately overlapped the sentiment and bottom snowflake, and was surprised at how, ahem, awkward the thin lines of the sentiment look over the thicker lines of the snowflake. I really thought the red would be bright enough to compensate, but if I remade the card, I'd space them out without the overlap. That really shouldn't have surprised me, though. In retrospect, it's pretty obvious.

Hindsight is always 20/20.

But what do you do with smaller images on the large space? Well, you could add them to the card above, allowing for a nicely varied flurry on the card. But I wanted to see how just using smaller flakes would look on that large of a space, so I made this card.

3.75" x 7.25"
There's still white space here...those flakes aren't crowded. I very carefully didn't overlap the sentiment with them because the small flakes would be very busy behind the red, and after making the first card, I realized that soft pool isn't a pale enough color to make the overlap work.

Which do you prefer? I (big surprise) lean toward the trio of large images...more peaceful to me, and more white space always makes me happy. But the second card implies LOTS of blessings represented by lots of snowflakes...a symbolism that works for me. And there's nothing overlapping the sentiment, which I prefer.

Yes, you'll be seeing more Christmas cards over the next few months as I'm getting my stash together to send to Operation Write Home, as well as cards for my own use. But do remember that you can always substitute other themes for these layouts and color combinations. Flowers would work great, for instance, with both of these designs!

stamps: Hero Arts
ink: Hero Arts, Memento
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones, corner rounder

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Striking Color Combinations

With clean-and-simple design, striking color combinations are often the key design element that helps distinguish a basic, common design and make it more interesting. Let's face it: there are not a lot of ways to pleasingly organize images on a CAS card. By using exciting or unexpected color combinations, a card maker can keep things simple...yet interesting as well.

Such is the case with today's card, which combines a light pink (lighter than the photo indicates), dark red, and dark gray. It's a fun combination to use on a snowflake card!

Did you know that there is such a thing as pink snow, red snow, or blood snow? The coloring is caused by algae growth. Weird, eh?

I prefer thinking these pink and red flakes are just whimsical!

The snowflakes are arranged in a triangle, which is emphasized by the addition of bling in three sizes. This card was originally a standard 4.25" x 5.5" size, but it looked odd, so I trimmed it down to 4.25" square. The asymmetry of the design looks lovely on a square card.

Every winter, I find myself needing cards that aren't holiday cards, so I decided to make a few using the Hero Arts set Winter Wishes (and an additional small snowflake from Hero Arts CL469). What a nice surprise for someone who's not expecting a card!

Do you make seasonal cards that are unrelated to holidays? Why or why not?

stamps: Hero Arts
ink: Memento Luxe angel pink, rhubarb stalk, London fog
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Dog and More Birthday Cards

I've already shared the following on Facebook and my Questioning blog, but I wanted to share it here because it makes me smile. Every. Single. Time.

My husband did RAIN--the Ride Across Indiana--on Saturday, so he was gone Friday night. When I went to sleep, Daisy was curled up at the foot of the bed, but when I woke up, I felt a paw pushing on my shoulder. When I rolled over, I saw this:

"Oh, hi."

This dog leads a very rough life. Don't you feel sorry for her? Sure you do.

Anywho, I must concede defeat in yesterday's post. Most of you preferred the second card to the first, and as I stared at them, I realized that my photo angle must have changed how I perceived the second card (I said it looked squished). The AR/OC in me likes the first card because of the centered sentiment, but the designer understands the sweet spot is pretty powerful.

Now, onto today's cards.

For today's cards, I simply continued the idea of yesterday's cards, but used different sentiments and images in the fabulous It's Your Birthday set from Clearly Besotted.

I really like the balloon card, but the candle card...not so much. I think the strong verticals of the font look way more better with the curvy lines of the balloon.

Way more better. That's what my grandmother used to say. She also used to say, "It don't make me no never mind." That means, "It doesn't matter to me." I love Southernisms.

And now, to bed.

stamps: Clearly Besotted
ink: Memento Luxe, VersaMagic
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: nary a one

Monday, July 14, 2014

Updates and Birthday Cards

1. Several of you have asked for updates on Jonah. He will be having two minor surgeries in the near future, one to remove his port and the other to remove the birthmark over his left eye. His mother Molly posted this on Facebook on Friday:

"Jonah had his monthly follow-up visit today. There are no concerns and everything is on-target for his surgeries next week.

"The oncologist is pleased with Jonah's progress. Jonah has gained a full pound since his last visit a month ago and he is making steady improvement in his walk & balance.

"There was a bit of rough going with the finger-stick to get Jonah's labs. We did some DEEP breathing and got it done. We all agreed that NO ONE likes to be "pinched" in the finger for... labs and that it's okay not to like it...and that it still must be done before we can go home; and that's kind of rotten. When it was all over, the first thing Jonah told the oncologist as he was walking in the room was, 'Well, it was a little rough in here....'

"From here on out, our visits will be every 3 months as a follow-on to Jonah's scans. We'll keep this schedule for the next 3 years. Jonah's first set of scans (Chest X-ray and Ultrasound) is in August.
But...first things first: the surgery to remove his port. Jonah is SO excited! He told the nurse, doctor and tech all about his exciting news: 'Next week, I'm getting my port out and once it's out I'm going to have a party to celebrate! You are all invited....'

"So happy for you, Peanut! So happy."

She also posted this picture of him recently.

Many thanks to all of you who sent cards and packages for Jonah and his family. He really enjoyed all the wonderful cards, and y'all sent so much that he had a pretty steady stream, opening a few a day in keeping with his 4/5-year-old attention span. I have the best readers in the world! On behalf of Molly, Ben, and Jonah, thank you all so much!!!

2. It's so cool that many of you have started following Simplicity on either Bloglovin' or Facebook! If you get a chance, let me know if/when you start receiving your email subscriptions again.

3. I recently placed a rather largish order at Clearly Besotted, a stamp company in the UK that designs stamps just for my style. One set, It's Your Birthday, beckoned, and I HAD to use all the image stamps in it so it could join the other stamps in my collection. I do so hate to leave new stamps languishing in their sad, lonely little basket on my desk.

Here are the first couple of cards I made with it!

I love, love, love that Happy Birthday sentiment. It's such a great font combination, and stamping it in Memento Luxe tuxedo black gives it such a lovely, dense weight on the card that stands up to a bright and colorful image.

Notice that the arrangement is basically the same for each card, but the placement is different. The first card puts the sentiment just below the center of the card, while the second takes advantage of the lower-right "sweet" spot.

I varied the placement to see which looked better. Interestingly, in real life, I couldn't pick a favorite of the two at all, but when I saw them on the computer screen, the first one looked more balanced. The second seems a little squished in the corner. Funny how seeing something in real life and on a computer screen different gives you really different perspectives.

Which do you prefer? Why?

stamps: Clearly Besotted It's Your Birthday
ink: Memento Luxe
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestone

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Minimalist Monday Thanks

When time's a crunch, minimalism is a stamper's best friend. Back in May, I needed to make thank-you cards for Jack's teachers and aides. I had purchased gifts for them, packaged simply but cutely, but I still needed cards, and the deadline snuck up on me.

Here's what I came up with in a pinch:

The stamps are from an old, limited-edition Thank You set from Clear and Simple Stamps. I just varied the colors of the "Thanks" stamp, made two of each color, rounded corners, and called it good.

Lots of tears shed as I wrote these thank-you notes. My younger son Jack was in Mrs. Kneeland's intervention class for two years (4th and 5th grades), and one of the aides was with him for both years. He also had to say good-bye to the OT who has been with him since kindergarten. These ladies have been with Jack through his hardest two years in school, and honestly, they are simply the best teacher, aide, and therapist imaginable.

Dang, I'm getting choked up. Y'all should have seen Jack's developmental pediatrician singing his praises a few weeks ago at his regular 6-month appointment. Six months ago, things were not so good. He's come so far, and against a lot of odds. He couldn't have done it without the amazing insight, knowledge, and patience of Mrs. Kneeland, Mrs. Garcia, and Mrs. Gleason. Love those ladies so much!

We'll still see Mrs. Kneeland as Jack plans to continue Special Olympics bowling, and Mrs. K is the coordinator. Yay!

Next year, he will be in a new building for school, exclusively for 6th grade. Love that our district gives the sixth grade a safe space to make that difficult transition between elementary school and junior high. I'm hopeful that he can continue with as much inclusion as possible, and that he enjoys being in the band playing trumpet. We're trying to prepare him with summer trumpet lessons, and he's having a blast! 

Anyway, the cards were simple, and the sentiments written inside were heartfelt.

Whom have you needed to thank lately?

stamps: Clear and Simple Stamps
ink: Memento
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: not a single one

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Old School Tools and OWH Love

I may have decided to opt out of the whole die-cut machine investment so many stampers embrace, but years ago, my husband bought me the space-ship thingy from Fiskars, so I am not completely without the ability to cut a (very) limited number of shapes with a device.

I have a small stack of templates for the Fiskars ShapeCutter, and the hearts are among the most used of those templates.

Operation Write Home regularly requests love-themed cards for the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines who are deployed. These men and women want to send lots of love home to their families, so I try to make a significant proportion of the cards I send love-themed.

My recent purchase of Hero Arts' Oh, Snap set was largely intended for Operation Write Home, and here are two cards showcasing a nice, big sentiment from that set.

First up, white-on-white layers of hearts frame and accent the sentiment. I love this in its simplicity, but I recognize that many people might feel it is too plain. On the negative side for me, though...that red (Memento Love Letter) just isn't my favorite.

My second card kicks up the interest with a bold color combination and an interesting border to anchor the single large heart. The Red Royal and Soft Gray from Hero Arts compliment each other perfectly, and the arrow border (with two rows going in different directions) gives a sense of movement to the design.

Visually, the second card is definitely more interesting than the first, but I do love the quiet layering of the first card.

What do you think?

stamps: Hero Arts
ink: Memento and Hero Arts
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: Fiskars shape cutter and template, dimensionals

Friday, July 11, 2014

Using Your Smooch: Part 7, The Finale

We're down to the last two cards of my Smooch that uses tiny strips, and one that returns us to where we began, with dots.

When I thought I was running out of energy with my Smooch cards, I still had a couple of random pieces hanging out on my desk, shimmering up at me expectantly. Just as I was about to throw them in the trash, I had a brainstorm and made this interestingly geometric card instead!

Love this! The variation in color, line length, and line height make this very simple card so interesting visually. The sentiment (Clearly Besotted's A Little Sentiment set) is placed in the center of the card, and the lines flow around it and draw attention to it. Justified left, ragged right imply that maybe there's some other text covered and/or censored under the orange lines. It's just cool!

The second card is actually one of the first I made in the Smooch Fest...I simply forgot to post it at the beginning of the series. But I love it and wanted to share it with you, so here it is.

The set called Turning a New Leaf from Papertrey has some excellent leaves in it, and when I saw this ferny-looking branch, I thought, huh, don't ferns have little white dots of whatever on the underside of the leaves? (I never took botany, but a quick google search reveals they are spores for fern reproduction.) With that image in mind, I used the white shimmery Smooch to add dots to the green leaves.

Card size: 3 1/4" x 6 1/4"

When you add Smooch over ink, remember that the ink needs to be waterproof, or it will bleed unattractively into the Smooch. In this case, I used Memento cottage ivy. The sentiment is SU river rock, which isn't waterproof but didn't get dots, so it didn't matter, now, did it?

The contrast between today's two cards is interesting. The first is so linear and geometric, right down to the sans serif font of the sentiment. The second is much more organic and natural (in a stylized way, of course, but still...curvy) with a loose, handwritten-look sentiment. Both have loads of glorious white space and a very crisp feel.

Happy sigh!

So, now I've thrown a lot of different ideas at you regarding Smooch, the shimmery ink in a bottle. I hope you've found at least a few ideas you want to try. Reader Cynthia posted a comment suggesting I try to make marbled paper out of Smooch...because it FLOATS on water! The last time I tried marbling paper was over a decade ago, and I still cringe when I remember the mess that ended up in the trash.

But it's only paper...and maybe worth a try, seeing as I still have plenty of Smooch left to play with!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Using Your Smooch: Part 6, More with Inkblots

I sincerely hope you're not sick of Smooch, and I want to remind you up front on this post that almost all these cards and techniques can be done without Smooch by substituting other inks or paints you might very well have on hand.

Of course, I won't judge you if you run right out and buy all the Smooch you can find, but it's not necessary that you do so. Unless it is. In which case, you have my permission.

My point with all these smoochy cards is that you can and likely should use--well and truly use--your supplies, whatever they are. If you're like me, you probably have a plethora of products that languish, lonely and abandoned, in plastic drawers and bins. These products are sad. You should take them out and play with them, make them happy, tell them that they are loved.

That's what I am doing. And it's loads of fun!

Now, onto more inkblot/Rorschach test cards. Yesterday, I posted three cards with largish parts of the inkblot I made. Today, I'm posting three cards made with punched shapes from the scraps left over by the first three cards.

Needless to say, with my love of "less is more," today's cards make my CAS-lovin' heart sing ditties and dance a jig.

The first card showcases a 3/4" square punch and Corner Chomper combined with one blingity-bling and a very British sentiment from the British company Clearly Besotted. 

Have I mentioned lately how much I love Great Britain? Well, I do.

The second card repeats a branch punch from EK Success and uses lots of festive bling in two shades of red and three sizes. The sweet, tiny, handwritten sentiment comes from Papertrey's Signature Christmas set.

The third card uses a 1/4" square punch. It's almost impossible to get these tiny squares lined up perfectly straight, so I didn't try. They are deliberately a little wonky to add some movement and interest to a very orderly, static design. The sentiment comes from Clearly Besotted's A Little Sentimental set.

That's my favorite new sentiment set.

And that's all I have to say about punching shapes from scraps.

For now.

You never know when it'll burst out of me again. Like the alien from Sigourney Weaver's stomach. Only prettier.

I hope.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Using Your Smooch: Part 5, Inkblots

As I played around with my Smooch, I remembered how interesting Rorschach-style things can happen when you fold wet, painted paper. Shimmery, Smoochy Rorschach tests! What a concept!

So here's what I did:

1. Take a half piece of regular heavy white card stock or watercolor paper. I used PTI's white card stock in this example.
2. Score a fold in the middle, and fold it, then opened it on a waterproof surface. I used my cutting mat, which is easy to clean.
3. Paint one side of the inside of the folded paper with plain water until it's soppy wet, and then quickly add watered-down Smooch with an eyedropper on the saturated side of the paper.
4. Press the dry half of the paper down onto the wet and rub gently over the whole piece with your fingers or a bone folder. Inky water will ooze out the sides. Do not be alarmed.
5. Open the paper, and see what happened!

The more water you use, the more colors blend and flow. I used lime and dark green Smooch, and the lime ink seemed to sort of separate into lime and yellow, which really added a lot of interest here.  I think it would become a muddy mess if you used more than three colors, though. And remember that complementary colors (those opposite on the color wheel, like red and green or yellow and purple) combine to make brown.

If you tilt your head to the right and you have a dirty anatomically-inclined mind, you might see a uterus in this Rorschach image. Or not. Maybe I'm just weird.

Anyway, I made a whole bunch of cards using this 5.5" x 8.5" piece of shimmery yellow-green paper. At first, I used relatively larger pieces, so let me share those three cards today.

This first card allowed me to use a couple of giant blingy stickers to anchor the strip. I like how the crisp, angular lines of the "ribbon" of color are softened by the blended colors and large round shapes of the bling.

The largest piece of background plays up the wonderful drippy lines that look like some surrealistic rain storm. Did you know that the color green symbolizes hope? That made me reach for this sentiment from CASual Friday's Breathe set.

Of course, some war poet from WWI turned green's symbolism on its side when he wrote about the green glow of mustard gas in the trenches. Not very hopeful.

But I digress.

Finally, I wanted to do something interesting with this strip and thought cutting a free-form curve might do the trick. After affixing the two pieces to the card, I reached for a sentiment set from Clearly Besotted that has LOTS of sentiments, and realized that the division between the two pieces might perfectly represent the feelings of separation caused by loss of a loved one. For Christians, the idea is that we're separated from our loved ones only until we rejoin them in heaven, at which time things all fit perfectly back together again.

And there you have my first three cards with this particular technique. The remaining pieces were used in much smaller doses, and I think the results are superbly LateBlossom style. But you'll have to wait until tomorrow and Friday to see those.

I'm such a tease!

Substitution Tip: You could really use almost any paint or dye-based re-inker for this technique, including something like Glimmer Mist, although don't spray it...use the eyedropper to get lots of color in each squirt. Little dots of sprayed color will not spread like big, wet globs will. Just remember that the more water, the better, so don't be stingy, and don't use too many colors at one time.