Wednesday, April 29, 2015

SOS#199: Opposite Day...And Boy, Howdy!

My friend Leslie and I had lunch together yesterday, and she told me about the Shopping-Our-Stash Challenge this week. The theme is opposites, so you do the opposite of what you normally do. Leslie says on the blog that if you do CAS, try lots of layers and embellishments.

Now that's just crazy talk, so I decided to see how opposite I could be while still being CAS. Boy, howdy! Thanks to Susan R. Opal, I NAILED this challenge.

First, my card.

Here's the list of things I did that are the opposite of what I normally do.
  1. Colored card base...only a tiny slip of white card stock (you have no idea how hard that was!)
  2. Masking (it's not hard, but I'm lazy)
  3. Cutting and piecing the popped envelope together (trickier than I supposed)
  4. Ribbon
  5. Big bow (on those rare occasions I use ribbon, I don't make bows!)
  6. No bling or shimmer or shine of any kind--Eeeek!
  7. Whimsy (to pun or not to pun...visually)
  8. Purple (definitely not a go-to color for me)
  9. Music (y'all have never heard me sing...for a reason)
  10. A challenge other than One-Layer Simplicity!
Now, I could not have achieved this level of oppositeness without inspiration, and it came in the form of a card by Susan R. Opal:

Isn't her card so sweet? I just love that sentiment. I stole the bow and the layout, which may be too much, all things considered, to enter my card in the SOS Challenge. Just not sure it's "original" enough. But really, I had so much fun making my version of her card!

In keeping with the challenge, I used all old supplies: the SU card stock, Hero Arts clear stamp set, and ribbon are all at least 4-5 years old. Even Susan's card comes from an old issue of Stamp-It Challenges.

So that was lots of fun! And now I can't wait to make a white-based, one-layer card and get back to normal.


"She thinks she's normal. That's so cute."

stamps: Hero Arts, Papertrey (musical notes)
ink: Memento black
paper: SU almost amethyst, PTI white
accessories: dimensionals, glue, ribbon

Monday, April 27, 2015

Cool vs. Warm, and a Comment about Ink

It's fun to play around with colors by making two versions of the same card in two different color schemes.

Please tell me that's not a sad way to have fun. Please.

Anyway, I made these two cards over the weekend.

Note that I fiddled with the sizes of the banners. Also note that the proportions in the cool card work better than the proportions in the warm card. But that's an example of living and learning.

Dang, that yellow banner is just too long!


I really prefer the cool card, but the warm one is a close second. Note that the green on both is the same (Fresh Ink mojito), which wasn't my original intention. I'd stamped a banner in VersaColor brick to go with the yellow and orange, but there wasn't enough contrast between it and the orange (which is Memento Luxe Morocco). I had the extra green one lying on my desk and thought, "Huh. This might work." And it did.

Contrast is important when overlapping elements in a design. Don't you forget it.

And now it's time for a comment about ink.

I really like the way thick, pigmenty inks (Memento Luxe, VersaMagic, Impress Fresh Ink) look when stamped with clear stamps. They do, however, dry more slowly than thin, watery inks (Hero Arts, Memento, Ancient Page). Recently, a reader of mine had real problems with an ink drying, and since I'd recommended it to her, she emailed me to ask if I'd had any problems. In her case, the ink never dried even after a week, smeared dreadfully, and ruined her whole project.

I felt terrible because she'd bought the ink on my recommendation. The company is working with her to resolve the situation, so I'm not going to name names or anything. But she asked me if I'd noticed some colors of ink drying more slowly than others.

Honestly, I'd never paid that close attention. So when I made this card, I did, and the Fresh Ink Island dried more slowly than the other colors. By about an hour. Weird, but there you have it.

If you're new to the thicker inks like Memento Luxe, VersaMagic, VersaColor, Impress Fresh Inks, or others, please note that some colors DO dry more slowly. Test your inks, and know that they dry differently on different papers, too. (That wasn't my reader's problem...she was using PTI white, just like I do.)

Anytime you have a serious problem with an ink or any other product, email the manufacturer. And note that individual results WILL vary!

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

stamps: Papertrey Note Niblets
ink: various
paper: Papertrey
accessories: rhinestone heart and gem, dimensionals

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Hydrangea Inspiration

Today's card owes its existence to a card by Heidi Van Laar that appeared in Paper Crafts Card Style 2010.

Card by Heidi Van Laar, Card Style 2010

Heidi used wood paper for a natural feel to this wonderful wedding card, and wow is it lovely! I decided to use her idea of tumbling hydrangea blossoms for a mother's day card because YES, I HAVE THIS EXACT PUNCH and ohmygosh it's fabulous. It's not often I stick so close to the original inspiration piece, but in this case, it wouldn't pay to mess with success.

My mom's favorite color is blue, so I chose my colors accordingly.

This will be mailed in a box with a gift, so no worries about those big pearls or the curled blossoms. I'm going to put it in a larger envelope so it's not totally flattened when she takes it out.

Thanks, Heidi! Your card from five years ago is still inspiring!!!!

(Note: Heidi's blog is closed, so I'm not sure she's still stamping. She does have a Pinterest page.  Does anyone know if she's still designing?)

stamps: Clearly Besotted
ink: Memento Luxe
paper: Papertrey white, some SU shade of blue, I think
accessories: half pearls, Martha Stewart Hydrangea punch, glue pen, butter knife to curl petals, corner rounder

Saturday, April 25, 2015

How Scale Changes Design

Back to the 2010 issue of Paper Crafts Card Style for some more inspiration...this time from Courtney Kelley.

Card by Courtney Kelley, published in Card Style 2010

A few observations about Courtney's CAS cutie: 1) busy patterned paper can work on CAS cards, if you use it sparingly and smartly, as she does here, 2) punched flowers look better with stems, 3) pair a really, really clean and easy to read font with something crazy like this patterned paper and they balance each other out so well, 4) putting three things--a ground of some kind, a focal point image, and a sentiment--is all you really need for a well-designed card. Yay!!!

Now, as most of you know, I eschew the use of patterned paper in my card making on the principle that every time I use it, it looks awful. Like sequins, patterned paper is for better crafters than I. But now that I've made peace with washi tape, I have a most excellent substitute.

This may be my first Christmas card of the year. Not sure and too lazy to check. But still, by jingle bells, I nailed it! Thanks to Courtney's inspiration, of course!

My focal point was a good bit larger than Courtney's, and this necessitated some shifting around of elements. If the sentiment were above the washi, your eye would start at the sentiment, move to the star, and then dropped straight down to the bottom of the tree that's all silvery with glitter...and stop right there. There's nothing to lead it back to the sentiment above the washi. That large sideways L-shaped triangle isn't a good design because you want the eye to keep moving. Courtney avoids my problem by keeping things smaller and tighter together in a more linear fashion that brilliantly uses the busy patterned paper. My washi, however, forcefully takes the eye only in one direction.

So my big ol' tree meant adjustments needed to be made. On my card, your eye moves around a nice, big triangle from sentiment to star to tree and back again, which adds stability, balance, and unity to the larger design. Note how the red diagonal washi points between the sentiment and star, and the red ornaments zigzag you to the glittery trunk of the tree? Cool, eh? The three spots of silver give a kind of anchor to this design, and the movement is provided by the red diagonal and dots. Since there's nothing between the trunk and sentiment, it's easy enough for the eye to bridge that small gap.

I hope all this makes sense. It seems more complicated to explain than it felt to design, LOL!!!

Because my focal point is white, on a white background, there's a huge risk of it disappearing into the card. So I needed some sizeable embellishments for it. Those giant (and relatively flat) enamel dots worked like a charm!

Many thanks to Courtney Kelley for giving me such a fine inspiration piece!

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

Stamps: Papertrey Keep It Simple Christmas
ink: Brilliance silver
paper: Papertrey white, silver glitter (from Michael's)
accessories: washi, dimensionals, tree punch, star punch, enamel dots

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Inspiration Never Gets Old

I miss Paper Crafts magazine. Seriously.

It's a good thing I kept a bunch of back issues and special publications, including Card Style 2010, where I found Julia Campbell's card with this darling little bling detail:

The rounded corner and differently-sized bling completely inspired me to make the following two cards.

First up, a little number I call "A Woman Can NEVER Have Too Many Sizes of Bling."

Note that rather than using the bling as an accent, as Julia did, I chose to make it the star of the show because it was such an excellently cool idea. On a CAS card, even small accents can become big focal points if you use white space properly.

Next up, a little number I call "Pattern in Bling."

I made this card just because I could...because I have lots and lots of bling, and I'm not afraid to use it. I love how fun and whimsical this card it. It feels so different from the first, more elegant card, yet it's the same layout. Subtle changes can completely shift the mood!

If you're looking for inspiration, search your stash of old magazines. Despite the trendiness of our hobby, you'll find all sorts of timeless tips and fun ideas!

stamps: Papertrey
ink: Memento Luxe
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones, dimensionals, corner rounder

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Go Big or Go Home

Have you ever picked up some embellishment at the store and thought, "Dang, this is too big to put on a card. It would never go through the mail"?

I think that all the time. And when I made scrapbooks, I thought, "This is too bulky for a scrapbook page. It will damage the facing page!"

Bulky embellishments are often lovely, but they aren't entirely practical.

Sometimes, however, you just have to go big or go home!

Eeep! I love these giant heart rhinestones! Look how bulky this thing is in the close-up:

But I used it anyway because it's going to my honey-bunny husband and needs no postage. Yay! I don't have to be practical all the time.

The circle is from Trendy Tree Tops by Papertrey. It demonstrates the principle of "angles love curves." The tension between the straight lines of plaid in a round shape and the curvy 3D heart works so well. Add to that the fabby font of the sentiment and a straight line of little hearts, and you've got lots of clean-and-simple style!

The color combination is one of my favorites. There's just so much energy and fun in aqua and red.

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

stamps: Papertrey Trendy Tree Tops, Simon Says (row of hearts)
ink: Hero Arts
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: giant heart bling, corner rounder

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

When OCD Does NOT Work: A Before and After Post

While still playing around with the idea of running large stamps off the edge of cards (see yesterday's post), I tried to make a card with the largest butterfly in Papertrey's Beautiful Butterflies set, all lined up on the edge. Sadly, this card absolutely doesn't work for me.

Sometimes, OCD layouts don't work. Do NOT do this
to butterflies. 

The generic layout is fine, and the colors are positively yummy, but butterflies just don't line up like that. Ever. Okay, maybe pinned up in display cases, but seriously, do you want your card to evoke dusty nature-museum collections of dead butterflies? Surely not.

No, you want those butterflies flitting about, alive and well and oh so natural.

Yep. That's much better.

Fly, little butterflies! Fly free!

And in a lovely visual triangle. Yay!

This post is brought to you by the design concept formerly known as Unity but now called Don't Pin Down the Butterflies!

stamps: Papertrey Beautiful Butterflies, Happy Trails (sentiment on first card)
paper: Papertrey white
ink: Impress Fresh ink, VersaMagic, Memento Luxe
accessories: corner rounder

Monday, April 20, 2015

Can Big Images Be Used on CAS Cards?

Well, of course they can! But it can be tough to maximize white space. An easy solution is to run the large image off the edge of a this:

This tree from Papertrey's Mighty Oak set is huge, so I took it as far to the right as possible, which gives plenty of room for the sentiment in the upper left "sweet spot." After stamping the tree, leaves, and sentiment, I still felt the card needed a little something, so red berries it was! Red is the complement of green, so the combo adds energy to the design.

Of course, you can always go left, like Leonard Hofstadter on The Big Bang Theory. *hee hee*

I had to make a card with the large ginkgo branch from Papertrey's Harvest Berries set, which gives such lovely vertical curves on the left of the design, doesn't it? I like how that contrasts with the strong, straight horizontal line of the sentiment, but it made me want to add the single rounded corner on the right.

Search your stash for big stamps, and see if you can make some CAS cards by letting the image slide off the edge.

"I'm a donkey on the edge!"

My son is in his high school musical Shrek. Performances start later this week. That is apropos of nothing, I suppose, except to say that my son can both sing and dance, while I can do neither. Sometimes the apple does roll away from the tree. Or the ginkgo berry gets carried away by the donkey.

I'm sorry. I'll shut up now.

stamps: Papertrey
ink: Memento Luxe, VersaMagic, Impress Fresh Ink
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: corner rounder

Sunday, April 19, 2015

OLS15...Another Breezy Card

I was messin' around with two Papertrey sets (Trendy Tree Tops and Tree Tops) and came up with this card for One-Layer Simplicity #15: Blowin' in the Wind!

When reader Christine and I exchanged glitter (I sent her loose glitter and she sent me Stickles), she included some bling in her shipment...and these iridescent purple rhinestones worked perfectly with the Pretty Petunia ink from VersaMagic!

I particularly strove for unity with this card. The two opposing rounded corners hint at movement, and the rhinestones have a bit of bubble appearance. The flight of the flowers on the breeze connects nicely with the sentiment of thinking of someone far away. I'm sending this to my mom, who is recovering from knee replacement surgery in another state.

I hope you all had a lovely weekend, full of friends, family, and crafty goodness.

stamps: Papertrey and Gina K (sentiment)
ink: VersaMagic pretty petunia and Memento Luxe espresso truffle
paper: Papertrey
accessories: rhinestones, Corner Chomper 1/2"

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A Storage Solution and the Problem with Pastels

If you are searching for a way to store acrylic blocks, consider this delightfully easy solution from the office supply store:

Here's a close-up:

I love how this mail sorter allows smaller blocks up front and larger blocks in the back. I put my stamp positioner in the back row. Cool, eh?

There are lots of pretty, decorative mail sorters available, along with coordinating magazine holders, cups for pencils, trays, and such. I bought this to hold photopolymer sentiment sets that I use frequently, but it works much better for acrylic blocks. Yay!

And now for the problem with pastels. They are hard to photograph. I really love using pastels, but more intense colors photograph better. Anyway, here's today's pastel card. I put a bird on it. Well, a lot of birds. This one is destined for Operation Write Home.

The wires are made with a line stamp from Papertrey's Faux Ribbon set, and the colors were inspired by this pin on my Color My World board on Pinterest.

stamps: Papertrey Faux Ribbon, Love Birds
inks: Memento Luxe, Impress Fresh Ink, VersaMagic
paper: Papertrey
accessories: none

Thursday, April 16, 2015

What to Do When a Product Becomes a Brick Wall for You

In late February, I mentioned that one product in the picture below was giving me fits of frustration, but I withheld the name of that product. Someone asked what it was, and several guessed (incorrectly) that it was the glue pad. I meant to clarify the issue immediately but in my frustration kept putting it off. Well, here goes.

I'm hatin' on that feather punch. While the two feather stamp sets I've purchased from Waltzingmouse make me quite happy, the feather punch isn't doing it for me. I've punched at least several dozen feathers from all sorts of different papers, and let's just say that my creative muse has withdrawn her support, leaving me flailing around and wishing I could have that money back.


The only card that's come close to making me happy (and it actually does!) is today's card.

This bright blue vellum is so very pretty! It's attached with vellum tape
that doesn't show through. I deliberately let the top feather hang
over the edge to add interest and break the clean lines of the raised panel.

Okay, so I pulled one successful card out of this punch. Now what? The experience was so painful, so frustrating, that duplicating it seems masochistic.

What can we learn from this?

First of all, frustration CAN be good for you creatively. It forces you outside your comfort zone. Note how little white space is on the card? Yeah, that feels weird to me, but so what? The design works. Frustration can help break down barriers in our creativity, open up possibilities we never considered, free us to experiment, push us to play. These are good things.

Second, our mood--which varies from day to day or moment to moment if you're peri-menopausal like me--strongly affects our creativity. If you're frustrated beyond reason (swearing at inanimate objects or throwing things), step away for a bit. If you're frustrated and feeling challenged ("By golly, I'm going to figure this out if it kills me!"), work for a while, step away, come back later, try again. Repeat these steps as many times as necessary to break down the barrier. Washi tape worked this way for me. Eventually, I figured it out, and now it makes me happy!

Third, accept this eternal truth of crafting: some trendy products just don't work for some people. For instance, one would think that I would love and adore sequins. They are like bling, only less expensive, bigger, and flatter. Yay! Right? Wrong. I see so many gorgeous CAS cards online that use sequins, but every time I use them, they look weird. Ugh.

Now, what should I do about the feather punch? Is a few months enough time to give it a fair chance? Washi took several years...though I confess I never cussed at the washi like I did at the punch. (For the record, the only thing I threw was a punched feather because I knew it wouldn't hurt anything. I'm a model of self-control!) Some people would have thrown the punch in the trash by now, or put it up for sale, or given it to charity. These people are normal, healthy individuals, and I applaud them.

I'm not one of them.

Perhaps you're not normal either, and you might appreciate a process by which you can make these difficult, first-world decisions. Here you go.

Step 1: Identify the offending product. You can't deal with a problem if you won't admit you have one.

Step 2: Put the offending product in a box with other offending products because you know you have more than one. Clearly label the box.

Step 3: Store the box of offending products far away from your craft area. Out of sight, out of mind.

Step 4: Review contents of the box periodically. Over time, some will make their way back to your craft space for play. You'll either figure them out or you won't.

Step 5: When you're absolutely convinced that you've given the product a fair chance and it's just not right for you, let it go. Sell it or give it away. Or find a safe place to ritually burn it if vengeful destruction feels more satisfying and doesn't violate burning restrictions in your area.

Happy stamping.

stamps: Papertrey Happy Trails
ink: Memento Luxe
paper: Papertrey white, blue vellum
accessories: Fiskars feather punch, dimensionals, vellum tape, silver half-beads, Prismacolor silver metallic marker

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Happy Stuff

A few weeks ago, I received an email from reader Sarah asking for my snail mail address. She had something to send me.

Oh, my.

Oh, my. Oh, my!

Isn't this FABULOUS!!!!?!?!?

I'll never think about pears the same way again! Or figs, or melons. Or strawberries. Or bananas. Butts and boobs, everywhere!

This bag made me sooooo happy. You have no idea! And it came in handy on my trip to Maryland. A LOT of stuff fits into this bag, and my mom and sister both laughed out loud when I showed it to them. Thank you so much, Sarah! This will bring joy to my vacations for YEARS to come!

And here's a pair of giant pears I encountered in a restaurant in Maryland. You'll be disappointed to know that I walked right past without noticing sister pointed them out to me.

My vacation was full of fruit! It was not, sadly, full of stamping.

No card for today. After being out of town for practically a week, I'm a bit behind in my stamping. Please "pear" with me.

Sorry. I couldn't resist.

Also, several people have asked recently for updates on Jonah, the little boy with cancer whom we showered with cards a while back. Well, Jonah turned six this month, and keeps getting good news at his check-ups. He'll have another scan this summer, but here's the picture his mom posted on Facebook today. What a cutie!!!

I hope these pictures put a smile on your face to start your week off happy!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Another Inspiration by Rosemary

Rosemary had a number of cards published in spring's Take Ten issue, and today, I'm going to share another card that I couldn't have made without her wonderful inspiration.

Rosemary's card has a strong visual triangle created by the three wood butterflies with buttons and thread. The large flower is soft and subtle, filling the white space with lovely curves, accented by a single rounded corner. Note how the thread creates antennae for the butterflies. Oh, yeah. Rosemary is a GENIUS!

My version of her card turned out to be very different from what I'd imagined. I wanted to use Papertrey's Peaceful Garden set and a dragonfly punch to make a vertical card with the exact same vertical layout Rosemary used. My plan was to use white card stock and green vellum for the dragonflies for a monochromatic card...again, like Rosemary had made.

As you can see, the end result went winging off in another direction altogether.

Did you see what I did there? Pun intended. *giggle*

Here's how it went down. The scrap I used was just tall enough for the bamboo stamp, but it was shorter than Rosemary's panel by a good bit. It looked very odd and off balance on a vertical card. Well, fine. If a design doesn't work one way, turn the card another way. Easy, right?


Then, I punched my dragonflies and realized two things. First, they were too big for the bamboo...the perspective looked really weird, as if Jurassic Park dragonflies inhabited a miniature Lilliputian world. *shudder*

Second, the spindly bodies and wings of the dragonflies looked VERY strange against the bamboo...they sort of disappeared into the spindly bamboo. The similarity killed the design. I needed more contrast, just as Rosemary's graceful line-drawn flower contrasted with the solid wood butterflies.

So I pulled out a Martha Stewart butterfly punch and went to town. I punched butterflies in several colors before landing on SU's Bahama Breeze, or Baja Breeze or whatever. The blue and green were simply perfect together...soothing yet strong. The coordinating pearls were part of a gift from reader Christine when we exchanged loose glitter and Stickles. Perfect!

And what a delight to be inspired yet once again by Rosemary Dennis and Take Ten.

stamps: Papertrey Peaceful Garden
ink: can't remember...pigments, though
paper; Papertrey white, SU Baja breeze (?)
accessories: Martha Stewart butterfly punch, half pearls, dimensionals, corner rounder

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Two More OLS15 Card, and a Design Analysis of Unity

I made a couple more cards for the OLS15 Challenge: Blowin' in the Wind using the Breathe set from CASual Friday. They provide a study in contrasts, so I'm sharing them both tonight.

First up, a very organic design, loose and breezy, if you will.

The flourish is from Clearly Besotted's With a Flourish. The bottom corners are rounded to soften the shape of the card, and the bling is there because it's pretty.


Anyway, using the same stamps and ink, I made a second card that feels totally different. I didn't shoot it, but the "It will be ok" sentiment is on the inside of this card.

The flourish is repeated in a border across the top, limited by a silver metallic line. The three bead accents balance the sentiment.

While I prefer the look of the second card (so tidy!), it's just not as successful a design with the sentiment. Notice that in the first card, the flourish mimics the idea of the sentiment...a breath visualized by swirls. If you wanted to get really funky about it, you could say the rhinestones represent the moisture droplets of the breath, but only if you're writing a paper for an English class.

The second card, however, restricts the breaths represented by the flourish. They are tightly limited to the top of the card, held back or inside or something. They are also a little chaotic and randomly repeated, but the color contrasts with the idea of chaos...that blue is so serene. And the silver beads...what do they have to do with the idea of breathing? Especially all bunched together like that? You might, I suppose, think of the trapped gray-blue breaths as the condition that necessitates sending a card telling someone to breath. But really, then the tone of the card becomes rather bossy, don't you think? Like it's saying, "Hey! Look at you, all constipated in the lungs.... Let it out, why don't ya!"

There's a super-easy fix for this lack of unity. Change the sentiment. Because that second card is otherwise quite a lovely, classic design. For instance, drop one of the silver beads, add a congratulations sentiment, and you'd have a lovely wedding card!

Don't forget as you're designing cards that the elements of the card need to relate well to one another. It all needs to make sense.

And thus endeth the lesson. Go forth and play along with the OLS15 Challenge!

stamps: Clearly Besotted With a Flourish, CASual Friday Breathe
ink: Impress Fresh Ink, VersaColor
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones, half beads, corner rounder, silver metallic marker (Prismacolor)

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Inspired by Tenia Nelson, and Autism Awareness Month

Another wonderful artist who publishes her work in Take Ten is Tenia Nelson. I love her style, which is detail-oriented, looser yet oh-so-unified, and color savvy! Check out this lovely, soft card from the Spring issue of Take Ten:

Texture, pattern, curves, and lines and angles all come together here for such a soft effect. Love, love, love this "love" card! That strong vertical line on the right balances the strong horizontal focal point so beautifully, and that's what I wanted to play with.

I had Operation Write Home on my brain as I studied Tenia's card, as you can see by my color choices.

Rather than add a large panel to a colored card base as Tenia did, I took a strip of red card stock and added it to a white base. The font of the sentiment goes PERFECTLY with the vertical when that happens. I mean, seriously, how often do you truly have the perfect sentiment? It's either too big, too small, too fancy, too plain, too something. This one was JUST RIGHT for Tenia's layout!

Now, I had some small scraps on my desk after finishing the first card, so I decided to play with them for an even cleaner and simpler design. Be still, my heart!

Two perfectly fabulous cards for Operation Write Home, and they're both thanks to Tenia's great inspiration card. Thank you, Tenia!

And now for a bit of weird coincidence. The two artists who most inspired me in this latest issue of Take Ten were Tenia Nelson and Rosemary Dennis, though there are LOTS of lovely cards in this particular issue. Many of you know that I have a son with autism, and if you follow Tenia and Rosemary, you know that they also have sons with autism. In fact, I've met many people in the stamping world who have children on the autism spectrum. As April is Autism Awareness Month, I thought I'd address the elephant in the room that Tenia, Rosemary, I, and so many others deal with daily.

Autism is a neuro-developmental disorder that produces disabilities in speech and communication, sensory processing, social development, and behavior. While no one really knows what causes autism, it seems to result from a combination of genetic and environmental triggers. It is a spectrum disorder, which means that there are huge variations in severity and symptoms from one person to the next. Some people with autism never speak, never give their parents hugs, never say, "I love you." Others with autism are very high functioning, articulate, and successful--think Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory. Most fall somewhere in between.

I've published several articles on my other blog about autism. If you feel the need to raise your awareness of autism (or are just curious), I hope you'll find them useful.

Responding to Autism

Godiva Chocolate

This Is Motherhood

Feel free to ask any questions you have about autism, either in the comments or in an email. I'm comfortable talking about this and am happy to help raise awareness...and compassion.

stamps: Clearly Besotted
ink: Memento Luxe
paper: Papertrey white, SU real red
accessories: dimensionals

Monday, April 6, 2015

OLS15 Blowin' in the Wind

First up, thank you all for your kind comments about the Psalter. Y'all are so sweet!

And now, to today's business....

Karen has come up with an awesome challenge for April on the One-Layer Simplicity Blog...Blowin' in the Wind! In other words, make a card that shows wind of some sort. Think sailing vessels, waves, kites, flags, pinwheels, slanted rainfall, etc. Click on the link and see Karen's gorgeous abstract card made by blowing paint around with a straw!

What a fun challenge, and as I sat down to work on it, the CASual Friday set Breathe popped into my mind. After all, breath is a kind of wind, right? And I'm sure long-winded!

I have a friend who hates the month of April (many of the bad things in her life have happened in April), so I make her a card every year to encourage her to get through the month. This friend's need and the OLS15 Challenge dovetailed nicely this year!

Soft, soothing, comforting. That's what I went for. And a touch of bling because my friend is a girl and what girl doesn't like bling?


So put on your inspiration cap, take a deep breath, and play along with us at the One-Layer Simplicity Challenge this month.

It's a breeze!

stamps: CASual Friday Breathe
ink: Fresh Ink, VersaMagic
paper: Papertrey Ink white
accessories: rhinestones

Sunday, April 5, 2015

A Psalter Post for Easter

Happy Easter! Since it's the biggest holy day of the Christian calendar, I decided to make today's post a bit different.

In 2001, I burned myself out on calligraphy and illumination...two hobbies that kept me occupied for several years until I transitioned to scrapbooking and cardmaking. Both take enormous practice and patience, not to mention a tad bit of obsession, to master, and I never felt that I mastered either...although I got passably good enough for an unschooled amateur.

My final calligraphy/illumination project was a handmade book of Psalms, or Psalter, for my mother. Christianity has a rich tradition of beautiful, handmade books of scripture that didn't die out with the invention of the printing press. Check out the St. John's Bible. Amazing artistry and skill from hundreds of people created a modern illuminated Bible using old techniques in new ways.

My FAR-less-ambitious idea was to make a book with a complex Japanese stab binding that included a variety of small Celtic-style illuminations, ten uplifting or comforting psalms written in a modified Carolingian script, and heavily illuminated title and "amen" pages.

The book took over four months to complete. That was 14 years ago. I'm still burned out.

While visiting my mom and sister last week, I finally photographed my little Psalter, which is nowhere near as amazing as the St. John's work, but it does reflect the best work I ever did in calligraphy and illumination. I thought I'd share it with you today.

The book is approximately 8" x 12".

The cover illumination is inset into the mat board. I carved
a recess into the mat board before covering it with the black paper.

Fifteen holes were punched through the spine using a leather punch
and mallet, and the book pages were punched with a 1/8"
circle punch. My hands were killing me by the time I finished!

The title page is an amalgam of various Celtic elements. The paint
is Windsor & Newton gouache, which is an artist-grade, opaque watercolor paint.
The ink used for the black parts is waterproof India ink.
The paper is 90lb hot-press Windsor & Newton watercolor paper
cut so the deckle edge leads on each page. 

This page took a while!

Each psalm has a small illumination under the title. To keep my lines
of calligraphy straight, I used a large light box with grid paper
under the watercolor paper. By taping the grid and watercolor paper
to the light box, nothing shifted while I worked.
I used a dip pen for the calligraphy and as a result had
inky fingers for several months!

As you can see, I wrote on the back of each page...which made doing
the reverse side tricky as the writing showed through on the light box.
It all worked out though, and I didn't have to erase a bunch of pencil marks
when I was finished. Yay!

This odd little two-legged lizard is straight from the Book of Kells.
I'm pretty sure I changed the colors, though.

I love the red-line decoration on Psalm 117.

Here's another example of the small illuminations. Most of these
came from a book by George Bain called Celtic Art.
The final page picks up on the blue of the title page.

Close-up of the blue. It's kind of hard to make the paint look that smooth...
it took several coats of the gouache to achieve it.

The binding has hinges on both the front and back covers for easier opening.

And there you have it: the reason I no longer do calligraphy and illumination. I hope you enjoyed looking at it as much as I enjoy sharing it. These sorts of over-the-top projects are enormously satisfying. A mind-boggling amount of work, of course, but satisfying because of it.

Blessings to you all this holy day.