Thursday, June 30, 2016

Grown-Up Crayons: Thoughts and Questions

Watercolor crayons are so much fun! And the look you can achieve on stamps by coloring and spritzing is simply amazing.

How to use watercolor crayons with stamps
Just apply the crayon directly to the stamp (no precision needed here!), spritz with enough water to loosen the pigments, let it sit for a few seconds so the pigments get good and wet and blend-y, and stamp on the paper.  I typically hold the stamp down for a few seconds extra so the paper can absorb most of the water.

You can also spritz a second time and get a lovely second, slightly lighter impression from one coloring.

Here's the set I have:

The two stamps on today's cards (Hero Arts, discontinued) are specially made to give a watercolor effect with regular ink, but I much prefer them with watercolor crayons.

Two shades of orange on the petals and brown for the center, and the blending effects are so lovely! What sunshiny results!

Two shades of pink, one each of yellow and green, and what happy results!

Thoughts and Questions
1. Spritzing can yield quite irregular results, whether you use watercolor crayons or markers or regular ink. It's tricky figuring out how much water to put on the stamp--not enough, and there's inadequate blending; too much, and there's an ugly, shapeless blob. That's why I typically use this technique on scraps rather than one-layer cards. Too many times, the one-layer card became scraps after a mess!

2. I have the Caran D'ache 40-color set, and some colors don't seem to react as smoothly with water as others. Also, some colors that appear quite dark show up very light, even with heavy spritzing and extra time to sit, which is weird. This is my experience with the set, and I would love to hear about your experiences with the same brand or different ones. Have you found other brands more consistent from color to color? What other techniques do you use with watercolor crayons?

stamps: Hero Arts, StampinUp (sentiment)
ink: Memento Luxe 
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: watercolor crayons, spritz bottle of water

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Masking and Breaking Boundaries

Continuing with Papertrey's Peaceful Garden, let's explore the idea of breaking boundaries. Defining a space on a one-layer card can eliminate that so-called "floaty" design flaw many people don't like. I'm not put off by "floaty" images, necessarily, because there's a crisp simplicity to them, but it is true that grounded images are more pleasing to the eye.

Anyway, if you define a space on a card, you focus attention and ground your image. Today's card uses a large irregular circle from My Favorite Things Party Patterns set to do just that.

I wanted the bamboo to be defined across the bottom by the border of the circle, but I wanted it to extend beyond the top. This adds interest (I think) and can make a design feel less fussy.

To mask the bottom half of the circle, I stamped it on a post-it (sticky strip at the bottom) and cut out only the bottom half of the circle. Quite easy with a simple shape, don't you think?

Break some boundaries in your stamping! It feels good.

stamps: Papertrey Peaceful Garden, MFT Party Patterns
ink: Hero Arts soft pool, Memento bamboo leaves, Memento Luxe rich cocoa
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: post it, scissors, rhinestone

Monday, June 27, 2016

Whimsy and Me

Y'all might notice there aren't many "kid" cards on this here blog o' mine. I joke about my inner child being murdered in my teens by depression and other unpleasantness, but the truth is, whimsy is hard for me. I do, however, try.

The peace love joy sentiment (from Papertrey's Peaceful Garden) is very much my style. My mantra is Mercy, Grace, Peace, and Love. (Even in my head, I use that Oxford comma!) Whenever I want to lose my cool, smack someone, or spew profanity, I repeat, "Mercy, grace, peace, and love. Mercy, grace, peace, and love."

When we cultivate those four things, joy results. Eventually.

But joy isn't whimsy.

I'd made this card with just the grass and knew something was missing, even with the bling-y "dew drops." It needed a focal point, something to grab the eye. But that focal point needed to be something that embodied the sentiment, and it needed to be small. I went searching and found the whimsical butterfly. Yay! Focal point!

Peace, love, and joy to you!

Care to share your mantra? What do you repeat to yourself to keep yourself under control and moving in the right direction?

stamps: Papertrey Peaceful Garden, Hero Arts (discontinued)
ink: Memento
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones, markers

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Birds of a Feather is a Keeper

Today's post will be the last in the series on Papertrey's Birds of a Feather. The series kicked off with a simple idea: how can I combine random stamps in a (sort of) collage-y way while still staying true to my style? Birds of a Feather was the perfect set to do this with because it has an outstanding combination of images and sentiments that ended up working with lots of different stamps.

This card combines a musical background from A Muse with a flying bird and sentiment from Birds of a Feather. I just love how the background is lends such a sense of movement with the swooping bird, don't you think?

This stamped panel is smaller than the panels on the previous cards...1.25" x 2.5". It was a scrap lying around, so I used it. It's amazing how little space you need to have big impact on a card. Note that the background was stamped with dye ink, but the bird and sentiment were stamped with pigment inks. The denser pigment inks cover better than dye and will stand out better on a busy background, with higher contrast.

Whether you're doing the Use-Your-Hoard Challenge or not, I encourage you to pick a stamp set you rarely use or haven't used in a long time. Play with it. Combine it with stamps from other companies...especially if you haven't used them in a while either. This was enormously fun, and I plan on repeating the idea with other sets.

Happy stamping!

stamps: Papertrey Birds of a Feather, A Muse musical background
ink: Memento London fog, Impress merlot, Memento Luxe tuxedo black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: silver metallic marker, craft foam, glue

Saturday, June 25, 2016

And Our Winner Is...

Marilyn in Michigan, who wrote,

"I love the creative aspect of papercrafting. And it's also quicker than counted cross stitch (usually)."

Marilyn, please send me your snail mail address at susanraihala at roadrunner dot com. Also, let me know which vendor you want the gift card for!

Thanks to all of you who entered the give-away. There were so many good answers to the question of what is your favorite thing about paper crafting. A few themes seemed to rise to the top.

1. The community of stampers, who really are amazing people!
2. The creative outlet that feeds the soul.
3. Trying new things and playing around.
4. Giving what we make away...and knowing the joy when people get a piece of our heart!
5. Relaxation.

Blessings to you all, and happy stamping!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Mother Nature Gets All PMS-y

Don't forget about the give-away on yesterday's post. You have until midnight eastern daylight savings time on Friday to comment!

Wow. The past 36 hours have been, well, challenging. We had a horrid storm blow through at 3:00 AM Thursday morning, killing power and taking down trees all across our town. Thank God there were no reports of injuries, but roads were closed, trees and limbs and shredded leaves all over the place, houses with shutters gone or hanging half off. It was Mother Nature on a serious PMS rant.

Our house was one of the luck last 100 in the area to have power restored 32.5 hours after it went out (today around 11:30). Needless to say, the contents of my fridge are trashed...and some of what was in the freezer. We are just so grateful that our house had no damage and that we have a finished basement with beds and sofas that provided a cool, comfortable place to crash when temperatures soared upstairs.

So if you're wondering why I didn't post last night, now you know. No weefees, as we say in our house.

Now that I'm back on the grid and rolling in weefees, let's take a look at a kinder side of Mother Nature with today's card, another one featuring Papertrey's Birds of a Feather combined with Turning a New Leaf (also by Papertrey).

This arrangement--so organic and flowing--seemed to need some angles to frame it, so I layered three white mats underneath. Love the effect!

This card is appropriate today, though it makes me sad. For you Methodists out there, you'll get where I'm coming from. Our pastor received a new appointment this morning and will be leaving our church as of July 24th. Ugh. I love this woman, her leadership, her kindness, her sermons. God is leading her elsewhere, and He will no doubt take care of the flock at our church with a worthy successor. But I'm grieving an ending right now and will grieve properly before celebrating a new beginning.

May Mother Nature be kind to you as her oxytocin levels rise, and may your new beginnings not be preceded by sadness.

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

stamps: Papertrey Birds of a Feather, Turning a New Leaf
ink: Impress Fresh pool, grass; VersaMagic jumbo java
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: none, unless you count glue

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

More Flow with Birds of a Feather and a Little Celebration

Of all the cards I made with Birds of a Feather (an old Papertrey set), this one is the most "LateBlossom-y." The monochromatic color scheme, the bright pops of color, and the super clean feel of it make me really happy!

A close-up shows the background, stamped in Memento's angel pink, which is very, very light. The flower is from Mama Elephant. I chose a flower background because the bird's long beak indicates it's a nectar-sipping bird rather than an early bird who gets the worm.

After stamping the bird and sentiment, I knew something was off. The single pop of pink looked sort of floating and awkward, so I pulled out Faux Ribbon and added a pink border to the left side of the panel. That balanced the design nicely, at least to my eye.

Now for a little celebration!

This blog has been around for over seven years and contains over 2100 posts. When I started it, at the urging of several people at Splitcoast, I didn't see it going anywhere. Yet here we are. YOU are the reason for that. You read. You subscribe. You comment. Over 330 of you follow Simplicity on Facebook. Over 500 of you follow it on Pinterest. Over 1,100 of you subscribe via email. Over 725 of you put it in your Bloglovin' feed. Over 900 use Google Friend Connect. Thank you!

To celebrate, I'm going to give away a little grab-bag of supplies and a $25 (US) gift certificate to the online store of the winner's choice. To enter, just leave a comment ON THE BLOG POST* answering the question below before 12:00 midnight, eastern daylight savings time, Friday, June 24, 2016. The winner will be chosen at random and notified via this blog on June 25, 2016.

Here's the question:
What do you like best about papercrafting?

Don't overthink...just share the first thing to pop into your head.  Good luck!

stamps: Papertrey Birds of a Feather, Faux Ribbon; Mama Elephant Freestyle Florals
ink: Memento angel pink; Memento Luxe rose bud, black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: craft foam, glue

*Note that comments left on Facebook or other websites, or emailed to me directly, will not be included in the give-away...but are still very much appreciated!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Speaking of Faux Ribbon and Flow

Today's card uses the dashed line in Papertrey's Faux Ribbon to hint at the dashed yellow line of roads. Pretty cool, eh?

Raised panel is 1 3/4" x 3"

Today's card is part of a series I made using Papertrey's Birds of a Feather set. I had a bunch of small pieces of card stock and decided to see what would happen if I tried to use every stamp in the set...but with a twist: combining the set with random other stamps or sets for a collage-type feel (or as collage-y as I can get, LOL!). I let loose and played in the flow of creativity, and the results made me happy. I'll share them over the next few days.

Black, gray, bright yellow, and silver make an excellent color combination. The yellow really pops!

Flow is sort of magical. It comes (to me, at least) when I stop trying to control things and just play. I suspect having plenty of supplies helps, but really, flow seems more about letting go of control than anything else. It also seems to be about letting go of worrying about the end product. I didn't really aim for any particular results, just let ideas come and acted on them without overthinking. Out of six cards, only one didn't work for me. Not too shabby!

It's standard operating procedure in my craft room to try to use every stamp in a set, but rarely do things flow as well as they did with this series on Birds of a Feather. (Full disclosure: I didn't actually use all the stamps in the set, but enough to feel like I'd accomplished something!) Have you ever tried using a whole set and felt the flow engage? What did you think made everything click so well? How do you tap into flow?

stamps: Papertrey Birds of a Feather, Faux Ribbon, Masculine Motifs
ink: Hero Arts butter bar; Memento Luxe London fog and tuxedo black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: silver metallic marker, craft foam, glue

Monday, June 20, 2016

String Theory

While exploring Pinterest's abstract art scene, I noticed several pins emphasizing the design element of "line," and this idea popped into my head.

Kaleidacolor Berry Blaze

Kaleidacolor Melon Melody

Kaleidacolor Caribbean Sea

Crisp, clean lines. Smooth, blended colors. Free-flowing curves loving the structured, sans serif font. Gloriously abundant white space. 


My happy place. 

And proof you can never have too many ink pads. Those Kaleidacolor pads are so much fun!

stamps: Papertrey Faux Ribbon, Clearly Besotted A Little Sentimental 
paper: Papertrey white
ink: Kaleidacolor pads (labeled above), Memento Luxe black, espresso truffle, and London fog
accessories: craft foam, glue

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Getting Unexpectedly Technique-y

I've shared before that, in my early days of paper crafting, I tried every technique under the sun. Okay, that's a slight exaggeration, but boy howdy did I try a lot of techniques. Making a modern-art inspired card made me unexpectedly experimental, and I tapped into my olden days of messy techniques. Today's cards are the shimmery results.

Stamp: Gina K

I love how this panel looks a bit like confetti!

Stamps: Papertrey Scripted

This sentiment seemed appropriate for the green and blue

wax paper
Twinkling H2O paints, assorted colors
watercolor paint brush
Papertrey card stock

How to Make:
1. Wet the paint with a brush to create a pool of thickish paint in the pot.
2. Dab the thickish paint onto the card stock. Be loose and free with it, and don't try cover the whole piece at once. Layering creates a nicer effect.
3. Take a small piece of wax paper, press it into the paint, and peel it off. Discard the wax paper'll make a mess if you reuse it!
4. Repeat steps 1-3 with the same color, or vary the colors, until you are satisfied with the result. Note that the more you dab and press, the smoother the results will be.

1. You could, of course, use a piece of transparency and clean it between each pressing. But I liked using the wax paper and discarding. It was easy, and working on such small pieces meant tearing small pieces of wax wasn't much overall.
2. Keep a damp washcloth close at hand to keep your hands and workspace clean. This is a messy technique.
3. The wet panel will curl (that's inevitable, even if you use watercolor paper). But I just glued it to craft foam and then to a heavy card base, and they flattened out nicely.
4. Stamp over the background using thick pigment inks. I used Memento Luxe rich cocoa and tuxedo black. They give nice coverage.
5. This would work with any thickish paint or ink. The more opaque, the more "blotchy" the effect would be. Twinkling H2Os are watercolors, so there's a translucence to them even when they are thick. It would be fun to experiment with different media!

What do you think?

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Crayon Crazy, and Some Thank-You Messages

Remember the joy of opening a new box of crayons? The smell, the perfect points, the unbroken wrappers, the cool names? The supreme satisfaction of the "big box" with the built-in sharpener?

Oh, yeah.

And periwinkle is still around and still my favorite.

While coloring with crayons may not hold the same appeal at nearly 50 as it did at 5, we grown-ups can play with watercolor crayons with the same joy and abandon.

I scribbled random lines on a scrap of paper, brushed it with a wet brush to smear the colors, and let it dry. Green and blue together are my favorites! They provide a simple yet whimsical backdrop for this birthday sentiment from Gina K.  Crisp yet soft, simple yet interesting...and just plain fun!

The paper is Papertrey's white card stock, not watercolor paper. It did warp a bit, but gluing it to craft foam and then a heavy card base of Papertrey card definitely flattens it out nicely.

You can customize the colors to match the recipient's favorites. Just use a nice, dense pigment-based, opaque black or brown ink for the sentiment so it pops off the background. I use Memento Luxe tuxedo black or rich cocoa for such purposes.

Now for the thank-you messages. Several kind people have sent or given me handmade cards lately, so I wanted to share them with you.

Sue W. sent me this crisp and clean card with an assortment
of stenciled panels to use on cards. What a pretty and thoughtful gift!

Lisa I. made this card out of recycled tea-bag packages. What a perfect
backdrop for the fan die-cut panel!

Patti M. wished me and George a happy anniversary with this debossed
beauty. It was hard to capture the debossing in a photo, but it's truly
a lovely CAS card! 

This woven stunner was made by a fellow Stephen Minister, Linda,
who also happens to be a professional counselor and art therapist. 

The folded pentagon was tucked inside the heart pouch.

Unfolded, the pentagon reveals the sentiment! So sweet!

Many thanks to Sue, Lisa, Patti, and Linda for sharing your art with me in such kind ways.

Friday, June 17, 2016


When you make love the focal point of your life, things tend to go better. On a card, love can be the focal point, too, especially if you make it look interesting.

To line this up so well, I stamped "love" on the script panel first, then placed the panel on the card base where it belonged, and then put the clean, uninked stamp (not attached to the block) right where it needed to be. Then, lining up the gridded acrylic block with the side and bottom of the card, I placed it down on the stamp, removed the script panel, inked the stamp again, and stamped. The script panel is popped up with craft foam.

A pretty cool effect, no?

Have a lovely weekend!

stamps: Papertrey Wet Paint, old wood-mount script stamp
ink: StampinUp Real Red, Memento Luxe black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: craft foam, glue, gridded acrylic block

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Playing to Type

Yesterday's card showed me stretching my creative wings, so to speak, and going all artsy fartsy with an abstract-art inspired card. Y'all have no idea how surprised and happy I was with that card...seriously jumping in my seat in unadulterated glee!

It's so much fun to stretch and grow and expand your interests, but it is also nice to return to your roots and what you love best. For me, that's clean-and-simple stamping. As one reader pointed out, yesterday's card was somewhat clean (still big white space!) but not simple. Today's is both clean and simple...and makes my heart sing!

The inspiration for this red-and-white card came from this picture on Pinterest.


Looking at the quilt blocks reminded me of my business-card-inspired two-layer cards and Dot Spot was lying on my desk. The card was born. Red and white make such a dramatic statement, don't you think? It's an energetic, bold, and festive combination!

What's your favorite color to pair with white? Is it soft or bright, light or dark? What effect does that color have on you? While there's all sorts of psychology out there about the effects various colors have on us, I find that sometimes, my reaction to a color doesn't follow the textbook, so I'm curious to hear what you think.

stamps: Papertrey Dot Spot
ink: StampinUp Real Red
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: craft foam, glue

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Pretending to Be an Artist

I'm a little late to the game with the Inspiration Challenge at Splitcoast this week, but Audrie found a fun Abstract Art board on I had to play along.

Flow is a magical thing that happens sometimes, when the creative juices are pumping, the stars are aligned, and you're holding your mouth just right. You make stuff. Good stuff. And it makes you happy.

Flow. I'm percolating thoughts on it...where it comes from, how to develop it, etc. But today, I felt it.

And this happened.

My inspiration was this pin:


The proportions on my piece are taller and narrower, and the whole effect is softer, too, because I used sponges (for the most part) to apply color. To distinguish more above and below the orange strip (as on the inspiration piece), I did use a brush, touched to the ink pad, to apply the darker brown and henna horizontally.

Once I'd finished the background, I realized that orange strip made a perfect place for a sentiment. So I added "Warm Wishes"...the warm colors made that sentiment appropriate.

This was FUN and DIFFERENT! Thanks to Audrie for the great inspiration!

stamps: Papertrey Sign Language
ink: Memento potter's clay, rich cocoa; Hero Arts butter bar, orange soda, soft pool, soft wheat; Ancient Page henna
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: sponges, post-it, fan brush 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Thirty Years Ago Today

George and I were married thirty years ago today (Flag Day!). We were young and innocent and stupid, but we were also stubborn and happy and in love.

It's still working.

George is not a frou-frou kind of guy (despite the pink tie), so his anniversary card is simple and to the point (pun intended).

The distressed arrow comes from Hero Arts Borders and Arrows set, and the sentiment is a very old wood-mounted Hero Arts stamp. The heart is actually a sticker...sort of squishy but pretty flat. You can see it better in the close-up.

We got all dressed up and had a lovely dinner this evening. Thirty years is an accomplishment, the kind of thing done by stubborn people who won't give up. I read an article recently that said couples who stay together are polite and kind to each other. Yes. That's true, certainly in our experience. But no matter how polite and kind two people are, it takes stubbornness, too.

Other than Jesus (for Christians), good manners, and stubbornness, what do you think it takes to make a marriage last?

stamps: Hero Arts
ink: Hero Arts intense black
paper: Papertrey white and black
accessories: 3D heart sticker

Monday, June 13, 2016

Sorta Kinda Faux Postage

Today's card is a product of my effort to pull out neglected tools and stamps (remember the Use-Your-Hoard Challenge...still going!), and give them some love, in this case a very old postage-stamp punch and a couple of older Papertrey sets.

Y'all would not believe how I struggled to put this oh-so-simple card together. At first, all I had was the text strip and the faux postage, but there wasn't enough contrast. So I over-stamped the text with a lime green, which looked simply appalling. Then, I face-palmed my way to a black mat. Well, duh. That's the perfect solution.

The important thing is we get there in the end, right?

So, what neglected supplies could you pull out today and give some love?

stamps: Papertrey Modern Basics, Text Style
ink: Hero Arts
paper: Papertrey white, black
accessories: dimensionals, black half bead, postage stamp punch

Sunday, June 12, 2016

A Card for Us All the face of a whole lot of ugly.

News of the shooter in Orlando came to me after I got home from church today. I've something to say about it on my other blog.

To be honest, it feels weird posting a card today. But I'm doing it anyway. We all need something comforting in our lives, something to remind us that the whole world isn't crazy. Our stamping community is isn't crazy...well, just a little bit, and in a good and harmless way.

So here's a card for all those grieving in Florida and around the country. Let's all hug each other and be the change we want to see in the world.

stamps: Papertrey 
ink: Memento Luxe, Impress Fresh Ink
paper: Papertrey white, aqua mist
accessories: none

Friday, June 10, 2016

A Card to Start Your Weekend

It's summertime, at least in the northern hemisphere, so here's a card to help you celebrate this glorious weekend.

The sun is made with two stamps from My Favorite Things Party Patterns...a solid irregular circle and a loose, spirograph-ish outline. The solid was stamped in Memento Luxe dandelion and the outline in Fresh Ink tangerine. Isn't the effect hot-looking (literally, not figuratively, of course)? The water, a stamp from Papertrey's Ombre Builders set, was stamped in Memento Luxe Bahama blue, which is a very aptly named ink.

Let's talk about that sentiment. It's from Hero Arts, is wood mounted, and is among the first stamps I ever bought. It's part of a set from long, long ago. What a great stamp! I will never part with it or the other three in the set. They just work, you know?

Care to share:
What stamps "just work" for you so well you will never part with them?

stamps: Hero Arts (discontinued), Papertrey Ombre Builders, My Favorite Things Party Patterns
ink: Memento Luxe black, Bahama blue, dandelion; Fresh Ink tangerine
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: not a one needed!