Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Butterfly Birthday

Have you ever seen a black butterfly with hints of iridescent blues? Here's one example, although there are several different species of butterflies with this coloration.


Beautiful, isn't it?

Well, that's sort of the inspiration for today's card...the combination of black and blue, with a hint of peacock thrown in the background for fun.

First, a comment or two on the layout. I adore working with small pieces of cardstock matted on a larger card. This idea came out of the humongous inspiration I got from business-card designs on Pinterest. These little gems of design goodness provide endless variations...and if you mess one up, it's just a tiny scrap of paper in the recycling bin.

Not intimidating. Not time-consuming. Just fun!

The background was made rubbing Distress broken china and peacock ink through a Tim Holtz stencil with a Tim Holtz mini inking tool...a very cool tool and so easy to use. I masked off one third of the top panel and did the inking by moving the stencil around for more saturation.

My original plan was to place the butterfly so its right wing would hang slightly off the right edge of the panel, but that looked weird because the butterfly is just a bit too small for the space provided, so I scooted it closer to the sentiment. That made the design look more unified, plus the angle of the butterfly, with the strong diagonal of the row of bling to emphasize it, was a happy contrast to the right angles of the sentiment and masked line. The tighter design also adds some movement that was lacking when the butterfly and sentiment were farther apart.

On another topic, thanks for the encouragement and offers of prayer for my job search. We shall see what happens in the coming months! I'll keep you posted.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey Paper Trey
ink: Archival black, Distress broken china and peacock
paper: Papertrey black and white
accessories: Tim Holtz stencil, inking tool, rhinestones

Monday, February 27, 2017

A Card for Me

Sometimes, it's good to make a card for yourself, with a message you need to hear because, by golly, you're worth it!

Today's card came out of the Inspiration Challenge for this week from Splitcoast, hosted by the amazing Audrie. My inspiration came from this graphic on the website Dribbble, which has some very cool graphic art on it.

Here's my card. To myself. Because I need it.

It's so easy to cut a mask for a stamp with a bunch of straight lines. Simple, clean, crisp.

I'm climbing a metaphorical mountain right now, and it's a little bit (okay, a lot) intimidating. My days as a stay-at-home mom are numbered as my older son closes in on college. It's all going to work out somehow, and it may even work out the way I want it to work out. But I'm climbing a mountain carrying a career gap of 18 years.

How in the world do you explain that on a curriculum vitae?

Anyway, I've got this. 

If I say it enough, maybe I'll start to believe it!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey Warmest Wishes, Watercolor Wonder, Keep It Simple Encouragement
ink: Hero Arts sky blue, Archival black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: post-it and scissors for mask

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Making Lemonade out of a Lemon

Often, the creative process devolves into a problem-solving exercise, especially when you're working from an inspiration piece. Today's card is a perfect example of this.

First, the inspiration piece, which comes from (I think) the same delightful artist who inspired my post here and whose pin links back to her blog.

Isn't this just perfect? The twine on the fold, the light and loose calligraphy and the bold span of color and the little, neat letters underneath...perfect!

When I set out to make my version, I knew that my large sentiment would be heavier and not so loose. But it came with a smaller sentiment that would work perfectly underneath so I took the plunge. Here's the final card.

So the first mistake I made was to use Memento Danube blue ink on the shadow stamp, spritz with water, and stamp. The result was just too solid and not watercolor-y enough, so I started over again by pulling out the sky blue and Danube blue markers and got a much prettier result with some lovely gradation.

Unfortunately, I stamped the blue block just a bit too high on the one-layer card. When I got all the black stamped, it was clearly not balanced...too much white space on the bottom.


Fortunately, I measured the area and realized that I could cut a 5.5" x 2.75" panel that would mat perfectly onto a 6.25" x 3.5" card (which fits neatly into a standard #6 3/4 envelope). A silver metallic border on the panel provided just the right definition against the white card, but there was still something missing.

Cue the fretting. Oh, my. I pulled out all sorts of bling trying to figure out how in the world to connect that big, bold, black hugs to the smaller clause below. Indecision may or may not be my problem. The best of many options seemed to be the dark blue enamel dots, but they weren't quite right.


The essential problem was that there wasn't enough movement of the eye around the card. The inspiration piece has such wonderful movement in the lettering, but my stamp was just too ordinary to lend enough movement or interest. I needed something strong enough to move the eye but unifying enough to bring the whole design together.

That's when the tiny flower punch came to mind. The flowers bring some white into the blue block for unity with the white card base, and the punch of dark blue enamel dots is a good, strong draw for the eye. Their placement at the left and right of the blue block mimics a hug and adds to the unity.

At least, that's my interpretation of it, and since I love the final product, I'm sticking to it!

As you work from an inspiration piece, you'll find your adaptations require changes you can't anticipate. Thinking like a problem-solver becomes essential. You never know where your solutions will lead you...to a fabulous card or something that ends up in the circular file. With practice and determination and a dollop of luck, you can turn your lemon into lemonade.

Never, never, never give up

stamps: Papertrey Big Hugs, Hero Arts shadow stamp
ink: Memento Luxe black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: Memento markers, water spritzer, flower punch, enamel dots, glue, craft foam, silver metallic marker (Prismacolor), ruler

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Fresh Greens

Sometimes, it doesn't take much to get inspired. A glance at this pin took me to today's card with lots of fun and very little fuss!

The circle and the shades of fresh green in the inspiration piece become the focal point of my card, which is anchored in the design with a simple white rectangular strip stamped with the sentiment in the darkest shade of green.

This arrangement avoids the pitfall of the "floating focal point," which is generally held in contempt by designers but often is quite satisfying to my philistine eye.

Note that the inspiration piece works well because the leaves, captured inside a circle, are very linear...and lines love curves. The tension between the circle and the lines works so well in the inspiration packaging, but my leaves are very curly and curved, so that tension was lost. The straight lines of the sentiment panel create a similar tension, though.

I did try to mat the circle and the strip with narrow white mats, but it took away from the freshness of the design. This way, the focus really is that delightful green spectrum.

I'm going to take the advice of several of you and send the picture of the yellow Stickles to Ranger. Hopefully, they have an explanation, and if they do, I'll share it with you!

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and hope,

stamps: Papertrey Turning a New Leaf, Keep It Simple Healing Wishes
paper: Papertrey white
ink: Kaleidacolor
accessories: dimensionals, circle punch (1 1/2", I think!)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Inspired by Anne Jones, Plus a Question

The new issue of Take Ten is out, and a card by Anne Jones on page 66 caught my eye and inspired today's card. Her card provides an excellent layout for showcasing cancelled postage, with three matted postage stamps stacked on a tall, narrow card, with a sentiment stamped in the spaces between the stamps. It's a fabulous layout that begged to be simplified.

Anne's card has six layers, a colored cardstock base, and (as I said) real cancelled stamps. I obviously simplified the layers down to two, used a white card base, and created my own faux postage with a handy punch I have lying around. I don't collect ephemera like cancelled postage so making my own was the best option.

To make the faux postage, I cut a 3/4" x 7/8" rectangle from a post-it note to create a mask. Then I stamped the flowers on a large scrap of cardstock through the mask, moving the centers of the flowers around so they wouldn't line up and look static...the bling moves your eye around a bit to add interest. Once stamped, I positioned each image in the punch by turning the punch upside down and centering the stamped area, and then punching.

Once the faux postage was ready, I used a quilting ruler and temporary adhesive to position them properly. Using the postage as a guide, I stamped the words between (cleaning the stamp very well between impressions!), popped up the postage on dimensionals, and added bling to match the color of the words. That touch helps unify the card nicely.

Anne's card is sized a bit differently from mine at 3" x 6.5". Mine is 3.5" x 6.25 to fit a standard #6 3/4 envelope because the obsessive compulsive in me really, really prefers the card to fit the envelope...unless the card is square because in the U.S. square envelopes require additional postage, which is completely ridiculous, but there you have it.

Isn't that punch the bomb?

Thank you, Anne, for the wonderful postal inspiration!

Now let's indulge in a little rant. When making this card a week ago, I used up all my yellow Stickles. This alarmed me...it's the Stickles color I use the most! So of course I ran to Marco's Paper to see if they had any (rather than placing a huge order to get free shipping...a decision I now regret), and I snatched up their last bottle.

When I got home, however, I noticed a huge difference in the shades of the yellow.

How, how, how can Ranger think these are the same color?!?!?! It's not just a different dye lot, it's a different color altogether. The bottle on the left is my old one, which looks full but is actually empty except for what's stuck to the inside of the bottle. This is a first-world problem, I know, but still. I feel betrayed.

Thank you for listening.

Now, the question. How many of you still buy or subscribe to magazines for stamping inspiration? PaperCrafts had to fold because inspiration has shifted so much to the internet, but some magazines like the Stampington and Company publications seem to continue to do well. I buy some magazines and still enjoy perusing old ones I've kept, but how do you feel about it?

stamps: Papertrey Keep It Simple Healing Wishes
ink: Impress Fresh Ink persimmon, tangerine; Memento Luxe rose bud, espresso truffle
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: dimensionals, rhinestones, postage stamp punch

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Inspired by Art

Let's begin by taking a look at this absolutely gorgeous pin:

Isn't this card amazing?!?!!?

Yes. Yes, it is.

At one point in my life, I dabbled in calligraphy and illumination. At my best, I was not even close to this good.

Not. Even. Close.

It's sad that the pin of this person's work only leads to a cached picture...no blog or website. If any of you know who this artist is and can point me in the direction of learning more about her/him, I would so appreciate it.

While drooling over this beauty, I realized that the general layout would work with stamps and set to work playing around with the idea. Here are a few of the results.

This book-themed card will go to the founder of our Book-Worm Babes Book Club.* (Stamps: Papertrey Text Style, All Booked Up)

This second card will go (duh) to my sister. It was totally inspired by the pillowcases at our grandparents' house when we were little. Those cases had green and yellow cross-stitch patterns on them and made us feel so special! When my parents divorced, Mom, Lisa, and I moved in with my mom's parents, who enveloped us all in a great big safe haven of love.  (Stamps: Papertrey Sew Simple Borders, Quilters Sampler Sentiments)

Finally, this colorful floral card just happened. I think it would be a lot of fun for a teenage girl...perhaps my niece! (Stamps: Simon Says Stamp Spring Flowers, Papertrey Keep It Simple Birthday)

All my cards are 3.5" x 6.25" folded, and 10.5" x 6.25" open. I scored at 3.5" and 7" to create the accordion. That's a lot of real estate for stamping, and while my designs stick to the general layout of the pin that inspired me, there is so much more that could be done with this tri-fold idea. If you have any truly large stamps, get them out and play because there's plenty of room for them here!

These cards fit a standard #6 3/4 size business envelope.

One tip: Score before you stamp, but wait to fold it after stamping. That way, you know where the folds are for placement purposes, but the paper is nice and flat for stamping.

*Our book club got its name from a rather strange event that happened to me when I lived in Wichita, Kansas, in the mid-1990s. George and I were leaving Barnes & Noble when two teenage boys drove past. One was hanging out the window of the car and screamed, "Book-worm bi***!" George and I looked at each other in puzzlement. It's the weirdest insult we've ever heard, and ultimately I decided to take it as a compliment. Our book club (which includes many women-of-a-certain-age who have delicate feelings regarding the female-dog epithet) decided to call ourselves the Book-Worm Babes after I told the story. *giggle*

Monday, February 20, 2017

An Experiment: Day Twelve

My original intent was to post two cards today, but one met with the unfortunate fate of being catastrophically ugly.

These things happen sometimes.

Anyway, the card that DID turn out was completely inspired by my friend Audrie (she of the Inspiration Challenge at SCS). She has sent me a number of cards that feature black bases...and they are so lovely! As I examined the completed watercolor panel, I realized that a white or watercolor paper base would simply not do it justice. I thought of Audrie and pulled out some black card stock. The background colors pop right off the black.

4.25" square card; raised panel is 3.25" square

Thanks to Audrie for the inspiration!

A few loose ends. Several questions have come in. First, yesterday's card base is watercolor paper...the same paper used for the painted panel. The watercolor paper isn't stark white but is a softer off-white, and that set off the pinks and golds beautifully.

Second, the brush I used to paint these watercolor panels was a Crayola children's paintbrush...very large and round, with a tapered tip. Most of my nice watercolor brushes are too small to work this big because I collected them back when I was painting illuminations, which generally require very small brushes. When I found a pack of four Crayola brushes my son hadn't opened even though he's had them for a year, I stole them.

He's not noticed.

The brush worked great.

And now we say goodbye to the experiment with Papertrey's Life stamp set. When we started, I was in a creative slump, but this exploration of different products and techniques...using stuff I already had in my stash...jolted me out of the slump spectacularly.

This is a good idea to tuck away for future slumps, don't you think?

Tomorrow we'll move on to something completely different. Oh, my. What fun!

stamps: Papertrey Life, My Favorite Things Cheerful Blessings
ink: Memento Luxe black
paper: watercolor paper, StampinUp black
accessories: Twinkling H2Os, craft foam, glue

Sunday, February 19, 2017

An Experiment: Day Eleven

Wow, I can't believe we've milked Papertrey's Life for eleven days! I'll have one final post on the set tomorrow, and then we'll move on to other things. But I truly hope that this experiment has inspired you to experiment for yourselves with a single set. Well-designed sets--like Life--can be incredibly versatile and allow you to use lots of different products, color schemes, designs, and techniques for lots of fun!

The final cards utilize backgrounds I painted onto watercolor paper using Twinkling H2Os, which are delightful sparkly watercolors. I started with a watercolor paper block (sheets of watercolor paper glued on the edges into a block), which keeps the paper flat after it dries. After painting an area of the sheet with plain water, I picked up paint on the brush and added it to the wet area. There's no plan when I do this...I just add paint until it looks interesting, let it dry, and hope for the best.

Once dry, I separated the sheet from the block with a butter knife and cut out sections of the painted areas that look pretty.

Today's stamped panel used gold and pink paint because there's a LOT of gold and pink out there on the interwebs right now, and the color combo inspired me. It's so pretty and feminine!

What a stroke of luck that pink lemonade Impress Fresh Ink was a perfect match for the pink peony Twinkling H2O. The Fresh Ink is a pigment ink, so its opacity covered the gold paint well.

The Blogger website is trying to tell me that the previous sentence should say "...it's opacity covered...." Never trust grammar check.

The sentiment and stem of the flower are stamped in Delicata golden glitz. A close-up shows how shimmery and pretty this card is!

Now, you might pick up on the similarities between this layout and the one from Day Two of the Experiment. Here's that card again for contrast.

Note how completely different these two cards feel. The cool, crisp white-on-white card has simple pops of color. The pink-and-gold card is warm and shimmery and far more subtle. There's so different, in fact, it's hard to compare them (although I think we can all agree that the card from Day Two definitely looks more like I made it).

If this experiment has taught me anything, it's that different supplies yield wildly different results...and it's tons of fun to play around with similar layouts to see just how much variation your liberally-stocked craft room can provide!

stamps: Papertrey Life, My Favorite Things Cheerful Blessings
ink: Delicata gold, Impress Fresh Ink pink lemonade
paper: watercolor paper
accessories: Twinkling H2Os, brush, craft foam, glue

Saturday, February 18, 2017

An Experiment: Day Ten

Yesterday, I read our pastor's weekly email and discovered that two of our congregation had lost loved ones during the week. When I went to my stash of sympathy cards, there was but one card. With this on my mind as I fell asleep, I got the idea to focus on a very basic layout similar to Day Four of An Experiment and see what different monochromatic color variations would look like.

It was a great opportunity to use up a lot of white scraps that had accumulated over the past few months. Each scrap panel was cut to a proportional size (see this post here) before being stamped, and then mats at increments of 1/16", 1/4", and 1/16" were cut to give the panels a pretty frame, just as on Day Seven of An Experiment. (See below for details on cutting these.)

As you can see, some stamped panels were larger than others, but all follow the same basic layout. Each color scheme uses a very pale shade, a medium shade, and a dark shade, and for most the sentiment is stamped in the dark shade. It was fun experimenting with colors. The blues and purples of course look "sympathy-ish" but I was surprised at how good the yellow card turned out.

It uses Hero Arts soft vanilla and Archival saffron and sienna. Its warmth really made this work for me.

The red card, however, feels a little too bright for a sympathy card. Plus, red's association with blood sort of makes this disturbing to me. The colors are Hero Arts soft blossom, Memento rhubarb stalk, and Archival plum. What do you think?

Note that what makes this layout so solid and balanced is the use of the Rule of Thirds. The flowers cover about a third of each panel, with the weight in the bottom right, while the sentiment sits in the upper left sweet spot. The diagonal adds movement and interest as well.

At least now I have a goodly selection of sympathy cards for my personal stash, and a severely depleted scrap drawer...both of which were absolutely worth it.

Cutting Perfect Mats
I cut mats exclusively with a craft knife and quilting ruler. The ruler's registration allows for perfect 1/8" increments and always gives me a perfect right angle. To cut these particular mats, I took the panel dimensions and added 1/8" to cut the first mat, then added 1/2" the first mat's dimensions to cut the second mat, and finally added 1/8" to the second mat's dimensions to get the third, largest mat.

For example, a 3 1/4" x 2" panel would have mats that are 3 3/8" x 2 1/8", 3 7/8" x 2 5/8", and 4" x 2 3/4".

Glue the mats from top to bottom. I use Scotch Tacky Glue in a thin bead around the edge of the back of the stamped panel to start, then position it on the smallest mat. The liquid glue gives me a little wiggle room to reposition. Then, flip those two layers over, add another bead of glue, and place it on the middle mat. Repeat with the third mat, and finally the card base.

Here's a pictorial guide to how I cut the mats that might help.

Whew. There's a lot in this post. I've decided to add a tab to the blog that lists useful posts like how to cut mats and proportional matting. That way, those posts will be easier to find. Look for that soon!

stamps: Papertrey Life and Mega Mixed Messages
ink: various dye inks
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: quilting ruler, craft knife, glue

Friday, February 17, 2017

An Experiment: Day Nine, plus a Grammatical Digression

Today, we're going to look at two different cards using Kaleidacolor pads and Papertrey's Life stamp set. Before we get to the cards, however, here is the link to an older post about Kaleidacolor pads

What I Know about Kaleidacolor Pads

That post details tips on getting good images with Kaleidacolor pads, which really are a lot of fun once you figure them out!

Now, The first card today is a simple one-layer card that uses Stickles for added umph.

The simple blossom stamp from Life is inked with the Melon Melody pad and stamped repeatedly across the bottom of the card. This looked fine, but the lighter colors needed a little something extra, so I pulled out my yellow Stickles and went to work.

The results are lovely...so cheerful and sunny. The sentiment nestles nicely down into the blossoms. The only bad thing about this card is that I used all my yellow Stickles on it! Darn. Must place an order. What else do I need to buy to get free shipping on a $2.95 bottle of Stickles? What a situation!

The second Kaleidacolor card goes in a completely different direction color-wise...from sunshine to rich gemstone shades.

Here, there's bling to create some shine amidst the dark, lush shades.

Now, let's digress on the word alright. There's debate about using alright instead of all right, and today's sentiment calls for me to weigh in on this controversy.

I've always emphasized rhetorical situation in composition...in other words, who's your audience, why are you writing to them, and for what purpose are you writing? In broad terms, there are two main categories of rhetorical situations: formal and informal. In formal writing, it's best to be absolutely correct and, well, formal. Don't use slang, don't abbreviate or contract, always punctuate properly, and always use the most correct word choice.

Informal writing, however, allows some latitude. This blog, for instance, is definitely informal. I'd like you to feel as if you're sitting down for coffee and conversation with your best friend...or at least sitting down with someone who totally understands the need to order enough stamping product to get free shipping. Some of you read Simplicity more for the writing than the stamping, and that's alright (or all right) by me. I'm so happy you're here and hope you're having fun!

If I wrote Simplicity in the same style I wrote my master's thesis, none of you would hang around long. My thesis was awesome. I won an award for it, but it's not exactly fun reading. The title is As Gold Is Proved in the Furnace: Chaucer's Wife of Bath and Medieval Disputatio. I would never, ever have included a word like alright in something so academic. My thesis advisor's head would have exploded.

What a mess that would have been.

So if reading the sentiment on the second card makes you itchy and twitchy and generally on the verge of head-popping, then don't use it. I happen to like the sentiment a lot, and I'm fairly certain that Bob Marley wasn't writing a New Historical analysis of medieval debate as played out in the Wife's discourse in Canterbury Tales. Nope. He was writing a friendly little song of encouragement, probably while high on weed, which will certainly render a person just a tad informal.

It's a sweet song, and that's all I have to say about that.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Thursday, February 16, 2017

An Experiment: Day Eight

Playing with the Kaleidacolor pads was fun yesterday, and I have a couple of those cards to share tomorrow. For today, we're looking at a shockingly successful (yet also very subtle) watercolor-ish background card that highlights Papertrey's Life stamp set.

6.25" x 3.5"

It's hard to believe, but the small panel was made with the same Distress inks used on this card...inks that look so bright full strength but become beautifully muted with a heavy spritz of Dazzling Diamonds Glimmer Mist. I took a large piece of transparency, smooshed the ink directly onto it, spritzed with the Glimmer Mist, and then applied the scrap of card stock directly to the transparency. After the paper had absorbed most of the ink, I pressed it between pieces of waxed paper and two squares of plywood I keep for the purpose. Once dry, the piece was almost completely flat and easy to stamp on.

This is a cool technique to use with all sorts of water-based media: watercolor crayons, Smooch, Twinkling H2Os, even acrylic paints. Just remember that the colors will become diluted and soften, so choose brighter colors than you want on your finished product.

Note that matting this on black really helps highlight the soft color...unlike yesterday's card, which a black mat actually detracted from. Also, because it's such a narrow, tall panel, I wanted to emphasize that with a narrow, tall card.

The photo doesn't capture the shimmer of the Glimmer Mist, but I assure you, it's there!

Still fighting this cough, and still taking naps. I feel like a toddler...a cranky toddler. Aren't you glad our relationship is virtual? Much better that way. For you, at least!

stamps: Papertrey Mega Mixed Messages, Life
paper: Papertrey white, StampinUp black
ink: Memento Luxe black; Distress shaded lilac, tumbled glass
accessories: transparency, Glimmer Mist Dazzling Diamonds, craft foam, glue

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

An Experiment: Day Seven

Well, I may have turned the corner a bit (let's say a little prayer!), so let's try to get back on track here with our Life Experiment, or How Many Ways Can We Use Papertrey's Life Set before Everyone Gets Bored?

Today's card is without exception my favorite with Life so far.

The crisp, white layers showcase the brilliantly glittery stems, and the blue just pops right off the paper! Check out the close-up below. There are two shades of Stickles on here...Waterfall and Twilight...and the variation creates a lovely depth effect. I applied Waterfall (the lighter color) first, randomly dabbing it around. Once it was dry, I added the Twilight everywhere else.

With this stamp, Stickles is an excellent embellishment. There's no need for precision, and the effect is almost impressionistic. But the glitter! Wow! It has a powerful impact and draws the eye so prettily.

My first instinct was to mat this panel on black, but the black looked too heavy and distracted from the glittery blue goodness. That's when I decided a triple white mat (1/16", 1/4", 1/16") would be pretty.

And it is!

During my next crafty session, I plan on tackling this set with my Kaleidacolor pads. A month or so ago, someone asked me to explain how to use those spectrum-style pads, and I'll try to answer that tomorrow. Also, I've created some watercolor backgrounds to mess around with using Twinkling H2Os. It's not uncommon for me to make those pretty panels, mess around with them until they are destroyed, and then give up, so you may or may not see any fruit from that particular vine.

Which leads me to ask: any requests for our Life Experiment? What more would you like to see?

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey Life, Scripted
ink: Hero Arts sky blue, Memento Luxe tuxedo black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: Stickles

Monday, February 13, 2017

A Few Recent Questions

No pictures today, but several questions have come up recently that I'll answer in today's post as best I can.

Memento Luxe Ink
Reader Clavell asked for the drying time is for Memento Luxe ink. It dries surprisingly fast, but it does take a minute or so. I find this to be the case with all the colors of Memento Luxe ink. A little patience is a fair price for such rich coverage!

How to Put Bling on Cards
Reader Carol asked how I add bling to my cards. It depends if the bling is self-adhesive or not. For self-adhesive bling, I use my craft knife to lift the rhinestone from the backing sheet and place it on my card. It's easy, keeps the adhesive stickier than using your finger (oils from your finger will transfer to the glue and weaken it), and allows very precise placement.

For bling that needs to be glued, things get more complicated. There's a pick-up tool from Silhouette called the Pick-Me-Up that has a renewable tacky substance that will grab a single rhinestone from the top and hold onto it while you dab it on a spot of glue (I put a dot of liquid glue on a scrap of card stock beforehand), and then press it into place on the card. If you hold the rhinestone down with the tool until the glue sets (say, 10 seconds or so), you can then remove the Pick-Me-Up tool from the rhinestone and it stays in place. This is obviously cumbersome but it's MUCH easier than using your fingers, which, if they are anything like mine, are thick and clumsy.

I hope that helps.

MISTI Wishes
Reader Sheila asked if I have or want to have a MISTI. She loves hers, as do so many who have them. My friend Leslie, who passed away over a year ago, advised me against getting one, saying that for what I do, it would likely be a waste of money. (She was one to talk...she had two of the things, I think!) She was probably right; she usually was.

BUT I do think there are advantages to having one that have weakened my resolve, and I'm actually now considering getting one. The recent explosion of multi-step stamp sets is a contributing factor, actually. Just last week, I had a conversation with an employee at Marco's Paper (a brick-and-mortar stamp store nearby) about them, and she offered to have me come in and play with one any time. When I feel better, I'll take her up on it.

Feel free to ask any questions in the comments. I do try to answer them all...and if you're wondering something, chances are someone else is as well. Doctor's appointment tomorrow. Hopefully, she'll have something to help me feel like getting back to Papertrey's Life in my craft room!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Sunday, February 12, 2017

An Experiment: Day Six

Well, that was an unexpected blogging break, brought to you by your friendly neighborhood respiratory virus. Ugh. Still not feeling great, sort of like today's card, which I made just as I was starting to feel truly dreadful but only now had energy to photograph.

Could I write more pathetically? Probably. And it will likely be a few days before my full energy is back to stamp and blog. Thank you for your patience.

Today's card was the first of several I hope to make with interesting backgrounds for the solid images in Papertrey's Life stamp set...the focal point of our multi-day Experiment. If you ever find yourself in a slump like I did, I highly encourage you to take one set and use as many of your supplies with it as possible. This has been such a creativity boost...except, of course, for the viral interruption.

Viruses happen.

This background was probably the simplest to make of any. I used two shades of Distress ink, the mini inking tools, and two large post-it notes with extra temporary adhesive to keep them in place.

There's nothing new about the layout, but I wanted to unify the white space with the colored strip, so I added little floating blossoms in the background colors. Given the sentiment's call to spread kindness, that seemed like a good idea!

We sure need more kindness these days.

The supply that makes this sort of card possible is a reliable, solid, opaque black ink. In this case, I used Memento Luxe tuxedo black, which is as thick and solid as they come. Its heaviness provides a nice contrast to the lightness of the shaded lilac and tumbled glass.

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

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey Life, Simon Says Stamp Uplifting Thoughts
ink: Memento Luxe tuxedo black, Distress shaded lilac, tumbled glass
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: post-it notes, temporary adhesive, mini inking tools and sponges 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

An Experiment: Day Five

So for the first four days of experimenting with Papertrey's Life stamp set, we've focused on using the flowers as flowers, growing from the ground up, so to speak. Today, we're going to use one of the stamps as more of a graphic design element, focusing on line rather than literal flowers.

This design was inspired by a pin you can see here.  The lotion packaging places the words at the top, then botanical stems in a diagonal, all underlined with a solid line at the bottom. I chose the most stylized stem from Life and used just that for my botanical element. I love how the curvy line of the stem contrasts with the spiky flowers along it. There's so much movement here, but it's grounded by that solid blue line.

The font of the sentiment is clean and simple, keeping the focus on the activity below it, but the black helps balance it nicely.

Bling, of course, makes everything better. 

I'm headed off to my craft space to change gears with the set now. What sort of pretty backgrounds can I make that will set off the solid images nicely yet still remain true to my CAS (clean-and-simple) style? We shall see!

By the way, any suggestions to treat a nasty cough/cold that's keeping me awake at night? This is very frustrating!

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and healing,

stamps: Papertrey Life, Paper Tray, Faux Ribbon
ink: Memento Luxe Bahama blue, black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones, craft foam, glue

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

An Experiment: Day Four

Yesterday's card showed off Papertrey's Life stamp set images in a pastel wildflower field, but today's card portrays a colorful bank where the wild thyme blows...

These images were straight stamped with dye inks...no spritzing.

I added just a touch of azalea to the left of the sentiment because it looked a bit bare over there. Designing a card around a large quotation stamp like that is challenging, but I love how the diagonal not only allows some white space but also makes the flowers look like they might actually be on a bank where wild thyme blows.

*happy Shakespearean sigh*

Do you have a favorite Shakespearean play? Mine is A Midsummer Night's Dream, whence the above quotation comes, although Much Ado about Nothing is a close second. Or maybe The Tempest. Hamlet is always a good one. So is Henry V. I'll understand if you can't pick a favorite (or even if you don't enjoy Shakespeare's plays at all...I'll be sad, but I'll understand).

I just love using the word whence.

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and thyme,

stamps: Papertrey Life, Hero Arts Shakespearean Poetry
ink: various dye inks
paper: Papertrey
accessories: none

Monday, February 6, 2017

An Experiment: Day Three

Today, we're revisiting the marker/spritzing technique for a completely different effect. Yesterday's card was simple, clean, and full of glorious white space. But the marker technique combined with the pretty solid images in Papertrey's Life stamp set can also give you a glorious, abundant field of wildflowers. Add some Glimmer Mist Dazzling Diamonds instead of water for spritzing, and it's all shimmery pastel goodness.

I realized that my New Year's Resolution to make matching envelopes often had fallen by the wayside, so here we go. A pretty field of flowers for a happy birthday greeting, and a matching envelope!

Note that the markers used included StampinUp and Memento, although for some of the images, I used the Memento dew drop pads to ink the whole stamp before spritzing because it was easier. Memento's regular ink pads (not the Luxe ones) work great for this technique as well.

It's hard to shoot a good photo of the delicate shimmer of the Glimmer Mist, but if you click on the photo to enlarge it, you might get a glimpse of it. In real life, it's lovely.

I love how different this card looks from yesterday's simpler card. It's so fun to do the same technique but get a totally different look with it.

The touches of black on this card make all the difference. If you ever have a pastel card that seems weak, add some black. It anchors the light-and-fluffy colors and brings them down to earth. 

Sadly, this experiment may confirm what I've suspected all along: the more you have in your stash, the more fun you can have. Even though I already own a number of suitable markers for this technique, it occurred to me that more would be even better.

Must. Not. Spend. More. Money.

Reader merryf asked if Zig markers would work for this technique. The only Zig markers I have are these writers from my scrapbooking days. These would not work, but if Zig has other, water-based markers out there, perhaps they would.

NOT suitable for the marker/spritzing technique!

For those who've used this technique, have you used markers other than Memento, StampinUp, or Tombow? If so, please share the ones that work for you in the comments to help others out.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey Life, Birthday Bash Sentiments
ink: Memento, Memento Luxe
paper: Papertrey white, StampinUp black
accessories: Glimmer Mist Dazzling Diamonds, markers

Sunday, February 5, 2017

An Experiment: Day Two

Oh. My. Goodness.

This experiment is so good for me! My mojo had flown, but getting back to basics with Papertrey's Life set, challenging myself to see how much variety I can get out of it...this is creative heaven. It occurred to me that there are many different supplies in my stash to use with this set, so this series definitely applies to my Use Your Hoard Challenge.

Talk about a great way to get out of a rut!

Anyway, today, we're playing with markers and a water spritzer: such a basic technique for getting a lovely, watercolor-y effect, yet so easy.

First, the supplies.

If you've never tried this technique, you'll need water-based markers like Memento or Tombow or StampinUp. Do NOT try to use alcohol markers (Copics/Bics/Sharpies), which will dry almost instantly on the stamp and will not activate with water. You'll also need a spritzer bottle full of water...I use distilled water...or you could use Glimmer Mist Dazzling Diamonds if you want to add some shimmer to the image.

Color the image with the markers. My blossoms were colored all over with the lighter color first (top image with rose bud, bottom with angel pink) and then the next shade darker was pounced (as opposed to rubbed) randomly onto the blossom for uneven coverage. This adds interest and shading to the image...and the results are delightfully random.

I always test my color combinations on scraps before stamping on the actual project; sometimes colors blend oddly and look muddy, and lighter shades might wash out to nothing with more water added to them. Clean the stamp between impressions so you're always getting fresh colors.

Spritzing water is an imprecise act. Usually, two spritzes work great; sometimes, two aren't enough. Too much water will create a mess. Another reason to test on scraps! You get a feel for it as you go.

Hold the stamp on the paper for a few seconds so the water absorbs before pulling the stamp up. Otherwise, it might pool the color unattractively.

As you can see if you compare today's card to yesterday's, the softness of these images is very different from the crispness provided by yesterday's pigment inks.

For those of us without mad watercoloring skilz, this is a simple, easy way to get a similar effect. I've of course kept things really simple here design-wise, but you can create lush and beautiful floral cards by repeating this technique with multiple stamps and in different colors. Just be careful to let each image dry before stamping a new one over it, or the colors might blend in ugly ways. Drying time is quick, especially if you use really absorbent paper.

Also, you might want to use watercolor paper if you're going big with this technique. The Papertrey white card stock didn't warp at all with this little bit of water, but if you put enough water on any regular card stock, it will warp.

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

Now, about card stock for coloring with Copics. On yesterday's post, I misremembered what Gina K calls her awesome white card stock that won't let Copics or other alcohol markers bleed through. It's called Pure Luxury heavy base weight card stock in white. (I've edited yesterday's post to correct my mistake.) This is the ONLY card stock I use when coloring with Copics. The coating allows the ink to float for easier blending, and anything that makes coloring easier is awesome for me.

'Cause coloring is hard.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey Life, Altenew Sentiments & Quotes
ink: Memento markers (rose bud, angel pink, rhubarb stalk, bamboo), Archival Ink black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: spritzer bottle, rhinestones, craft foam, glue

Saturday, February 4, 2017

An Experiment: Day One (Edited)

Before we get to the experiment, let's talk about Papertrey shipping times. Reader Angela commented on yesterday's post that I was lucky I got my Papertrey order so fast as their shipping times are now at 4-6 weeks. This got me thinking. When did I place that order? In the post, I referred to last week, but when I checked the invoice, the order was actually placed January 19, and delivered February 1.

Time warp! 

That means my order came in 13 days. I live in spitting distance (sort of) to the Papertrey warehouse, so shipping times tend to be pretty fast once an order is processed. Also, perhaps the slow shipping times started right after I placed my order. I don't know.

Why am I making a big deal about this? Well, in the past, Papertrey has been falsely accused of showing me favoritism, and it doesn't. I don't want anyone to think the company is playing favorites just because I misremembered my order date. I don't know Nichole or any of the other ladies at Papertrey and am pretty certain they don't know me or my blog from a hole in the wall. I just like their stuff and live close to the warehouse.

Also, Reader Judy asked what paper I used with the Copics yesterday. Whenever I use Copics/Bics/Sharpies to color, the only cardstock for me is Gina K Pure Luxury white in the heavy weight. It's coated, and the markers will NOT bleed through. Papertrey's white cardstock allows alcohol markers to bleed through, leaving an unsightly mess inside a one-layer card, so while it is my go-to white cardstock for most things, it's not the only one I use. Gina K's paper is slick and wonderful to blend on, by the way.

For more thoughts on products like cardstock and ink, remember there's a Product Talk tab at the top of the blog.

Now, let's move on to the experiment, which arose from a thoroughly disastrous day of stamping. You see, it's a good thing I bought nine packs of Papertrey's white cardstock because I wasted a LOT of it today. Ugh. Mojo's off, for sure. So in the end, I was staring blankly at the mess on my desk and feeling pretty defeated when the idea of an experiment popped into my head.

Along with all that glorious cardstock, my order included the set Life, which is rather old but now new to me. It occurred to me that I should experiment with this rather simple, straightforward solid-image set to see how many different supplies I could use and how many different looks I could get with it. Most stampers who like block stamps probably have a similar set laying around, and if I could come up with at least a week's worth of different looks, well, wouldn't that be cool?

I thought so.

So I started with a VERY simple application of the stamps: stamping them in fun colors on white cardstock. Nothing fancy, just minimalism at its most colorful. It's all I could handle in my mojo-less state.

The colors were inspired by this pin, and the basic layout takes advantage of the strong vertical elements of the set by balancing them with a strongly horizontal sentiment. The bling just makes everything more beautiful.

This will be sent to a friend in April. She's having surgery then and will need some care for many weeks after.

Making a card that far in advance gives me the illusion that I'm on top of things. The reality is, I'll likely forget all about this card, make her another in April, find this one months later, and feel really stupid.

Such is life.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love to you...and I should probably give some to myself as well,

stamps: Papertrey Life, Altenew Sentiments and Quotes
ink: Versamagic turquoise gem; Impress Fresh Ink grass; Memento Luxe Bahama blue and tuxedo black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones and alcohol markers for coloring them!

Friday, February 3, 2017

A Little Coloring

I've splurged on a few new Copic markers (thank you, everyone who gave me cash for Christmas!) and wanted to do some coloring today. Here's the result.

Here are the Copics used:

This type of coloring/shading is extremely easy. Pick a very light and darker shade, color the entire space with the light shade. Add a bit of dark where you want. Blend with the lighter shade. Add more dark and repeat as needed until you get the colors you want. With small images, this goes very quickly and easily, and yields a lovely dramatic effect.

Note that the flowers are arranged in an irregular visual triangle. The one to the left of the sentiment takes advantage of the left justification of the sentiment, which would otherwise look odd in the middle of the card.

I also placed a large paper order last week because *gasp* I had no spare packs of Papertrey Stampers Select white cardstock. THE HORROR is over. Isn't that a beautiful pile of papery goodness? Should last the rest of the year!

The hanging on the wall is new, too...a recent splurge at Hobby Lobby. So pretty! (And less expensive than the Copics!)

What have you splurged on recently?

stamps: Hero Arts Just for You by Lia, Simon Says Stamp Uplifting Thoughts
ink: Memento tuxedo black
paper: Gina K Deluxe white
accessories: Copic markers (numbers pictured above), rhinestones