Saturday, September 30, 2017

Freshening up the Old Style

Using layered square punches with alphabet stamps goes waaaaaay back, and these two punches are among my oldest. But as it's a look that goes so well with my style, I decided to freshen it up with a new shape to the card, a timeless font, and a fun letter substitution for the O.

Card Size 6.25" x 3.5"

Combining a scallop square with a straight-line square also adds a fresh twist.

My first order of dies came this week, and I'm having so much fun playing with them. But my old stand-by punches aren't going anywhere. This card is proof that they still work beautifully!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Hero Arts alphabet, Papertrey Winterberry ornament
ink: Hero Arts red royal, green
paper: Papertrey white, StampinUp real red
accessories: rhinestone, scallop square punch, square punch

Thursday, September 28, 2017

When a Font Unifies

Papertrey's Star Scribbles set has a fun swirl stamp that is PERFECT with one of the birthday sentiments from Birthday Bash Sentiments.


I love all the energy and swirls on this card! The Hero Arts ombre mermaid ink pad adds interest as well.

It's just awesome when a font goes so well with images!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey Star Scribbles, Birthday Bash Sentiments
ink: Hero Arts ombre mermaid
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: craft foam

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Cake and Flowers

As a clean-and-simple stamper, I have learned that the simplest layouts provide abundant opportunities for variation, and I often challenge myself to make two or three cards that look really different (colors, techniques, themes) but are essentially--from a design point of view--the same.

Sometimes, only one of the variations is blog-worthy, but today, I want to share two cards that both make my CAS-lovin' heart go pitter patter. (Note: My sister has asked me to make her a bunch of cards to have on hand for Christmas. She wants most of them to be birthday, so you'll be seeing lots of birthday cards over the next few weeks!)

First up, bold and fun! The cake is colored with Copics, with just a bit of shading. Note that it's a small cake and coloring it doesn't take much time at all. The candles are accented with orange Stickles for a bit of sparkle. The stamped panel is matted simply because the cute image and sentiment didn't need elaborate matting. That strong color keeps the eye right on the focal point.

Next up, a softly feminine card. The flowers (from Gina K) were inked with markers, spritzed with water, and stamped. Crystal Stickles accents the flower centers. The soft and pretty focal point begged for more elaborate matting than the cake did, so I used 1/16", 3/8", and 1/16" mats for a dressier look.

Note how wildly different these two cards are despite all the similarities. Both use Stickles, have the same layout, have mats, allow lots of white space. But one is feminine, the other whimsical; one is bold and bright, the other soft and dreamy; one has the focal point entirely on the panel, the other disappears off the bottom edge.

By the way, from a purely design standpoint, the floral card is better. The cake is floating, which is generally frowned upon by design sticklers. I debated adding a table but decided to leave it as is...there's not enough space. A little shading under the cake plate might help, though. My sister has three children who get invited to birthday parties...I figured this card would go to a little boy who wouldn't care one way or the other!

Why not take a layout you like and try to create very different looks for it? It's lots of fun, and you never know where it will take you!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Gina K, StampinUp
paper: Papertrey white
ink: Memento black
accessories: Stickles, Copics, Memento markers, water spritzer

Monday, September 25, 2017

Simple Christmas

Every year, I experiment with non-traditional colors for Christmas cards. This experimentation arises from the fact that I make well over 100 Christmas cards a year, most of which are one-offs rather than multiples.

That's a lot of different designs, and doing everything up in red and green gets pretty boring after a while. 

So a black-and-white Christmas makes sense to me, at least as an experiment. You, however, might find it a bit odd. That's okay. I did, too, until I made these three cards.

If you visit my Pinterest board titled Christmas, you'll see a number of pins that have black-and-white designs for Christmas, sometimes with kraft thrown in as well. Those pins collectively inspired this set of three cards that use images from Hero Arts' Vintage Wishes set. I adore this layout of small stamped panels on a card base. There's something so satisfying for me in the minimalism of one image, one sentiment, and tons of white space.

Vintage sets like this one are always a challenge for clean-and-simple stampers like myself. They invite layers and coloring and distressing and embellishment...and can result in incredibly rich, beautiful, and nostalgic cards.  Consider this nearly black-and-white beauty I found on Pinterest. Oh, my! It's stunningly fabulous, and everything about it is perfect!

While I have no ambition to make such a layered and embellished card as Melissa's, it did occur to me that I could get more mileage from this set (and several others) if I had the dies to coordinate. So my first order of dies has been placed, and I await it with eagerness.

What are your favorite new Christmas sets this year? I've been looking but haven't bought more Christmas stamps, seeing as I have so many. But I'd love to see what you're buying. Tempt me, please!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Hero Arts Vintage Wishes
paper: Papertrey white
ink: Archival black
accessories: craft foam, glue

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Color Blending with the MISTI

Stamping big block stamps is tricky business. It's just too easy to get an incomplete image...perhaps the center doesn't fully make contact with the paper. Perhaps you got more ink on one side of the image than the other. Whatever happens, large inked areas don't always leave the best impressions.

Hence, the MISTI.

This handy device allows you to re-ink and re-stamp the image until you get it as inked as you need it to be. So when I stamped this leaf in Archival vermilion and got this imperfect image, I wasn't concerned.

But I was hoping for a more orange-red than the vermilion ink gave me, so I wondered if stamping another color over the vermilion would work. I chose Ancient Page henna, and one more impression gave this image.

Better, but still not perfect. So I tried again with the henna.

Still not smooth, but I rather liked the gradient and decided to quit there. After stamping the leaf veins, I masked the leaf, added some splatters courtesy of Papertrey's Grunge Me, and hit a wall. After deciding there was no good place to put a sentiment that wouldn't throw off the balance, I trimmed the panel down to a square panel, mounted it on a 4.25" square card, and declared it finished.

This brilliant red leaf is stunning! The color is incredibly vibrant and rich.

So if you're using a MISTI and decide to change colors, try blending them. Easy peasy!

And once again, I thank my friend Tina S. for giving me the MISTI.

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and autumn,

stamps: Papertrey Grunge Me, Hero Arts Color Layering Fall Leaves
ink: Ancient Page henna; Archival saffron, vermilion; Hero Arts cup o' Joe
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: craft foam, glue, MISTI

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Lazy Girl's Coloring Method

Y'all, last week I was bragging to a friend about how patient I am with the puppy. And I am. Truly. I'm as surprised as anyone, but there it is, me being all calm and patient like a grown-up.

At least until Friday, when he did #2 not once but twice in his crate, covering the inside of it and the outside of himself with filth, and also went #2 not once but twice on carpet. The cleaning! The laundry! The wretched smell!

Unbelievably, he's still alive.

Note the disassembled crate. I had to do that TWICE. So many screws.
Cooper is still wet from his second bath of the day.

The vet told me to shift him to large-breed puppy food, and apparently I moved a little too fast. Poor pup. Poor me.

So after weeks of ahh-ing over impossibly cute Cooper pictures, those of you who were thinking it's time to get a puppy are now happy to continue living vicariously through me. Because people, it's not all cute sleeping puppies and puppy breath. Not by a longshot.

"Poop happens. Let's play!"

Tuckered from so many baths.

Let's talk about stamping.

Now, in case you're new to this blog and haven't picked up on it yet, Simplicity is about, well, simplicity. Coloring intricate, detailed images isn't simple. Or fast. And I'm basically lazy.

So here's an idea for creating interest in a trice: color a simple background on a scrap of paper using three shades of Copic markers, stamp images in black, punch or cut out, and assemble on a card.

Easy peasy.

Can you imagine coloring nine of these tiny squares separately? Perhaps you've done it and might even have found it relaxing. Good for you! I'm not so patient as all that. My patience only extends to adorable puppies who are still alive because of it. There's none left over for time-consuming coloring.

Papertrey's Quilter's Sampler set is truly perfect for creating comforting quilt cards for sympathy or get well themes. And a gradient of purple is soothing.

Simplicity and sympathy go hand in hand, don't they?

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey Stamper's Sampler, Gina K sentiment
ink: Archival black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: 3/4" square punch

Friday, September 22, 2017

Embellished Elegance Three Ways

Thanks for all the responses to yesterday's post. There's no real consensus, except that many of you wondered if the busyness would go away if the text background were in a lighter gray. Others wondered if putting fewer stems on the middle panel would fix the problem. I suspect both are correct. Lighter text and fewer stems would definitely make the card more "LateBlossom."

But it's fun to stretch and pull yourself creatively every now and then, and that's what yesterday's card did for me. Despite my mixed feelings about the result, the process was fun!

And now for today's sympathetic triumvirate.

Embellished Elegance is a pretty set from Papertrey, and being in need of a number of sympathy cards for my own use, I decided to experiment with the set. How many different looks could I get out of the set for sympathy cards in one sitting?

Turns out, the answer is the same as the number of licks to get to the center of a tootsie pop.


First, pink and green, with a little bling.  The sentiment comes from Gina K. The frame of vines is lovely, symmetrical, and a bit like a hug.

Next, an autumnal border of olive and orange, with a little white-on-white layering. This sentiment is from Papertrey.

Finally, my favorite. Soft blue-green ink, bling, and my favorite sentiment for sympathy cards (also from Papertrey). The soft, natural background adds interest without being overwhelming.

If you're looking for a challenge this weekend, try pulling out an older set you've not used in a while and make three different cards. It was fun going for three very different looks!

To close, can anyone tell me why the little boy in the tootsie pop commercial appears to be naked? That's a puzzler.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Pretty or Busy?

I just can't decide. Sometimes I look at this card and think, "Wow, that's pretty!"

Then, ten seconds later, I think, "Wow, that's busy!"

Indecision may or may not be my problem.

What do you think?

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey Life, Text Style; Clearly Besotted A Little Sentimental
paper: Papertrey white
ink: various dye inks
accessories: rhinestones, banner die, Post-it notes for mask

Monday, September 18, 2017

Autumn Greetings

Today's card was inspired by this pin which linked to this blog post:

What a cool scrapbook page!!! I loved the diagonal background and collage-y effect of the focal point, so here's where I took the inspiration.

The pumpkin and flourishes are from Papertrey's Fall Elegance set, and the sentiment is from Hero Arts' Color Layering Fall Leaves set. I wanted to put the sentiment on the lower left side of the pumpkin but didn't use my MISTI and made a boo boo stamping the pumpkin...imperfect impression on the upper right. The mistake is covered by the sentiment, and that placement puts the sentiment in the sweet spot, which is fortuitous, but the bottom left of the pumpkin looks a little bare.

After fretting over this for too long and trying to come up with something to fill the space, I decided that it was just fine the way it was. Good enough for government work, right?

By far my favorite part of this card is the background color. It's so unexpected on a fall card. The idea came from Halloween cards that feature orange, lime green, and bright purple. I took the purple much lighter to mimic the inspiration of the scrapbook page. The results make me smile!

If you want to see a video of my two golden clowns playing together, it's posted on Simplicity by LateBlossom's Facebook page.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey Fall Elegance, Hero Arts Color Layering Fall Leaves
ink: Memento Lulu lavender, Ranger orange soda, and a green and brown I can't recall
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: Post-its for masking, Ranger mini inking tool, rhinestones

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Wishful Thinking

Today's fall birthday card makes me long for last week's weather. We had a glorious, week-long glimpse of autumn weather, and autumn is my favorite season. Now we are back to summer weather, however, and it's a bit sticky.

But here's my card. Warm fall colors give me hope for crisp fall days!

The vibrant colors are from Peerless Watercolors, which get my vote for affordable, rich color. They are easy to use, too. The leaves and sentiment were embossed in white and painted over.

Watercolor papers tend to be cream rather than white, but this paper is excellently white...I think it's Tim Holtz.

Today's card is destined for one of the many fall birthdays in my family.

And now for some Cooper pictures. Because, you know, puppies have a lot to do with stamping.

The escape artist made it through. Not for many
more weeks, though. He's growing so fast!

Sleeping under my chair.

"There's nothing wrong with liking a cool breeze!"
Cooper really enjoys sleeping on AC vents.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey Masculine Motifs
ink: embossing ink
paper: watercolor paper (probably Tim Holtz) and Papertrey white
accessories: Embossing Buddy, white embossing powder, heat gun, Peerless Watercolors, brush, water caddy

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Crazy Awesome Bling

Some of my many Christmas cards end up in boxes sent with gifts, which means getting a little crazy with dimensional elements is occasionally an option.

When I found these crazy awesome holly embellishments, I knew they were winners!

The berry and leaf pieces are all on one adhesive sheet, so they are super easy to place...although if you wanted to cut them apart and rearrange them, you certainly could. For my purposes on this card, however, I left them just as they came.

They accent a sentiment from Papertrey's Mistletoe and Holly set.

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

Here's a sleepy puppy picture, just for you.

stamps: Papertrey
ink: cannot remember
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: holly bling

Monday, September 11, 2017

IC614 Design Seeds Color Challenge

I do love a good color challenge, and Design Seeds is an excellent site to find inspiration. It's this week's Inspiration Challenge, hosted by the super-talented Audrie.

I chose my colors from a winter-themed picture called Heavenly Hues, which struck me as particularly lovely with the hint of green added to shades of blue.

Using sponges, I added each shade of pigment ink, starting with the green, blending as I went. The results were VERY satisfying!

Many thanks to Audrie for yet another awesome inspiration challenge!


And it's been a few days since I shared Cooper pictures. So here you go.

George and his dog. Just after I snapped this, George yelped
and said, "He bit my nipple!"

Daisy's teaching him who's boss.

His new sleeping spot. In a few weeks, he won't fit. 

But really, he'll sleep anywhere, and he's easier to photograph
when sleeping. 

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey Wet Paint Holiday
ink: Avery Elle; Impress Fresh Ink; Memento Luxe
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: dimensionals, Creative Memories circle cutter, sponges

Sunday, September 10, 2017

A Bunch of Thanks

Recently, Patti M., Peg M., and Lisa I. sent a combined 114 cards for Karen's Card Shop. Here are a few of the lovely cards they sent.

Lisa did an awesome job coloring several of these incredibly cute
cow images.

She also created some lovely backgrounds using a
variety of techniques. This was one of my favorites.
And what a great sentiment!

Peg M. sent a bunch of cute cards. I adore the
hedgehogs, and this one is just darling.

Peg warmed my heart with her sweet coffee card!

Patti M. does a particularly amazing job with
color on her cards. This background makes me
happy just to look at it, and the sentiment is
icing on the cake.

Patti's monochromatic beauty uses a fabulous
acrylic dot to accent the focal point perfectly!

Many, many thanks to Patti, Lisa, and Peg for contributing to Karen's Card Shop! If you're wondering what Karen's Card Shop is, please check out this page. If you want to contribute, please consider the following criteria:

  1. Buyers can't look at the inside of the card in its clear bag, so please leave the inside blank. 
  2. We mainly sell sympathy, get well, birthday, and thank you cards. Other themes simply don't sell as well. We ALWAYS need sympathy cards.
  3. I have envelopes and clear cellophane bags to package the cards, so save postage and just send the cards. I'll take care of everything else.

Right now, we have enough of everything except sympathy. I'll keep you posted if the need changes.

Stampers are the most generous people out there. Thank you all who have contributed to our church's card shop so much! We've made almost $900 for our general fund in about 15 months. Yay!

Additional thanks are due to Sheila H., who very kindly sent me a die set and embossing folder last week! I've already made a card with the die set, which includes one flower die and two embossing dies.

It took a bit of experimentation to get the embossing dies to work, but as beautiful as they were in plain white, I knew they wouldn't show up on a photo, so I pulled out my brayer and colored them in these bright, happy colors, added a bit of bling to the centers, and arranged them in a visual triangle around a happy sentiment!

Thank you, Sheila, for sending me such wonderful happy mail!

I've been looking at buying some dies to go with sets I already have and a few new-to-me stamp/die combos. But I'm moving v-e-r-y slowly. Thank you all who commented on my Cuttlebug post with advice. Truly, this is uncharted territory for me, and I don't want to go all crazy nuts buying stuff I'll use once and forget about. I'm striving for sensible spending, which certainly has gotten easier over the years.

What an expensive learning curve, though. *sigh*

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and muchas gracias!

stamps: Hero Arts
ink: Ranger cheese puff, grape soda; Archival black, vibrant fuschia
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: flower die and embossing die, dimensionals, rhinestones, brayer

Thursday, September 7, 2017

A Reminder about Thanksgiving

My last post used only the leaf veins from the Hero Arts Color Layering Fall Leaves set, and I added the color myself using a brush and Peerless Watercolors. After making that card, I wanted to use both the vein and block stamps together, thus using the color layering feature of the set. The ink used is Kaleidacolor Cajun spice, and each image was liberally spritzed with water before stamping.

The dark, rich colors would have looked odd on white cardstock, so I used a cream cardstock, either from Papertrey or Gina K...can't remember.

The brown bling adds interest and helps move the eye around the design.

And now for a reminder about Thanksgiving.

While I won't have a formal Thanksgiving Crusade this year, I will be sending cards to about 20 people in my life for whom I am grateful. I encourage you to do the same. You could send cards to the 20 people you know the best, or to people you've not seen in years but remember fondly, or to random people in your life (your barista, your pastor or imam or rabbi, your gynecologist, your mechanic). Doesn't matter. The point of this holiday is to wallow in gratitude for people, warm-blooded human beings who have made or are making or will make a positive difference in your life.

Gratitude knows no national boundaries, no boundaries of race or gender identity or age or socioeconomic status or immigration status or religion or politics. Spread that stuff all over!!!

For Americans, Thanksgiving feels really far away still, but for Canadians, it's getting close. And if you're living in a country that doesn't formally honor the concept of thanksgiving with an annual holiday, you can send thanksgiving cards any time you want.

In fact, we all can send thanksgiving cards whenever we want. It's just the uppercase Thanksgiving that happens in autumn and focuses on the plentiful harvest and gives us stampers so many fabulous leaf images.

How I love leaf images!

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and thanksgiving,

stamps: Hero Arts Color Layering Fall Leaves
ink: Kaleidacolor Cajun spice; Archival potting soil
paper: cream cardstock
accessories: rhinestones, water spritz bottle

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Peerless Watercolors and Autumn Leaves

The Hero Arts Color Layering Fall Leaves set is my new favorite leaf set.

I stamped the leaf veins and added color with the Peerless Watercolors...which give such wonderful, vibrant color.

And now I've got to go rescue Cooper from his next disaster. It's amazing how much trouble a little fur ball can get into.

stamps: Hero Arts Color Layering Fall Leaves
ink: Archival potting soil
paper: watercolor paper, Paperty vintage cream card stock
accessories: Peerless Watercolors, rhinestones, Tim Holtz paintbrush

Monday, September 4, 2017

Autumn Greetings

After pulling out some fall stamp sets, I decided to make an autumnal version of the Mother's Day card I posted in May.

The results are fabulous!

The berries were stamped in Memento canteloupe, which is a pale orange, and then accented with two colors of darker orange Smooch and paprika Stickles. I love it with the Stickles instead of bling (although bling is always amazing!). There's a softer effect that works for least for me.

I tried to use the StampinUp banner dies that Eva gave me, but the largest was too small. This is a variation on the sentiment problem: you never have exactly the right size sentiment or exactly the right font. Dies, I suspect, are the same.

Anyway, all is well with Cooper. He's an amazingly chill puppy, so calm and relaxed. I suspect he's going to be extremely lazy. Perhaps neither of our two retrievers will retrieve.

stamps: Papertrey A Wreath for All Seasons, Hero Arts Autumn Blessings
ink: Memento canteloupe; Archival potting soil
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: dimensionals, Smooch, Stickles