Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Vintage Christmas Wishes: Clean and Simple

Today's card was inspired by a scrapbook page on Pinterest that I can't locate. But it gave me the idea to stamp the text across three inchies to create some unity. The inspiration piece had text under the three small squares, but I opted for a long card with the sentiment on the inside.

Here's a close-up so you can see how that text stamp brings everything together.

It's always so fun using an artsy set on a clean-and-simple card. All that white space makes me happy!

Do you ever play around with stamps that aren't your ordinary style?

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Hero Arts Vintage Christmas Wishes
ink: Hero Arts soft olive, Archival black
paper: Papertrey white, StampinUp old olive
accessories: 1" punch, dimensionals

Monday, October 30, 2017

A Guy's Christmas Card

One of my nephews, who's a grown manly man and diesel engine mechanic with lots of tatoos, complained because I sent him a store-bought card I thought he'd like better than any I'd made. This backfired spectacularly. He said it hurt his feelings not to get a handmade card from his Aunt Susan and clearly I didn't love him.

I hope he feels the love with this manly Christmas card. Note the absence of bling, the presence of a large amount of brown, and manly branches and pine cones.

Because his Aunt Susan loves him very much and never meant to hurt his feelings. 

Sometimes, the biggest, toughest guys are also the most sensitive.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey Peaceful Pinecones, Happiest of Holidays
ink: Archival and Hero Arts
paper: Papertrey white, StampinUp brown
accessories: none

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Getting a Head Start on Birthday Cards for 2018

Y'all. It's nearly the end of 2017. We're five-sixths the way through. I'd like to file a complaint with whoever sets the pace of time because, dang, it's going way too fast.

So I decided to start on birthday cards for 2018. After randomly pulling Fine Feathers from Waltzingmouse from my stash, I made this card for my uncle, who was a biology professor and ornithologist before retiring. He has a fall birthday and recently sent me an email thanking me for acknowledging that he's not dead yet. He's pretty funny and deserves a fine feather card!

The ink pad is Hero Arts ombre autumn, which is sooooo pretty! The diagonal line of the bling and feather adds movement to the very stable horizontal, strong sentiment. The clean design makes my heart go pitter-patter.

I hope it has the same effect on you.

Happy sigh.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey sentiment, Waltzingmouse Fine Feather
ink: Hero Arts ombre autumn, Memento Luxe espresso truffle
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Thanks, Maureen!

I received a package yesterday from Maureen F. She donated over 40 amazing cards to Karen's Card Shop! They are all fabulous!

I've packaged them up and will put some out on the rack tomorrow morning. I have no doubt these beauties will sell very quickly.

Thank you, Maureen, for sharing your generosity and amazing card-making talent with my church.

And thanks to Patti, Joan, Lisa, Shannon, Cheryl, Peg, Marcia, Eva, and all the others who have contributed since the shop opened.

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and gratitude,

Thursday, October 26, 2017

A Couple of Thank-You Cards and a Question

One of our church members who was going in for surgery bought ALL the thank-you cards in Karen's Card Shop. I went to work trying to restock (as you might have noticed in the past two posts), and these two very simple but sure-to-sell cards are among my favorites.

Both flower stamps are from Papertrey's Beautiful Blooms II, and the sentiments are from a recent Hero Arts set called Thank You Messages, which is extremely useful.

Whenever you find yourself in need of a lot of cards quickly, go super simple!

Now for the question. I find myself rather burned out on my old Christmas stamps and haven't looked at this year's new releases. Are there any companies or sets you'd recommend I consider?

This inquiring mind feels overwhelmed by too much choice.

Thank you in advance!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey Beautiful Blooms II, Hero Arts Thank You Messages
ink: various
paper: Papertrey
accessories: scissors, dimensionals, half pearl

Monday, October 23, 2017

A Little Geometry

Having fun with simple, back-to-basics design: a one-layer card with punched flowers, black gems, and a sentiment.

Let us give thanks for the visual triangle...a basic design principle that is awesome! If a design is looking a little off, try arranging three elements in a visual triangle. Don't use a right, equilateral, or isosceles triangles; do use obtuse or acute triangles. Their irregularity is much more interesting.

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

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey Gathered Garden
ink: Archival black and vibrant fuchsia
paper: Papertrey white, a random bright pink
accessories: daisy punch, glue pen, black rhinestones

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Same Layout + Two Looks = Slump Ended

While poking around on Pinterest, I came across this card by Cristina and knew I could make a couple of thank-you cards for Karen's Card Shop using her fabulous layout. I decided to challenge myself to create two very different looks out of it.

I think I succeeded.

The first version uses warm, cheerful colors and Papertrey's Embellished Elegance, which is a bit whimsical but organic. I also blinged it up. So much fun!

The second version changes the colors to blue and green (my favorite color combination!) and uses Papertrey's Grunge Me. It's so modern and geometric!

Taking an idea/layout/theme and seeing how I can vary it gives me a creative thrill. These two cards came at the end of a long, hard slog of finding my mojo again. I need to remember how much fun this variation-on-some-fabby-inspiration is the next time I find myself in a creative dry spell.

What do you do when you're in a slump? Other than clean your craft space. I did that. For once, it didn't work.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey
ink: various dye inks (mostly Archival and Hero Arts)
paper: Papertrey 
accessories: rhinestones, silver metallic marker (Prisma), ruler, mask

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Simple Birthday Cards

It's always fun (and immensely satisfying) when a large, fun sentiment can carry a card, with just a bit of embellishment arranged in a pleasing visual triangle.

In fact, these cards are so quick and easy, it's also fun to experiment with different color schemes. The blue card uses stars as accents...without any bling at all. I like it.

The warm, happy orange and yellow version has sparkles with bling.

Guess which one I prefer?

Bling all the way, baby! Plus, those sparkle stamps seem to have more energy than the stars, but that could just be my imagination.

Which do you prefer?

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey
ink: Hero Arts ombre
paper: Papertrey
accessories: rhinestones

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Blessing for the Week

The Blessings set from Hero Arts is small, with a lovely word die I just had to have, you know, now that I have a CuttleBug.

Thanks again, Eva!

Anyway, here's an awesome way to let the word die cut shine simply.

The background colors come courtesy of Tim Holtz distress inks in seedless preserves and milled lavender. Don't they blend beautifully?!?! The water spots give the color an ethereal effect that works with the blessings sentiment.

The water spot effect is one of my favorite things about distress inks. It's dreamy!

Last night, I didn't get a chance to post because we went to my younger son's band concert. Oh, my goodness! It was amazing. Our high school music program is outstanding. Please understand that we are NOT a musical family. Neither George nor I can carry a tune, and while we listen to music frequently (mostly classic rock from '70s, Jimmy Buffett, James Taylor, and such, and plenty of easy-listening jazz), we aren't knowledgeable at all.

When Jack came to us at the end of fifth grade and said he wanted to play the trumpet, we were floored. Jack has autism and has never showed the least interest in extracurricular activities other than A Day out with Thomas the Tank Engine. He's now in his fourth year of band and takes a weekly private lesson to supplement. He's not a prodigy, but he certainly has fun!

So my blessing for the week is seeing Jack on stage blowing his horn in harmony with the high school concert band.

What's your blessing for the week?

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: none
ink: Distress milled lavender, seedless preserves
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: inking tools, Hero Arts Blessings die, glue pen, paint brush (for water spots)

Monday, October 16, 2017

An Experiment with Spritzing Proves the Rule

Okay, so it's time to come clear on the subject of spritzing. I love inking up a stamp, spritzing it with water, and seeing a lovely watercolor effect with absolutely no skill or artistic ability on my part.

Pump, pump the spritzer bottle, and MAGIC!

For years, however, Hero Arts inks have disappointed me with this technique.

The results have been blotchy and speckled and diseased-looking rather than pretty and blendy and watery. I'm not sure what it is about these inks. They are permanent dye inks, like Memento, but while Memento inks respond well to spritzing, Hero Arts inks simply don't. At least for me.

Which leads us to today's card, which uses Hero Arts autumn leaves ombre ink with some very old wood-mounted Hero Arts skeleton leaf stamps.

The first thing you might notice is how the maple leaf stamp appears more solid and a bit more watercolored, at least on its top half. The other leaf stamp has a stronger skeleton effect. As you can see, spritzing doesn't result in much blending of the inks on a skeleton stamp. You can see three clear lines on the top right image. I assure you I dabbed the stamp on the pad repeatedly to try to blend the colors. Those lines will blur as I get more use from the ombre ink pad...this was its first use.

Check out the close-up below, and if you can enlarge it on your screen, please do. You'll notice that the inks on both images appear blotchy, as if the pigments clumped together on the stamps. The top half of the maple leaf doesn't look too bad, but the bottom half looks sort of diseased. This has been my experience with all the Hero Arts dye inks for a very long time.

Now, given its diseased look, it's strange that I really like this card. At least most of the leaves look mottled, which makes the effect look more deliberate than accidental. The color blending will get better over time, so that doesn't concern me, either. In real life, autumn leaves are disintegrating anyway, so to me, the look doesn't come off as too unnatural.

This proves the rule, however, that we stampers simply cannot have too many different inks.

The Hero Arts ombre inks aren't ideal for spritzing, and while Memento inks do work great with spritzing, they don't come in spectrum pads. The Kaleidacolor spectrum pad inks generally work great with water.

My previous two posts prove that Hero Arts ombre inks can produce delightful results as well, and so they, too, have value, even if not so much for watercolor effects.

So we NEED Kaleidacolor and Hero Arts ombre inks both. Right?

I can justify any new purchase with enough twisted logic. It's a gift.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Hero Arts leaves, Papertrey sentiment
ink: Hero Arts ombre ink autumn leaves
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones, water spritz bottle

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Festive Gradient Sentiment

While experimenting with my Hero Arts ombre inks, I decided to use the red gradient for a Christmas sentiment. Since the sentiment is so wide, I opted for a 6.25" by 3.5" card.

The breathing room created by the wide, low card worked perfectly.

Coordinating envelope from Marco's because life's too short
to make envelopes.
This blessings sentiment from Hero Arts is so versatile. There are other words to go with it to fit all sorts of occasions, so it's not a set that stores conveniently in any one category. But I've always been a sucker for Christmas blessings sentiments, so I had to have it. You'll see me use the coordinating die on a non-Christmas card coming up. Some sets make me extremely happy. This is one of them.

And some ink pads make me extremely happy. The ombre pads certainly do.

It bothers me that I can't put the accent on ombre. Sadly, my laptop keyboard number key pad has a malfunctioning zero key, so I have to live accentless.

First-world problems.

I'll focus on that delightful gradient on the sentiment. So festive!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Hero Arts Stamp and Cut Blessings, Papertrey Mistletoe and Holly, random holly for envelope
ink: Hero Arts ombre red, Impress Fresh Ink mojito
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: dimensionals, envelope, red Smooch for berries on envelope

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Hero Arts Ombre Inks...I'm Lovin' Them

Before we get to the ombre inks, let's talk about yesterday's post. First of all, thanks for your comments and emails! They proved my point because opinions were all over the place. That's awesome!

I was, however, shocked that so many of you objected to the red sentiment. It never even occurred to me to change the red because I liked the font in red so much. The energy of it worked for me, and I wanted some contrast to the serene blues for added interest, and as it's a Christmas card, red made sense to me. Plus, the red and green seemed the perfect Christmas pairing on the second card. Clearly, I was in the minority on liking the red sentiment!

I do totally agree with several of you that the harmony of the blue card would be enhanced by a black sentiment.

Those little present dies are too cute to stop playing with; I may well revisit that design and do some of the tinkering you suggested. I'd like to do some shading on the boxes or some ombre effect with the Copics as well. Thanks so much for sharing your opinions.  That was fun!

Now, for the Hero Arts ombre inks.

Here's my selection of the inks. And if you're thinking that one upside-down pad doesn't bother me, you haven't been reading Simplicity for very long, now, have you? Ugh. But things around here have been pretty crazy lately, and letting little mistakes slide is therapeutic, Right?

If I keep saying that out loud, maybe I'll believe it.

One day.


Anyway, these inks are a lot of fun, but they do have some limitations, and not all my experiments have turned out like I wanted. I'll share several of them over the next few days, so you can see how these inks work for me. If you've experimented with them and have different results, I'd love to hear what you have to say about them.

To blend ink on these spectrum pads, press your stamp into the pad repeatedly, making slight adjustments up or down so the edges between the colors blend and blur. The more you use these pads, the better: ink will transfer to the the adjacent colors and soften the lines between them for future inking. In essence, these pads are good for overcoming the obsessive neat freak in me. The messier they are, the better they work.

If only my house were like that.

Today's card is my hands-down favorite of the recent batch of cards I made using these inks. All that blue makes me so very happy.

To make the card, I repeatedly stamped a branch from Papertrey's Turning a New Leaf set (a classic I will never part with!). Each image was made with a freshly cleaned and inked stamp since I had to keep rotating the stamp to fill the panel. That indigo blue on the bottom was so vivid that the vellum was perfect for the sentiment...the ink shines through beautifully.

The bling darkens on the way down as well.

I attached the vellum by folding it around the edges of the panel and adhering it on the back. That way, it floats above the background in a dreamy sort of way. Then, the panel was attached to craft foam for a bit of dimension. Just lovely!

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

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey Turning a New Leaf, Keep It Simple Thinking of You
paper: Papertrey white, vellum
ink: Hero Arts ombre sky to indigo, Archival black
accessories: rhinestones, tape runner (for adhering the vellum to the back of the panel), craft foam, glue

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Color Transformation and an Informal Poll

Today's pair of cards shows just how powerful color choices can be.

First up, I made this card using a coordinating die for the Hero Arts Christmas List set and my favorite colors of Copic markers. It's a nice card, but a little issue niggled at my design sense.

Note how loose and fun the sentiment is. That font isn't serene and soft...like the color scheme of the presents. The niggle came from a slight misfit of color, so I brightened things up with four happy, fun shades of green tending toward yellow.

The fun, bright colors fit with the sentiment perfectly now!

So why do I still like the first card better? Well, I love the energy of the lime and apple greens, but those serene blues fill my heart with peace. I crave calm and serenity in a busy, high-energy world.

May I remind you I live with two teenage boys? Oh, yeah. I crave calm. 

I think it would be fun to hear your input on this. Color has a powerful pull on our emotions, Few people are neutral in their opinions about colors. (May I remind you of StampinUp's orchid opulence, or as I like to call it, fairy vomit?)

So which of the two color schemes appeals to you most? Why? What other color scheme would you like to see with this design? (The theme is Christmas, of course, but I enjoy non-traditional color schemes!)

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Hero Arts Christmas List
ink: Memento black, Archival red geranium
paper: Papertrey white; StampinUp Baja breeze; random lime green
accessories: die, dimensionals, Copic markers

Monday, October 9, 2017

Sometimes a Thing Doesn't Work; Sometimes a Slightly Different Thing Does

While poking around on Pinterest, I saw several cards with gold embossing and watercolor, and felt inspired.

Sometimes, a thing doesn't work. 

Note how this gold-embossed image appears blotchy, messy, unkempt. The addition of watercolor did not help. It dried rather anemic looking. Urgh.

Sometimes, a slightly different thing does work.

After seeing how the natural, shaded holly stamp didn't work with the gold embossing, I flexed to a different set with cleaner images and a larger sentiment. Much better!

I've never figured out how to get perfectly smooth embossing, as both cards show. But this one at least looks tidy and allows the watercolor variations in shading to enhance the flowers. Those gold half-beads help, too.

If one thing doesn't work, try a slightly different thing.

You might score!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Fail Card
stamps: Hero Arts
ink: VersaMark
paper: watercolor paper, Papertrey white
accessories: Peerless Watercolors, brush, extra fine gold embossing powder, Embossing Buddy, heat gun

Win Card
stamps: Simon Says Stamp For to Us
ink: VersaMark
paper: watercolor paper, Papertrey white
accessories: Peerless Watercolors, brush, extra fine gold embossing powder, Embossing Buddy, heat gun, Prisma gold metallic marker, ruler, gold half-beads

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Simplicity with Die Cut

While not all my experiments with my new dies have yielded successful cards, today's card is one of my favorites, if only because it's so very, very simple.

card size 4 7/8" x 3.5"
standard small envelope from Marco's paper

At first, I tried the die cut of mistletoe on a standard A2 card, but it looked a little lost on all that white space. The scale worked perfectly on this smaller card.

To color the image, which is stamped in black, I pulled out my PrismaColor pencils. The berries are accented with Wink of Stella though it's hard to see in the photo. I stamped the image again on the envelope but left it uncolored there. To see the good stuff, you've got to open the envelope!

The Wink of Stella on the berries is very sparkly in real life!

That little satin bow took a while to figure out. I tried natural twine, red DMC floss, white embroidery floss, red satin, and finally white satin. The white satin reinforced the white berries with its color and its shimmer.

If anyone says simple cards are easy, whack them on the head with a skein of embroidery thread. 

A large skein.

Reader merryf asked me about my envelope line stamp. It's from Simon Says Stamp Envelope Sentiments. I keep it permanently on my craft desk, mounted on an old acrylic block I don't like (edges are too sharp for frequent use). I decorate coordinating envelopes more often having that stamp ready at hand.

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and simplicity,

stamps: Hero Arts Vintage Christmas Post
ink: Archival black
paper: Papertrey
accessories: die, PrismaColor pencils, dimensionals, satin ribbon, glue

Friday, October 6, 2017

An Unexpected Break

It's been a heck of a week. I'm fine but exhausted and very much in need of a break.

Back next week, hopefully refreshed and with some fun new cards to share.

In the meantime, here are a couple of dog pictures to make you smile.

Sorry this one is a little out of focus. It's hard
to shoot a constantly moving target!

Daisy is more dignified and focused, LOL!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Nostalgic Cardinal and Puppy Pictures

The cardinal die for Hero Arts Vintage Christmas Post set makes my heart happy. Here's the second card I made with it.

Looking at the card on my computer screen, I wonder how it would look if the branch were in front of the cardinal's feet. It has a stuck-on appearance that isn't ideal. But I'm having so much fun feeling my way into using die cuts! And that cardinal is just so gosh darn gorgeous wherever he is.

The banner isn't a die cut...I made my own. The banner dies I have are very small, and I wanted to use the wide real estate of this card.

These long cards are not very big...just 6.25" x 3.5". The envelopes are a standard business envelope available at Marco's Paper. Sue C. asked if they take standard postage, and the answer is yes. It's a nice variation on the standard A2 card, and it's lovely not to have to make envelopes to fit them.

And now for a Cooper update.

"Why do I need baths?"

He's getting so big!

Flop ears and gravity lip

Bright eyed and looking for trouble

Our pre-wash cycle

Those ears are hugely perfect
Whenever the world seems like too scary or unhappy a place, look at sleepy puppy pictures. It's hard to be sad looking at that kind of peaceful cuteness.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Hero Arts Vintage Christmas Post, Papertrey Keep It Simple Christmas
paper: Papertrey white
ink: Memento black, Hero Arts field greens
accessories: envelope, dimensionals, Hero Arts dies

Monday, October 2, 2017

With Sympathy for Our Nation


So much hurting.

My plan had been to post some Cooper pictures today, but instead, I'm going to save that for tomorrow and post a sympathy card for our nation. My sincere condolences to the family and friends of those who lost their lives at the concert in Las Vegas; my sincere condolences to the family and friends of the shooter (who are baffled and confused and hurting); my sincere prayers for healing for the hundreds injured in body and the thousands injured in mind because of this unspeakable, insane horror.

May God's peace that passes understanding and His amazing grace and love surround us and lift us and comfort us. And may each one of us be open to His love and care...and share it in a hurting world.


Sunday, October 1, 2017

Grandma's Cardinal

My grandmother loved flowers and birds, and she cultivated relationships with both. Her green thumb was the stuff of legend, and she used flowers and bird feeders to attract birds to her large dining room window, where she would sit, binoculars in hand and a bird guide nearby for those rare times she saw something she couldn't immediately identify.

Her favorite bird by far was the state bird of North Carolina, the cardinal. When I started stamping, it was perfectly natural for me to make a cardinal card every Christmas just for Grandma. After she died, I still made cardinal cards but sent them to my aunt or mom. They love them.

The cardinal stamp in Hero Arts' Vintage Christmas Postage set is simply delightful, and now that I have the die set, it's opening up LOTS of ideas for cardinal-themed Christmas cards...like this one.

The branch was stamped on the card base, but the cardinal was stamped and colored on a scrap, die cut, and mounted on the branch. To mount it, I put dimensionals on the top and glue on its feet, thinking that would add dimension yet ground the bird on the branch.

It wasn't my intention to use a banner on the card, but when I stuck the bird down, its little feet were NOT on the branch but floating in space. Glue is forgiving in placement, but dimensionals are not. The poor placement bothered me so much, I had to cover the feet up. Hence, the banner, which provides a handy ground for the bird.

There are no mistakes. Only opportunities for embellishment!

The card makes me miss Grandma and smile at the same time.

Do you ever use particular themes on Christmas cards for particular people? Please share in the comments!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Hero Arts Vintage Christmas Post, StampinUp sentiment
ink: Memento black, Hero Arts green fields and red royal
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: dies (Hero Arts and StampinUp), dimensionals