Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy Birthday, 2018

A year ends, and another begins.

Someone really needs to stop pushing the fast-forward button. Time's speeding up.

Do you have a crafty resolution for the new year? I'm resolving to complete each card as I make it. That means stamping a coordinating envelope, putting a "handmade by" stamp and my signature on the back, and a sentiment inside if it's appropriate. (Usually, I leave the inside of cards blank so I can write my own message, but sometimes, a stamped message is good!)

Now is the time of year to start planning for birthdays, so expect to see lots of birthday cards in January on this here ol' blog.

Birthday cards like this one:

Today's card uses an older Hero Arts set (Year Round Sentiments) that's sort of an all-purpose set. If you're like me, these sets tend to be under-utilized. They are basic, but a fun layout, happy color combination, and a little bling can turn those old, ordinary sets into something spectacular.

That might be another good crafting resolution for 2018: using older, basic sets in new, fun ways!

Just a thought. 

So do tell if you have any resolutions (particularly crafty ones) for 2018.

Happy New Year!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Hero Arts Year Round Sentiments
ink: Kaleidacolor
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: dimensionals, rhinestones, Sharpies to color rhinestones, scissors to cut out the heart, which I popped because underneath is a very imperfectly stamped heart that made me mad until I realized I could cover it with a popped one, so good save for me...yay!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Old Eyes

Back in the Stone Age, at the beginning of my tenth-grade chemistry class, I could read the periodic table over the chalkboard. By Christmas, I couldn't read the weights and numbers, and told my mom, who walked to the phone before I finished talking and made me an appointment with her eye doctor.

I've worn glasses (and contacts) ever since to correct my distance vision.

Now, my eyes are getting old, and my near vision is getting worse. I keep a pair of reading glasses on my craft desk to augment my bifocal contacts, but clearly I need a stronger pair. The close-up of today's card shows a fabulous need for more water to blend the watercolor pencils. To my eyes, the coloring looked awesome! On my computer screen, not so much, especially on the green portions of the flowers.

Having tried so many watercolor techniques and media--from actual professional-grade watercolor paint to watercolor crayons to markers--watercolor pencils remain my favorite. Because they are the easiest. For me, at least.

To make this card, I used Winsor & Newton 90lb hot press watercolor paper, Archival black ink, an aqua brush, and Derwent watercolor pencils.

The variations in the lavender come from coloring each blossom with a blue pencil and then scribbling some violet over that, and blended the two colors with a wet brush. (Not wet enough, apparently, but still). At a distance, the variation lends a bit of interest to the blossoms. I'll go back over the card now that I've seen the close-up photo enlarged on my computer screen...after I buy stronger reading glasses, LOL!

The key is to use just enough water so the two colors don't blend into one completely. My mistake was not using just enough water.

Perfection would be such a bore.

The mat under the stamped panel is cut from the deckle edge of the W&N paper and washed with purple Peerless watercolor. Leaving it natural for a white-on-white mat looked far too blah, and I really like how the deckle looks in purple!

What's your favorite way to watercolor stamped images? What watercolor form/brand do you prefer and why?

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Stemmed Statements (Papertrey)
ink: Archival black
paper: Winsor & Newton 90lb hot press watercolor paper
accessories: watercolor pencils, aqua brush, Peerless Watercolors, wash brush

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

No Idea Where I'm Going

Inspiration is a funny thing. Sometimes, an inspiration piece sends me into spasms of creative flourish.

Other times, I spend an hour and a half making pretty trash and getting increasingly frustrated until I ditch the inspiration piece and go off on my own super-simple path.

That's what happened with today's card. So much pretty trash, and then this.

I truly love the Hero Arts set Shakespearean Poetry, but man, it's hard for me to work with! When I googled it for images and searched on Pinterest, almost no cards come up. Am I the only person in the world who bought this set?

Anyway, I tried to use Shakespearean Poetry with inspiration from THIS CARD by the brilliant Yana Smakula. As you can see, I couldn't adapt my stamps to her design, nor did I have dies or images that would work like her whale does, so I abandoned ship (so to speak) and made my simple card, keeping only Yana's color scheme.

I really do like my card a lot. It's far more elegant than my usual style, but the Delicata gold ink is too perfect for this flourish and looks so harmonious with the coffee-colored ink. 

So even though I had no idea where I was going, persistence paid off, and I ended up somewhere satisfying.

All in a day's crafting.

And thanks to Yana for the lovely inspiration anyway!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Hero Arts Shakespearean Poetry, Papertrey Birthday Basics
ink: Delicata gold, Archival coffee
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: dimensionals

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Merry Christmas, a Day Late

I've been absent for a while over Christmas, largely because I caught a nasty cold and haven't felt like doing much more than what absolutely had to be done. Despite the virus, we've had a lovely Christmas full of peace, love, hope, and joy...there were just a lot of Kleenex used, too.

I hope your Christmas was less kleenex-intense and plenty merry!

We will get back in the swing of things with a Christmas thank-you card featuring holly. The holly green, the ivy green, the prettiest picture you ever seen....

It's time to say thank you for all those gifts you got Christmas morning, and a pretty, handmade thank-you card is the perfect vehicle for conveying your gratitude!

What was your favorite Christmas present you opened this Christmas? And no saying "time with your family" or "candle-light worship services"! We're talking rampant materialism here. What was your favorite gift you opened?

My favorite gift was cash for stamps and dies. Several relatives contributed to my craft account, and I'm looking forward to spending with abandon and not an ounce of guilt!

So, what did you get that blew your socks off?

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey Holly and Mistletoe, Hero Arts sentiment
ink: not sure as I made this a while ago
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: craft foam

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Dies Go CAS: Forget Everything I Said Yesterday

While yesterday's advice to keep scenes small and backgrounds white certainly worked for that fabulous bee card, today's card violates both of those suggestions...and I love it.

Note that the background is not white, but it's still very light, which minimizes the appearance of the white outline around the die cuts.

So why did I color the background? Well, the card looked rather stark and jarring with a simple, white background, especially given the incredible detail of the multi-step stamped images. Furthermore, the three images seemed a bit unrelated to each other. The scene needed a setting, much more so than yesterday's subject matter did.

Also, the scene is rather large compared to yesterday's card, but that's okay. The background is extremely simple...just hints of color, really...and no detail to distract from the extremely detailed seahorse and shells. That seahorse is pretty big, too, unlike yesterday's bees, and it looked crowded on a smaller panel. That level of detail on the seahorse in particular required some space around it, or the whole card would look busier than it is.

Note finally how clean the card feels when you look at it. Three images, a sandy-bottom ocean floor, and nothing more.

*happy sigh*

To add interest, I popped the top half of the seahorse and left side of the brown shell, while gluing down the bottom of the seahorse and the right side of the shell.

I didn't want anything to distract from the serenity of the seahorse and shells, so the sentiment is inside the card.

So don't necessarily forget what I said yesterday. Just know that every new design has a different set of rules that work for it. Be flexible!

Which reminds me of an old Air Force aviator saying. "Flexibility is the key to air power. Indecision is the key to flexibility. Therefore, indecision is the key to air power."

Which doesn't apply here at all, but it makes me laugh.

Peace, hope, love, and joy,

stamps: Hero Arts Color Layering Seahorse, Papertrey Birthday Basics
ink: Memento cantaloupe; Hero Arts orange soda, dark quartz, cup o' Joe, wet cement, soft wheat; Ancient Page neptune, henna; Archival monarch orange
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: post-it for mask, inking tool, dimensionals, coordinating dies

Monday, December 18, 2017

Dies Go CAS: A Small and Simple Scene

One excellent design option for clean-and-simple cards is to create a small scene in a sea of white space. Incorporating dies into these scenes requires smaller dies, and as I've been shopping around, I've tried to buy a few die sets that fit that requirement.

Like Hero Arts Daisy and Bugs. Dang, this set is adorable, and the coordinating dies are perfect.

The daisy is quite large, but the bugs are small, and so here's my scene.

Note that my scene is very tightly focused: only part of the flower shows (about 2/3 of it...and that's on purpose) and it takes up about 1/3 of the stamped panel. To keep it simple, I left the background white, which has the effect of really forcing the eye onto the the three spots of yellow (the center of the daisy and the two bees) which are arranged in a triangle.

Note, too, that leaving the background white lessens the effect of the white border on the die cuts. If the background were colored, the white border around the bees would really stand out and look sort of jarring.

Scenes, however, need not be this simple to still feel CAS. The key is the white space around them. More detailed scenes can work equally well as long as there's plenty of white around them.

Now, the simplicity of this design required a few additional little touches to make it special. First, the yellow Stickles on the daisy adds some much-needed shimmer and shine to the card, as well as a bit of texture. The bees' wings shimmer with clear Wink of Stella.

After completing the card, it occurred to me that some yellow flock would have added a lot to the design...more texture, stronger yellow on the bees. Missed opportunity. I shan't beat myself up over it. This card is grand without it.

Anyway, if you want to bring dies into your already-CAS style, focus on smaller dies for images that can create scenes. This allows for plenty of white space. If you want to try a CAS card even though you usually make more embellished designs, focus on using your smaller dies.

We're in the home stretch for Christmas. I hope you all are enjoying this week and feeling caught up (or at least not too far behind!) in preparations. Remember to breathe.

And to those of you celebrating Hanukkah, Happy Hanukkah!

Peace, love, hope, and joy,

stamps: Hero Arts Daisy and Bugs
ink: Memento black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: yellow Copic marker, yellow Stickles, dimensionals, bee die from Daisy and Bugs, Wink of Stella

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Fresh Colors

When I found this color scheme on Pinterest, Hero Arts' Daisy and Bugs set was on my desk. The two go together like, well, daisies and bugs.

Stamping outline stamps with fun colors (instead of stamping them in black and coloring them in) is an excellently clean-and-simple way to design a card. Two shades of green (Memento pear tart, Hero Arts lime) and two shades of aqua (Hero Arts tide pool and Antigua) give this card such a fresh and fun look!

Tomorrow, I'll share a card made with this same set but using the dies with it. Thank you for the lovely feedback on my Dies Go CAS series.

I hope all of you are enjoying this final week of anticipation of Christmas. Our church had its cantata today, and oh, how uplifting and beautiful! I've worked on addressing Christmas cards most of today, and we FINALLY decorated our upstairs trees. Needless to say, we're feeling festive around here.

Peace, love, hope, and joy,

stamps: Hero Arts Daisy and Bugs, Papertrey Keep It Simple Birthday
ink: Hero Arts tide pool, Antigua, lime; Memento pear tart
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: none

Friday, December 15, 2017

Dies Go CAS: Little Florals

Integrating dies into my clean-and-simple (CAS) style is proving harder than I had thought it would be. Oh, how I love a challenge, and thanks to my friend Eva and her gift of a Cuttlebug, it's a challenge I accept!

As I'm feeling my way forward with this, I thought it might be helpful to me--and hopefully to you, too--if we organized a series of posts discussing the issues of CAS design with dies. My plan is to share my successful CAS-die designs and discuss why each works.

If it feels right, I'll also share some not-successful designs and discuss why they don't work. Right now, there are lots of not-successful designs in my trash, and sometimes looking at failures helps me learn...and presumably helps you learn, too.

Of course, many of you are already experts at CAS card design using dies, so feel free to ignore my blatherings and just look at the cards...or chime in with your own tips!

I still very much enjoy making cards without dies, so not every upcoming post will include them. Consequently, I'll try setting up the labels widget on the sidebar so you can quickly find the Dies Go CAS posts. My labels became horribly unwieldy years ago, so I quit using them, but for this, they might be useful if I can just get the Dies Go CAS label to show. We shall see.

Now let's move on to today's card!

When I saw this absolutely adorable Christmas card on Pinterest  by Chris C. (now pinned to my Cards board), I felt a CASE coming on. What I love about the card is how a small bird, expertly colored, is such a strong focal point. I wanted to try my hand at the same with one of my small dies. Here's the result:

Eva and I met for coffee last week, and she gave me a set of stitched rectangle dies I had actually been looking for! Yay! Thank you, Eva! So I used them here.

Elements kept from Chris's card include a colorful die cut, thread (floss instead of twine, but still), a gray text background, and lots of glorious white space.

Note that my card features a sentiment panel that's not present in the inspiration card. The inspiration card has that adorable bird--colored expertly--perched on the twine next to a jingle bell and star die cut (brilliant!). When I added the sentiment panel, I needed to balance the elements differently. Putting the flower over the bow accomplished that.

Three elements are black: the floss, the Stickles in the flower, and the sentiment. That creates a strong visual triangle that anchors my version nicely.

Now, the original card's birdy focal point is colored EXPERTLY with (I'm guessing) Copics. My Copic coloring was somewhat disappointing. This was my second effort on that little flower, and it's "good enough for government work" but not entirely satisfying. Tomorrow's card will show a much more satisfying attempt at coloring another flower from this same Hero Arts set.

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

For now.

Peace, love, hope, and joy,

stamps: Hero Arts Little Florals, Clearly Besotted Tiny Type, Papertrey Text Style
ink: Hero Arts soft granite, Memento black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: Copics, dimensionals, floss, Little Florals die, stitched rectangle dies 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Inspired by Yoonsun Hur

As soon as I saw this drop-dead gorgeous card by Yoonsun Hur, I had to CASE it. Of course, I don't have the dies she used, so I had to improvise with what I had. The resulting card is simpler than Yoonsun's--and far more complicated than mine usually are--but I love it!

Mine is NOT a shaker card like Yoonsun's (obviously). The sparkle all comes from amazing glitter paper (Michael's). I used the blue and silver glitter papers, die cut the trees (Hero Arts), and punched the snowflakes (Martha Stewart).

Obviously, my trees and snowflakes are heavier than Yoonsun's delicate dies, but that's okay. When working off an inspiration piece using only what you have on hand, some components of the design will change. That's okay! My version still makes me giggle with glee!

I hope you like it, too.

Peace, love, hope, and joy,

stamps: Papertrey Ways to Say Merry Christmas
ink: Hero Arts charcoal (or maybe Archival watering can...I can't remember exactly)
paper: glitter paper, Papertrey white
accessories: dimensional tape, Creative Memories circle cutter, craft knife (for free-hand cutting the snowy slope), tree dies (Hero Arts), Martha Stewart snowflake punches, glue pen

Monday, December 11, 2017

Nontraditional Christmas

I needed to do something funky and fun the other day, so I made this nontraditional Christmas card in pinks and purples.

Card Size 3.5" x 6.25"

Every Christmas, I feel the need to break out of red/green/gold/silver/blue colors for Christmas cards. This year, it's with girly colors.

And it was fun.

Do you ever break out of the traditional color schemes for your Christmas cards? Or do you stick to tradition?

Peace, love, hope, and joy,

stamps: Papertrey In the Meadow, Ways to Say: Merry Christmas
ink: various dye inks from Memento and Archival Ink
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones, Copics to color the rhinestones, post-its for the mask

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Snowflake Thanks

Ho, ho, ho! 

We have, for the second weekend in a row, procrastinated. Our tree has lights and ribbon and an angel on top, but no other decorations. In my defense, I did decorate the book-themed tree in the basement. But the two trees upstairs (the one we cut down before my husband had surgery and a small artificial tree) are simply lighted and beribboned.

If I thought I could get away with leaving them thus, I would. 

I'm a lover of simplicity, after all. 

But my children. My husband. Not so much.

Anyway, I needed a bunch of thank-you cards for myself and made this one when I was feeling delightfully blue. 

Papertrey's Ombre Borders and Hero Arts ombre ink make a lovely card, don't you think? That border stamp looks a bit like frost on a window. The bling is blue, and so are my husband's eyes. Although he has two that are roughly the same size, whereas the card has three of varying size.

I should stop free associating.

May your holiday preparations move more quickly than mine. 

Peace, love, hope, and joy,

stamps: Papertrey Ombre Builders, Hero Arts Thank You sentiments
paper: Papertrey white, baby blue; StampinUp ballet blue
ink: Archival black, Hero Arts ombre blue
accessories: snowflake punches, glue pen, rhinestones, Copics to color the rhinestones

Thursday, December 7, 2017

A Bookish Birthday Card

My brother-in-law is a college professor and comes across as a bit, well, professorial. Not surprisingly, I give him a gift card to Barnes & Noble every year for his birthday.

I wanted to make the professor laugh on his birthday, so here's his birthday card.

The books and shelf were stamped on scrap paper, cut out, and glued to the white panel. The middle book is popped up not with dimensionals but with two layers of card stock underneath. Dimensionals would have popped it up too much, I think, but the little bit of dimension is nice. The clock was stamped directly on the pane.

The stamped panel is white, but when I put it on a white card base, it looked pretty stark. The Papertrey natural card stock softens it a bit and adds a subtle masculine feel to the card. I really like how it turned out and hope he does, too!

I like big books and I cannot lie, you other readers can't deny....

Ah, big books. One of life's true joys.

Peace, love, hope, and joy,

stamps: Simon Says To Thine Own Shelf
ink: various dye inks
paper: Papertrey white, natural
accessories: none

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

A Merry Merry Card

Placement on a clean-and-simple card makes or breaks the design. If something is a little too far right or left, a little too high or low, the whole looks wrong. There's simply no place to hide in CAS design.

So when I made a card in which everything was shifted a bit too high and to the left, I trimmed the right and lower edges of the card until it all turned out right.

This card uses a die I ordered with my birthday gift card to Papertrey. Years ago, a kind reader sent me cuts from this die, and they were simply delightful. Now the die is mine, and there's a Cuttlebug sitting in my craft room with which to use it.

My, how times have changed.

Change is good. Without it, there is no growth. But don't worry. As this card proves, the essence of Simplicity will not change with the addition of a Cuttlebug. Oh, no. Simple I am, and simple I will remain.

This card has only three elements: a bow, die-cut word, and stamped sentiment. The gingham bow makes a bold statement at its jaunty angle, and by stamping Merry Christmas in red to match, I enhanced the unity of the card. The lime green is non-traditional and adds interest.

That ribbon is very soft and won't be as hard to mail as it looks like it would be. I so rarely use ribbon these days, but this one made me happy. I got it right on the first try.

Yay, me!

Love, peace, hope, and joy,

stamps: Papertrey Keep It Simple Christmas
ink: Tim Holtz die ink in cherry red
paper: unknown lime, Papertrey white
accessories: ribbon, glue dot, PTI word die, glue pen

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Arboreal Thanks

If yesterday's thank-you post was bottom-line thanks, today's is arboreal.

My arboreal card was totally inspired by Ardyth's pretty card HERE. The idea wasn't original to her, either, but it's her card that inspired me to make this one.

I added bling, of course, and it's oh so lovely!

Our Stephen Ministry group is having its Christmas party tonight. I'm making Cranberry Brie Bites and mulled apple cider. Yum! I love Christmas parties!

I love Christmas!

I love Christ!

Are you going to any Christmas parties this year? Not all parties are created equal. A friend told me today how she's dreading a Christmas party. Do you enjoy the parties you are going to? What makes a Christmas party great for you?

Love, peace, hope, and joy,

stamps: Hero Arts tree, Clearly Besotted A Little Sentimental
ink: Tim Holtz tumbled glass, Archival black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones, stipple brush, post-it notes

Monday, December 4, 2017

Bottom-Line Thanks

Quick post tonight about a quick set of thank-you cards. These simple single-panel note cards are incredibly useful.

As you can see, the note cards showcase Kaleidacolor ink pads in a bold and bright design: high impact and super simple. The bottom line (ahem) matches the last color on the pad, as if the color is wrapping around the back of the card at the end of the thanks and returning for a hug.

Love that!

Love, peace, hope, and joy,

stamps: Papertrey Wet Paint and Faux Ribbon
paper: Papertrey white
ink: Kaleidacolor pads
accessories: none...and that's the bottom line!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Stranger Things

My aunt took a trip to Japan and thoughtfully picked up a package of absolutely gorgeous paper for me.

Then she read my comment on Ellen Hutson's FB page that I don't use patterned paper and worried I wouldn't use the papers.

So I made this card to prove her wrong.

The design in the paper was perfect for a narrow vertical strip which leaves lots of glorious white space, so it definitely looks like a LateBlossom card. So no worries, kind aunt!

The gorgeous paper contains an olive green that looks amazing with the pink background...a color combo I would never have come up with myself. That olive shade on the paper is slightly darker but a great match for Brilliance pearlescent olive ink. The slight shimmer of the olive ink looks great in real life with the shimmer of the gold on the paper. 

There are stranger things than LateBlossom using patterned paper. Plus, it's fun to get out of the box now and then...especially with such lovely papers!

Thanks, Aunt Sylvia!

Love, peace, hope, and joy,

stamps: My Favorite Things label maker sentiments
paper: Japanese paper, Papertrey white
ink: Brilliance pearlescent olive
accessories: tape runner

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Blogger AWOL

Well, it's been a while. Sometimes, life just takes over, doesn't it. My husband had arthroscopic surgery on his knee Wednesday, and blogging had to take a back seat. The patient is doing very well, but his days of competing in Ironman triathlons may well be over. Severe arthritis in the knee and running marathons just don't go together.

I missed you!

I found a great idea for party favors while getting a peppermint mocha at Barnes & Noble about a month ago. They'd just put out these adorable snowflake marshmallows for hot chocolate toppers, and I bought all they had. Combined with a single-serving pouch of Land O' Lakes hot chocolate mix in a snowflake treat bag (Hobby Lobby) with a jingle bell and tag for accents, and you've got a sweet-looking party favor!

I've made a bunch of them and thrown them in boxes of gifts for family and friends. These in the basket below are for our Stephen Ministry Christmas party, and after that event, I'll reload the basket for our book club, which I'm hosting this month because everyone wants to see my book tree.

For the record, I chose The Hundred-Year-Old Man who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson for our December meeting. It's a satisfying read, very much along the lines of Forrest Gump. I love our book club...we actually talk about the books, but we also have time for socializing and fellowship. We've been meeting for over four years now, and it's really quite delightful.

Do you like to read? Are you part of a book club? If so, what do you like best about your book club?

Tonight, I'm going to see If a Man Answers, the high-school fall play. My son Nick has a part in it.

Here's a picture of Cooper and the beginnings of my Christmas decorations. We went to the tree farm on Sunday so hubby could kill a tree, drag it into the house, and put it in the stand before surgery. We will decorate it when the play is over and my son can help.

Here's a picture of the two pups sleeping. Because you can never have too many pictures of pups sleeping. They lower your blood pressure, you know.

Can you tell I have holiday ADHD? Whew. I'm all over the place. Well, everywhere except my craft room. I got some time today to stamp, only to discover I've forgotten how to do it. *sigh* It'll come back, but I made a lot of pretty trash today.

I hope you all had a November that was surgery-free and full of thanksgiving, and I pray your December will be surgery-free and full of the love and peace and hope and joy of Christmas.

Love, peace, hope, and joy,

stamps: Hero Arts
ink: Archival red geranium
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: white satin ribbon (1/8"), treat bags, silver twist ties, silver jingle bells, snowflake marshmallow toppers (Barnes & Noble), Land O' Lakes hot chocolate mix