Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Seven Days of Bling: Day 7

Well, I still had a lot of dark and light green rhinestones, so a Christmas tree sounded like a good idea. I started at the top of the tree, worked down through the center, and then filled out to the edges.

Adding random red gems made it extra festive, and some brown for the tree trunk made a tiny nod to realism.

Or not. It doesn't matter. It's bling!

So I hope this series has inspired you to use your bling. No sense hoarding. Use stuff. You can always buy more stuff. Just think how much fun that is!


How weird is that?

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Hero Arts
ink: Mama Elephant silver fox; Memento Luxe London fog
paper: Papertrey
accessories: rhinestones, tree punch, glue

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Seven Days of Bling: Day 6

I discovered a few problems when trying to fill flowers with bling. First, I started the flowers after using up a lot of the diversity of bling in these colors. Left with few gems to choose from and a few VERY large, oddly colored gems, my ability to fill the curvy shapes of flower petals was severely hampered.

So I didn't fill at all but simply created a basic design with two colors. The results are vaguely reminiscent of starfish, but hey, that's okay.

The ground is a shadow stamp from Hero Arts, and the sentiment is from Papertrey. It's whimsical, fun, and vaguely abstract. I like it!

In the close-up, you see that there were different sizes of yellow-green and blue bling available. I worked with what I had.

Now, with the three VERY large, oddly colored rhinestones, I needed a slightly different ground and color scheme. Because the gems would only be in the centers of the flowers and because the flower petals were white, I needed them to stand out a bit more from the white background. I chose the wider shadow stamp and went with a darker green ink to heighten the contrast, but it was also shorter, so the stamped panel is smaller and the card base/mat correspondingly larger.

Notice that the two layouts are incredibly similar, but by tweaking just a few things, the feel of the second card is completely different from the first.

These bling are yellow but had strong charcoal undertones, so I went with gray for the sentiment. That's a subtle unifying factor for this card which made my CAS-lovin' heart go pitter patter.

Do you prefer one card over the other? Do you love them both? Loathe them both? Why?

Inquiring minds and all that.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey sentiment, Hero Arts shadow stamps
ink: Memento new sprout, pear tart; Hero Arts pool; Memento Luxe London fog; Impress Fresh Ink Tuscan olive
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones, punches, glue

Monday, January 29, 2018

Seven Days of Bling: Day 5

Reader Connie asked what adhesive I use to attach the rhinestones. All the rhinestones I used on these cards come with adhesive backing on a transparency sheet. I just lift a gem off the backing sheet with the tip of a craft knife and place it where I want it. Easy as chips and dip. (Pie isn't easy. I've never understood that cliche.)

I have several containers of loose rhinestones without adhesive, but these are a pain in the butt hard to stick down. I use a sticky pickup tool to dip each rhinestone in a tiny dot of white Scotch tacky glue dabbed onto a scrap of cardstock, and then place it where I want it, holding the tool in place for forever a few minutes while the glue sets. It takes more time than I care to spend on a regular basis to do this. Plus, my fear is that after all this effort and time, these rhinestones won't hold in the mail, so I rarely use them.

Have you seen the t-shirt that says, "I love Jesus, but I cuss a little"? Well, I try not to put myself in situations where I'm tempted to cuss. To cover a large shape with loose rhinestones would stretch the limits of my self-control.

You (not me, mind you, but YOU) could try using sheet adhesive to cover cardstock, punch the shape out, peel off the sheet adhesive backing, and place the loose rhinestones that way. BUT there is enough space between the round shapes that you might run into the problem of having other things (lint, string, bits of paper) sticking in the gaps. Please see previous paragraph.

Probably not what you wanted to hear, Connie, but there you have it.

Today's purple dragonfly used up all my big purple bling...and I don't have a Copic or Sharpie that matches this particularly red-purple shade, so I couldn't make more. (I did try, though.) That meant no purple butterfly with which to create a visual triangle, as on yesterday's card.

With a few design tweaks, I was able to come up with an acceptable card (although I do think yesterday's card has a better design).

With only two purple points, the design worked better as a portrait-oriented card. This gives the design an upward sense of movement appropriate for a winged insect instead of the visual triangle unifying yesterday's design. I also chose a blocky, larger sentiment to anchor the bottom of the card and provide visual balance for that lone dragonfly.

I think it worked.

Note that there are a few large, iridescent rhinestones in the mix. Love those! They have languished in my stash for years, and now they finally have a purpose in life. Don't they look so happy?

I think so.

Obviously, using up your stash creates some awkward shortages of colors or shapes, but a little flexibility and problem-solving, and you can get those gems out of your hoard and onto cards.

So yay!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Clearly Besotted With a Flourish, Papertrey Keep It Simple Birthday
paper: Papertrey white
ink: Mama Elephant silver fox, Archival purple (can't remember which one...maybe majestic purple?)
accessories: dragonfly punch, assorted rhinestones 

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Seven Days of Bling: Day 4

Sue C., who is just full of fabulous questions, asked whether I start in the middle of filling in a large punched shape with bling or bling the edges first and then fill in toward the center. Yesterday's card is a good example of this.

With large shapes, I generally start somewhere off-center, so everything appears as random as possible, although I will say with the Christmas tree you'll see later this week, I started at the top, worked down through the center and then toward the edges. When the edges don't quite work out, I fill in with the tiniest rhinestones I have. A few times in this week-long extravaganza, I've had to color tiny clear bling with alcohol markers to fill in when I've run out of the right color.

That's a hazard of trying to use up your bling. Will you have enough to finish the whole project or run out mid-bling-fest and have wasted a bunch of pretty fake jewels?

It's as close as I get to risky behavior.

Fortunately, today's card showcases the very first shapes I blinged, and therefore we have lots of lovely rhinestones to choose from...before I started running out of some shades and sizes. It also showcases shapes that absolutely DO NOT follow the advice I just gave Sue C. at the beginning of this post. Each bling was carefully planned to be symmetrical and to vary the bling colors and sizes in a pleasing way that highlights details of the punched shape. There's nothing random about the butterfly and dragonfly.

I LOVED the results. LOVED. I'm shouting at you. LOVED.

I hope you love them, too.

The darker blue rhinestones are almost a Prussian blue and oh, so lovely! They ran out relatively quickly, however, which is sad, and I had no more after finishing this card and the bird card.

I'm going to need to add a Prussian blue Copic marker to be able to duplicate these beauties in the future. And this is how we get into so much trouble buying stuff. There's always something we need.


As you can see if you compare today's card to yesterday's, having dark, medium, and light shades of one color adds an ENORMOUS amount of interest to a bedazzled design. I just love the dragonfly and butterfly.

But I said that already.

Anyway, the bugs were so pretty I decided to use the lightest gray ink I had (Mama Elephant silver fox pigment ink) for the pretty swirl from Clearly Besotted's With a Flourish. The swirl anchors the design, bringing the three blue elements together with, well, a flourish.

Sorry. I couldn't help myself.

Note that the three blue elements are arranged in a visual triangle. Tomorrow we'll see a different arrangement for a purple dragonfly flying all by its lonesome.

And that's all I have to say about that. Hope you all had a great weekend!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey Birthday Basics, Clearly Besotted With a Flourish
paper: Papertrey white
ink: Mama Elephant silver fox, Archival cobalt
accessories: rhinestones, dragonfly and butterfly punches, glue

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Seven Days of Bling: Day 3

Reader Joan asked about mailing cards with bling on them. The lumpiness can be a problem, especially if the bling is on a raised panel on the card. My go-to fix is to put packing tape on the envelope over the bling. It keeps the envelope from tearing and adds very little weight.

Another fix is to put a 5.5" x 4.25" piece of cardstock over the top of the card and then put it in the envelope. This might push the envelope over the weight or thickness limits for standard postage, though, especially if you're using dimensionals or craft foam on the card. It might be kicked back to you for insufficient postage.

A third fix is to turn the card inside-out. That way, the back of the card cushions the bling. This will dent the back of the card, though, and might make it hard to read what you've written.

If anybody has other solutions, please share them in the comments.

A final suggestion for U.S. readers...keep a stash of forever butterfly stamps with your standard postage. Butterfly stamps will cover the added thickness or weight of cards with embellishments. You can drop these in a mailbox (although I wonder if they are machined after that) or go to the window at the post office and ask them to hand-cancel the envelope. That way, it won't get run through machines and smooshed.

I hope that helps, Joan. Perhaps it's more information than you wanted!

Today's card takes advantage of the fact that I have a bazillion purple rhinestones. I decided to make a purple valentine, because not all loving relationships are red-hot romantic, right? Well, that was my justification for being able to use more than half the purple rhinestones in my stash in a single go.

The swirls are from Clearly Besotted's With a Flourish and were stamped with LuLu lavender Memento ink. You're going to see that set again; it proved very useful for grounding these bedazzled shapes.

I'd already used up almost all the dark purple rhinestones (you'll see the others tomorrow). That means there's not enough color variation or shading on this large bedazzled shape to add interest. I did, however, have several large iridescent rhinestones that, if you look closely in the photo below, do add a subtle interest. The rhinestones were placed in a random pattern of small, medium, and large.

I'll tell ya, filling up this giant heart (after already using some purple on another shape) and still having a bunch of purple left showed just how serious my bling-hoarding issue is. But like reader Cindy pointed out, "Professors have large libraries, and no one expects them to use every book on the shelf every day. Same with bling, I'm sure."

Thanks, Cindy. I feel much better now!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Clearly Besotted With a Flourish
ink: LuLu lavender Memento 
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones, large heart punch, glue

Friday, January 26, 2018

Seven Days of Bling: Day 2

Before we get to the bling, I just want to thank Hero Arts for bringing back their nice, fat, printed catalog. The last year I bought the HA catalog was 2012, and it was puny...not worth the price. Not sure why I bit this year, but ohmygosh, it's a fabulous publication.

What a delight to turn pages and see such wonderful stamps and products displayed so prettily. This feels much more natural than flipping through an online version. Hero has long been one of my favorite companies, and I'm thrilled with this catalog. Thank you, Hero Arts. Print isn't dead...and you'll get more of my money because of this.

Now, onto the Seven Days of Bling. Sue C. asked where I get my bling, and a real-life friend said these cards look hard to make. Let's address these two issues.

My bling comes from all over ("Oh, shiny!!! Must buy!!!"), but my favorite place to buy bling is my Michael's. They have Recollections rhinestones, which are individually adhered to the backing sheet...meaning they aren't on a strip of adhesive that requires cutting each little gem off of the strip, trimming the excess glue in the process. Nope, that's annoying. The Recollections gems are quick and easy to use, they look nice, and when they are 40% off, I admit I go a little crazy.

Now, I used to buy all the colors I could find, but since getting Copics and Sharpies, I prefer coloring my own to match each card. The package of clear, colorless bling I prefer is THIS ONE, which has five different sizes of gems. Coloring them works best with very dark Copic shades or (preferably) Sharpies. Either brand marker can be blended if, say, you need a bit more blue in your purple. The Sharpies dry faster than the Copics and the colors tend to be more intense.

This new preference for coloring my own gems leaves me with a huge stash of hard-to-match colored bling, which in turn led me to have Seven Days of Bling, which in turn showed me that seven days are not nearly enough to put a significant dent in my hoard.

Now, as for my friend's comment that the cards look hard to make...but not at all. My handy, dandy craft knife allows me to pick and place gems easily. For many of the designs I'll show this week, I varied the shape and size and even color as I placed...because I had so many gems to choose from. I tried to make everything random when it called for it, or symmetrical when that seemed more appropriate.

And now for today's card. The rhinestones take their form from a punched shape, which makes arrangements so much easier!

The punch is StampinUp's bird and branch punch. I simply glued the wing onto the bird and started with the darker blue, then filled in around the wing with lighter blue, throwing in a black rhinestone eye for contrast because it seemed like a good idea.

The branch was a bit more challenging. If you select your own punches or dies to duplicate this, go for bigger shapes with less detail (like the tree in the photo above). It's much easier to cover them than smaller, detailed shapes.

One awesome aspect of creating these bedazzled shapes on punched or die-cut forms is that you can make a bunch of them and then design cards around them. When I tried the bird on a single layer, it really looked dropped-on and boring. The white mats were necessary to add a frame to the densely sparkling focal point. The resulting design works pretty well, I'd say!

The sentiment is from Papertrey's old Birthday Basics set. I love how the rounded letters looked with the bedazzled bird.

Do you think this idea justifies my hoarding of bling, or am I simply looking for any excuse to legitimize my hoarding issues?

Does it really matter?

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey Birthday Basics
ink: Archival cobalt
paper: papertrey white
accessories: StampinUp punch, rhinestones, glue

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Seven Days of Bling: Day 1

Today's card got the bling rolling in my craft room, and so I have six more days of bling to come. This shiny, bedazzled week is brought to you by Simplicity and Bling Hoarders of Southwest Ohio, Springboro Chapter.

These rhinestones are lined up over an old border stamp from Hero Arts. The orange, pink, and purple color scheme is fantastically happy. And the sentiment unifies the whole design. You shine, and so does this card!

I rounded the bottom corners because the pointy rectangle looked odd with all the round bling.

Hot blingity-bling!

Note that the envelope was stamped with a small portion of the border stamp, and then I colored over the dots with Smooch. It's not quite as shiny as bling but won't get rubbed off in the mail.

Yay, bling!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Hero Arts
ink: Archival black, some random light color under all the bling
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones out the ying-yang, Corner Chomper

Wednesday, January 24, 2018


Serendipity led to today's card. While rummaging through my shadow stamp box, I found this old, old polka-dot circle stamp from Hero Arts. I can't even remember the last time I used it.

Then, this card happened.

Pinks and greens go perfectly together! What a simple, clean, fun card, and so useful for a variety of situations. That polka-dot circle provides a lovely, open frame for whatever tiny design you want to create!

What I didn't realize was how quickly I would need this card, which was originally intended for Karen's Card Shop but will now go to a dear friend of mine desperately in need of a paper hug.

Which is, in fact, the real reason we engage in all the madness of collecting, storing, organizing, and sometimes actually using all these supplies. To lift someone up, to create a little bit of love to share with them...a noble cause that shifts our focus from perfection of design to perfection in love.

John Wesley* would have liked that, I think.

Go make a hug for someone ASAP. Put it in an envelope, address and stamp it, send it.

That's what it's all about.

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and hugs,

stamps: Hero Arts and others (honestly don't remember!)
ink: various dye inks
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: heart rhinestones

*John Wesley was the founder of the Methodist movement in Protestant Christianity. I belong to the United Methodist Church. His name came up several times today. You might say I have Wesley-on-the-Brain. If you were odd. Like me.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Color Fun

For those who are interested, I posted on Questioning my Intelligence today. 

So the comments and emails that came in from THIS POST made me laugh. We really are a hot mess, aren't we? Most of our crafty flaws (at least those reported by readers of that post) involve three things:

1. We think there's something wrong with how we work. Either we start projects and never finish, or we wait until we have enough time to "finish" and therefore don't craft as much as we want.

2. We have too much stuff. We buy, buy, buy far more than we could use in three lifetimes, and we either spend all our time organizing supplies or no time organizing supplies. Too messy, too tidy, too much stuff, and not too productive.

3. We are too critical of what we make. Instead of focusing on the process and the fun of creating, we think our stuff isn't good enough given the money or time we invest.

At one time or another, I've been guilty of ALL of these things. And might possibly be guilty now but plead the fifth...especially after the conversation I had with Tina S today about all the cool new products coming out that we want so very badly.

Oops. Did I just accidentally confess?

Anyway, let's consider how all the time, effort, and money we spend on crafting affects us in positive ways. We aren't buying drugs or alcohol or gigolos. We are helping economic growth and helping pay people's salaries (although I don't imagine too many people are getting filthy rich selling craft stuff, but still). We are engaged in creative activity that science has proven keeps our minds sharp and happiness levels high. We participate in a community full of lovely people who are encouraging, supportive, generous, and kind, and thus forming social networks that prolong our lives. And we are laughing and having fun (when we aren't swearing at soggy watercolor messes or dropping ink pads ink-side-down on finished masterpieces).

I'd say we are definitely ahead in this whole crazy hot mess. 

Today's card explores a color combination I found on Pinterest of pinks and mustard/yellow. It's an unusual combination for me, but I love how it turned out.

After I'd stamped the raised panel, it looked a bit odd and pointy, so I rounded opposite corners to soften the pointiness. That gives subtle movement to the card, especially when I rounded the corners of the mat as well.

Pretty and warm at the same time. Yay!

Now, I'm off to learn more about the liquid watercolors Hero Arts is putting out. Those little bottles look positively irresistible!

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and self-control,

stamps: My Favorite Things Fall Florals, sentiment not sure
paper: Papertrey white
ink: various dye inks
accessories: craft foam, Corner Chomper, glue, rhinestones, Copics for coloring rhinestones

Monday, January 22, 2018

A Quickie

Wow. I'd hoped to have more time to post tonight, but time got away from me. My floors are mopped, though.

Anyway, here's a quick card inspired by all the coffee-themed cards in a Stampington & Co magazine.

This was a surprisingly challenging card to make, mainly because all my splatter stamps seemed too large in scale for such a small coffee cup.

I like big cups, and I cannot lie. But not on cards. They don't leave enough room for white space. This little cup is perfect but needed little spatters, and the ancient Itty Bitty Backgrounds stamp from StampinUp worked perfectly.

Seriously. This simple card took about four iterations to get right. Never, ever, ever give up! Unless you should. Sometimes you should.

Ignore me. I'm tired and going to bed now.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey coffee cup, text style, word; StampinUp Itty Bitty Backgrounds
ink: Hero Arts sand, Archival potting soil
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: heart rhinestones, dimensionals, post-its for masking

Sunday, January 21, 2018

A Softer Shadow Stamp

So these two cards are vibrant and bold, but today's card uses the same old Hero Arts shadow stamp but with a completely different technique, and the results are soft and natural.

The background came from a very simple technique using Memento ink and markers. First, I inked the whole stamp with new sprout (a very pale green), then tapped bamboo leaves and cottage green markers all over it. After spritzing the stamp generously with water, I moved the stamp around to blend the inks, and then stamped it on Tim Holtz watercolor paper. To maximize the color, I weighted the stamp on the paper for a few minutes while the watery ink was absorbed by the paper. (I learned that trick from a Jennifer McGuire video.)

Once the panel was dry, I stamped leaves in embossing ink and sprinkled with pearl embossing powder. The embossing effect is subtle, but oh so pretty!

I liked the whole effect so much, I decided not to add a sentiment.

Hopefully, you had as relaxing and creative a weekend as I did! It's been fun reading your comments and emails on my last post, and I'm going to respond in the next few days. Dave Barry, the humor writer, said there's a fine line between mental illness and hobby...and I think he's right!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Hero Arts, Papertrey Masculine Motifs
paper: Tim Holtz watercolor paper, Papertrey white
ink: embossing ink, Memento
accessories: Memento markers, heat gun, silver pearl embossing powder, water spritzer

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Green with Lazy

Today's card demonstrates exactly how flawed a crafter I am. You see, one reason why my mantra is mercy, grace, peace, and love is because I'm so very well aware of how much I rely on mercy and grace extended by others (and God) because ohmyheavens, am I flawed.

I'm prideful. Talk too much. Get distracted. (Oh, look! A book!) Forget important things. Spend too much time on my phone. Don't exercise enough. (At all.) Cuss a little. Try so hard not to judge and judge anyway. Leave undone what should be done. (Mop your floors, Susan!) Do things I shouldn't do. (Drink too many mochas. Procrastinate.)

So you can see that I need mercy, grace, peace, and love.

Don't we all?

When it comes to crafting, I've often wondered how much my love of clean-and-simple style evolved from simple laziness. When coloring today's card with Copic markers, I stopped wondering.

Turns out, I am both lazy and impatient. This card felt like it took FOREVER to color. Seriously. FOREVER, people. Ugh. 

Of course, I love how it turned out (pride), but I didn't feel inclined to use Copics on any other stamps in this set (sloth). Tomorrow you'll see the fruits of my laziness and impatience...which aren't so bad, actually (justification).

After finishing the coloring, I realized this card was pretty unbalanced, so following Joan B's lead, I used the chisel end of my Copics to add a border.

This set is a new one called Stemmed Statements from my November Papertrey order. It's truly a delightful set, with lots and lots of words with it that will be very useful (more justification).

So if I'm lazy and impatient, what are your crafting flaws? Confession is good for the soul!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey Stemmed Statements
paper: Papertrey white
ink: Memento black
accessories: Copic markers, rhinestones, ruler

Friday, January 19, 2018

Stone-Age Stamps

My question about using new or old stamps prompted a lot of responses, overwhelmingly in favor of using older stamps and newer stamps. This sort of surprised me because we see so much hype and enthusiasm for new releases these days, and I wondered if I were missing out by severely restricting new purchases.

Not that I could go out and buy, buy, buy anyway. Our oldest is going to college this fall, after all. But I could loosen the purse-strings a bit, I suppose.

There are really two problems for me. First, I already have lots and lots of stamps, and some of the new stuff looks close enough to stuff I already have that it seems silly to buy it. And, as reader Sue C., pointed out in an email, many of the super-cute stamp sets being released aren't very versatile. She's learned the hard way that she can make one or two cards with those sets and then...she's done.

I've learned that lesson, too.

The second problem is boredom. When you're a clean-and-simple stamper, there are only so many options for designing cards with a given set. After a while, I get bored with sets, and this sets me up to buy new stuff. Then, I go look at the new stuff, which leads me back to problem number one.

I am fully aware these are first-world problems. I'm not complaining so much as commenting.

So after reading all your answers, I went through my stamps and pulled a bunch of stuff to retire to cold storage and retrieved a few sets from cold storage for more use.

In the process, I discovered a Hero Arts shadow stamp that was among the first stamps I ever bought lo those many years ago.

And I made these cards.

The first card used the same winter stamp used in my last two posts, that delightful tree scene from Papertrey's Masculine Motifs. (A quick check shows that Masculine Motifs is no longer available on their website.) The shadow stamp was inked with Hero Arts ombre ink, first by inking one half of the stamp, then turning the stamp, and inking the other half. This created a light-to-dark-to-light effect that is really neat.

The second card used the same inking technique with the pink-to-red pad and features a heart from Papertrey's Heart Prints...another old set which is still available. It was released with two coordinating heart punches (no longer on the website), so it's long been my favorite heart set. I added the black rhinestones to balance the strong, black sentiment.

These cards make me very, very happy. I hope they make you happy, too!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Hero Arts shadow, Papertrey Heart Prints and Masculine Motifs, My Favorite Things Label Maker Sentiments
ink: Hero Arts ombre inks, Archival black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones, dimensionals 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Sparkle Birthday

Thanks so much for all the input about using old or new stamps. Reading your thoughts has clarified mine, and I am grateful! I'll share more tomorrow of my thoughts, along with a pair of cards using one of the earliest stamps I bought way back in the Jurassic period.

For tonight, here's another use for that wonderful winter tree stamp from Papertrey's old Masculine Motifs set.

Rather than the soft gray I used yesterday, I went for the high drama of black, white, and a tiny splash of red. It seemed a bit plain, so I pulled out a Sakura stardust pen and made the trees sparkle.

The sentiment on the wavy banner mimics the curve of the ground, and adds a touch of whimsy and movement to the card.

Winter birthday cards are so much fun to make!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey Masculine Motifs, Through the Trees (bird); Clearly Besotted (sentiment)
ink: Archival black, red geranium
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: banner die (StampinUp), dimensionals

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Holiday Thank-You Notes

If you're like me and have been slacking about holiday thank-you notes, here's a simple card that will mass-produce pretty easily.

Really, this card would fit almost any sentiment, from winter birthday to get well to thinking of you. What makes it work for me is the three bright pops of color against a gray winter landscape arranged in a visual triangle. I cut out and popped the banner sentiment, but you wouldn't have to do that.

I can never get rid of Through the Trees (Papertrey) because of these two birds, each facing the opposite direction. They are so much more useful than any other stamps in that set and I adore them. The trees are from Masculine Motifs (Papertrey), which has a lot of good stamps in it.

Question: how committed are you to using older stamp sets? Do you like to see me use them, or would you prefer more new stuff on Simplicity? Just curious.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey Masculine Motifs and Through the Trees; Hero Arts Thank You Messages
paper: Papertrey white
ink: Hero Arts soft granite; Archival manganese blue, red geranium
accessories: dimensionals

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

My Favorite!

So, back in March, 2009, when this little blog began, I posted a card with my favorite layout ever. It still is, with twists that make it more interesting.

Here's where I'm at today with this design: additional layers of white-on-white and greater sense of movement. The matting brings the three images close together and unifies the design in a very clean way. I also chose a small sentiment and placed it off-center.

These tiny changes give the whole card much more energy, yet it also remains true to Leonardo's precept that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Does this mean I've learned a thing or two in the past nine years? I hope so. I sure didn't use Copics nine years ago, either, yet the images are colored with Copics. Not too bad for this old dog.

Speaking of dogs, I'll try to post new pictures of our BIG puppy. He's growing so fast (already over 50 pounds) and is as tall as Daisy. His head is much blockier than Daisy's, so he looks bigger than she is already, even though she's still got some pounds on him.

Finally, thanks to all of you who've weighed in on dies. I've got lots of ideas and some sense of direction now. Y'all are the best!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Hero Arts Summer Garden, Thank You Messages
ink: Memento black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: 3/4" square punch, dimensionals, Copic markers

Monday, January 15, 2018

Grammatical Bling

For those who don't know, I have another blog called Questioning my Intelligence. Not much has been posted on it in the past few years, but our president's alleged comments over the weekend have made me realize how much the world needs good words preaching kindness and love and joy and gentleness. I'm writing again. If you're interested, please check it out.


The new Hero Arts set Summer Garden is delightful. It's got a plethora of pretty sentiments and a garden's worth of little flowers and critters.

But it's missing a comma.

Why does this bother me?

Oh, right. I was an English teacher.

Whenever you directly address someone, the name needs to be separated from the greeting by a comma. Hi, Sally. Merry Christmas, Ruth. Hello there, beautiful.

There is no comma in the set, but clearly, we're supposed to put the hello there and beautiful, gorgeous, or darling together.  Now, you might notice there's an apostrophe in the largest sentiment, and apostrophes are, for artistic purposes, the same as commas. But the apostrophe is buried in the flashing and not easy to isolate. I could have done it, I suppose, with clever masking, but I think we've established that I'm lazy.

So I stuck a bling where the comma should be. Yes, it's more like a period than a comma. I actually tried putting a tiny bling under the medium bling to give the idea of a comma, but it looked weird and not at all comma-like. So I decided that the single bling would have to suffice. After all, this is art.

Whatever. Basically, I gave up. Some battles are simply not worth fighting, such as the battle to stop the president from tweeting, but next time, I'll probably use the apostrophe, no matter how complicated because grammar matters, people!

Also, there's a bling covering a mistake, but I shan't tell you which because there are no mistakes, only opportunities for embellishment.

The butterfly was colored with Copics and then painted with a clear Wink of Stella brush pen. For a final touch, I slightly rounded the corners of the stamped panel and its mat with old-school scallop scissors.

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

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Hero Arts Summer Garden
ink: Memento black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones, Copics (for coloring the butterfly and rhinestones), Wink of Stella brush pen, scallop scissors, a dash of OCD

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Little Florals and Some Chat about Dies

Yesterday's card featured what I think is the largest die that coordinates with the Hero Arts set Little Florals. I adore this set. Today's card uses three die-cut stems from the set to make a little bouquet.

The flowers were colored with Copics before being cut. Copic coloring for small images like these perfectly suits my lazy efficient style, and is well within the very modest limits of my Copic expertise. In a few days, I'll show you a card that took F-O-R-E-V-E-R to color and made me vow never to color the stamps from that set again.

But these bitty stamps can be colored quickly. So yay!

I wanted to use a soft yellow or pink ribbon for the bow, but it turns out I don't have either color. So white it is. That keeps the attention on the color of the flowers, though, and covers up the ugly overlap of the stems, so it's a win.

Now, this card could be made with stamping and masking. This would eliminate the slight border on the die cuts and would look more natural. But these petite images in their super-simple setting work for me as die cuts.

While my experience with dies is extremely limited, I've found that Hero Arts' dies are consistently easy to use, work well every time, and cut cleanly. They are open dies (just the outline, not a solid piece of metal) which allows you to stamp and color and THEN cut very easily. I use washi tape to hold them in place.

Finally! A use for the thousand or so rolls of washi I own!

I've bought some Papertrey dies and am less pleased with them. They often leave a slight residue around the edges of the die cuts, making them look dirty. I've washed the dies in Dawn and warm water, but they still leave that residue. Apparently, this is a common problem as I found many irate outbursts on threads and blog posts on the subject. Any suggestions?

Also, Papertrey's are mostly closed dies, so it's easier to cut, then stamp and color, which can be awkward.

What is your experience with various manufacturers' dies? I'd love to hear your recommendations to buy and to avoid.

Thanks in advance for your input.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Hero Arts Little Florals, Summer Garden
ink: Memento black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: coordinating dies, Copic markers, glue pen, ribbon

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Delusions of Grandeur

Have you ever watched a video by Jennifer McGuire and thought, "Hey! That doesn't look so hard! I could do that!"?

And then you can't.

Jennifer inspires delusions of grandeur in me, and today's card proves that even when you're not as grand as you think you might be, you can still be grand enough.

Okay, so this card is NOT like the ones in Jennifer's video here. In fact, it's not even a tiny bit close. But that's okay. Because my failed effort at being Jennifer led to a successful effort to be myself.

So yay!

This watercolor flower was made using Peerless watercolors with white embossing (another Jennifer video), and I thought I could make an in-and-out card using that but no, no, nopity, nope.

As I sat amidst the tattered remains of my delusions, I realized that this lovely little die cut would serve on a totally different card.

So here it is, redeemed by a different purpose.

There's a metaphor for life in this somewhere, but I'm too tired to figure it out.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love for all,

stamps: Hero Arts Little Florals
ink: embossing ink, Archival monarch orange
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones, Copic for coloring said rhinestones, Peerless Watercolors, brush, white embossing powder, heat gun, coordinating die, dimensionals

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Bright Birthday Greetings

Stamping Tip for the Day
Sue C. asked about how I handle photopolymer stamps that have lost their stick. This one is easy: Dawn dishwashing liquid. I put any stamps that have lost their stick in a mesh colander, drop the colander into a sink full of warm water and Dawn suds, rub each stamp to remove the dust and oils that are keeping it from sticking, rinse, and place the stamps on Bounty paper towels on my counter to dry naturally. 

Bounty paper towels don't leave lint, so they are the paper towel of choice for my house. 

Anyway, this technique works great for getting stamps to stick again. 


Today's card offers up bright birthday greetings in blue and purple using one of my all-time favorite stamp sets: Turning a New Leaf by Papertrey Ink. The leaves and branches in this set are incredibly versatile and so pretty in a very clean-and-simple way. 

The berries come from another PTI set: A Wreath for All Seasons. The sentiment is from one of the Keep It Simple Birthday sets, also from PTI.

The great thing about this card is how versatile it is. You could use any color combination and any sentiment with it.

We are facing a winter weather advisory for tomorrow. Ice and up to four inches of snow are expected starting at 10:00 tomorrow morning. Snow, I can handle. Ice is a whole 'nuther critter, as my grandma used to say. Fortunately, I'll be home at 10:30 or so, and my husband is working from home tomorrow. We'll see what the schools decide to do.

Winter is a unpredictable time in much of the northern hemisphere, and I'm hearing about fires and mudslides in southern California. For all those impacted by weather--and the dire natural consequences of it--my prayers are with you...prayers for safety, for support, and for comfort.

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and safety,

stamps: Papertrey Turning a New Leaf, A Wreath for All Seasons, Keep It Simple Birthday
paper: Papertrey white
ink: Archival
accessories: dimensionals

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


Okay, so Valentine's Day isn't my favorite. It feels too artificial and forced, and too many people feel left out or forgotten. There's too much pressure!

But I always make valentines for my husband and my boys, and this year I had an inspirational brainstorm that took me to my favorite valentine I've ever made...because my husband will laugh and laugh and laugh!

Be still, my jovial heart! First, I love the Hero Arts color layering octopus because it's only two stamps and almost always is easy to line up. Second, when I got the idea to use the Hero Arts ombre pink to red inkpad, everything fell into place!

A few heart-shaped rhinestones, and we've got a funny--and dramatic--valentine! I stamped Happy Valentine's Day on the inside, too.

Do you enjoy Valentine's Day? How many valentines do you make? 

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Hero Arts Color Layering Octopus
ink: Hero Arts ombre pink to red pad, Archival black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: dimensionals, heart-shaped rhinestones

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Two Color Schemes, One Design

One of my go-to sets for birthday cards is Papertrey's Good Times, which has some basic images and some striking, large sentiments. The falling confetti border stamp in the set is HUGE, but you don't have to use it in its entirety. Just a portion can work beautifully for a CAS design.

You might have noticed I've been using the Kaleidacolor pads a lot lately. They really do add a fun element to simple cards...and I have so many of them that it seems a shame to let them sit unused in the new year!

Each card has Stickles accents because I also have a bunch of Stickles and love it!

What supplies do you have IN ABUNDANCE that you could challenge yourself to use more frequently in the new year? 

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey Good Times
ink: Kaleidacolor Riviera and Spectrum, Archival black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: Stickles, craft foam, glue

Monday, January 8, 2018

Beautiful Arteza Color and a Die

Last week, I posted this card, which shows what the Arteza real brush pens look like when used to color an image directly without addition of water. Today's card shows how these beautifully rich colors can be used to create a background that can be die cut for truly high-impact clean-and-simple designs.

To make this card, I colored a scrap of watercolor paper with the dark pink and purple Arteza pens, blending the two colors together. Then, I cut the sentiment using the Blessings die from Hero Arts. The rest of the card is self-explanatory.

What I love here is how those rich colors pop right off all that white cardstock. There's so much impact here! And the texture of the watercolor paper adds just a little something as well.

So don't think that backgrounds have to be used in big ways in designs. You can keep things simple by using only a small amount of colorful background...and plenty of white space!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Hero Arts Blessings
ink: Archival black
paper: watercolor paper, Papertrey white card stock
accessories: coordinating die, rhinestones, Copics to color the rhinestones

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Why We Need to Condition Some Photopolymer Stamps

So I'll show you the POST-conditioning card first, since many of you don't scroll down, and I don't want anyone to think I'd post the PRE-conditioning card as my card for the's that bad. For directions on conditioning stamps, please scroll to the bottom.

So here's what conditioned stamps look like when stamped.

Aren't they pretty? Perfect images! Those inks are a combination of Hero Arts and Archival dye inks, and the colors look so pretty and autumnal.

BTW, this is a birthday card for a male relative with a fall birthday. I've actually finished all the birthday cards for my family for 2018. Yay, me!

So for those of you new to stamping or perhaps not familiar with photopolymer stamps, there's a highly annoying fact about them. The manufacturing process often leaves a residue on them that repels ink, causing it to bead up on the stamp and gives a very, very icky impression, especially on solid, block-style stamps like these leaves. In fact, the impressions will look like this:

At first, I thought, "Well, perhaps this card will just look distressed and perhaps more masculine."

But if you have to use "perhaps" twice in one sentence, the odds are against you. It just looks poorly stamped.

Other than the green leaf and the veins on the pumpkin pie leaf, I left all colors the same on my "good" version of the card. The green on the original was too dark, so I lightened it up for the final card. And the terra cotta veins didn't provide enough contrast with the pumpkin so I switched to coffee.

I'm making a substandard card worked to my advantage here because it allowed me to fix the colors. So yay, again!

Now, this set (Leave It Be) from Papertrey is lovely, with a coordinating die set. The dies aren't open dies, so I cut first, then stamped. I prefer open dies, which can be stamped first, then cut. But whatever. The final card made my CAS-lovin' heart go pitter patter. And I know I'll be making more cards for fall with this set.

How to Condition Photopolymer Stamps

To remove the residue from photopolymer stamps, follow these simple steps.

1. Take a white eraser and rub the stamps as hard as you can.

2. Wipe the stamps on a damp cloth to brush off as much of the eraser residue as you can.

3. Clean the stamps with a good stamp cleaner, like Hero Arts ultra clean. That will remove everything.

4. Ink and stamp happy!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey Leave It Be, Birthday Basics
ink: Hero Arts butter bar, soft apricot, just rust, forever green; Archival coffee, sienna, fern green; Papertrey terra cotta tile
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: coordinating dies, glue, dimensionals