Saturday, April 25, 2020

A Little Orange Happiness and Cardstock Conversation

Inspired by this card, I made this.

Obviously, mine went off in a VERY clean-and-simple direction.

The colors are rich and warm and wonderful. I know just who will receive this card, too. So yay for sending cards during a pandemic.

The watercolor effect of the stamping was achieved with Memento and StampinUp markers, and a water mister. The background inks were scribbled onto a transparency and spritzed with the mister. Then, I laid the handmade paper (Hero Arts) directly on the transparency until it had soaked up all the wet ink.

Both techniques are so incredibly easy!

Now, for cardstock conversation, as requested by reader Kim T, who asked about the white cardstock I use.

Kim's concern is paper cracking when folded. Any really heavy cardstock will crack when folded, unless you score the fold first. It takes a lot longer to explain how to score and fold cardstock than it does to fold it. But here goes.

score board, bone folder, Teflon bone folder, cardstock

I use a score board (mine's Martha Stewart, but they all work the same) and a bone folder. Position the cardstock on the board and run the bone folder over the score several times.

Fold the card so the dent of the score is on the OUTSIDE of the card. This still seems counter-intuitive to me, even after twenty years of scoring and folding. But the dent stays outside the card.

Once the card is folded, I switch to a Teflon bone folder (so it won't make the paper shiny) and burnish the fold, especially if I'm folding against the grain of the paper. Paper really doesn't want to fold against the grain.

But then, how many of us want to do anything against OUR own grain? I understand how the paper feels.

Teflon folders wear down VERY quickly if you use them with a score board, and as they are about four times as expensive as the regular bone folders (which aren't bone at all, but plastic), I try to use them only to burnish the fold.

My husband watched how fluidly and quickly I scored, folded, and burnished a card once and said, "Wow. You do that a lot, don't you?" Yup.

As for my cardstock recommendations, here they are:

1) Papertrey Stampers Select white: This is my go-to cardstock. It's heavy with a bit of tooth (not completely smooth).

2) Neenah Solar White in 110# and 80#: When I want to go crazy layering white on white, I use Neenah, which comes in a heavy weight for the base and light weight for layering. The colors match, obviously. It's truly astonishing how many different whites there are!

3) Tim Holtz Distress Watercolor Cardstock: This is great for wet techniques and is white enough to work well with either the Papertrey or Neenah card bases. It has a textured side and a smooth side, both of which work great. The textured side is clearly machine-made.

4) Hero Arts Handmade Watercolor Paper: Softer than the Tim Holtz, the Hero Arts has the great organic texture of handmade paper...truly lovely. It's also very white, unlike most handmade paper, and takes water well.

5) Gina K Deluxe white: This is the only coated cardstock I use, and it's super heavy. No matter how much Copic marker ink you put down, it won't bleed through, so it's ideal for one-layer cards with coloring. Its super-smooth surface allows for very easy blending of alcohol markers.

I get hives if any of my stock of these five papers starts to run low.

Thanks for the question, Kim!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love during the pandemic and always,

Friday, April 24, 2020

Be Fruitful

Sometimes, stamp sets have ridiculous sentiments. This old set from PTI was titled Be Fruitful, and that was the only sentiment included in a set full of 2-step fruit images. The fruit was fine (except for the pears, of course), but who needs a sentiment Be Fruitful? Not me.

Anyway, I combined the citrus slices with a sentiment from a Hero Arts set for a cheerful hello card. After I'd already photographed the card, I realized I'd forgotten to stamp the darker ink center in each slice. Must go fix that as it would add interest and bring the bling into greater unity with the fruit slices.

The bright, tropical colors are a happy addition to our mostly gloomy April here in Ohio.

What's the weather like where you are? We have had a few pretty, sunny days, but it's been mostly gray here, with lots of wind and a fair amount of rain. What do you do to cope with gloomy weather?

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Thursday, April 23, 2020

That's So Me!

Okay, so my last post pushed the limits of my personal style, but today's card gets back to my roots. Lots of white space, white layers, monochromatic, and a bit of bling.

The initial inspiration for this card came from THIS PIN. Obviously, I vastly simplified the inspiration piece, but I think you can still see its influence.

This card makes me so happy. My favorite (for the time being, at least) die set is the Hero Arts Infinity postage stamp dies. So much fun!

I hope you all are doing well and staying healthy and having some time to be creative!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Playing with Collage-Style Stamping

Long-time readers know how much I admire collage--and how hard it is to make collage fit into my style of clean-and-simple stamping.

Today's card made the cut for posting. I'm pretty pleased with the balance of strong focal point, a bit of vintage background stamping, and the colors.

I colored the butterfly with PrismaColor pencils and used a colorless blender pencil to blend. No gamsol or other solvents needed. When I cut the panel, I decided to make the butterfly wings hang off the edge...a subtle but nice touch that gives an illusion of dimension.

Have you used this shelter-in-place opportunity to try something new? If so, what? Or are you sticking with your comfort crafting? Inquiring minds, and all that!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Sunday, April 19, 2020


It's always fun to take a single idea and vary it. Some variations work out better than others, but an exercise in variation is always instructive.

Exhibit #1
This was the first card. My initial thought was that we would see the scene through a window, but it's doesn't quite work.

Stamps by Papertrey, colored with PrismaColor pencils

The Longfellow quote is intended to be background, so I didn't care that it was incomplete, but the preservation of "serenity" didn't mesh with the main sentiment of reading fast. Also, the left edge of the book really should stick out of the frame...there's just too little of it, and it looks accidentally cut off rather than intentional.

But I liked the concept and decided to play with it.

Exhibit #2
This card is for my younger son's birthday. He loves blue, bettas, and fish in general.

Sentiment by Gina K, fish by Hero Arts

In this variation, the frame serves only as a visual anchor for the fish and sentiment. It unifies and grounds. The fish filler stamp was inked with a Kaleidacolor ink pad for the spectrum effect. Jack will love that!

This card made me very happy!

Exhibit #3
So if a single big focal point image worked with the frame, how would a lot of little images work?

Stamps by Hero Arts

Hmm. The sentiment and butterfly leak out of the frame, which adds interest, but the concept doesn't quite work, does it?

No worries, really. All three are acceptable, with #2 reflecting (to my aesthetic) a home run.

Which do you like best?

I hope you're all doing well and staying healthy. We are hanging in there.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Calling on Colleen and Many Thanks

Our winner Colleen has not emailed me to claim her bookmark. I hope she's okay. If you read this message, Colleen, please email me your snail-mail address at susanraihala at icloud dot com.

Over the past week, I've received several cards and a package, and want to share them with you. It's such a treat to get happy mail!

This sweet one-layer card came from Lisa I.,
who frequently donates cards to Karen's Card Shop.
Daisies are my favorite!

This little house mouse on pussy willow is just darling,
thanks to Faye's clever coloring and framing.

Ginger used this gorgeous textured handmade paper
from Korea for her stunning card, and she even
sent me a bunch of handmade paper to play with as well!

Ginger also included this pretty bookmark.
I do adore that sentiment and the butterfly!

Janet sent this bold and encouraging card,
which came at just the right moment to cheer me up
with its hanging blossom hanging in there!

Many thanks to these wonderful, thoughtful ladies for brightening this weird time for me!

What, other than sending cards, are you doing to lift people's spirits? I've sent a few myself but have otherwise had my nose to the grindstone with teaching. That's been hard and stressful and very educational. I love being with students, and this Zoom teaching is draining for those of us extroverts who fill up on being with people!

You know, I always thought of myself as an ambivert before this because I truly need a balance of "people" time and "alone" time. But I miss all the people!!!!

Now that I've finished converting the class to online, I've got a bit of time to breathe. Our church is trying to call people, especially those who live alone, regularly, and I'm going to try to do some of that. Zoom meetings for social purposes are less draining, and it's so good to see people's faces!

I know a lot of people are sewing masks. A friend gave me a pink polka dot mask yesterday that makes me so happy! It's lined with a soft flannel. Mom is sewing masks, too, in Maryland.

What other ideas do you have?

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and polka dots,

Friday, April 10, 2020

Soft and Pretty

As a positive, generally cheerful person who dearly loves to laugh, my heart is drawn to bright and happy colors.

As a seeker after calm in life, my heart is drawn to soft pastels and lots of white.

Today, seeking after calm wins.

Today's card was absolutely inspired by a number of cards on Pinterest such as THIS ONE.

It is hard to tell but there's background script on the large circle from Papertrey's Text Style set...a very old and very useful set!

I don't have a circle die set yet, so I used circle punches. Since I have them in 1/8" increments, I could create the circle frames with just the punches. Very cool and easy!

But the edges on die-cut circles look much nicer, so to support American business in its time of need, I ordered the Hero Arts Infinity circle dies...and threw the square ones in my cart just for fun. And a few stamp sets.

Have you done any retail therapy since the quarantine? If so, what did you buy?  Inquiring minds, and all that....

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and hand washing,

PS This is the weirdest Holy Week I've ever experienced, and those of you who celebrate Easter can probably relate, as can our Jewish brothers and sisters whose Passover has be disrupted by social distancing. My pastor posted the following on Facebook, and it comforted me. Perhaps it will comfort you as well.

From Pastor Amy Haines:
4 weeks. 4 weeks ago life changed drastically on what my sister called "Pandemic Thursday." Schools were closed while the boys rode the bus home. By 8pm that night church was closed for the weekend. And we've been online for worship and connection ever since.
This week is Holy Week. As I journey with Jesus, remembering his final hours, I have a different perspective this year. I think we're closer this year to the emotions of that first year. Uncertainty. Fear. Hope. A seismic shift in life that we're not ready for, meaning change is coming. And the faith to be open to what God is doing in our midst. [Note, God didn't cause this! Rather, God can work through us, even in this time.]
Sure, I miss the crosswalk. And the choir. I miss a full church singing "Christ the Lord is Risen Today." I miss seeing young and old alike in worship. I miss hugs!
Yet I know that even as we worship in our own homes this year, we are still connected by faith. We are still the body of Christ. We can still celebrate Christ is Risen! And with us now!
And I think of brothers and sisters in Christ around the world who risk their lives to worship in house churches. And I give thanks that we are caring for each other here by not meeting together.
This is a hard week for the faithful, pastors and laity alike. Yet I believe with all my heart and spirit that God is with us. Those bored or overwhelmed. Those grieving or exhausted. Those fearful and hopeful. God is with us. For tonight, for me, that is enough.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

On Metal Shims

A few months ago, awash in inspiration from European stampers and their gorgeous creations displayed on Pinterest,  I placed an order for some dies. One was the Penny Black frond on today's card.

That die didn't want to cut in my Cuttlebug, no matter how many paper shims I added, no matter how hard the thing was to crank, no matter where I positioned it on the plate.

That was frustrating and made me (temporarily) wish I'd never gone down this expensive path of die dread and disappointment. Did it cut? Oh #$%^*@!

Speaking in symbols is never a good sign.

Then, I zoomed with a few stampy friends (Joan and Francie) and shared my frustration. Both said, "Get a metal shim" at the same time. I ordered shortly after the call, thinking it would take forever to come. It didn't.

Then, this. Inspired by Mia, whose pin has been corrupted with a bad link Norton blocked for me. (I've linked to her blog but not the specific post. All her work is amazing!)

Mia's original card has gorgeous goldfish on it. My version is nowhere near as elegant, but I do love the texture and color. I think what makes this design work so well is the combination of organic shapes (wispy frond), circles, and straight lines. Mia combined them better than I did, but the effect works even in my version.

At least, I think it does.

And I'm ever so grateful for Joan and Francie!

Be safe, everyone. Make some pretty things. Share them online. Call someone. Check on your neighbors. At a safe distance. Be the love and beauty the world needs right now.

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and face masks,

Monday, April 6, 2020

You're Not Your Addiction to Craft Supplies

You're not alone.

This sentiment seems particularly appropriate right about now, don't you think? Some of us, in fact, are literally alone, hunkered down in quarantine without anyone else in our homes or hospital rooms. Some of us are not literally alone but wish we were because how-did-my-family-get-so-annoying-all-of-a-sudden-like-why-do-they-need-to-chew-and-breathe. Seriously!

But we aren't morally, spiritually, or metaphorically alone. We are all in this together, and that's how we will get through it.

The variety of shades--from light to bright--make this heart
look more dimensional than the pink/orange version.

Most of these shades are bright, so there's  less dimension
in these stamped images than in the blue-green version.
I need to remember that!

This card evolved from a disastrous middle-of-the-night, can't-sleep-so-thought-I'd-make-pretty-trash session at my craft table. Those two hours were useless, I thought, until the next morning, when I walked over to the disaster that was my craft desk.

Thought #1: You know, if I cut a heart out of a mask and stamped a bunch of little stamps in it, the image would reinforce the sentiment...we are all in this together with love! Yay! I'm brilliant!

Thought #2: [after making a one-layer card with this idea] Wow. It looks so flat and . . . flat. Ugh. Maybe some bling? Not very brilliant, are you, Susan?

Thought #3: Hey, that heart mask was made with Hero Arts Infinity dies. I could cut the heart out of the one-layer card with the die that made the mask, cut a next-size-up heart for a mat, and do some popping. Would that look better?

Thought #4: Yes. Yes, it does look better! I'm brilliant again and will make another one in a different color scheme with different little stamps because ohmygosh what a great use of Infinity Dies!

Thought #5: [orders two more sets of Hero Arts Infinity Dies because buying craft supplies is the answer to life, the universe, and everything]

And that's how a failed two-hour craft session leads to success.

May a bluebird sing metaphorically on your shoulder today as you wash your hands and don't touch your face.

Mercy, grace, peace, and infinity.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Thoughts and Prayers

At this weird and crazy time, thoughts and prayers are important. So I made this card with soft greens, the color of hope and life.

The technique used is marker coloring and spritzing. I'm loving the softness and ease of this technique.

Hunker down and stay safe, folks. Hang in there, and if you need some mental health help, I encourage you to check out Brene Brown's new podcast called Unlocking Us. Her first podcast and the recent one titled "On Anxiety, Calm, + Over/Under Functioning" are extremely helpful. Also, the Calm App is amazing!

Feel free to share whatever resources you're finding helpful now in the comments. We could all use some extra tools in our mental health toolboxes right now!

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and distance socializing!

Saturday, April 4, 2020

A Winner and a Demonstration in Contrast

The random winner of the bookmark is lucky number 1...Colleen! Her comment is a lovely inspiration:

What a cute bookmarker. Thank You for this giveaway opportunity.Me & hubby are coping by just taking it one day at a time and staying to home as much as possible not get overly stress. Being patient, calm, prayer, along with faith and the love in trusting our Lord that this crisis will be over soon.You know, when there is a serious crisis like this; it brings people closer together; helping one another and caring for each other and I do think that is what the Lord is telling us all; Just help one another through the good times as well as the bad.
In the meantime been doing craft projects; working on homemade Christmas items, etc.
In the meantime; everyone stay safe & healthy and say a prayer that this crises will be over soon and keep the faith.God's Blessings to all.ColleenB.~Tx.
Colleen, please send me an email at susanraihala at roadrunner dot com with your snail-mail address. I'll get the bookmark in the mail ASAP!

Thanks to all of you who commented!

And now, I want to share what stamping between 1:00 and 3:00 in the morning yielded earlier this week. (Can't sleep. Too many thougths.)

The two cards truly are a study in contrast and were inspired by a number of designs on Pinterest, as well as several different cards using the pink and gold color combination.

First up, I went with crisp and clean, using a very old Hero Arts shadow stamp (only three of the five blocks on the stamp, though), Hero Arts cotton candy ink, and Smooch gold lame. The larger two hearts are Hero Arts Infinity Hearts dies and the smaller ones are from a Martha Steward heart confetti punch.

This was lovely but struck me as a little too crisp, if you know what I mean. So I flexed to a different Hero Arts shadow stamp and handmade paper, Tim Holtz preserved raspberry ink, and a Penny Black branch die. That Smooch is fabulous on both cards!

Scattered hearts just did. not. work. on this larger block background. At. all. I had this die cut sitting on my desk (because Francie M. and Joan B. recommended a metal shim to get this die to work...and work it did!). I tossed it onto the watercolor panel, and magic!

Several observations.
1. The artsier card makes me happier, but the cleaner card makes me smile, too.
2. Except for the way the "birthday" die cut gets lost on the card.
3. And except for the use of rhubarb ink for that little stamped heart and "happy." Not sure what else I could have done there, but there's just something off. I tried to add a third bit of rhubarb, but the design was already getting cluttered. Maybe the "birthday" die cut should have been rhubarb. But that would have been pretty heavy on the rhubarb. Just. not. sure.

I'm feeling very staccato today (or perhaps staccata, if I remember my Italian correctly and since I identify as female). Lock down is making me feel disjointed. cut off. stuck. The flow. Not happening.

Except, apparently, at 2:00 in the morning.

How are you feeling in your current place in the pandemic? Please share!

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and distance socializing!