Thursday, September 29, 2016

Cool New Product: Nuvo Crystal Drops

While poking around at Marco's Paper a few weeks ago, I stumbled across what looked like a display of Stickles and liquid pearls, but the bottles looked a bit different. An employee was passing, so I asked about the product, called Nuvo Crystal Drops.

"Oh, yeah. Those are cool stuff! You know how Stickles dries rather flat? Well, these dry with dimension."

"So if I used the red glittery one for holly berries, they'd stay dimensional?"

"Yep."

Wow.





I experimented on scrap paper first and discovered that this stuff does, indeed, dry exactly as big and dimensional as you make it. My experiments were big enough that they would have poked a hole in the envelope, too. When making this card, however, I wanted slightly raised, not envelope-poking, berries. It was easy to get the amount of dimension I wanted, and the berries dried exactly as I wanted.




As you can see, the berries still look wet, even though they are dry. I love this because it adds to the sparkle! I noticed that thicker berries I made on the scrap weren't quite as sparkly though.

In the display at Marco's, there were two versions of this product...pearlescent and glitter. I don't know how many more bottles I'll buy, but the red glitter for holly berries was perfect. A pearlescent white might be lovely for mistletoe berries and a brown glitter for sunflower centers. My recommendation is to get a bottle or two in colors you have a need for, and then if you love it, expand.

Because as the employee at Marco's said, it's cool stuff.

Supplies
stamps: Clearly Besotted Holiday Sentiments
ink: Impress Fresh Ink celery, mojito; Hero Arts red royal
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: Nuvo crystal drops


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Harmony, with a Color Twist

Playing around with unexpected color schemes is so much fun! Every year I make a dozen or so Christmas cards in unusual colors just for the fun of it, and some of you get inspired while others shudder at the heresy.

Isn't it grand how we all can follow our own Muse wherever we want? I think so.

When I saw a dark gray and pink Christmas card in a magazine, I jumped up and down and decided to make my own. My version looks completely different from the inspiration, which is often my favorite outcome of playing around.




Now, I know that gray mistletoe with pink berries does not exist in nature, but it sure is fun on a greeting card.

The berries are highlighted with a pink Sakura Stardust pen for a little sparkle, and the mistletoe twig seemed naked without a small bow. It needed something to anchor it. And a few extra berries by the sentiment unite the raised panel and the base of the card.

Ah, harmony. With a color twist.

Supplies
stamps: Wplus9 Silver Bells
ink: Memento Luxe 
paper: Papertrey
accessories: satin ribbon, Sakura Stardust pen, craft foam, glue

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

When a Single Embellishment Is All You Need

Karen's Card Shop at our church needed some get-well cards, so I whipped up a few quick ones using an old Papertrey set. Cutting was quick and easy, so I made several of the same card.

With clean-and-simple designs, it often only takes one little detail to make a card fun...in this case, a single heart-shaped rhinestone.



This red ink is so crisp; it's Memento Luxe love letter.




Don't you just love finding the right embellishment for a card? Justifies our hoards collections, doesn't it?

Sure it does.

Supplies
stamps: Papertrey
ink: Memento Luxe
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: heart-shaped rhinestone, craft foam, glue


Monday, September 26, 2016

Go Bold or Go Home

Sometimes, it's fun to play with really, really rich and bold color...while still keeping things extremely clean and simple. Today's three cards demonstrate this type of play in action.




All three cards are colored with Tim Holtz distress inks in two shades to add some depth over a clear-embossed sentiment and holly. For a finishing touch, each panel was then outlined with gold or silver Prismacolor markers.

Simple. Bold. Festive.

Give it a try!

Supplies
stamps: Papertrey Keep It Simple Christmas, Holly Jolly
ink: embossing ink, Tim Holtz distress ink
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: clear embossing powder, heat gun, gold and silver Prismacolor pens, craft foam, glue

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Feeling My Way toward Balance

Balance used to be quite the buzzword, as was minimalism. Not sure what the popular buzzwords are today. I lost the bubble on buzzwords.

For us stampers, balance refers to design, and it can be a tricky thing to accomplish. Today's post shows how feeling your way to balance in a design can work.

How the Idea Got Started:

I wanted to do a word collage using Winnie and Walter's The Big, the Bold, and the Merry, but in the process of laying it out, I realized using words that are all the same font and size wouldn't make a pleasing design, so I decided to take three words and, after much fretting and searching through my stash, three snowflakes.

First Effort:

Here's the first--extremely disappointing--effort.

UNBALANCED!!!

The joy stamp was first, and then I worked my way up the card. The problems with placement include that the largest snowflake is too close to the loop of the j; the medium snowflake is too far from christmas; and the small snowflake is both too low and too close to merry. There's an ugly white hole (same as a black hole, only white!) in the middle between christmas and the medium snowflake. Ugh.

Balanced Design:

Here's the balanced version, which began with stamping joy lower and progressed by leaving more space around each element and shifting things around a bit.

BALANCED!!!


A few points to notice. First, the merry and christmas now have about half the vertical space between them as christmas and joy, if you discount the dot over the j. This follows the rule of thirds and creates an irregular triangle between the words. In the first version, there's about equal spacing, and the symmetry doesn't work so well, creating a crowded, awkward feel.

Second, horizontally, there's slightly more overlap of the beginning of merry, the end of Christmas, and the beginning of joy. The imaginary line down the middle in the first design disappears in the second, and this encourages smoother eye movement around the design.

Third, there are two triangles overlapping here: a triangle of words and a triangle of snowflakes. Both triangles are irregular (and thus more pleasing to the eye than equilateral triangles) and  make the whole design feel more organic and random. Though, of course, we know there's nothing random about random designs.

Third, giving those snowflakes room to fall makes a world of difference! The whole card evokes the feel of snow falling, that wonderful winter image that calls to mind both chilly snowballs and warm cups of cocoa.

Or coffee, if you prefer.

The balanced version was bling-worthy, and the bling adds just the right detail.

If you make a card that feels unbalanced to you, consider shifting the elements around a bit, thinking about the rule of thirds (which often helps, but not always) and how each element relates to the other. Feel your way to a good design.

It's extremely satisfying!

Supplies
stamps: Winnie and Walter The Big, the Bold, and the Merry; Papertrey Ink (large snowflake), Clearly Besotted (medium and small snowflakes)
ink: Archival vermilion and leaf green; Delicata silvery shimmer
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Email Subscriber Update and a Layout from Maille Belles


If you just want to see today's card, please scroll down and ignore the verbiage. If you subscribe by email, please read the verbiage.


Email Subscriber Update

When Eva and I met up the other day, she mentioned difficulty replying to the emails she receives as a subscriber through my FeedBurner account. She's not the only person who's expressed difficulty with this.

Frankly, Feedburner is a pain in the patootie. Several years ago, it decided not to play nicely with a lot of major email providers, and about 800 of my subscribers stopped getting emails. When I explored other email subscriber services, it turned out to be prohibitively expensive (upwards of $50 per month, in fact). So we're stuck with Feedburner, and I'm really sorry about this.

I looked around and couldn't find any way to address this issue sensibly. There are a few things you can do to work around the problem.

1. Add Susan Raihala and the email susanraihala at roadrunner dot com to your email address book, and then forward the email to me rather than hitting reply. Once I'm in your contacts, this option will be almost as easy as simply replying and should solve the problem.

2. Go to Simplicity's website by clicking in the email on the post title, scroll down on the page, and leave a public comment. I'm going to enable anonymous commenting again, and as long as the spam stays minimal, it'll stay that way. If I start getting a bunch of comments for sexxy grrls and varicose vein surgery, anonymous commenting will, once again, go away because no. Just no.

3. Subscribe to Simplicity via another avenue. There's a full list of options on the Subscribe Tab at the top of the blog. If you read a number of blogs, a blog reading service like BlogLovin or Feedly might be a more efficient option than email anyway.

Also, if you're on Facebook, know that I link to every post on Simplicity by Lateblossom's page there, so new posts will show up in your feed automatically.

And if you're a Pinterest junkie, follow my Cards by Susan Raihala page, and all you have to do is click on the photo. It'll take you to the post and you can comment there.  


A Layout from Maille Belles

On to a more entertaining topic...the genius of Maille Belles. If you've not encountered her blog, go there. Scroll around. She's truly amazing. The card that inspired me is HERE.

My card's layout is almost exactly like hers...or as alike as it can be with a different focal point.



This cup of fabulousness makes me so happy! It's from a Hero Arts set called Coffee Cup Tags. It was extremely easy to cut out, so no worries about not having a die cut machine. The holly also comes from a Hero set. To add some sparkle, I used Sakura stardust pens in red for the holly and clear to outline the whipped cream.





This is a GREAT layout for spotlighting larger images while still maintaining plenty of white space.

Note that Maille's card uses an angel with a strong vertical element (wings) that pushes the angel away from the line at the edge of her border. I love how she placed the sentiment in a way that "fills" the space under the left wing. The sentiment's strong vertical feel also helps balance the layout.

My cup, shaped totally differently than Maille's angel, still has strong vertical elements, including the sleeve with the sentiment. Since my sentiment is on the large, blocky image, my cup straddles the line so that one third is over the border with two thirds over the white space...thus preserving the rule of thirds. If the line had bisected the cup, it would have looked weird.

I'm sure Maille would never do that.



Supplies
stamps: Hero Arts
ink: Hero Arts, Archival
paper: Papertrey Ink white
accessories: craft foam, Sakura stardust pens in red and clear, gold Prismcolor gold metallic pen, ruler

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Soft Thanks

First, a problem. A few of you who subscribe via email are hitting reply and sending emails, only to have them returned to you. Others reply with no difficulty at all. I have no idea what's going on here but will investigate and see what turns up.

Second, I want to thank reader Eva for meeting me today for coffee and a little shopping spree at Marco's Paper! What a fun way to spend the morning...so fun, in fact, that we're going to do it again! But it got me thinking, how many other readers are in the greater Dayton/northern Cincinnati area who might want to meet for coffee? I LOVE meeting people for coffee. If you live locally and are interested in coffee and stampy conversation, please shoot me an email at susanraihala at roadrunner dot com.

Last year, kind reader Sonya sent sent me a very generous batch of feather die cuts that match Waltzingmouse's Fine Feathers. Here I am using them again!


This soft thank you card will be perfect to send to a friend who recently did me a lovely, kind, and very comfortable good deed. She was present when I needed her. The value of that is inestimable.

The far right feather is glued down flat, but the other two are only glued at the bottom. After the glue dried, I lifted the tops of the die cuts and slipped dimensionals under them. What a neat way to add a bit of dimension to a very subtle, simple design.




The ink is Mama Elephant moonlight pigment, which doesn't dry well for me. After waiting just a minute, I dusted the stamped die cuts with my embossing buddy and then let them sit a little longer before gently wiping them with a tissue. The densely inked feather required a second coating with the embossing buddy, but that did the trick.

Merci to all of you for the comments and emails and lurking. It's lovely to know that my little corner of the internet makes some people happy!

Supplies
stamps: Waltzingmouse Fine Feathers, Clear and Simple Stamps Thank You
ink: Mama Elephant moonlight, Memento Luxe espresso truffle
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: die cuts, embossing buddy, silver cord, dimensionals