Monday, January 23, 2017

With Deepest Sympathy Inspired by Chrissie Tobas

This card by Chrissie Tobas on Pinterest, practically pinned itself to my Cards board and quickly became a wonderful source of inspiration. I love how Chrissie stamped over a tiny raised tree for her festive "just a note" card, but Karen's Card Shop at my church needed sympathy cards, so I took Chrissie's idea in a more somber direction.

The butterfly was punched from a scrap of cardstock that was colored using Distress inks on an acrylic block. This is by FAR the easiest way to get a pretty watercolor effect. Rub the distress pads on the block, spritz with water, press the block onto paper. It almost always turns out lovely. The soft blue and green of this panel is perfectly suited to a sympathy card, and Karen, my friend who inspired the card shop with her enthusiastic card ministry, loved butterflies. Everyone at church knows this, and as a result, butterfly cards are our best sellers for pretty much all occasions.

Many thanks to Chrissie for her fabulous inspiration!

I spent time last week making a batch of different sympathy cards for the shop, and those will be interspersed this week with Valentine's Day cards because while death is an inevitable part of life, so is love. And I encourage you to make some Valentine's Day cards, especially if you don't usually, and send them out this year. We can all spread more love!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Gina K Designs
ink: Distress inks, Memento Luxe black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: dimensionals, Martha Stewart butterfly punch

Sunday, January 22, 2017

IC581: Invitation to Smile, and a Special Thank You to Janet

As always, Audrie came up with wonderful inspiration again this week at the SplitcoastStampers Inspiration Challenge! This week's challenge is to find inspiration at the Oh So Beautiful Paper. My card was inspired by this invitation here.

I made three changes to the inspiration piece: smaller panel mounted on a white base, horizontal rather than vertical orientation, and gray sentiment rather than pink. Oh, I also changed the shade of green to a peppier celery rather than serene sage to better suit my sentiment. Otherwise, this is a pretty literal interpretation of the original, and I LOVE IT! Two reasons: 1) it let me use a little-used Hero Arts set in a very satisfying way, and 2) it highlights that wonderful, wonderful sentiment from Simon Says.

And that's all I have to say about that. Play along with the IC581 Challenge if you have time and are so inclined. It's truly a fun one!

Now for the thank you. Reader Janet E. sent me a card that...well, words can't express the depth to which it encouraged me. Seriously. This past week has been one of silence for me on the news, even to the point of not posting here on my stamping blog when I normally would and for no other reason than it just didn't feel right. I didn't even comment on my sister's long and picture-heavy group text on her experience marching in DC on Saturday with my niece and nephew, except to say, "Nice pictures."

I have no idea why, unless I'm just processing and trying VERY HARD not to react, not to put knee-jerk words out there that I might regret later. I'm very aware of how politicians on both sides have been lying and misleading and inciting division and anger and resentment for their own partisan purposes. I've watched in sadness as people react badly to this provocation and blatant manipulation. I'm trying very hard to understand all the perspectives in this so as to generate words that unite, that heal, that lead my small corner of a very big Internet to feel hope and inspiration and a sense of real, honest, deep compassion moving forward. That's my ministry. That's what I feel called to promote.

Because there is hope. There is. For ALL of us. Things are not nearly as bad as the media might lead us to believe, nor are they rosy and good. We have work to do, the work of humanity and not of political divides, the work of justice and not of privilege or bullying, the work of kindness and not of insults, the work of bridge building and not of trench digging.

We can do this.

Janet's card was salve to my silence. The article she included with her beautiful card is a counter-cultural tour-de-force of unity and hope. And I share them with you in hope that you, too, might be inspired.


Hope and love. You can also see the shimmer
of the ink Janet used. So lovely.

Oh, and when I was at Barnes & Noble today, I saw a volume of Emily Dickinson's poetry, thought of Janet's card, and bought it. Perhaps dipping a little deeper into 19th century poetry might offer some further inspiration. Emily was pretty amazing with words, after all.

Thank you, Janet. Thank you.

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and hope,

stamps: Hero Arts Flower Garden, Simon Says Uplifting Thoughts
ink: various Impress Fresh Ink and Memento Luxe
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: craft foam, glue

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Paired Up

Some readers: "Tee, hee! She said, 'Paired.' Sounds like 'pear.' I know what that means!" [insert juvenile laughter]

Other readers: "English majors [insert disgusted eye roll]. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."

Me: "No, a cigar is never just a cigar. And neither is a pear, especially if it's up."

Junior high is now adjourned. Let's move on. No pears to see here.

Clearly Besotted has a lovely set called Paired Up (which I will forgive it for because it clearly wasn't named by an English major), and here's a cute Valentine's Day card I made with it.

Pink, red, and gray make a crisp and sweet love-bird card, don't you think? The branch is gray because it was light enough that it wouldn't show through the red birds when they were stamped over it. No masking needed...practical and pretty!

The design looked a bit flat until the flowers got their red centers, and the little pair of flowers by the sentiment were added to unify the two parts of the design.

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

Begging forgiveness for inappropriate pear jokes,

stamps: Clearly Besotted Paired Up
ink: Archival pink peony, red geranium, black; Memento London fog
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: Memento marker (for flower centers)

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Sending Hearts

Trying to use new stamps, including the Hero Arts set called You Are my Happy. It's all sentiments (with a few small heart images). Many of the sentiments are quite large enough to "embellish" and carry a whole design, so I tried it with two of them in two different ways, one much more successful than the other.

First up, I created a tightly connected design (surrounded, of course, by lots of white space) by offsetting the sentiment to the left and placing a heart with an arrow through it nestled into the sentiment on the right. That looked fine by itself, but the design still needed something so a trio of tiny hearts added some movement. Finished! Yay! I love this!

Heart pierced by arrow courtesy of a well-placed
strip from a post-it note.

Looking at it on my screen, I think I'd move the third tiny heart to the bottom left side of the larger heart. Where it is now draws the eye to the arrow and heart rather than the sentiment. But this is, to my eye, a quibble.

After making the above card, I decided to work with another sentiment paired with a wonderful dimensional heart stickers Given the meaning of the sentiment, a single heart was most appropriate. Unfortunately, the resulting design is nowhere near as interesting or fun as the first card I made. It lacks movement; that heart just sits there. (The stickers are prettier in real life than in pictures...the epoxy or whatever it is interferes with the color, which is a lovely bright red.)

Nice try. Thanks for playing. Meh.

This is the design process for me. Some things work while other things that seem like good ideas flop. Until I make something, I have no idea if it will work. This is awesome because when things do work, I'm surprised, bouncy, and happy. It's also awesome because when things don't work, I've simply learned what NOT to do.

So it's all good.

Please share your design process. Do you "see" in your mind what will happen and then make it happen, or are you more experiential in design, like me, feeling your way toward something good with trial and error?

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Supplies for Truly, Madly, Deeply
stamps: Hero Arts You Are my Happy, Borders and Arrows; Papertrey Heart Prints
ink: Archival red geranium, black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: none

Supplies for Meh
stamps: Hero Arts You Are my Happy
ink: Archival black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: dimensional heart sticker

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Blue and Brown Sort of Day

Before we get to blue and brown, thanks for the emails and comments about Valentine's Day cards. I made a bunch (and will share them over the next few days) and put them in Karen's Card Shop at church last week.

When I checked on Sunday, they were almost all gone, as are the batch of birthday cards I set out. I suspect I'm going to get sick of making birthday cards, but there it is. Our little shop has now made well over $400 for our church. Not bad for a little 2-bit operation! Thanks to Lisa I. and Eva for their contributions, which have been so well received!

Anyway, today's cards were made weeks ago, so I can't remember exactly which of the brown and blue pins on my Color My World board on Pinterest I used (might have been this one), but I love both the cards and how using very different stamps and mostly the same colors can yield very different results.

Snowflake Serenade (Papertrey)
and sentiment (unknown wood mounted rubber)

Gracious Vases and Keep It Simple sentiment (Papertrey)

The different feel of random lacey snowflakes falling down the card versus lined-up, solid block vases is amazing. One card is loose and free, and the other is very formal and intentional. When I'm sick, I'd sure love to return to everything feeling neat and tidy, you know?

I did add a few more shades of brown to the second card, which lightens it up and adds variety to the vase arrangement, making it much more interesting in its static order.

And now I'm off to bed.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Monday, January 16, 2017

Fluttering Fun

Valentine's Day is coming up, so of course I had to make a bunch of pink and red cards for Karen's Card Shop at church. Here's one that set my heart aflutter!

The Color-Layering Butterflies set from Hero Arts is lots of fun (and easy to line up, unlike some two- or three-step stamps). I started with the sentiment and added the butterflies in a fluttery visual triangle. The pink and red are lovely and vibrant when offset by touches of black.

For a little something to catch the eye, I added a couple of red heart-shaped gemstones to the smallest butterfly. Oh so sweet!

Do you make Valentine's Day cards to send? Do you make them for your children to give in school?

Inquiring minds, and all that.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Hero Arts Color-Layering Butterflies
paper: Papertrey white
ink: Archival pink peony, red geranium, black
accessories: red heart-shaped rhinestones

Sunday, January 15, 2017

IC580 Altered Diary Challenge

Audrie came up with an outstanding inspiration challenge for this week. It's The Altered Diaries, an Etsy shop full of handmade books and such. I made two projects based on inspiration from the site. Here they are.

First up, a bookmark based on the alphabet on these tags, for which I have the perfect stamp set. Yay!

Hampton Arts stamps, StampinUp black cardstock,
Papertrey white cardstock, Archival black ink,
eyelet, ribbon, square punch

Pretty straightforward inspiration. I went black and white instead of distressed and brown because, well, I'm me. Here's where the eyelet I dug out of the bead box storage went.

Next up, a card made like a Japanese-stab-binding book. This allowed me to use some bark paper that's been languishing in my stash for years. I'm sure you don't have any special papers lying around unused for years, right? Right. Anyway, it's a fun paper that gives tons of texture to a card inspired by this book.

Bark and inclusion papers, embroidery thread, VersaMagic Aegean sea ink,
star punches, awl, beeswax, 

If you've never done a Japanese stab binding, know that they are really pretty easy, but there are some supplies you need to get the job done most efficiently.

My book/card is made from three sheets of paper...bark, inclusion (text-weight paper with bits of plant in it), bark. Each is 4.25" x 5.5". With thicker books, you usually clamp the whole block of paper together, but with just three sheets, I held them together with no problems. Just make sure they don't slip.

Stack all three sheets, and place the quilting ruler 1/2" in from the left edge of the card. Poke holes with the awl at 5/8", 1 5/8", 2 5/8", and 3 5/8" down the side of the card. I do this on a self-healing cutting mat, so the awl doesn't go far through the paper. Lift the card and push the awl through each of the four holes to create a big enough hole for the needle and thread to go through without tearing the paper.

Measure out embroidery thread that is four times as long as the width of the binding. This will give you long enough tails to tie off at the end. If you're really dextrous, you can make do with three times the width of the binding, but I never take that chance.

Run the cut embroidery thread through the beeswax a few times to coat it thoroughly. This will keep it from slipping and make tying the knot at the end really easy.

Thread a needle with a large enough eye to manage the embroidery thread. It need not be too sharp because you've already poked the holes.

Start sewing by going in the back of the top hole, loop around the top edge of the card, and go in through the front. Repeat around the edge of the top hole, then go in through the top side of the second hole. Keep sewing in this pattern until you've looped twice through to bottom hole (once to the side and once around the bottom of the card). Then head back up. It's harder to explain than to do. Keep your stitches tight, but not so tight you tear the paper. With the beeswax, stitches rarely slip loose once you put them in place.

After heading back up and going through the second hole from the top toward the back, pull the needle off the thread and tie a simple square knot with the two tails so that the knot rests right over the top hole. Trim the loose ends, and you're finished!

I highly recommend stamping the inside BEFORE binding, which I did. Just make sure you take account of the 1/2" of binding when you center your sentiment.

And that's all there is to it. Takes longer to explain than to do, actually.

This challenge was so much fun! Thanks, Audrie, especially for getting me so far out of my comfort zone with the bark paper card!

Click over to the IC580 challenge and play along!