It’s The Little Things…

I have a confession–which will not be all that surprising to those of you who love paper crafting as much as I do. There’s something uniquely satisfying and fulfilling in getting all the “small” details in project just right. Beyond the self-satisfaction you get from producing and giving a handmade project to a family member or friend, let’s be honest: many times the recipient will not realize or truly appreciate the amount of work and thought you put into said project. That’s not to say they don’t appreciate or enjoy it–it’s simply that they don’t understand the time consuming and minute details (and heaps of creativity and love) that went into their gift.

That’s where the real satisfaction and pay-off comes in: the knowing and joy we get from all the the little things that go into a project. It is this intrinsic value in our work and ideas that no one can ever really understand or share in that feeds our creativity and fires our giving souls. I may produce a card that took hours of planning and detail work–and no one may ever quite “get it”. But, I do. I always take pictures of all my projects, so that when they are gone to their new homes, I still have a way to celebrate and remember that particular work. Every now and again, I love to flip through my pictures and look at what I’ve done and how far I’ve come. New ideas, new techniques, new accomplishments…they simply fuel my desire to do something even better and more unique. I really urge you to keep a record of your works–whether they be digital files, printed photos or written journal entries. Every so often, remind yourself of your work–good and not-so-successful–to feed your fire of creativity and stoke new ambition and drive.

The reason I touched on all of this today, is that I was extremely happy with one of my latest projects. It’s full of small details that perhaps only I will ever truly appreciate. The card literally represents hours of work–a project I returned to over the course of several days. It was a truly fulfilling creative moment for me. I only hope that whomever ends up with it, will enjoy it half as much as I did putting it together.

This project started with a piece of 4″ x 5″ kraft cardstock from Papertrey Ink. I used a VersaMark watermark stamp pad and a rubber stamp from Samantha Walker’s “Butterfly Garden” (Unity Stamp Co.) set to stamp the corner floral and butterfly image. I used some American Crafts Zing! embossing powder in Bronze and my heat tool to raise the image. After my image was completely set, I wasn’t sure where to go next with this project. One thing that “bothered” me a bit, was the stark contrast with the embossed image and the kraft background. After setting it aside for a while, I returned to it and made a few changes. I used my Stampin’ Up! ticket corner punch to take the corners off. I then used some Tsukineko Memento ink in Rich Cocoa and a sponge dauber to darken the edges of the kraft cardstock. Finally, I used some Ranger Perfect Pearls Mist in Perfect Pearl to soften the effect. I sprayed the entire cardstock with a heavy coat and waited a few seconds. Then I used a paper towel and came back over the embossed image to remove the excess spray. The mist worked perfectly to soften the image–not detracting from the embossing, but filling in the starkness of the kraft background.

This was a very feminine feeling card from the get go–and I decided to go for maximum effect in that sense. I mounted the craft cardstock embossed piece on a card base made of Papertrey Ink’s Pinefeather cardstock. I used a piece of chipboard and covered it with more Pinefeather cardstock to create the base of the cameo piece. The actual plastic cameo is one the remarkable pieces done by Webster’s Pages. (If you have not checked out their fabulous embellishments, please do so. One of my personal favorites are these cameo pieces featuring ballerinas, birds, horses, butterflies, and highly sculpted female profiles.) Once I had created the base for the cameo to sit on, I knew I wanted to do pearls. Figuring out the sizes and exactly how to lay them out was a trick in itself. I ended up using Moss Green flatback pearls from Queen & Co. in three different sizes to create the frame and hand apply them one at a time.

Feeling the need to counterbalance the weight of the heavy pearl frame, I decided to use various sizes of blackened crystals from Basic Grey to highlight the centers of each of the floral elements in my embossed corner piece. The sentiment was created using Stampin’ Up!’s modern label punch and “Fabulous Phrases” stamp set. The inside watercolored journaling block is from KaiserCraft.

There’s just something about this one that makes me very happy and very creatively fulfilled.

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RANDOMONIUM:

–Don’t forget there are only nine more days to enter Giveaway #16. (See sidebar link for all the details.)
–Is anyone loving AMC’s “The Killing” as much as I am? I am in love with this show’s creative beauty and brilliant acting.
–I cannot stop listening to Adele’s brilliant “21”. It’s my pick for Album of The Year thus far.

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Cameo Appearance…

I’m not sure if it is a common affliction among crafters, but I’ve long been fascinated by color and bling since I was a child. If it sparkles or glitters, chances are I have to have it. Even before I fell in love with cardmaking and crafting, I’ve been a student, collector and creator of jewelry. From vintage deco to modern pop art pieces, the combination of geometry and symmetry with the sparkle of gemstones and crystals puts me in a trance. It actually began with an admiration of Russian Czarist history in high school. That led to collecting and devouring books about the works of Peter Carl Faberge and the Imperial Easter Eggs. Then came my collection of eggs. Then came a fascination with Coco Chanel, Jean Schlumberger and others. Then came my jewelry collection…and well, you get the picture. Suffice to say, that a lot of my crafting projects are influenced by gemstone colors and their fiery brilliance. Today’s project, in one such example.

I fell in love with these wonderful raw chipboard cameo sets from Maya Road. They come with several different shapes, styles, and profiles that are perfect for customizing to your own color scheme and fancy. When I decided to make one a card focal point, I thought it would be interesting to do so against a very neutral palette. So, I chose to used blacks and grays in papers and inks. The cardstock is True Black and Sahara Sand from Stampin’ Up! I used Tsukineko Memento inks and a sponge dauber to ink my cameo pieces. The floral spikes were created with double-sided adhesive and Martha Stewart glitter in White Gold. The pearls are from Stampin’ Up! The sentiment plaque was created using a decorative label punch (also from SU!). The sentiment stamp is from a SU! set called ‘You’re A Gem’. The decorative frame stamp is from an upcoming Stampin’ Up release called ‘Four Frames’. It will be available in the new Summer Mini Catalog starting in May 2011. The inner journaling block is from Pink Paislee’s ‘Queen Bee’ collection.







Vintage Christmas

Well, I hope you are all keeping warm and busy as the holiday season ramps up! I’ve feel like I’ve been on a shopping crusade. I’ve made a big dent in my holiday gift-giving list. Unfortunately, I seem to end up picking up something for myself every place I shop (one for him, two for me, one for her, three for me….). Shopping is my calling in life, lol.

For the past week, I’ve twisted or pulled something in my right shoulder and its really put a pinch in my routine(s). It was so bad for a couple of days, I was in bed with a heating pad, some decent pain killers and the thankless task of trying to find a position to lay in that didn’t hurt. It’s finally on the mend (*fingers crossed*), but I’ve been lax in the crafting department. I finally worked on this card yesterday…and I really love the very vintage Christmas feel it invokes.











Caged Bird

For my second exploration with Tim Holtz’s new Alterations line, I decided to use the Sizzix Bigz die entitled “Caged Bird”. I also wanted to make a home décor piece instead of my usual card. I have to confess that I’m actually not through with this project, but I was so excited with the results thus far that I couldn’t wait to share it with you. I will be framing this in a thick dark wood frame as it is meant to be a small wall hanging.

The “Caged Bird” steel rule die will cut three pieces when run through your Sizzix Big Shot or ProvoCraft Cuttlebug. You will get the birdcage frame, the bird’s body on a branch, and a bird wing. Instead of working with cardstock (and since this was intended to be a home décor piece and needed to be a bit sturdier), I chose to use a piece of thick chipboard as my base and Tim Holtz Grungeboard to cut my pieces from. The chipboard is a very sturdy piece from a Die Cuts With A View (DCWV) assorted chip board stack. The 4″ x 6″ chipboard is covered on both sides with a textured cardstock in a dusty rose color. The Grungeboard was a 4″ x 6″ sheet as well, though it had a “dots” texture to it. I would have preferred a plain piece when I started, but in the end, the texture added some nice highlights to the elements.

With my Grungeboard pieces cut out via my trusty Cuttlebug, I used some Tim Holtz Distress Inks and my applicator to color the pieces. The cage was colored with Black Soot distress ink. The bird body and wing were colored with Mustard Seed; The legs and branch were colored with Walnut Stain. I was pleased with the look of the cage. The Black Soot gave it the look of an ornamental iron piece that had seen some use and wear. The bird’s body, however, just didn’t pop enough for me with just the inking. I decided my caged bird needed to be a focal point. I used some adhesive and canary yellow glitter to coat the body and wing. After they were completely dry, I used some Smooch ink to accent his eye and his beak.

One of the main reasons I chose to use Grungeboard was for the pliability and dimension of the material. All along, my theme was to have the bird “breaking out” of his cage to leap to his magical flight. That’s why I sort of threaded his body through some of the bars of the cage and made sure his wing was exposed from captivity. This type of manipulation would have been difficult without a material that had some give to it and did not permanently bend or crease. The wing and the cage are attached to the backdrop chipboard using Stampin’ Up! Stampin’ Dimensionals–which again emphasizes the dimensionality of the project.

The die for “Caged Bird” punches out five holes on the bottom of the cage as a decorative detail. In my mind, I had already pictured hanging some crystal chandelier drops from the holes. But as I worked on the project and developed the theme of the bird breaking out of his cage, I though some Tim Holtz typewriter key charms might be a better bet. With the sentiment of “FLY” in mind, I chose three charm backings and used the circular alphabet stickers for my word. Originally, I wanted all of the charms to be the creme color. However, I couldn’t find a “Y” in that coloration and had to use a black sticker. At first, I was disappointed with the look. But upon further study, I really like the off-kilter lettering. Not only does it tie into the cage color, but it sort of identifies that “breaking out” theme by achieving your goal no matter what it takes (like the wrong color letter). Once you place the letters in the charm frames, you use an adhesive acrylic bubble to cover the charm. I used some Tim Holtz jump rings to attach the charms to the cage. For the two holes that did not have dangles, I covered them with rhinestones.


The final touch on the project was the hanging chain atop the cage. Again, the chain is from Tim Holtz. I attached it to the cage with another jump ring. To anchor the chain, I chose a fabric and crystal covered brad from K & Co. to complete the look. I pierced a hole through the chipboard and inserted the brad. I think once I mount this piece in a frame, it’s really going to set off the look. I will try to remember to photograph the finished piece and share it with you later.






A Compendium Of Curiosities

Yesterday was all about Mr. Tim Holtz for me (and my pocketbook). First, I received my copy of Mr. Holtz’s new book, “A Compendium Of Curiosities”–which I’ll get to in a moment. Secondly, I ordered nearly $200 of his new Alterations line. I am in awe of the versatility of some of the new Sizzix Bigz dies and edge dies he’s come up with. If you haven’t visited Tim Holtz’s blog as of late, I highly recommend you take a look at the set of new videos he posted describing his intentions and examples of the new Alterations line of products. Needless to say, I’m hooked (line and sinker). I’ve always been a fan of Mr. Holtz’s tools and products (a fact my craft stash would attest to in a court of law). I suppose his aesthetic may not appeal to all crafters, but I have to say I love the grunge look of his style and his methods of repurposing objects and trinkets. It’s also one of the few craft lines that is very male and teen friendly (in my opinion). Among the dies I am eagerly awaiting: Caged Bird, Fanciful Flight, Gadget Gears, Tattered Florals, Hanging Sign, Ornamental, Keyholes, Styled Labels, Three Hole Punch, and File Tabs. (The sad part is there are still a few more I want–but they weren’t in stock at the moment. So, I’m sure I’ll be placing another order on down the road.)

But enough about my shopping habits…and on to the book. Can I just say right up front that this book belongs in every crafter’s library. Whether you are a Tim Holtz fan like me or just interested in new methods, techniques, and ideas, this book is for you. The hardcover book (with interior spiral binding) measures approximately 8 3/4″ x 8 3/4″ and has 77 pages. But don’t be fooled by that number. The book is bursting with information and wonderfully rendered color photographs presented with Mr. Holtz’s usual panache and flair.

Beginning with a brief introduction to the man and his studio–as well as a list of products he has developed or helped to develop and their intended uses–the book wastes no time getting to its essential core. It’s broken down into three major sections: Ideas, Techniques, and a Gallery.

In the Ideas section, Holtz explores different elements and embellishments and how they can affect your projects–whether they be layouts, cards, mini-books, etc. Among the topics he discusses and shows examples of:

  • ornate plates
  • foilage
  • corner
  • tags, tokens, & sticks
  • type charms
  • gears, sprockets, & timepieces
  • numerals
  • keys & keyholes
  • adornments & vintage buttons
  • curio knobs & foundations
  • film strip & ruler ribbon
  • fasteners & washers
  • mini clips & pins
  • trinket & memo pins
  • hitch fasteners
  • hinge clips & D-rings
  • swivel clasps
  • ball, bead & link chains
  • tickets & stickers
  • paper stacks
  • grungeboard & grungepaper
  • fragments

    My favorite section has to be the Technique section. In it, Mr. Holtz teaches us to use some of his famous techniques, tips and tricks. What’s clever is that most of them are done is six simple steps with accompanying full-color photographs. Among the techniques highlighted are:

  • wrinkle free distress
  • scribble stain distress
  • water stamping
  • blended batik
  • dabber resist
  • perfect distress
  • inking grunge
  • double distress
  • rusted enamel
  • distress crackle
  • distress powder
  • chipped enamel
  • rusted grunge
  • distress stickles
  • rock candy distress stickles
  • altered metal with paint
  • shabby chic
  • weathered wood grunge
  • alcohol ink monoprint
  • alcohol ink splatter
  • alcohol ink agate on grunge
  • industrial grunge
  • tinted vision fragments
  • altered metal alcohol inks
  • colorful layered fragments
  • masks basics
  • inking and stamping masks
  • distress misting masks
  • extreme masking
  • fragments basics
  • dimensional collage fragments
  • fragment charms
  • grungepaper flowers
  • multi-medium collage
  • design details

    The final section is a wonderful gallery of projects done by Mr. Holtz that incorporate many of the techniques, tools, and examples used throughout the book. What really surprised me was that even someone like myself who has used a lot of Holtz products can still find new information on how to use products that you hadn’t thought of or didn’t realize you could do. I was really excited by the fragments projects (and will be working on some of those in the near future.

    “A Compendium Of Curiosities” retails for $24.99 and, in my opinion, is worth every single penny. I highly recommend this book to anyone with even a faint interest in papercrafting.

  • Gift Bag Goodies

    Sometimes, I get so wrapped up in working on card layouts, designs and construction, that I “forget” how fun it can be to put your mind into a different frame of reference in the paper crafting world. As I’ve confessed before, I started paper crafting mainly through my interests in decoupage and scrapbooking. However, with the advent of such wonderful toys as the Cricut Expression, Cuttlebug, Making Memories Slice and countless other innovations and tools, those interests definitely took a back seat to my love of paper piecing and cardmaking. Though, I have challenged myself to starting creating and sharing scrapbooking layouts at some point, if you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you know I’m mainly a cardmaker, paper junkie, Cricut cartridge collector, and tool geek. (That is–I am a geek. I love new tools. But, I’m definitely not a tool. Or at least, I hope not.)

    This weekend I had a bit of a challenge. I was asked (never mind that it was at gunpoint, lol) to create something to go into party gift bags for a newly teen-aged girl. Not, I’m not sure if my friend thought I could relate because (in rare instances) I’ve been accused of being a teen-aged girl–or maybe, that was just acting like one. Goodness knows I’m quite a few years removed from the target audience age in physical years. But, I put my teen girl thinking cap on and came up with this little favor that I think came out quite cute (or “radiculous”, as I was later informed). My thought was that teen girls love to write down phone numbers, important “guy” information, mash notes, and practice their future married names. So I thought if I could come up with a small (yet chic and functional) memo/brag book, it might work perfectly in a teen gift bag.

    I knew when I was planning my design, I didn’t want just a plain shape (e.g. circle, square, or rectangle). Then while looking through some of my tools, I happened across my Sizzix/Stampin’ Up! exclusive Top Note Bigz XL die and the proverbial light bulb dinged above my head in a pretty white thought bubble. Of course, knowing I had to make approximately 30 of these “things”, I wondered if I was asking for trouble? After a quick bit of playing, the only major hurdle I found was that I would have to lop off one end of the Top Note die-cut so that I’d have a straight edge to ensure that my Bind-It-All would properly bind all the pages together.

    So for each book, I needed the following supplies: (2) covers cut from a piece of thin chipboard, (4) pieces cut from decorative paper (Tim Holtz Retro Grunge Stack) to cover the inside and outside of my chipboard covers, (10) notes cut from Stampin’ Up! Whisper White cardstock for the inner pages, (1) piece of 1/2″ black o-ring binding wire to fit six punched holes, adhesive, my Cuttlebug to run the die through (repeatedly), a paper trimmer to trim the edges, wire cutters, my Bind-It-All 2.0, and finally, some type of embellishment for the front cover.


    I knew going in that the recipients were all female, but I didn’t want to choose papers that were necessarily “girly”. I had just received two pads of the new Tim Holtz line of papers and I thought they had a mod, yet gender neutral look to them. I used 3M ATG 714 Gold adhesive tape to adhere the covers together. I punched all the covers and page inserts with the “A” setting on my Bind-It-All. I recommend punching your sets of front and back covers together as sets so that your alignment will be perfect. Also, remember that you really want to choose a double-sided decorative paper, as you will have to flip over two of the cover sheets to make the alignment work. (My inside cover sheets were the reverse print on the front side “targets” paper.) Binding them all was really not that difficult, just a bit repetitive.





    For the final step, I wanted to find an embellishment that would look great on the front cover of each book. A bit of rooting around and I found these wonderful stitched felt floral pieces that worked like a charm. There are three individual pieces on each book (the pink three petal flower, the double green leaf, and the green/white floral center.

    (FYI: The felt pieces are from the Stampin’ Up! Mini-Occasions catalog: #117266 Sweet Pea Stitched Felt, 52 pcs. for $7.95. You can order them from your favorite SU! Demonstrator, or as always visit my on-line Stampin’ Up! storefront by clicking on the “Contact Me” link on my sidebar.)

    Using SU! Stampin’ Dimensionals, I added the floral felt pieces and they gave a nice pop of color and dimension to the books. The final book dimensions were 3 3/4″ x 4″.

    As always, thank you for stopping by, writing notes, leaving comments–and generally brightening up my day. Keep Crafting!

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    GENERAL NOTES & NONSENSE:

    01. If you haven’t yet entered the “Home Is…” giveaway, your time is rapidly shrinking. Entries will close later this week. It’s a great package including a Cricut cartridge, a Stampin’ Up! stamp set and paper pad. For all the details, seed the link in the sidebar or at the top of the page.

    02. How good was last night’s episode of ABC’s “Brother & Sisters”. Gosh, I love this show!

    03. Am I the only one who is going to miss “Ugly Betty”. It such a shame because the show’s writing and acting has been at a creative peak this year.

    04. If you haven’t checked out the new album by Ben Rector entitled “Into The Morning”, you really should. It’s a terrific piece of work. I can’t stop listening to it since I downloaded it from iTunes.

    05. My pick to win “Amazing Race 16”: Jet & Cord!