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.

***************

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.

Advertisements

Architecturally Speaking

I’ve long been fascinated with geometric shapes. I suppose that fact–along with my love of numbers–is what led to my pursuing degrees in mathematics and economics. Beyond the intrinsic beauty of patterns and shapes that exist because of numbers, the use of those shapes and patterns in architecture, art and nature completely bowl me over. I love observing and studying the intricacy of architectural elements like columns, scrollwork, arches, porte-cochères, et al. I also have a great fondness for mosaics and tessellations.

The reason I share all of this is that the card project I’m sharing today was inspired by architecture and one geometric design in particular–the quatrefoil. The term quatrefoil literally means “four leaves”. In architecture and Christian symbolism, a quatrefoil is a symmetrical shape created by four overlapping circles of the same diameter. In more common terms, a quatrefoil is often referred to as a flower with four petals or a “four-leaf clover”. The shape was most prominent architecturally during the Gothic Revival and Renaissance. But, you can find examples in churches and cathedrals around the world today.

A while back, Stampin’ Up! introduced a stamp set, button set, and a corresponding set of three mini-punches called “Itty Bitty Shapes” (The punch set is item #118309 and sells for $16.95) . It so happened that one of the shapes (and a coordinating punch) were of the quatrefoil shape. Needless to say, I became obsessed with this punch and have explored numerous ways of creating with it. This may be the craziest in terms of sheer scope and the time involved–but I had to try it. My goal was to create a mosaic background pattern based on the quatrefoil shape. There are over 200 individual punched shapes used to create this card mat–and each one was applied and adhered by hand–one at a time. The papers used to punch out the quatrefoils were bits of scraps from Graphic 45. I didn’t want the pattern to be obvious, yet I hoped when finished it would convey a feeling of a field of flowers viewed from afar. I’m not sure I was completely successful–yet, I do love the results. I only wish you could see and feel this in person, as the photographs are truly a poor substitute.

The card mat was created by using a Zig Two-Way glue pen to mount the punched out shapes on a piece of 4″ x 5″ cardstock from Papertrey Ink in Simply Chartreuse. The mat is the obvious showpiece, so I tried to keep the embellishment to a minimum. An appropriate sentiment, sequin flower, piece of ribbon and hangtag complete the mood. I hope you like it…












Technique Tips 101

This card project highlights one of my favorite techniques for using glitter–but with a color twist. While I believe this technique will work with most craft brand glitters, I should tell you that my favorite to use–and the one that I believe gives the best results–is Stampin’ Up!’s Dazzling Diamonds Stampin’ Glitter (#102023, $ 4.50). The main obstacle with this method is that you want to make sure that your glitter is adhered to your project very firmly because of the friction and rubbing involved in the technique. If your glitter is not well-adhered, obviously you’ll have glitter falling off left and right (and a giant mess to boot). You will have some glitter loss, but your adhesive is key. For me, the best results are obtained using Stampin’ Up!’s Heat & Stick Powder (#100625, $ 4.50). The heat setting provides for a melt that grips your glitter to maximum effect.

For this project, I used a 5 1/2″ x 8″ piece of Stampin’ Up! cardstock in Cajun Craze (which was scored at 4 1/4″). The card mat is a 4″ x 5″ of Stampin’ Up Whisper White cardstock. The ink I chose to use is Stampin’ Up! Poppy Parade applied with a sponge dauber.

Using a 3″ x 3″ square of Whisper White cardstock, I stamped the floral image (Stampin’ Up! “Fabulous Flowers”, #109343; now retired) with a VersaMark pad and then coated it with a layer of Heat & Stick powder. Using my heat gun, I melted the layer of Heat & Stick powder until it reaches a clear, shiny finish. Then I poured a layer of Dazzling Diamonds glitter over the heated adhesive. At this point, you want to re-heat the image to ensure that the Heat & Stick powder and the glitter make a full bond and then allow your image to cool.


Once your stamped and glittered image is cooled, choose an ink color that coordinates with the papers your are using in your project. In my case, I chose Poppy Parade. Using a sponge dauber, I applied two to three coats of ink over the entire surface of the image–both on the glitter and the paper. You want to make sure you have fully saturated the color to an even layered application. I then used my Tim Holtz serrated scissors to cut around the image following the petal patterns as a guideline. Once you’ve cut your image, lay a craft mat or scrap paper out and place your image on it. Taking several pieces of Kleenex tissue and balling them up, vigorously rub in a circular motion across your glittered image. The friction with the tissue causes the excess ink to be absorbed and leaves behind a glittered surface with a slight hint of color. Don’t be alarmed that the tissue starts to tear and “ball up”. The jagged texture of the glitter will do this. It is a bit of a messy procedure, but the final results are definitely worth the effort. (I should add that it is very hard to do this technique justice with photographs. I promise you in person that your images will sparkle and shine like a vintage jewel.)


Next, I took the 4″ x 5″ card mat and used the sponge dauber to create a spotted effect for the card background using the same Poppy Parade ink. For the final touches on this card, I used one of the new Stampin’ Up! sets, “Curly Cute” (#120510, $ 14.95), for the sentiment. I stamped it with VersaMark and heat embossed it with white embossing powder. I added a piece of 1/4″ Stampin’ Up! grosgrain ribbon in Real Red.



I hope you’ll experiment, play and modify this technique to use with some of your own projects. It really is a fun technique and creates some very eye-catching results. Happy Wednesday Crafters!

Tim Holtz Fragments

Last week, I highlighted a card (‘Where You Are…’) that featured a new technique I’ve been playing around with. For the sentiment on that card, I used a solid Tim Holtz Fragment (basically an oval piece of clear acrylic plastic) to create a stamped plaque for the card. The basic process was stamping a greeting on a piece of decorative paper with StazOn Jet Black ink and then adhering the stamped paper to the Fragment with the use of Ranger Glossy Accents medium.

Since I made that card, I’ve been working on making some jewelry pieces–pendants and the like–with Tim Holtz Fragment charms. These acrylic charms come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They’re easy to adapt into necklaces, earrings, brooches–virtually anything your mind can think up. The mediums you can use are just as wide-ranging. You can use photographs, decorative papers, personal mementos and other memorabilia to create personal miniature works of art.

For the three pendants I created, I used the following materials:

  • PAPER: Tim Holtz “Lost And Found” Idea-ology paper stack;

  • TOOLS: Tim Holtz Fragments charms, Ranger Glossy Accents medium, decorative clear packing tape, Tim Holtz jump rings, Tim Holtz bead and ball chain, scissors, paper piercer, brayer or rub-on tool;

  • The basic process involves choosing your charm shape and size. Then you want to use a piece of square decorative paper larger than the charm size you chose. You apply the Ranger Glossy Accents directly to the backside of your Tim Holtz Fragment. Use the applicator tip of the bottle to make small even circular motions all over the charm back. Then you carefully set the Fragment on top of the area you want to appear on your charm. Press firmly to disperse the Glossy Accents medium across your piece. Then you want to turn your piece over and use a generous piece of decorative packing tape (or just a plain clear tape that you’ve stamped a design on) across the back of your charm. This protects the paper backing as well as helps to contain the Glossy Accents properly. Now that your “sandwich” is created, you can go back and use a brayer or rub-on tool to press the top and bottom of your charm together. If some of the Glossy Accents runs out the sides, don’t worry about it. After the piece is completely dry, you want to use scissors to cut around the excess paper and tape–as close to the sides of the Fragment as you can. Use a paper piercer to open the hole on your fragment to add a jump ring or other attachment. I went back over the edges of the charm with a Basic Grey precision file to make sure all the edges were even and any excess paper or medium was removed. Now, you’re ready to make your finished jewelry piece. I will warn you that these become very addictive to make–and are terrific gift items. (I should also note that all the directions can be found in Tim Holtz’s ‘Compendium of Curiosities’ book as well.)







    On The Edge

    Last night, I finally got around to playing with some of my new Tim Holtz ‘On The Edge’ dies. You will recall that these new dies are part of a collaboration between Sizzix and Tim Holtz for a new line called “Tim Holtz Alterations”. This die is unique in several ways. First, it is a new size and shape for the Sizzix line. The dies are 6″ x 2 3/4″ in measurement and are designed to cut a perfect 5 1/2″ border (which of course is the standard A2 card size). Each die (with the exception of one) actually features two cutting edges–one on each side of the steel rule die. You can use them in tandem–or simply use only one cut. For this project, I experimented with the die called ‘Ornate’.

    I chose to use Stardream So…Silk! mica cardstock in Fair Blue for my base (cut at 5 1/2″ x 8 1/2″, scored at 4″). The decorative paper I chose for the front is from Cosmo Cricket’s “Material Girl” collection (cut at 5 1/2″ x 4 1/4″). I adhered the decorative paper before I began to cut with my ATG 714.

    I used my Cuttlebug and On The Edge Die on each end of my cardstock, making two decorative cuts by simply reversing the die on each pass.



    Flipping the cardstock back to the front side reveals the shape my card will take. I really love this set of coordinating cuts. They remind of the top of a pagoda.



    For the embellishment of my card front, I combined some velvet leaves from 7 Gypsies with a felt flower from Heidi Swap. I also used a sequin, silver bead and crystal floral center from Prima Marketing. I adhered the pieces of my floral embellishment together with Glue Dots and then used All Night Media 1/2″ pop dots to adhere the piece to my card front. I used a piece of Pebbles grosgrain saddle-stitched ribbon to complete the effect. The sentiment is from Stampin’ Up! and was stamped with Papertrey Ink’s Enchanted Evening ink. The final touch was a Jenni Bowlin journaling block to the card’s interior (as the color was very deep for writing to show up clearly).








    There are a total of six (6) Tim Holtz Alterations ‘On The Edge’ dies released thus far. Of course, I had to add them to my craft tool collection. From a card making perspective, I would highly recommend these dies to anyone. They are versatile with dual cuts. They’re easy to store and use. They work with your Sizzix Big Shot or ProvoCraft Cuttlebug. But most importantly, they give you the ability to really jazz up the look and edges of your cards for a very unique look. The dies released thus far are: Brackets, File Tabs, Ornate, Plaque & Postage, Scallops, and Scrollwork. Each die retails for $13.99.

    I hope you all have an incredible weekend ahead. Don’t forget that the next Giveaway (see sidebar) will close this weekend. As always, Keep Crafting!

    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.