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.

In The Midnight Hour…

Inspiration is a fickle bedfellow. Sometimes, you really never know what time of the night (or early morning) he’s going to strike. Last night in between watching ‘Criminal Minds’ on my DVR and goofing with my Gypsy in bed (wait, did that sound strange?), this card just sort of magically came together. I love the cleaness, the color way and the multi-purposeness of the final design.

The design inspiration came from the Cricut ‘French Manor’ cartridge (which is an exclusive release to Cricut Circle members). I slightly modified one of the card designs (with the Hide Contour feature on the Gypsy) to simplify it a bit. The base cardstock is a mica paper from Stardream’s So…Silk! Collection in the color Fair Blue. The glitter underlayer is American Crafts glitter cardstock in Midnight Sapphire. The decorative overlayer card mat (which was cut in my Cricut Expression) is from My Mind’s Eye and their “Breaking Free” Collection (Wild Ride Hot Dots Paper). The inside sentiment block paper is from Pink Paislee.

With the sparkle added from the combination of the glitter and mica cardstocks, there wasn’t much need for additional embellishment. I did, however, add a Doodlebug Striped button which I topped with some Jenni Bowlin Powdered Sugar mini-pearls. The button was adhered with some KI Memories Gloo adhesive.

Product Spotlight: Stampin’ Up! Sizzix Lattice Bigz Die

One of the products lines that really piqued my interest in the new 2009-2010 Stampin’ Up! Idea Book and Catalog was the Sizzix Bigz Dies. I ordered several of them (and have several others picked out for upcoming orders). While I have thus far avoided the temptation of the Sizzix Big Shot, I was really happy when I found out the Bigz die line will work perfectly in Provocraft’s Cuttlebug.

I purchased the Top Note Bigz Die (#113463, $21.95), the Tulipe Bigz Die (#113457, $21.95), and the Lattice Bigz Die (#115958, $21.95) to start experimenting with and quickly fell in love with their ease of use and versatility.

If you do not have a Sizzix die cutting machine, these dies will work in your Cuttlebug. The proper “sandwich” recipe is: Plate B, Sizzix Bigz Die, cardstock (or other material), Plate B. There is no need to use the Plate A spacer block. The die I chose to feature in this post is the Sizzix Lattice Bigz Die, which is an exclusive die to Stampin’ Up!. The actually die is approximately 5 1/2″ x 6″ and 5/8″ in thickness. I didn’t photograph the actual die, as truthfully, there’s not much to look at as it is encased in protective foam and a plastic shell. But, the real magic is the effect it produces. The Sizzix Bigz dies can cut varying thicknesses of paper, cardstock, vinyl, wood sheets, crafting metal, and fabric to name a few.

I started just by running a piece of cardstock through my Cuttlebug and was really inspired by the shape of the lattice cutout. The uses are really almost endless.

The pattern of the lattice cut-out is perfect for cardmaking and scrapbooking. You can choose to feature it in the foreground or background of your project. You can use multiple cuts to make larger layouts, chains, and decor pieces. I immediately thought it would look lovely on a card as a makeshift trellis for displaying flowers.

I was also intrigued by the geometric possibilities of the shape itself. For instance, taking two diecuts, you can create a wonderful design shape that calls to mind florals and snowflakes. These would be terrific for creating a mobile for a baby’s crib/room or party decorations. Imagine these cut in foils for the sparkle and attention that they’d receive.

I decided to experiment with a quick card layout. I took two lattice cuts from the same color cardstock and ran them through my Xyron 510 (as a quick and easy way of applying adhesive to the backs of the design. I then lined them one on top of the other to create a seamless design element for the background of my card. A quick sentiment (Stampin’ Up! Teeny Tiny Wishes Set #115370)stamped on Whisper White cardstock and punched out with the new Modern Label Punch (#116630) and a couple of jeweled and glittered floral embellishments later…

I highly recommend that you check out the Sizzix Bigz die-cutting line if you’ve not experienced working with them. They give you immediate satisfaction and endless design possibilities. More importantly, they are a snap to use–quick and easy. These days, anything that shortens our prep time and gets us to putting our valuable inspiration to use can’t be a bad thing, can it?

I see another collection in my future! Whatever you see in yours, take some time out and grab your favorite beverage, steal yourself away from the never-ending hubbub of the day, and make something. Until next time, keep crafting!

Card Spotlight: Air Male

It’s interesting to note that many paper crafters have a hard time when it comes to designing and constructing projects for a male recipient. I think it’s safe to say that many of the leaders in the crafting industry cater to a mainly female clientele. As such, many of the designers collections are specifically created with that demographic in mind.

Of course, there are male crafters out there (obviously). It stands to reason that the larger the market share (customer demand), the more companies start to offer alternative lines and color palettes. I am very pleased with some of the new product lines being introduced for Fall/Winter 2008 and beyond.

I think the largest stumbling block some crafters face is the idea of avoiding certain colors (pink, pastels, etc.) and themes (florals, intricate patterns,etc.) when planning a male-oriented project. As a male crafter (and perhaps because of my own personal aesthetics), I do not have a problem receiving cards and projects made with florals or bright colors. However, right or wrong, there is a concern that a project be “masculine” enough. I hope such narrow thinking one day becomes the exception instead of the rule.

Oops, I guess that’s enought of that rant…at least for a while. What brought the subject up for me was that I recently set out to make cards for a few of my friends that definitely skew toward the “manly men” end of the spectrum, lol. I thought I would share one of the cards I created in this card spotlight.

An interesting thing about this project is that it was all inspired by a piece of scrap paper from a DCWV paper stack: High School. The inspiration was this bit of design left over from another project. (I’m generally not very good about saving or using scraps, so this was a breakthrough for me.)

When I saw this flourish pattern, I was immediately drawn to the theme of flight and birds (wings) specifically. With that thought in mind, I hit my supplies and rounded up a few things.

For this project, you will need:

–one sheet of white cardstock cut to 8 1/2″ x 5 1/2″
–one strip of textured cardstock cut to 5 1/2″ x 2 1/8″
–one strip of decorative paper cut to 5 1/2″ x 1 3/8″
–Tsukineko VersaMagic Chalk Ink Pad (Jumbo Java)
–Marvy Stippling Brush
–rubber or clear acrylic stamps
–Sakura Metallic Gel Pen
–adhesive (Xyron 510)
–Scor-Pal (or other scoring tool)

To begin, I took the white cardstock piece and scored it at 4 1/4″ to create the card fold.

I chose to work in a brown palette for this card. For visual and color interest, I used a VersaMagic chalk ink pad and a stippling brush to create a textured background on the white cardstock.

Using the Jumbo Java chalk ink, I inked my stippling brush directly on the ink pad surface and pounced both the front and back sides of the card. After the initial application of ink in a circular motion, I used a few diagonal sweeps of the brush on the card face to muss the stippling effect slightly. I also inked all of the card edges using the VersaMagic pad.

Once you’ve achieved the desire color depth and texture on your card, allow the chalk ink to set before proceeding to adhere your decorative elements to the card. For my card, I chose a piece of textured Bazzill cardstock in Chocolate as the base mat for my decorative strip. As mentioned, the decorative strip for this project was a scrap from a DCWV High School paper stack.

This textured cardstock was trimmed to 5 1/2″ x 2 1/8″ and the edges were inked with the VersaMagic pad. Then it was run through a Xyron 510 and attached to the card face. The decorative paper was trimmed to 5 1/2″ x 1 3/8″, inked, run through the Xyron and centered on top of the textured cardstock.

To go with my theme of flight and wings, I used two stamps to finish the look of my card. The first was a rubber stamp (SeeD’s) for the greeting that said “Air Mail”. The second was a clear acrylic stamp (Autumn Leaves) from Rhonna Farrar’s “Gypsy 2” collection of a bird in mid-flight. I used the same color chalk ink and stamped the greeting in the bottom right-hand corner and strategically placed the bird in the center of my decorative paper strip.

I like the symbolism on this card. The freedom of flight expressed by the bird juxtaposed with the wink-and-a-nod “Air Mail” greeting made me smile. I also think the bird picks up on the free-flowing airiness of the swirls from the flourish design.

As a final touch, I took a Sakura metallic gel pen in Galaxy Bronze and put in a few accent lines along the borders of the paper strips to add a bit more definition and visual interest. All-in-all, it was a fun and relatively creative project to put together.

Create–and keep crafting!

Card Spotlight: Textures

I recently received my first sets of Spellbinders Nestabilities Embossing and Cutting Dies. I chose the classic oval and scalloped oval sets as my first purchases. I hadn’t had a chance to try them until last night, when I felt the urge to make a card. Though this is the first project I’ve used the Nestabilities on, my main focus for this card spotlight was showcasing layered textures on a card.

The base for this card is plain white cardstock scored into a standard horizontal bi-fold shape. I used a piece of woven textured DCWV printed cardstock as the mat for the card. I was drawn to the contrast of the powder blue background and the printed creme floral image. Before adhering my mat to the card base, I wrapped a piece of baby blue grosgrain ribbon from Pebbles around the mat.

I used the Nestabilities dies to cut the scalloped oval from the DCWV Luxury Mat Stack. The plain oval was cut from the DCWV Once Upon A Time Mat Stack. They were adhered with my Xyron 510. I used two Studio G clear acrylic stamps for the greeting. They were stamped using Tsukineko Brilliance in Pearlescent Sky Blue. I also used the same color to ink the edge of the plain oval. It’s a terrific color and ink and it adds a subtle bling to your stamped images. The final step was adhering the scalloped plaquette to the card base. Here I decided I wanted to go with an offset for two reasons: 1) I didn’t want to take away from the beauty of the floral portion of the mat; and 2) I think straying from the obvious placement (dead-center of the card) creates its own visual interest. There’s just a hint of ribbon on the left side of the plaquette, then a larger piece running across the other visual element of the card.

The purposeful layering in the construction of the card creates several layers of eye-pleasing texture: from the mat woven texture, the ribbon texture, the plaquette texture and implied texture, and finally, from the depth created by the chosen stamping ink.

When working on your projects, always consider adding layered elements and create contrasting textures. Not only does it creat visual appeal, it also provides a tactile appeal as well.

Create–and keep crafting!

Tag In A Bag–Masking

For this particular project, I have chosen to use a tag in a bag from the Sara’s Surfaces line by Hot Off The Press (which you can buy at Paper Wishes) .

However, it is the stamping technique that I wish to highlight here. So you can use this process on regular greeting cards, altering projects and scrapbook pages. The result is a project that looks much more complicated than it really is.

My supplies for this project include:

–Sara’s Surfaces Tag In A Bag
–Colorbox Cat’s Eye Queue Pigment Ink (Rain Forest, Rich Rustics)
–an acrylic or rubber stamp of your choice
–plastic sheets or transparency sheets

The technique highlighted in this project is called masking. You can think of masking as the reverse of stenciling. Heidi Swapp has introduced a line of mini and large masks that work very well. However, the only thing that really limits your options for masking is your own imagination.

You can create you own masks by using a sheet of plastic and tracing/drawing your desired design on it with a marker. Then cut around your mask. All that’s needed to make your mask stick to your project surface is a little repositionable adhesive. My Xyron 510 comes in handy for this step. I’ve found you can also use clear transparency sheets as well. As for the images, you can draw something from your mind or trace an image from coloring book or clip art image.

For easier visuals, I have used a piece of black plastic cut out in simple leaf and branch shapes. They were run through the Xyron to put adhesive on the reverse side. Once you have prepared your masking elements we are ready to position them on your work surface. Make sure the edges of your mask are securely adhered to your project surface.

Once you have the masking elements in place, it is simply a matter of choosing the color of ink that you wish to use on the negative space of your surface. I chose to use the Colorbox Cat’s Eye Queue Pigment stack in Rain Forest and chose Fresh Green as my color. Then you simply dab your inkpad all across your surface, avoiding stamping in an obvious pattern. You will want to leave some areas lighter and darker for visual interest.

Continue dabbing with your inkpad until your entire masked surface has been well covered will ink.

At this point, you will want to remove your mask material. I find you achieve better results if you remove them prior to the ink drying. You can either discard your masks or clean them and save them for another application.

After your masks are removed, you do want to let the ink completely dry before proceding to your final embellishments. I chose a sentiment stamp from Studio G and used the black ink pad from my Colorbox Cat’s Eye Queue Rich Rustics stack. Be creative in your positioning of your sentiment.

Once my sentiment stamp is dry, I decided to use a piece of color coordinating ribbon to loop through the tag hole. This will allow it to be used as a card pull and allow for easier access once the tag card is in its paper bag.

After thinking about it a bit more, I decided I needed to add a little “something” to the bag envelope. I found another spool of ribbon (I love paisleys!) and cut a piece to go around the width of the bag. I used another piece to further embellish my card.

Now, my project is completed and ready for giving.

Have fun exploring with the masking technique and let your imagination run wild!

Keep Crafting!