Made with free stuff!

Imagine the joy. I am in a well-known high street stationer-cum-bookshop just to kill a little time before meeting friends for lunch and I find Altenew layered rose stamps and dies FREE, yes FREE with Simply Cards and Papercraft magazine (naming it so you can go get yours). I have some Altenew stamps already and have been trying to get accompanying dies but they seem to be rarer than hen’s teeth in the UK. So I had to purchase. It would have been rude not to. Just to give it a go, right? Who am I kidding. If the fire alarm had sounded I would have saved them before saving myself.

Today was my first chance to play. I have one I am happy with and think is finished.

freebie altenews blue

I tried to stick with the ‘free stuff’ theme as much as possible, so the wood grain embossing folder is one that came with a Crafter’s Companion magazine a while ago. The FREE (can’t help the capitals, still got the smile on my face) rose was stamped using Altenew inks. My stamping is still a bit rusty, but these inks seem to blend into each other over time; so, if you stamp with them and think it looks a bit harsh, give it a little while (pour tea, coffee, wine) and then look at it again. Chances are it will have mellowed quite a bit. Just my experience, anyway.

They also came with a diagram showing how to align them, which is really helpful. I have heard some people saying to work from the lightest to the darkest images and ink colours, and others saying they do the opposite. I have tried both and, for me, it depends on the image as to what I find works. This time round, I tried both and found it easier to do neither…

So, the set is a three layer image. Select your three inks, dark, medium and light. I still used the stamping guide, but started at image two in the sequence, in the medium shade. Then I layered the smallest stamp (image 3 in sequence), in the darkest colour over this and finished with the biggest stamp in the palest colour over the top.  So 2, 3, 1, basically. It just worked better for me, so if you have them and are struggling, it might be worth a try.

Card number two I think still needs a little something. Perhaps just be a greeting, maybe in a nice clean font?

freebie altenews red

Or ribbon tied at the top. Can’t decide. Both? Neither? What would Scarlett say? Tomorrow is another day…


Happy Retirement

My mother is finally retiring, after working more or less constantly for 60 years. At an age past which many people stop working, she started a new job as a Medical Secretary, a highly responsible position which she has held, awesomely, for 15 years. She should be far better rewarded for all her hard work than she has been, but I can do nothing about that. I can though try to help her through a massive life change. Goodness knows she has done it for me enough times.

She doesn’t want any fuss, no party or ‘leaving do’, but it is unknown territory and who on earth can anticipate how they would feel as they leave work for the very last time? So, for her final day I have made her some favours to share. These small offerings are only folded and glued paper containing a few sweets, but sometimes just giving a little something brings levity instead of awkwardness. It can show love, or appreciation of help, of support, of fun, or just old-fashioned comradeship in a sea of adversity.

Paper is my ‘thing’ and I love the fact that a little bit of it, made into something pretty, can bring a smile, some fun, a little happy moment, or tell someone you care about them.

retirement favours

On a practical note: yes, I did check she would like some before going ahead! Sorry the photo is not great but I was in a hurry to get to work myself.

These are easy to make. I used the Tonic Tent Gift Bag die. Just make up the bag, then punch a single hole in the top through all layers. Make a loop from ribbon: a 20cm length gives you enough to trim up neatly afterwards without being wasteful. Stick the loopy bit through the punched hole (I go from back to front) and pull the tails of the ribbon through the loop, tightening it up gently. The little word strips are just computer printed. The (slightly) clever bit is that instead of adding these when you make the ribbon fastening and then trying to get everything going in the right direction, not puckering or tearing or insisting on facing the wrong way, you cheat. Punch a hole again near the top, then cut a small slit from an outside edge to the centre of the punched hole and just hook it over your ribbon. You can see it on the bag on the far left. I thought pretty much everyone knew this trick but apparently not. Happy to share!

If these cards were dogs….

….my mum would call them Heinz. For those too young to know what this means, a mongrel dog that was the result of generations of non-pedigree breeding was often referred to as a Heinz 57. Because Heinz made 57 varieties of soup, so the story goes, and the dog had about the same number of DNA contributors. Didn’t make the dog any less loveable though, right?

They are a bit more ‘random’ than I normally produce, with colours I don’t usually choose and brave (or misguided?) pattern mixing, plus some added textures. If paddling at the beach is my comfort zone, this is like swimming with great whites. With a paper cut.

I might go swimming more often! With plasters though….

In case you want to know:

Base cardstock from Hunkydory
Honeycomb embossing folder from Crafter’s Companion Embossalicious
Patterned papers from Louise Tiler (using Serif CraftArtist)
Circular greetings from Craftwork Cards
Butterfly die and embossing detail from Cuttlebug
Roses made with a Tonic mould and paper clay
Can’t remember where the miniature pegs came from!


Hydrangeas revisted

Full-on, blowsy flowers, that’s what hydrangeas are. I have previously blogged a card using the Tattered Lace Charisma Hydrangeas which was in, to me, the more traditional colours, but I love the punchy pinks here too. I teamed it with a sentiment from the Anna Griffin Interchangeable (UK version) or Mix and Match (USA/North America version) embossing range. Two continents divided by a common language, right?! United by the love of Anna Griffin though, I think. Next to Mount Cardstock (see previous post) is Metaphorical Mount Griffin. It’s not really stacked in a mountain shape so anything would spoil, but the potential for a mountain is there…! I need to use it up, and I will try, I promise….

Charisma hydrangea 3

The base card needed a little something so I just randomly embossed large-ish spots over it with an embossing tool. And do you know what? I think I need to work on my random-ness!!! How ridiculous it that?!


In the pink, again

CWC Heritage Rose 3

Pink and black again. Like a moth to the flame…no wait, that’s a gory end…why are so many of our day to day sayings actually rather gruesome? Like ‘keep your eyes peeled’? Who on earth would do that?? And yes I know not to be quite so literal, but it evokes a mental image of a nasty encounter with a potato peeler that just won’t quit.

Like a bear to honey…much better. Except now I am likening myself to a big old furry lump of a beast with a sweet tooth. Far too close to the truth for comfort. And I have never even been camping….

Anyway, I love pink and black together and revisit it time and again. Here we have another card made with Craftwork Cards Heritage Rose loveliness, some vellum and Hunkydory Adorable Scorable card. I didn’t try the Adorable Scorable until about six months ago (trying to chip away at Mount Cardstock which had erupted in the spare room), but I bought some when it was reduced in price because the colours were just what I wanted, and now I find it difficult to use anything else. It makes a really good and strong card base and the range of shades is super.

I have been peeking at a few other blogs today and am reminded of the existence of my alcohol markers. I think the black and white paper here might look good with a bit of subtle colouring so I may give that a go. Add it to the project list….

Happiness is…polka dots??!

Ab-so-bloomin-lutely it is. Love, love, love a polka dot. Doesn’t everyone? Sure they do. But I really, reeeeeally love them. So picture the hand-clapping glee (and a tiny bit of jumping up and down) at finding an unapologetically simple dotty background stamp. It is going to change my world. And it starts right here:

dotty twins


I’ll be seeing spots before my eyes, and I can’t wait.

Background dotty cling stamp from The Ton. Hello die from Poppystamps. Love die from Memory Box. Tiny heart dies from Docrafts.


Murphy’s Law: it happens, deal with it

Maybe don’t publish it though!

This card is a disaster zone. As Murphy’s Law implies, anything which could go wrong, did. Repeatedly. I was initially inspired by the totally fabulous Lydia Evans to use my Altenew stamps as individual images, rather than stamping in layers. Hers was gorgeous, and looked effortless.

Give it a go, I thought.

This is the disaster that I produced:

disaster card

I can’t even use the excuse that I rustled it up in five minutes – it took two evenings of agonising!

I tried stamping the background collage-y bit with various small stamps goodness knows how many times. I knew it would not come easily. For me, ’collage’ is the C word; it strikes fear to the very bone and I just have to approach it sideways on, pretending it isn’t really happening, or have my inhibition stemmed by a white wine or two. Always two, really, to be honest.

Anyway, I thought, give it a go, what can go wrong? I refer you back to the title. Versions 1-4 were all binned. Version 5 was ok. Not great, but ok. Possible workable.

Give it a go, I thought.

Fight the collage demon. So I battled bravely on. Well, I had more wine anyway. Stamped the main image in two shades of ink & cut it out. No problem! Loving it. Sailing through this now! Have mastered collage totally! (Told you about the wine, it had taken effect). Now to choose the background card colour. White, aqua, teal, pink, black, patterned, plain, embossed, all offered up and rejected. Retired to bed in a huff. As Scarlett would say, tomorrow is another day.

Day two. Fresh eyes. Grey would be perfect! I have such trouble finding good grey card that I tend to ration it. I find some. Now it looks better, but still not quite right. Maybe a linear embossing folder for the background?

Give it a go, I thought.

Yep, very happy with that, but now I want to show off the embossing folder a bit more. Should I cut down the “artwork”? (Believe me, I use the term loosely!). Of course I should, and I do. Everything seems grand, for a moment. But then, somehow, the white edges are too raw and unfinished. I don’t want to add another layer of card (too formal). Glitter the edges? No…maybe inking them?

Give it a go, I thought.

Now, aqua or grey ink? Tried aqua on a sample, rejected it. Straight to grey then. Swiped the edges around in the grey pad briefly, and then watched aghast as it bled liberally and unevenly into the ‘stamping card’ I was using and turned the totally neat straight white edges into something that looked like it had been cut whilst suffering from hiccups. In my head it’s another disaster but the inner Jiminy Cricket surfaced and said “It’s a look. You’ve seen it used. It’s fine.”

Give it a go, Jiminy said.

So I put it all together. At least the cheery greeting was achieved without further disappointment. But, to me, it neither one thing nor the other: neither intentionally casual and ‘arty’ nor clean and crisp. I tried sticking a pearl on it in some sad last ditch attempt at salvation. Might as well have stuck it on a warthog and called it Mona Lisa…..

Stop giving it a go, I thought.

And, next time he appears, tell Jiminy to go fetch a tin of tartan paint, I thought.

I have to make it clear, though, the failings and flaws are all mine. I love these stamps: the artwork is gorgeous and great results are totally achievable. The point is, if you don’t get it right, or it is not what you want or had pictured in your head, it isn’t the end of the world and it doesn‘t mean you are rubbish. Another day it will work and you can do the happy stamper dance. Just keep trying stuff. I have made plenty of better examples. Not expert, for certain, but better than this!


Why I love Pinterest…

I love Pinterest, unashamedly and often. I love the people who invented it and put it out there as a free resource and ideas factory. I love and thank every single one of those fantastically creative people that contribute their work, and those who find them, and re-pin for the rest of us. Hats off to them all. For inspiration you just can’t beat it. Whether pins are jaw-droppingly amazing from experts and professionals, or by newbies just starting to explore their creative side, or anywhere in between, they can all inspire you, create a spark, sow a seed.

For example, my cousin’s beautiful daughter is making her Confirmation very soon, so I want to make a card for the occasion. I have an enormous crafty stash, but religious imagery does not feature much. I thought I bought a church die once, on the grounds it was a really good price and it would serve me for just such a day, but just when I need it I cannot find it. Typical. I contemplated cutting out a simple cross shape as a starting point, but my craft knife skills are rubbish and my eye is super-critical, so I would see every wiggle, wobble or deviation from the straight line and it would be binned, no question.

What to do? Pinterest, of course. A quick search yielded a couple of cards featuring doves. The spark! Somewhere, I had a Martha Stewart dove punch. And, luckily, I found it! I hoped that something with vellum and layers would emerge in time for the occasion, and this is it:

confirmation card

Once finished, typically, I found the church die. But actually I decided I liked this image more. There was a bit of a dilemma between a plain or embossed background but the inner cardmaker won out over possible religious authenticity and I went for embossed on the grounds of prettiness. It’s still doves, so hopefully still appropriate!



Love triangle

TL Love trio

Ok, so it’s not really a triangle, but ‘three cards made with a LOVE word die’ is the dull alternative title. Actually the photo is dull too. Not quite the arresting starting point I was hoping for…

Anyway, card one is similar to that in my previous post. Very simple design and muted colours:

TL Love and Charisma rose

The second one is unashamedly old-fashioned in colour and pattern:

TL Love floral muse

I am not sure I like this last one:

TL Love and Charisma peony

I’ll look at it again tomorrow. Perhaps I just need to add another little something. Or perhaps I just need to throw it in the bin. Time will tell!


Fighting the germs. Cutting, folding and sticking helps. NHS has missed a trick. Should be available on prescription. See, am so germy I can’t…form…a whole…sentence.

TL rose on taupe

I wanted to emboss the sentiment on to vellum with this, but I couldn’t make it happen and kept messing up, breaking things and even did some permanent damage to tools. One of those days. Don’t know why it didn’t occur to me earlier to just cut a word die from vellum too and stick it on. Have chose to blame the hazy head. I am very happy with the end result, although this could be a paracetamol-induced state and tomorrow I may be covered with embarrassment.

The roses are from the Tattered Lace Charisma die and CD range, the Love word die is by Memory Box and backing paper is Dovecraft Floral Muse, which is gorgeous. The vellum is from anywhere that sells vellum! Oh look, I’m cured! Paper is a powerful weapon. Use it wisely.