What Possessed Me?

Happy Halloween!

I have no idea what possessed me to make these cards. I cannot recall ever making a Halloween card before, although I guess we may have done at primary school as a kid. But certainly not in my adult card making history have I ever gone down the pumpkin road. It is probably as a result of blog hopping: seeing so many great cards and decorating ideas from the USA and Canada must have made a mark, and meant that late last night, as the witching hour approached, I just had an urge to make a Halloween card. But I have no stamps or dies for this subject. We really don’t do Halloween cards much here in the UK. Not yet, anyway.

Then that tiny little bell rang. The bell I used to immediately recognise as a light bulb moment, a recollection, or inspiration, and now I just put down to possible tinnitus. ‘Go check your digikits’ it said. ‘You probably got something suitable in one of those bundle purchases you made’, it added, helpfully. Amazing how specific these voices can be!

So, I did as instructed and found this really fab digikit from American Crafts called Nightfall. It is a mix between Halloween and general Autumn/Fall and harvest images. The voice was right – it was in a bundle of digikits I bought quite some time ago. I would probably never have bought it individually but it is jam packed with goodies that were just what I needed.

Before I go any further I have to confess that I am a complete wuss when it comes to scary stuff. No word of a lie, until I saw ‘Sixth Sense’, Walt Disney’s ‘The Watcher in the Woods’ was the most scary film I had sat through from beginning to end. Many years ago, at the continual urging of a boyfriend I eventually tried to watch ‘The Omen’ but insisted on using my grandmother’s old black and white TV, which was tiny, and about 20 feet away. I still made an excuse to go make coffee when it came to the really scary bits. I am not constitutionally equipped for scary.

This means Halloween card needs to be the chummy side of the holiday imagery. Oh, also I don’t cope well with spiders either. Webs are fine, because they are a thing of beauty, but their residents are NOT. If they are super-tiny, OK. Any much bigger than a finger nail and we are in heebie jeebies territory.

halloween-twin-shot

Since we’re talking, another fear: collage. I may have mentioned before but for me, this is practically a swear word. I cannot do it; it will not and does not happen. I admire it, aspire to it, and accept it is pretty darn unlikely.

Anyway. I was actually spoilt for choice with this digikit and love the little details that were included. I chose the images I wanted, roughly worked out the sizings and then printed out the elements to hybrid craft. Then I decided I wanted a flying bat. Well, of course! I searched again and found bats and hats in another kit of punches and stamps called Hallows’ Eve. So my cat has a hat and my bat is….stuck on to a strip of acetate and folded over the top of the card so he bounces around a bit. Close as I can get to him flying as I am not an aerospace engineer.

ghost-1halloween-cat-with-bat

 

 

Whilst not exactly (ok, maybe ‘remotely’ is a better word) collage, these cards do have way more going on than I usually add.

I know this is a bit of a rush job, but I had such fun making these that now I would like us to celebrate Halloween rather more here! Interesting that there seems to be no consensus as to where the apostrophe should go in Hallows. I am staying well clear of that debate.

Supplies and tools: Serif CraftArtist; American Crafts Nightfall digikit; Serif Hallows’ Eve Punches and Stamps digikit; American Crafts black cardstock

 

Who says cats have expressionless faces?

pet-shaming

Guilty? Sheepish? Penitent? Or smug? This week my Tree Landscape die was stolen overnight. I cannot find it anywhere, but then again it could be literally anywhere. I have found the other items that went missing at the same time: silver ink pad (under a sofa), eraser (under a chair) and marker pen (bottom of the stairs).  I know who did it. The guilty party is currently draped over my left arm, elbow and knee, so I am typing with one hand, have my leg propped up to support his undercarriage and an aching shoulder from holding it in an uncomfortable (for me, super comfy for him) position. Every now and again his head is turned towards me and up, which means ‘scratch between the ears, please’ and of course I oblige.

But, without the die, there is no Christmas. Bah humbug.

 

3D Thursday: home for the holidays?

Week four of my 3D Thursdays. I wasn’t sure I would manage to keep it up, but I have stuck with it (sorry!) and am having fun making little glittery things. Well, today it is one very little, very glittery thing.

I have used a Tattered Lace Shop die (bought last year) to make a Christmassy something. It could be purely decorative, or another Advent calendar piece, or even an alternative Christmas card or tree decoration.

Firstly I printed out some music score from the Hearts and Roses Christmas digikit using Serif CraftArtist. With uncharacteristic foresight I actually thought about where to position the die, so I have musical notes in the right places, as opposed to featuring the gap between the staves. Hurrah!

Next to crease and glue the shop (hereafter known as the ‘house’) together. I inked the house corners in silver to define them a bit more. For the roof I wanted a different colour and texture so opted for some silver glitter cardstock, cut to size, the edges trimmed with decorative scissors and then stuck over the existing roof. Like double glazing. Ignore the fact the windows are open to the elements. This is a house for tiny yetis. I also used the same scissors to cut slivers of glitter card for the base.

holiday-house-1

The wreath is highly technical. It is made by twisting a silver pipe-cleaner around a pen to form the circle, dolloping on some tacky glue in a very heavy-handed way and then dunking in a tub of glitter a few times so it gets a bit clumpy looking, like wet snow. Mission accomplished!

holiday-house-4

The finishing touches are a string of sticky pearls to gussy up the gable end and a banner greeting raised up on a double layer of 3D pads. Add one twinkly battery tea light and ta-dah!

If you fancy having a go you don’t need a die to do this. There are plenty of free templates for houses available. You might even already have a cookbook with a gingerbread house you could use. If anyone does make one I’d love to see!

Supplies: Tattered Lace Essentials Shop die (retired); Clearly Besotted Mini Basic Banners stamps (Christmas selection) and die; Brilliance Starlite Silver pearlescent ink; pearls from The Ribbon Room

 

Lickety Split: masking off

This is the ‘series’ I was mentioning in my post on coincidences the other day. It might only be a one-off, but hopefully will be an occasional themed post, if I can come up with enough projects. Who knows? Maybe the universe does, but certainly not me!

Basically the idea is to make a card from scratch in about 10 – 15 minutes. And in real person time, not ‘I had everything out, cut, matted, and all my stamps layered onto different mounts ready to go’ time as they do on craft telly. More like a smash and grab raid on your stash. So obviously nothing too complicated. But I am a fan of ‘clean and simple’ anyway, so this should be fun, right?

Of course a lot of you will know all this, but for those who have not yet tried card making or are relatively new to the party, this is a ‘how to’ post, with pictures, to produce a simple, simple card.

One of the easiest ways to create impact quickly is with a masked stamped area and a clean stamped sentiment. So, you lay a bit of masking tape (you can use any low tack tape, or post-it notes) over a section of the card, but it is very important to make sure it is straight – anything off true will show up big time. Well, for me it does, anyway. To ensure the making of it was super-speedy I used a card blank with scalloped edges. This means I can bypass any measuring and just run the post-it note from scallop to scallop. Easy peasy!

here-for-you-1

Now you want to cover that section with one or more (depending on size) stamped images to fill the space; make sure you stamp over the masked line, as much as possible, because this is what will give you a nice defined look when the tape is removed, and give you a good effect.

here-for-you-2

Here I used Altenew Freeform Greenery, which is a set full of outline-only leaves, in many forms and sizes. When I first came across this stamp set I was not sure, but the more I saw them, the more possibilities there seemed. Then they went on SALE! Which meant they now have a forever home with me. It was an easy decision in the end!

So, we have a masked off area filled as much as possible with stamps. Now remove the masking tape carefully and add a suitable sentiment just above the line of stamping.

Maybe a knotted band of ribbon at the top and job done. Took way longer to write and photograph than it did to make!

here-for-you-8

here-for-you-6

I used more than one stamp set here, but a beginner could easily choose one set with a mixture of greetings and images, just to try it out.

I’d be interested to know if you think posts like this are a good idea or whether I am teaching grandmother to suck eggs. A phrase which I have never understood and always found frankly bizarre. Try a mental image of your gran doing it. See?!

Supplies from Altenew:

stamps: Freeform Greenery, Sentiments and Quotes, and Thinking of You. Inks: Cotton Candy, Forest Glade and Moon Rock

Ribbon and card from stash.

 

Calling All Artists, Adventurerers and Unicorns! — Green Embers

If you’re new to my blog, there was a time creating goals and working towards them was an extremely important part of my life. It was something so important to me that I created my own blogging event called Building Rome. It was meant to be a place where bloggers could come together discuss goals […]

via Calling All Artists, Adventurerers and Unicorns! — Green Embers

 

I haven’t done this ‘sharing’ before so I hope I am doing it right! If not, feel free to let me know what I have done wrong.

I thought this was a great idea and I know some of you out there write stories, poetry, draw, paint, design, do maths (!)… and might be interested.  He’s a nice guy and his blogs are interesting and fun!

The universe, coincidence, and walnut whips

I have had a couple of run-ins with coincidence recently. This is just one of them: for about three weeks I had been planning to start another ‘series’ of occasional blogs, titled with what I thought was a pretty old-fashioned couple of words. Then one of my favourite bloggers used those very same words in one of her posts this week, on the same day I was planning to do mine, so I postponed. Now, I am sure she won’t mind when I go ahead with the series, and you know, none of us have a monopoly on the English language, but it just made me go ’hmmmn, what are the odds of that phrase coming up right now…?

Here’s the next coincidence. A fellow blogger Flo, commenting on my post on Thursday asked if walnut whips were still available. A random thought that had popped into her head and she didn’t know why. Funnily enough I had seen some just last Saturday (in italics to show it is important), so I could say ‘yes‘. It was odd that I had noticed them because I can’t remember the last time I did. It would have been years upon years ago. I don’t like them AT ALL, never have: they always made me pull the ‘bleah’ face, so I probably actually avoid them. But my sister does like them, and, equally, always has, so I thought of her immediately that day. Another blogger Samantha, reading the comment from Flo, mentioned that she had 3 walnut whips in her fridge… Hmmmn, I don’t know if walnut whips are rare or not, but bear with me here because I was beginning to spot a theme. Never say I am slow to catch on.

My sister (lifetime walnut whip lover) and her partner Painter live at the coast, 60+ miles away from London, and from me. Whilst out shopping last Saturday in their seaside town Painter and my sister bumped into an old neighbour of Painter’s from his North London days, someone he hasn’t seen for over 20 years. Sarah (I am not using real names because I can’t ask these people if it is ok) was just visiting the coast for the weekend with her boyfriend Pete. Amazing, huh? Over 60 miles, over 20 years, randomly meeting a great distance from where they previously knew each other.

Anyway, Painter and my sister arranged for Sarah and Pete to come around that evening. Sarah and Pete duly turned up with another old neighbour, Robert, that Painter and Sarah had both known from the same time in London, who was also just in town for the weekend and who Sarah had also just bumped into in the street. Double amazing. But I am not finished yet.

That evening, in conversation with Sarah’s partner Pete, it turned out he has a house in the road next to mine in South London! I have no idea what the odds of this strange convoluted chain are, but I believe the chances of a jackpot winning lottery ticket might be better. And they are not good odds, in case you didn’t know!

Now we need a little context, for those who may come from small communities or not know much about the UK population density. I know some people visit their nearest town miles away and see many acquaintances, family or friends. But London has a population of over 8.7 million people. The odds of bumping into someone you know a few miles away from your usual haunts is pretty high, never mind it happening over 60 miles away. For those people to then meet someone else the same day from the same old neighbourhood, and for their partner to live in a whole different area of London, but in a road adjacent to another family member is, well, astronomical basically.

I’m sure there must be a reason for this. We have random people, in a random town, historically connected to each other, and brought together on the same day. We have family geographically elsewhere (me), also linked by coincidence, also on the same day. And then I am reminded of the event later in the week by another two random connections.

It has to be important. The stars are aligned. There must be a message, a meaning to this. I have given it much careful thought and have come to a conclusion.

Maybe the universe is telling me to try a walnut whip again, just in case?

Has anyone else been experiencing odd or amazing coincidences recently?

 

I hope they have good insurance…

The idea for this card came to me as I was falling asleep, which meant I had to get up and write it down as there is a strong likelihood I would have forgotten it completely by morning. Well, I would have been in that very irritating state of remembering I had a potentially good idea, but no clue as to what it may have been.

snowy-scene-detail

I wanted to make a little snowy scene, kind of like you would get inside a snow globe. There are lots of examples of this sort of card on Pinterest and many of them feature a Santa and Sleigh die of some kind, which I do not have. I pulled out the two dies I do have which might work for this and cut them out to see what I could do.

dies-for-snowy-scene

After a bit of faffing about (there is always some faffing about) I had a vague plan. I decided that my largest circle die could just fit over the trees on the Clearly Besotted Tree Landscape die (top one in the photo) so this would dictate the size of the scene. I cut the Avery Elle Falling Snow (not pictured) from black card, then positioned the circle over the bit I wanted and cut it out. I cut the Tree Landscape twice from white cardstock, giving me plenty of spare card to play with at the top and bottom of the image. Then I decided on the positioning, making sure I had two distinct layers for the ’hills’ and cut them out using the same circle die. I snipped one of the larger trees off the edge and stuck these two hilly layers onto the black circle with 3D foam. I added my spare tree back in the centre of the lower layer, also with 3D foam. I trimmed out just one of the houses from the Lawn Fawn Little Town border (bottom die in the photo) and stuck a bit of black card behind the windows so you couldn’t see the snow through them and then added a bit of Glossy Accents for more windowy realism!!! This house was then also added with 3D foam. Pretty location, nightmare for shopping and in peril of an avalanche. Insurance had better be up to date. The whole thing was then mounted onto a white circle of card to show up the snow and a banner greeting added.

I can’t decide. Ribbon or no ribbon?

snowy-scene-with-ribbonsnowy-scene-without-ribbon

Supplies:

Dies – Avery Elle Falling Snow; Clearly Besotted Tree Landscape and Mini Basic Banners; Lawn Fawn Little Town Border; Spellbinders circles

Stamp – Clearly Besotted Mini Basic Banners III

 

 

3D Thursday: not Teas-day then?

Gift wrapping is an obsession for me. Not to the extent it used to be before I got into paper crafting, but still, any present I am giving has to look good or I, and it, cannot leave the house. I don’t always go to these lengths for every gift, but I do like to have a small stash of interesting and/or pretty bags, boxes or other containers on hand. Things that will hold a couple of those hand creams that look like tubes of paint, maybe a pot or two of nail colour or some makeup. Or even tea, come to think of it! Things that are a pain to wrap, or seem more like a pampering gift if they are presented together.

This tea cup was made using my new-ish Cricut. I still haven’t played with it all that much so I’ll do a mini review some other time, but as I had the Tags, Bags, Boxes & More 2 cartridge I figured I would browse through that for a suitable 3D project. This cartridge is jam-packed with exactly what it says – boxes, bags and tags, and I chose the tea cup.

There were a couple of teething problems (and three wasted sheets of good cardstock) before I got the cutting achieved. I will say here and now that I did not help this situation. I don’t have things set out very well at the moment: you need to use your pc/laptop with the Cricut Explore and currently my Cricut is positioned behind my desktop screen, so I keep having to walk between the two to follow the steps. Once I sort this out I expect it will go a lot more smoothly! Another issue was that this image required use of a scoring tool first, but I couldn’t actually see that mentioned on the screen anywhere. I may have missed it in all the wandering about of course. Anyway eventually I worked it out and I got what, I have to say, is a great cut, and in my opinion much better than I achieved on my old Cricut. Cue the happy dance.

Construction is pretty obvious, although you have two different sized circles and had to work out which was for the cup base and which for the saucer. The physical cartridge came with an assembly guide, and again I couldn’t see this on my screen anywhere, but I am sure you can get help with the more complicated shapes from Cricut’s site or YouTube if you need it. For my plain white test run version (should really have done this first rather than waste pretty card) I used the large circle for the saucer and smaller for the tea cup, but it should have been the other way around. Obvious, really, but there you go…

When I felt I knew what I was doing I moved on to a spotty Tim Holtz paper. It was a bit of a struggle to get the larger circle to fit the tea cup properly and in the end I just stuck it on and trimmed it down once dry. This worked fine and has given a neat finish so no worries.

Now for some decoration. I have cut into some doilies and snipped out the centre circle to give me a curly strip. This is stuck to the inside of the cup and underside of the saucer using double sided tape, pleating it as I go to make a frill. This also helps to ease it in and cover up where you join the next strip.

If I had more time I might have added flowers or something, but the deadline is upon me and 3D Thursday cannot run over to Friday. It’s the law. I made do with a little tea cup shaped tag I cut from the reverse of the Tim Holtz paper with a Spellbinders nesting die set.

Typically the only tissue paper I could find was spotty red, but actually I like the contrast. Sorry it is a bit wrinkled but I don’t crave blogging photographic perfection enough to get the iron out.

These are great for favours, or a shower, or work colleagues for Christmas, and they look really cute if you make lots in different colours and patterns and pile them together. Cellophane or large cello bags (the kind we put cards into) are also really handy if you want to have them all enclosed but still want to show them off. And of course you don’t need a cutting machine to make paper or card tea cups, there are plenty of templates available.

 

 

 

 

Card wrestling: a new sport

Ever had to wrestle a card into submission?

This has been one of ‘those’ projects. Theoretically whilst not being an easy victory, as it was familiar ground to some extent, or to keep the analogy going, an opponent I had fought before, it should not have been quite such an epic contest. I am still not sure if I have won on points or not.

Whilst browsing Pinterest I came across this card using Altenew Poinsettia and Pine stamps, which I have.

Thinking of you - Altenew Blog:

It also reminded me of a card I made either last Christmas or the one before, using Anna Griffin dies and embossing folders, plus a couple of Tattered Lace leaves as fillers. This is what it looked like (sorry about the photo!):

ag-gold-holly

So the style was already familiar, I was just going to use different products. Now anyone who follows my babbling may remember that I cannot colour. To. Save. The. World. Seriously. If the Martians pitch up and the deal is a bit like Hunger Games, but a nice piece of artwork will send them away happy, just hope they don’t pick me in the colouring lottery. Otherwise, well, it’s been nice knowing you all.

But, I can fill in a few berries with red pen, without hopefully affronting the eyes of those who can colour brilliantly, right? And maybe at a stretch just shade in the mistletoe leaves with a bit of green, perhaps? They are pretty tiny, so what can go wrong?

Here’s the list:

The gold ink wouldn’t stamp too well.

The gold glitter embossing powder therefore didn’t work brilliantly either.

I switched to gold detail powder. I sneezed unexpectedly whilst holding the tiny open container and it went everywhere.

Back to glitter powder then.

I stamped the mistletoe over and over. Dandy.

Alcohol markers – nah. All went too blurry as I didn’t have the right shades of green.

Watercolour pencils? Couldn’t find them. That’s how often they get used.

I settled for a squidge of the same ink colour mixed with water and sloshed on in what I sincerely hope is an artistic, informal way. AKA a chimp’s mum would be happy to use it as fridge art.

By now I was eyeing the holly leaves with suspicion. I had learnt lessons. Just a stamped outline then. Fine. Although I couldn’t help but think they looked like the footprint of either a dinosaur or a duck. Maybe I had been playing with the alcohol pens too long.

Fir sprigs next. These went well. Hurrah!

Now for the greeting. I considered black, or red, but then plumped for gold. Another mistake, as I had forgotten the detail gold powder disaster of earlier, and the small words here work best with detail powder. There was, I confess, an undignified scramble to rescue enough of the scattered powder to emboss ONCE and once only. No pressure then. But it went ok-ish.

an-pine-and-poinsettia-detail

Assembly time! I chose a satin finish base card that I have had for ages. Now I know why it has remained unused. The card is beautiful, no question, but it is a magnet for any stray speck of glitter or embossing powder. I gave up polishing it and decided they were now design features.

Also, the card refuses to fold closed very well, and you can’t use a bone folder or it will mark the satin finish. Super!

Two falls and a submission.

an-pine-and-poinsettia-1

I feel I should add a disclaimer here: I know nothing about wrestling. I might have got things mixed up with boxing in places as I am drawing on memories of Saturday TV as a kid. Sorry if I have been irreverent with anyone’s favourite sport!

Supplies: Altenew Poinsettia and Pine stamps and dies, Altenew Lyrical stamps for the greeting and Altenew Green Fields ink set

 

Are you feeling Emoji-nal?

This is a tongue in cheek, bit of Friday fun post.

Emojis. Those little icons that say so much. At first my reaction to them was a bit older-generation ‘oh for goodness sake, why can’t people just use the words?’ But now, I understand their usefulness, and actually rather like the idea. Let me be clear first up that the only one I know how to do is the smiley face. And that is only because the lovely blogger Karen at libleycraftsblog (go see her site, she is jawdroppingly awesome) talked me through it, keystroke by keystroke, because I needed it. I love her for that. And yes I know it is only three keys, but if you don’t know, you don’t know, right? I’d like to use more emojis, but I actually really have no clue what they all mean and should probably read up a bit. Otherwise I could unwittingly insult someone, or flirt with them, or threaten to kidnap their pet ferret or something.

So, why not have a mood or an emotion expressed in a few keystrokes? It suits our 21st century lifestyle for sure. But then again, what about taking it a bit further? Move on from a smile, or a laugh, or whatever else they convey. Like kids learning to talk, we start with single words, then build up to more complex phrases and thoughts. Maybe emojis can do this too?

So, what feeling would you like an emoji for? No adult themes please, this is an all-ages-friendly blog. What would you like to just be able to send to your loved ones or friends to indicate your mood, or your circumstances, with just a couple of keystrokes? Here are some suggestions…

How about ‘I have had a really bad day. Be nice to me.’

Or ‘just don’t speak to me, I am in the worst mood EVER’

I have nothing to wear. Can we go shopping?

I will be there in 5 minutes. Get the tea/coffee/wine ready.

I need pizza.

I need chocolate.

Do we have any cake? I need cake. Can you get some cake?

Don’t mention the haircut. It is a disaster and I look like a 1970s convict. Pretend like it hasn’t happened.

I have broken my favourite pair of shoes. Please look suitably sombre. Also, can we organise a state funeral as a fitting send-off?

I need 15 portions of fruit and veg today because I am 3 days behind on my recommended daily intake. So are you. Please go to the shop on the way home and buy all you can carry. Nobody sleeps ‘til we are caught up.

Or ‘the dog has pooped in the hallway and I didn’t have time to clean up. Be careful where you tread’. So much easier in little happy symbols. Especially if the other half is not keen on the pet, or at least the poop, anyway.

How about double emoji action? So ‘you know that emoji I sent saying I had a bad day? Well the pet rescue place was open when I went past just now…’ Closely followed by ‘who knew you could fit a kitten comfortably into each coat pocket?’ And then we would be back to the smiley faceJ

So, over to you. What would you like to have a bespoke emoji for?