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

 

Looks a bit parky out…

Here is another card made using the Altenew Winter Cottage stamp. It is a simple card – to honest I can’t think of a way to make something complicated with this image but luckily that is not what I am looking for anyway! Whilst blog hopping a few weeks ago I saw a really nice use of window dies somewhere – I am very sorry but I can’t remember whose blog it was, so if it was yours and I commented about it (I think I did) please let me know and I will update this with a link back. It reminded me that I have a couple of Spellbinders window dies, bought in enthusiasm ages ago and then left untouched. They had seemed like such a good idea, but then I just thought ‘what will I actually DO with them?’ This is why blog hopping is a worthwhile use of our time (as if we needed to be reminded!!), because it occurred to me that they would work well with my little Winter Cottage. They will be gainfully employed at last!

window-snowy-cottage-1

The work for this is not arduous, but a little fiddly, some of it unnecessarily so! Firstly I die cut the window from scrap, then positioned it where I would want it to be on the card to see where to stamp. OK, what actually happened was the first one I cut met with a small accident and lost a curlicue, so it became a template…

Anyhoo, I then carefully(ish!) set a sticky note over each of the window frame edges in turn, removing the template window and repositioning it each time to make sure my masked aperture was in the right place and (vaguely) true to the size of the window. I will make this card again but just cut a plain stencil template the size of my card base with the right size aperture so that I can position and reuse it easily – much more sensible!

Then I stamped the Winter Cottage over the aperture, making sure I got the bits of detail I really wanted in the space – i.e. the snowy roof and the deer. The ‘window’ was a tiny bit smaller than I would like, but good enough.

Next I added some ‘Snow’. This is by Embellishment Attic and looks little slivers and scraps of iridescent film. I wanted something with a bit more impact than fine glitter, seeing as it was going behind a window it needed a bit of extra wellie, I thought. I also made sure it could be seen in the photos!! Actually this had a fortuitous twinkle of light shining on it, which helped!

 

 

window-snowy-cottage-detail

Somewhere, back in the Dark Ages, I either bought or had a free magazine gift of the tiniest holly punch known to man. It was just what I wanted for a small snippet of colour. Positioning that one-atom-sized holly berry was not the easiest thing, but it was accomplished. Hurrah!

More small scale stuff – microscopic squares of 3D foam were attached to the back of the window, then a stamped greeting from Altenew Pine Trees added and job done. It still might end up with a knot of ribbon or baker‘s twine, but for now I think it is fine as it is.

 

At last, something repeatable!

Not, I am sure, what some people might be thinking…although as a kid, I was a blabbermouth. My older sister would furtively tell me a ‘rude’ joke when we were alone, swear me to secrecy, probably with warnings of dire consequences if I transgressed. I’d just nod, agree to anything, happy to have a bit of a secret, or maybe ammo.

The priest used to occasionally do his rounds on a Sunday afternoon, presumably as a single man in search of cake, although I do remember seeing the odd bottle of beer in his pockets too. Apparently, with an audience of good folk gathered, I considered this to be prime joke telling time. I was still pre-school, but was ’blessed’ with a really good memory and repeated the rude jokes pretty much word for word. I say blessed, but I am not sure that is the adjective that sprang to mind for my poor parents. I probably mistook the silence for awe.

I digress. Here we have a Christmas card which is most definitely repeatable and suitable for a batch making. Hurrah! I used three sets of Altenew stamps and three colours of Altenew Warm Grays (sorry for the spelling, UK, but it is how it is!). Almost every year I have an inclination to make Christmas cards with a white, grey and red colour theme. But it is so ridiculously difficult to find the grey I want – a warm charcoal – that I give up. This year? Still can’t find it. But I did bag a bargain pack of Lynda Chapman silver mirror board a few months ago, specifically with Christmas and the fruitless search for the perfect grey in mind. I thought it would be a good replacement. It is much paler of course, and shinier too, obviously, but has a lovely satin finish and is sturdy enough to be the base card. It also die cuts and embosses really well too so I am very happy with my purchase.

snowy-cottage

The Winter Cottage is stamped in Altenew Moon Rock, the sentiment in Lava Rock (a shade darker). For the Snowing image I had a bit of a dilemma, as stamping white snow onto white card is clearly a flawed plan. I thought I would try a pale grey, obviously running the risk that it would look more like a snow scene from the M6 motorway than an idyllic pastoral vista. I used Morning Frost, which, it turns out, is practically invisible. The stamp itself is rectangular, and whilst I am no geography expert (I thought Carlisle was in Scotland and the Trossachs were some kind of athletic support) I am pretty confident that snow doesn’t fall in rectangles. So, I cut a rough arc or oval shape wider than the card and laid it over the snowy cottage to give me a gently curved mask and then stamped my snow around. Actually I was very pleased with the result! This is the third batch of photos I have taken, trying to get the snow to show up. It is marginally more visible in real life, but I did a close-up, just to prove its existence!

snow

There IS glitter on the cottage roof and here and there on the snow, but as usual, it is camera shy. A knot of red grosgrain ribbon from last year’s wrapping stash and we are good to go.

 

Supplies: Altenew Winter Cottage, Snowing and Pine Tree (for the sentiment) stamps; Altenew Warm Gray 4 ink cube set.

 

 

Christmas card productivity increase of 200%!!

Sound impressive, right? Statistics can be misleading. Yes, I have increased my productivity by 200%. Maybe it might be 300%, I can never work these things out. I tried googling it and came out the other side only more confused and desperately in need of refreshment. If only I had a blogger friend who loves maths…(you know who you are, feel free to step in any time!). But the point is, I had ONE Christmas card, and now I have three. So the stats are impressive, but the basic numbers are rubbish!!

lf-scripty-pair

Anyway, these simple little cards were really fun to make. The two-stamp process for the fairy lights looked like it had major potential for disaster, especially as they are really, really tiny, but it works like a dream. Not one single one went wrong. Hurrah! Then the stamps and dies worked amazingly well together too: lining up the die over the fine line word stamp was really simple and it felt like some thought had gone into making this easy for us to do. Plus, I love them!! Can’t wait to try these out a bit more.

lf-scripty-whitelf-scripty-red

As usual I tried out baker’s twine, ribbon, even a jingle bell or two as a bit of extra embellishment, but rejected them all in favour of total minimalism. I got these little easels at The Works. How cool are they?! And they really are tiny – the cards are under 10cm square.

Supplies: Lawn Fawn Winter Big Scripty Words stamps and dies; Altenew inks: Teresa Collins Modern Stripe embossing folder; cards from my stash.

 

 

How not to do this

Today I decided to try something new. I saw a card that had been made with a word die, with ¾ of the word standing free as a header at the top. I have some patterned header dies specifically for this purpose, and I love the look of them. I thought today I would try it out with dies not designed for the task. The results are not perfect, but I’m showing you what happened in case you try it too – my mistakes might save you a bit of time!

I attempted two ways: one with a word die and one with individual letters.

The basic principle is that you will be making a tent fold (or top folding) card. You place the die(s) in the centre, but you don’t put the lower portion of the die(s) between the cutting plates. So you are kind of hanging it off the edge really and only cutting the top part of the letters or words.

Here is where I made rookie mistake number one. For some reason best left between me and my maths teacher, I thought I would have to make the highest cutting point (so in these cards it is the ‘’l’ in celebrate) fall about where I wanted to fold. Duh! Obviously, obviously not. I now have a stunted card.

What you actually need to do is:

Cut your base piece of card to size. Say you have a strip which measures 10.5 x 30cm, your fold line (don’t score it yet though!) will be at 15cm.

This is the tricky bit. I think some dies and letters will work better than others. Position your dies(s) so that at least 2/3 of the die is above your (imagined) fold line, but you need to consider the shapes a bit too. Remember the bottom part of the letter will not be defined at all, so it needs to be obvious from the free-standing part what the letter actually is. For example in the WISH card here, I should have moved the S higher up. I thought wonky would be fun, but once cut and folded I just had a strange hook shape, like a flipped question mark! All the other letters were fine. I fixed it by cutting the letters again and sticking them over the top, which is not quite what I intended and in the picture it does look a bit like that was all I did but at least now I know for next time. For the ‘celebrate’ card it didn’t matter too much, because the die on its own is not clear anyway and you really need the stamp too.

Run it through your die cutter, as above, making sure the plates don’t cover the lower part of the letters.

Remove your dies and now you crease and fold at your centre line. Make sure you score in between letters too.

And done. Now you just need to decorate!

What else did I learn? That the single letter dies should have been closer together. Perhaps I should have cut them individually and I might have spaced them better.

Both methods work ok – it just depends on what you have to hand.

You have a bit of wiggle room if you need to move your centre fold a millimetre or two once you have cut the dies, just trim the short edges of your card accordingly.

Oh yeah, and my maths is still rubbish, but I didn’t really need to be reminded of that….

Supplies: Hunkydory Adorable Scorable card; Altenew Super Script die and stamp; Xcut Wedding Alphabet & Numbers dies

 

 

Christmas already?

I know non-crafters will look at this and think ‘what the bleep?’ But card makers know that you have to start Christmas cards early. In fact, I am probably already cutting it a bit fine. Especially considering my production rate at the moment is about two or three cards a week. plus a bin-full of disasters of course.

So, hopefully, a slow trickle of Christmas cards to come. I don’t even have to produce hundreds, meaning there really is no excuse. I always make some for my mum to give first, but somehow despite my best intentions I am often finishing mum’s cards in December and have no time or inclination to then set about making more. This means I end up either buying them or, shamefully for a woman with a room crammed full of card making stuff, actually not sending any at all.

I had hoped writing a blog might have pushed me to plan better, but I cannot bring myself to think about Christmas in June, it just won’t happen. However today was windy and rainy and a bit ‘October’ so I didn’t feel quite so bah-humbug about tackling the festive theme.

I used the Tree Landscape die from Clearly Besotted. I like the clean lines, and the brilliant price of £3.00! The snow is a small Altenew stamp called, unsurprisingly, ‘Snowing’. It is only 4.5 x 7cm, but you can easily repeat stamp as I did here until you cover the required area. I stamped in Versamark and used a white embossing powder.

The sentiment is from The Ton Holiday Lyrics, embossed with Stamps by Chloe Wow silver embossing powder onto white vellum.

CB Tree Landscape

A bit of a mix and match of various products, but I am so bloomin’ happy to have produced something, anything really. I am aware the size of the snowflakes would concuss any individual daft enough to attempt walking in such a freak blizzard but y’know, in the spirit of Christmas I am hoping we can gloss over that!

CB tree Landscape detail

 

I beg to differ

The sentiment on this card says ‘a cup of tea solves everything’. Well (a) it hasn’t. I am still in the crafty doldrums, and (b) I don’t like tea. There it is. I am British and I don’t like tea. I try: every now and again I give it a go, but no. Think of an eight year old asked to drink a broccoli and sardine smoothie and that is the face, right there. Bleagh! Gimme beans, any day.

But, I do love teacups, and these stamps are so, so cute. Lovely old-fashioned wide-rimmed teacups. Gorgeous. I haven’t done them justice today, but I have done something, after ages of nothing. Maybe tea has helped, a little, after all.

The pictures are a bit odd – I took them in that evening light that changes the colours a bit. The red is way more scarlet and less neon in reality and the yellow and blue a bit brighter.

Supplies

Dies and stamps: Clearly Besotted Warm Solutions and Diagonal Stripes stamps

Inks: Altenew Mango Smoothie, Persian Blue, Jet Black;  Lawn Fawn hippo. The red is Vivid! Hot Red but I am not sure if they are still around? I searched but just got a lot of tattoo sites!

 

Mojo Doldrums, located 51° N, 0.1° W

I have made nothing, for days and days. In my previous post I said I was inhabiting the Mojo Doldrums (small group of islands populated by burnt-out crafters). Now it feels like the other inhabitants have called a meeting, decided I am some kind of evil spirit sucking the creativity from all of them, and voted to set me adrift in a small boat. Of course the boat is fabulous, fashioned from pipe cleaners and squeezy bottles, covered in glitter and with crochet sails and knitted bedlinen (crafters are kind, after all). I do have a tiny complaint about the practicality of the macramé water bottle though… So, becalmed in a toxic fog of crafter’s block I sat, and tried, but could do nothing. Not even an idea, never mind trying stuff and it going wrong. That would actually be progress, this week!

This evening, a tiny little glimmer. Just a simple card, combining digital content, dies and stamps. I used Serif CraftArtist and resized some of the various Louise Tiler ‘materials’ to make some close-patterned squares, then die cut balloons and gave them glittery cord strings (sorry, Myra, if you read this!). The ’friend’ Altenew stamp and die is one I made a while ago and didn’t use because I messed up the rest of the project. Like that never happens!

That’s all I have. Tonight I plan on drinking the sea water.

Pretty balloon bunch

 

Quite..erm..pinteresting?

Whilst I was away from Bloggyland recently, my most ‘successful’ personal creation hit 1000+ pins on Pinterest. I have already posted about this before when it hit 500+ pins and I was cock-a-hoop pretty pleased, and this post is not just another excuse to do that, although I see no reason to be falsely coy or say ‘oh, that old thing?’ Now though, they stop counting, and it just has 1k pins beside it, so, fickle to the end, I have rather lost interest! Maybe, if it ever gets to 2k, I might get excited again. I might also be in a residential home eating pureed vegetables and telling inappropriate jokes, who knows?

This post is more about what does, or does not, get re-pinned. Again, I did mention this previously: I am fully aware that the card is not a work of genius, and it has been made with a very popular and relatively new range of stamps which undoubtedly helped. It is nice, I think, but I am not deluded. It is not ‘amazing’. It is though, perhaps, something which, as a beginner with an interest in card making, you could look at and think ‘yes, I can do that with no problem’. And to be honest I think this of most of the cards I make. I know I generally ‘execute well’, and my work is neat and well finished, but not exceptional. I am ok with that (no choice really!).

But what interests me is: how do we make our pinning choices? Why do we re-pin? Because something is achievable, or aspirational, or just because we may as well save it ‘because we can‘? I have boards and pins for hundreds of things I am pretty sure I may never make, or buy, or visit…. I pin cards that I could never hope to produce the like of if I lived to be 150. Is that just me?

I have a few cards now that have a few hundred pins, but it has taken a long time. I’m sure for other people this happens way, way quicker. For me, I thought to use it as a gauge of what people may or may not like. But here is where I am stuck, and going back to the “what appeals“ question. It seemed to me that Pinterest would be a good way to check this.

Here is my example of the dilemma. Months ago I pinned two cards on the same day, which were, broadly, the same card but upside down and downside up. One has had WAY more pins than the other: 427 vs 110. So is one visually much more pleasing?  If so, is it obvious to everyone except me, and is there a reason? Feel free to say (nicely!) – I’d like to know! I made them so I cannot tell for sure; I do have a slight preference, but it is only slight.

Or, is it just luck? Of all the pins in all the world, someone comes across one of yours, but only one…

I am thinking about doing an experiment. Two cards, in the ‘same but different’ category, probably pretty much the same layout as these. Then I will pin them and wait (for months, I know) to see if none, one or both get re-pinned. I would have made them to include in this post but any creativity I had is hiding behind the sofa this week and refusing to come out.

If anyone else fancies trying the same experiment, let me know and I’ll re-pin yours. Oh, and to be fully scientific (because I have been rigorous so far, right??!) there should probably be a ‘control’ as well, so something entirely different but pinned on the same day. Pehaps even make it a howler, just to see!

If you should choose to accept the mission, good luck, and get sticking! This post will NOT self destruct in 5 seconds…

 

It’s beer, but not as we know it…

These two cards are made using a beer bottle die. Fabulously useful for cards for men, but you always want to get the most from your tools, so I tried using it for celebratory cards that are more feminine. I think they came out ok! Five bottles cut from coordinating papers, plus a glittery greeting.

AN bottle die - Tea PartyAN bottle die - Floral Muse

I have not been meeting my glitter quota lately so need to make amends and use it on everything. Just as a heads up, it is not good on cereal, adds nothing to a salad (apart from attractive sparkle) and makes uncomfortable pyjamas.

Supplies-Altenew bottle die; Poppystamps Fancy Celebrate die; Dovecraft papers: Tea Party and Floral Muse