When the caffeine is taken away…

Yesterday I had zero caffeine. By choice, not some horrible deprivation torture inflicted by a heartless monger of alternative hot drinks. I don’t drink much – usually just one or two mugs in the morning and that is it. Rarely past noon (that is 12PM lunchtime in the afternoon to some TV presenters) as I am a serial rubbish sleeper so why throw another obstacle into the mix? But last night despite being a caffeine free zone I just couldn’t nod off and eventually got up and made a card. And, well, as you can see, I was perhaps a little preoccupied…

Coffee cardcoffee card detail

I wonder what was on my mind?!

I wanted to use some coffee beans in the photo but there are none in the house. A pile of instant coffee is not too appealing. Galaxy Counters are as close as I could get! It’s OK, they have already gone to a good home…

Supplies: Clearly Besotted Warm Wishes stamps and dies; Altenew Coffee Talk stamps; Hunkydory Adorable Scorable spotty and striped card; The Works stitched rectangle nesting dies

 

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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

 

3D Thursday: Retail Therapy

Welcome to 3D Thursday!

Some people may remember a little while ago I was asking how other bloggers plan their posts, do they have a structure, do they schedule ahead and so on. Whilst reading the responses (and thanks again to everyone who took time to comment) I began to get a few ideas in my head, and one thing I realised was that I wasn’t posting anything much other than cards, yet I love making 3D objects too. Maybe this was worth pursuing?

I decided I would try a regular 3D-something post each week and see how I go. Hopefully I will at least make it to week 3 anyway. The irony of failure to do this would not go unnoticed.

Not wishing to raise anyone’s expectations for the future, not everything will be quite on this scale, but on week one I thought I may as well go all in.

tl-retail-therapy-patisserie-2

This is a Tattered Lace Retail Therapy shop. Cake shop, obviously! Well they say if you want to write about something, start with what you know…. And this will be something of a novel because I thought I would write a review, of a sort. Non-crafters, feel free to look at the pretty pictures only! Well, anyone can really….

tl-retail-therapy-patisserie-detail

This was my first attempt. I bought the bundle which gives you dies for the shop exterior, three different interiors and a CD-ROM with images to match the dies, backgrounds etc. There are absolutely tons of dies so lots of scope to change the look of your finished project every time, should you wish. The detail for the shop exterior is amazing – all sorts of different architectural features, hanging baskets etc to play with.

I started off by looking at the CD-ROM, which is a Click, Print, Go! product. This should mean you just open, browse through the selections and then print your choices. You do not want to resize the images as they are made to fit the dies. However, the running programme does not work with my Windows 7. I had contacted Tattered Lace about this in the past and to be honest I was a bit let down by their response. I felt that if they knew it was a problem then they should mention it, or fix it. Maybe I just got them on a bad day, but whilst waiting for them to get back to me I found my own solution. I copy into Serif CraftArtist, and although the image sheet comes in too small I just resize it to exactly A4 and it works fine. If you have had the same experience and have got CraftArtist then this may work for you too. I was hoping the issue might have been fixed by now, but I still have to go through the procedure with this new CD-ROM. It works, but it takes longer and means I have to wade through lots of file folders instead of whizzing through screen images. Because of this I didn’t go through everything on the disk, just found some colours I liked and made a start.

I chose a bright blue and soft green combination, and cut the shop shell first. Be aware that if you have colour on only one side of your card, because you will be folding two parts (the canopy and the support at the base) back on themselves, you will end up with white showing, as you can see on the base in this shot here.

tl-retail-therapy-white-base

For the canopy you are likely to be covering it with lovely scallop shapes anyway, and for the base I just covered it with some more of the blue. It’s not a problem, just don’t think you have done something wrong! Of course though you could use some card coloured on both sides. The construction is pretty obvious, and included on the packaging anyway.

 

Now for the shop window! The images look weird when you print them, some almost unrecognisable. It’s a bit like a party game…hmmn…what might that be…but don’t worry, they are actually pretty genius. Helpfully all the dies are labelled, but I did have a few head scratching moments trying to match them to the printout. Once you have that sussed, just centre the die on the image and cut it out. It is amazing how an out of focus blob suddenly turns into a scrummy cake! I was majorly impressed with this. There may have been a dance…

tl-blog-to-sponge

You also have shelves, cake stands, a little menu board, a tea service, loads. All the images have a couple of little notches that slot into slits on the shelves to help them stand upright. Nice!

I thought it would be clever to attach the base at the right hand side only to a piece of card big enough to then fold in half at the left hand side once all the detail had been added in, thus making my base card.  Like this…

tl-retail-therapy-card-attached

When will I learn? NEVER try to be clever. The lovely stiff card I was using simply did not want to fold close enough to the card edge for my liking, giving me a semi-spotted small rim down the spine. So I chopped it off instead. Probably a much better idea to stick a very slightly smaller (by a couple of millimetres) card to the back afterwards, or just provide a pretty die cut shape (with double-sided tape to affix it) that the giver can write on.

There are some helpful instructions on the Tattered Lace website, in the Downloads section. I didn’t look at these until after I had finished of course. I should have checked them out as it has cleared up the mystery of the cake stand construction for me!

I haven’t had time to make a second one yet. They do take a while, but if you like construction projects it is, honestly, great fun, and the end result is pretty darn fab. I know plenty of people who would love to receive one of these, and the images won’t just be restricted to shop fronts either, as the die cuts can easily be used for other projects. Would I recommend the product? Absolutely, definitely, yes. Do I want all the other shops they are teasing with? Absolutely, definitely, yes! Will I leave you with one more picture? Why not!

tl-retail-therapy-patisserie-detail-wonky

Supplies: Tattered Lace Retail Therapy Store and Retail Therapy Patisserie dies and CD-ROM; strong white card, glue and red liner tape

 

 

 

 

Today is World Cardmaking Day. Apparently. And I have nothing.

I have nothing ready. No dazzling sample to share. Nothing to illustrate the fun to be had with my hobby. I should have planned in advance, but in reality I have sat down with 45 minutes in which to think of a card, make the card, photograph the card and blog about the bleeping card. Hardly conducive to a nice relaxing afternoon, so I though about not posting at all, but the gods of paper craft would not allow that.

So, some panicky strategic thinking is required. A kernel of a plan forms. I will make a super-quick card using minimal supplies, something which perhaps a total novice, happening across the World Cardmaking Day theme might look at and think, hmmn, well I can certainly do THAT for goodness sake…

Here we go then. I chose one set of stamps, three shades of ink and a card blank. I could have used just two inks and the stamped the rain in black, but ink is not exactly pricey and most people would happily choose a few colours to get them started I think. Also as a tool I do have an acrylic block or two, but if you don’t own any you can use an empty CD case as this will hold your stamp firm and let you see the positioning.

cb-red-brolly

I stamped the greeting first, to make sure it would be where I wanted it on the card. It is actually straight but the photo makes it look a bit wonky! If I did the umbrella first then the sentiment may have ended up too low. Actually I think I could have positioned the brolly a bit higher here, but this was a one shot attempt, no time to re-do anything. If you are starting out and wonder how to do all this, The Cobweborium Emporium has a couple of brilliant detailed posts all about stamping technique.

Second I stamped the handle, then the umbrella frame (is it a frame? Or a canopy?). The infill sections are separate images, so you can add them inside the frame or stamp, cut out and layer on. I decided on the latter to reduce any possible mess-ups. I was going to glue them all flat, again in the spirit of keeping the supplies list down, but the middle section just looked so darn good raised up on one tiny, tiny bit of 3d foam that I had to go with it.

Finally some raindrops and, because I have them, a sparkly gem for the peak of the umbrella. Again this could easily be left out. I could add ribbon or baker’s twine too.

cb-red-brolly-detail

There we have it. A card, a picture or two, a blog post. 45 minutes well spent, hopefully.

Supplies: Clearly Besotted April Showers stamp set; Altenew inks Jet Black and Caribbean Sky; Brilliance ink Rocket Red. Gem from Docrafts

 

Tiny Prancer

This one is for you, Elton! I’m sure he reads this. Along with the IOC President of course – I got them all!!! Anyway, another eminently batchable (is that a word? ‘tis now) Christmas card. Although the background is annoying me a bit and needs tweaking. I really, really want a nice falling snow embossing folder but have not managed to lay my hands on one. I tried a couple of symmetrical folders (swiss dot and a triple cluster of dots) but they were too busy, too ‘all over’. I also experimented with another which has a snowy village scene and a lot of sky with a few tasteful tiny frozen flakes, but the cottages showed at the sides of the reindeer bit. It made it look like I had some kind of Lapland version of Godzilla laying waste to Santa’s workshop. So that was a ‘no’ then.

sb-reindeer-card

I decided to leave the background blank, put everything else together and stuck it on, then decided NOT to leave the background blank. Go figure. I thought I would try embossing a small scattering of dots, meant to charmingly represent snow. But the card I had chosen was too thick to be able to see through to use a brass embossing plate in the usual way. I had what I then thought was a totally genius idea: deboss on the front so I can see where I am going, then flip it over and push it back out from the other side, to make an emboss! Einstein level, right? Worked a treat in practice, but of course I was practising on a bit of scrap card. The reality of doing it on the otherwise finished article, with everything else already stuck on, meant that I was a bit over-cautious about pushing too firmly with the embossing tool. So the ‘snow’ barely shows up on the inside. I wasn’t going to risk it. It could have ended up looking like my snow had sneezed. So it is how it is, but may change slightly for next time! As I type this it occurs to me that maybe I should have tried freehand embossing. I don’t freehand anything as a rule, but it might work for this.

I used Spellbinders Ovals and Scallop Ovals, and a Spellbinders Reindeer die, all of which I have had for a few years. The greeting is by Clearly Besotted, and the uber-sparkly (where is my umlaut? People? People? I need an umlaut here..) ribbon from Docrafts.

If Elton wants me to make his Christmas cards he knows where to find me.

 

How do you do it?

Blogwise, how do you roll?

How do you plan your posts? Do you schedule well in advance and have it all written and ready to go?

Do you have an outline plan, to which you add detail as you get close to posting?

Do you post on set days?

And, seeing as we are on the subject, do you set your posts to publish ahead of time?

Or, do you think, write, post as the mood takes you?

So, I’ll go first. That’s a given, right?

Generally, almost everything I post here is spontaneous, off the cuff, however you want to call it. I very rarely have any cards made in advance, or even planned, so if I want to post I have to make something in the evening after work, then the following day take a photo or two, think of a title, write the post and publish. Plus go have a look at what everyone else is doing (in fact I usually do this before posting myself). It can take a lot of time. Don’t get me wrong – I am not complaining. This is a voluntary undertaking and I am having a ball. I also love to visit other blogs and check in with my bloggy pals. It’s the whole flipping point of this after all! But I do wonder if I could do it better?

However, this is one post I did actually plan a bit in advance, mainly because I am really, really interested in knowing how everyone else goes about the task. If you are someone who has to ‘make first, post second‘, how do you do it? How do you make it work? I know some people post WIP, and if you garden, grow, draw, paint, knit, sew, crochet or stitch this makes absolute sense, because your projects can take weeks or months to complete. But if like me your end product is a relatively quick thing, but you also work, have a household, a social life etc etc, well I can‘t help thinking that I should be more organised. Or is the answer just to post less?

Sometimes I have an idea in advance, and then I can plan better, and write something (which I generally change radically anyway), but not often. Usually I sit down, and think hmmmnnn….for quite a while…..

Thing is, this is so against my nature! I am someone whose comfort zone is firmly in the ’be prepared’ department; I am the woman who sends emails to the boss explaining everything I have done and covering every possible scenario when I am away from work for a week. Flying by the seat of my pants would definitely require a sick bag. I have no idea why I am ok to abandon all my natural tendencies when it comes to blogging. Maybe it is just time pressure.

I would love to have nice posts, all neatly lined up and ready to go, like little glittery packages sitting, waiting to be picked up by virtual carrier pigeons. Maybe one day! In the meantime, here’s a quick card, and yes, I had to rustle it up before I could post this!!

cb-elliecb-ellie-detail

Supplies: Clearly Besotted Baby Shower and Mini Basic Banners stamps and dies; Lawn Fawn ink in Hippo

 

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.

 

 

Is it snowing upside down?

A fourth Christmas card. At this rate I will be ready by about Boxing Day 2018. I’m going to have to get a wriggle on. Like most, I do struggle to deal with Christmas so early, but if I don’t speed up family and friends will be getting shop-bought (again).

What I should be doing is coming up with a few simple but (hopefully) classy designs that I can easily batch make, but that in an ideal world will make the onlooker gasp in wonder. What are the chances of that happening? Fat chance? Slim chance? Why do those both mean practically the same thing, when fat and slim are polar opposites?

Anyhoo, back to the point. So I should be trying to make something simple but stunning. Instead I decided to create a pull tab slider card. Go figure. I haven’t made any kind of slider since Methuselah was in short trousers, and then only a penny slider which is MUCH easier. I contemplated the penny slider here but if you are not a card maker and still reading this (thanks, and well done!) a penny slider makes the object roll in a circle rather than slide in a straight line. Meaning my little car would be involved in some horrific road accident. Not ideal. So I did a bit of YouTube swotting up and then got stuck in.

lf-car-sliderlf-car-slider-pulled

I used a whole mish-mash of products for this. The snow die (love it, love it, love it) is from Avery Elle. It cleverly cuts the holes to be the snowflakes. Genius. I will be using this a lot!

The houses, car and tree are Lawn Fawn, and so is the sentiment. The diagonal stripe is from Clearly Besotted. I was brave (foolhardy?) and used some alcohol markers to colour the car, although I did seriously contemplate paper-piecing instead. You will notice there are no close-up shots!

I didn’t have a rectangle die long and wide enough to make my slider gap, so I just used a shorter one and extended it by fitting one end back into the cut space and the other over the card surface again, then ran it back through the machine to cut to the right length.

There was a fair bit of faffing around with this, but no actual mess-ups. Except I am not sure if the snow is upside down or not? Aw, who cares!

Supplies:

Lawn Fawn Home for the Holidays stamps and dies and Little Town border die; Avery Elle Falling Snow die; Clearly Besotted Diagonal Stripes stamps

 

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.

 

 

Tickled? Well a bit of pink, anyway…

Whilst I have something out to make a card, I often figure I may as well make more than one. Give the product a bit of a workout. But without the lycra and the star jumps. So, three simple cards with one die set: MFT Die-namics Feathers & Arrows. I have been seeing a lot of pink and copper products and colour schemes and this tickled my fancy first. I used Brilliance Cosmic Copper ink and a really old embossing powder by Personal Impresssions called Copper Kettle. I dithered over straight or fuzzy line finish for the dipped feather and settled for fuzzy. If you deliberately choose imperfect then you are bound to get it right! The dotty feather is done with a stencil – the edges of the spots are a bit ragged but hey ho. I really like how this die creases down the centre, so you can easily get some dimension but they will still fold down flat for postage.

feathers-pink

Card number two appeals to my sense of humour. The patterned papers are from theTrimcraft Paradise Crush pad, and they feature feathers. So I have feathers cut from papers with feathers on them. Just me then? Ok, fair enough. I know it looks a bit like a dream catcher, which is totally unintentional because dream catchers are something I find quite ugly! But, this is just a bunch of feather-feathers, right? I drop-shadowed the sentiment a bit to help it stand out more from the background paper.

feathers-paradise-crush

The third one is super-quick. I sprayed the die cut feather with two shades of some ancient Cosmic Shimmer misters I had, then dipped the top in gold leaf paint. I had earlier tried embossing the top section of the feather in gold, but it looked a bit too muddy for my liking. Hence the dunking.

feathers-gold

Three cards. That increases my output this week to, hmmn, three….peachy…