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.

 

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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…

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

Note to self…

You know that phrase “don’t sweat the small stuff”? I think I should have it written large on the wall of my craft room. Many times over in fact. Cover a whole wall. Maybe every wall.

Why am I considering this drastic redecoration? Because, I kid you not, when I was happily stamping and sticking here it actually popped into my head that I should be sure to mention no butterflies were harmed in the making of this card. Really. Fleetingly, but it happened. Now, a kind person could suggest here that perhaps it is just an example of political correctness gone mad. Possibly.

But wait, there’s more. I also thought that aesthetically I would have preferred more butterflies in the jar, so colours (wings) overlapped. But I couldn’t overcrowd them, could I?! So now I have non-sentient stamped butterflies endowed with rights to a reasonable space in which to flap a wing…

The third one is the charm they say (although I never really understood that saying): I had to have some of them escaping the jar so it was clear they were not being held prisoner…

If my family feel they need to get me sectioned after this, well, to be honest I’d think they had a point…

This is made using a lovely stamp set by Dreamees. It has four different sizes of jar (this is the largest), a really cute fairy castle, a sail boat (for ship in the bottle fun) and some small butterflies, hearts and flowers plus a few other elements. This is the first time I have used any of their stamps and I was impressed: they took the ink really well, stamped beautifully, and are really well priced.

jar of happiness pink

I have kept things very simple here (when is it ever any different?!). So one flat layer, just masking off the jar to allow it to be grounded. I considered masking the sides too, and stamping the butterflies over the edge, but y’know, I thought it might be a breach of the Butterfly Rights Act 2016. I cut the layer with the stamping a bit smaller than usual to show off some of the gingham-y goodness underneath. I added a couple of bits of Candi for extra pinkness. With the exception of the sentiment all the inks used are from Altenew: Moon Rock for the jar, Evening Gray for the ‘table’, Frosty Pink, Cotton Candy and Coral Berry for the butterflies. The sentiment was stamped in Brilliance Graphite Black as I was using vellum and the dye ink was just taking too long to dry. I wish I had waited because it has dried fine now, and it would have been nicer to have it in the same grey. Never mind. I have much more important issues of butterfly welfare and husbandry to keep me occupied.

So, card number 2. No anthropomorphising issues this time. Just hearts. Who cares if they get broken or damaged along the way?! Weeeeeell…I stamped the hearts in blue and then wondered if that was an indication of misery of the romantic kind. Feeling blue? Heartbroken? Guess what? This uncaring, unsympathetic eejit has put your suffering in a jar… and stuck a garnish on it… Seriously over-thinking here!

jar of happiness blue

I used a Reverse Confetti die called Falling Confetti for this one. Except the confetti is, erm, reversed and falling upwards… Must remember the packaging is the brand name, not an instruction!

For card number three it would appear that some sanity has been restored. Three small jars in pretty papers. This was made with the Trimcraft Floral Muse pack. I have used it a lot, but that is because it is beautiful, so why not? The border is a Magnolia Tilda Lace die which I have had for years but gets pulled out every time I want something pretty and lacy.

jar of happiness trio

Still not ‘feeling it’ craft-wise. I am hoping that some Christmas projects, maybe gift bags and gift wrap instead of cards, might just get me a bit more motivated. I think that makes me a ‘glass half full’ kind of chick.

 

If at first…

Or is it ‘Oops I Did it Again’?

I previously posted a card I made and was not happy with. What I had in my head did not make it into paper form. But I knew I liked the colours I had chosen, and the stamp is adorable, so I decided to have another go. A fellow blogger Kim (go see her amazing work) suggested perhaps a bit of depth would be good. That gave me an idea. Thanks Kim!

vintage sunbather

I used dies to make the base card and a frame. I also caved in on the clean idea and ‘vintaged it up’ a bit, which I think works better. The controversial (lol) giant shells didn’t make it into this version – I tried them but was still unsure so opted for a tiny anchor instead. Same issue, but reversed, and different embellishment!

There is glitter, but it doesn’t show in the photo. That seems to happen a lot. Someone should invent photogenic, non-camera-shy-but-still-subtle glitter. It’ll probably need a catchier name than that… GlitterArti, maybe?

I definitely prefer this version. It isn’t super, but I think it is better. Thank you to everyone who commented on the previous card post. Sometimes a team effort is just what I need!

The stamp is from Crafty Individuals; blue spotty paper and bunting are from Serif digikits and the red spotty is from Craftwork Cards.

What has plenty of ‘or’s, but no boat?

This does. Another ‘warts and all’ post..

The temperature in my corner of the UK is 32°C today. We are not prepared for such things. Air conditioning is not commonplace; people are hot, and there is no cooling breeze, real or man-made. I work in an old building which takes ages to warm up in winter and ages to cool down in summer. There has been some petty pilfering of, and ugly scenes over fans. Towns are unbearable in weather like this, especially if you have to work and try to still look vaguely professional and not like a melted waxwork gamely sporting a summer frock.

What happened to the Goldilocks effect? Why is it either ‘unseasonably cold’ or ‘unseasonably hot’? Why is it hardly ever ’just right’? of course I know my ’just right’ is not for everyone. but, my ‘just right’ is pretty much bang on what we are daily told we should be expecting for the time of year. Fine & sunny, lovely. Warm, sure. Low to mid 20s C, super. I am pretty sure temperatures of +30° are unconstitutional.

Here is something seasonal, as well as being the warts and all bit (sorry if you thought that was covered in the above rant)! I think it also lacks the Goldilocks effect. A few days ago I made this card and I am not sure about it. Sometimes I think it is fine, and other times very much flawed. I love the image, and because I am somewhat challenged in the colouring department I opted for a bit of punchy selective paper piecing instead. Cunning, huh?! OK, not exactly Machiavellian but not Baldrick either. Then I though I would aim for a vintage look, but with sun-bleached seaside colours.

vintage seaside

I found the bunting in a digikit and it was ok, but not enough. A further search for shells and I found these two in different kits, resized, re-coloured and then added them. Now, well, I just don’t know. Maybe if I had stamped the sunbather onto kraft card instead? Or just taken down the white a bit? Or used a smaller card base and moved the main image up to touch or overlap the bunting slightly? Or not put the poor sunbather in imminent danger of being overpowered by giant human-eating shells? Or maybe it is just a bit uninteresting?

Supplies: stamp from Crafty Individuals; everything else from Serif CraftArtist