Countdown to Easter: Eggsbox, but no games

Making a mountain out of mini eggs

Easter eggs are not just for kids, or at least not as far as I am concerned. I like to gift a few mini eggs to friends and family too. But handing over a rather dull net of chocolate is, well, a bit humdrum, so usually I try to gussie them up a bit.

In previous years I have made little ‘shopping bags’ and folded pouches but I thought it was time to try something different. This presentation is not 100% successful. It is a bit wobbly and needs to go into a flat bottom cello bag for transportation (as in to the recipient, not to a penal colony). Also I am not wild about the foil wrapping on the eggs. It is a bit busy for my tastes but that is how they come. The hard candy shell eggs would have been better visually, but obviously hygiene prohibits the use of unwrapped items. I don’t think anyone would like a mouthful of glitter along with their chocolate. Or indeed a little bit of Riley now that we are in moulting season!

Still, the idea is ok, I think. I just made a quick box base from double sided gingham card and added a layer of with shredded paper. Shakespeare, in case the recipient should also fancy a jigsaw puzzle and some light reading. The outside is covered with multiple cuts of a picket fence die that was free with issue 144 of Papercraft Essentials magazine. Good free stuff!! Then I filled the box with some polystyrene eggs (from The Works) that had been covered in Martha Stewart glitter, one of my sadly deformed chicks and as many mini eggs as seemed feasible. Think of loading to the max a salad bowl, or a skip, whichever you can best identify with.

The final touch is a banner made with Clearly Besotted Mini Banners stamps and die. I cut the shape twice – once around the stamped image and once from plain gingham cardstock. I used red liner tape to fix an couple of cocktail sticks to the back of the stamped image and then 3D foam to cover the workings with the second die cut. A couple of Lawn Fawn Hoppy Easter eggs were hanging around so they got used too.

eggsbox1eggsbox3eggsbox2eggsbox4

Having stared at chocolate so much I am now off to eat some!

 

 

3D Thursday: Chirps, cheap as chips!

This is a quick project as I have not had time to make much this week. I did though have time to pay a visit to The Works, a shop I have only relatively recently discovered has a selection of craft items, often at really good prices. Amongst other things, I bought a birdcage die. I know birdcage imagery has been around for a long time and is probably out of fashion again now, but I have always liked ornate wire cages: whether fashionable or not, I just think they are very pretty. And at only £3 for a die which is nearly 10cm (4”) tall, well it would have been rude not to make a purchase. Of course I overdid the politeness and bought a lot more besides but we will gloss over that.

So, today I needed to make something for 3D Thursday. I had a few ideas in my head but all were quite time-consuming, then I thought about trying to 3D the birdcage. It is symmetrical apart from the bird on the top (I am glad he is sitting on the cage and not in it!) so in theory it should work. And guess what? This time the theory was right!

birdcage-lumiere

I cut the image four times for each cage from decently thick card, one lot in white and the other in silver, then folded back the small curlicues at the sides on the lower sections. I then glued these together to form the basic ‘square’ shape. Next came some semi-complicated and totally unnecessary faffing about with the tops of the cages: I cut the bird off the back one as it pointed in the opposite direction and looked odd in a photo. I also cut the bird and curlicues off the two side pieces, then pinched and glued them together to make a kind of dome. In practice this makes them look a bit complicated in the photo, although they do make interesting shadows. What I really should have done for an easy life is just cut the tapering top section off all but the front piece. Never mind, I know now!

Once this was done I die cut the bird only from silver glitter card and stuck it over the plain bird. He even has a little wing you can fold out. Nice to know he is capable of escape should he wish. Also a pearl for an eye as we don’t want him crashing into the furniture. I could have gone on and decorated the cage more, but I had no time.

To make them each into a lumiere I rustled up a quick sleeve for the battery tea light from white vellum, just to diffuse the light a bit. They could though also be used for tree decorations. For a quick project I am pretty happy with the results!

 

 

Not quite a Galaxy….

Not even a Ripple. Just continuing the transatlantic exchange that was kicked off with the mention of Walnut Whips a while ago. I understand at least one person across the pond has sourced and eaten a Walnut Whip as a direct result of that post. Chocolate is powerful stuff!

So, Galaxy is another brand of chocolate in the UK and, having learnt from my last omission to explain the cultural references, here is hopefully pretty much all the uninitiated need to know about Galaxy:

It is one of the major chocolate brands in the UK

It is milk chocolate

It comes in various bars – some just chocolate, some with nuts, biscuit, caramel etc added

A Galaxy Ripple is a long thinnish bar of folded ribbons of chocolate, thoughtfully covered in another layer of chocolate so it (theoretically) doesn’t fall down your front when you bite into it.

Galaxy Counters are little shiny discs (a bit like flying saucers) of chocolate. Initially branded for kids (I think you were meant to learn to count by how many you could shovel into your mouth before your mum stopped you), they disappeared for years. My sister and I were so distraught we nearly wrote to the Prime Minister about it. Now they are happily back, branded for adults and sold in nice, big, big bags.

Minstrels are the same as Counters, but with a hard sugar shell. They were marketed as ‘the chocolate that melts in your mouth, not your hand’. As if one was ever in the hand long enough to test this out! Apparently M&Ms had the same slogan but were not available in the UK then I don’t think.

Can you tell that I like Galaxy chocolate?

Anyway. This is a different kind of mini galaxy. A small scattering of die cut stars. Now I have the layout sorted, this would be a quick card to make in multiples. You could also make it with hearts or flowers instead of stars for a birthday or valentine.

Supplies are minimal: 3 nesting star dies, some pearlescent card, a small bit of glitter card, gold cord and 3D foam. That’s it.

galaxy-card

To make this:

Cut your base card or use a ready made blank. I made mine to UK A6 size, which when folded is 14.8cm x 10.5cm or approximately 4 1/8 x 5¾ inches. Sorry, I am not an inches person!

Cut a smaller layer for the front – I just do 0.5cm smaller than the base card front.

Grab your star dies and, starting with the largest, position them on this piece of card to get a rough idea of your layout. Move down to the middle size and plan where you want these to be too.

Fill in any obvious gaps with the smallest die. If you find it hard to visualise, just cut some spare stars from scrap and use them to help you set your design out.

Once you are happy, get cutting!

It looks good if you have one or two shapes falling off the edge of the panel.

Also, odd numbers are visually more pleasing than even, so I planned for 5 apertures of various sizes.

When all the stars have been cut tie the gold cord around the bottom section of the piece and secure firmly at the back.

Then tie a bow separately and stick it on the front. This is much easier than trying to tie around the card and get a good bow at the same time. It’s not cheating, it is ‘effective use of skills and resources’. Really.

Liberally add 3D foam to the back of the die cut panel, making sure you support it in the middle of the piece as well as the edges; then stick this to your base card.

galaxy-detail

The stars that fill the apertures are cut from glitter card. It doesn’t show up brilliantly in the photo but you can trust me! So I cut two mediums stars to fill the large star aperture, and one small one to fill the medium star aperture. I thought about just layering glitter card underneath the apertures created by the smallest star but decided it didn’t really add anything so, why bother?!

More 3D foam on the back of the stars, position them centrally in your apertures and you are done.

Chocolate, anyone?

 

 

3D Thursday: something advent-agious?

A few days ago a friend told me she had bought herself an advent calendar with a difference. Instead of pictures, or chocolates, it would give her daily presents of a favourite cosmetic brand. I have to confess to a touch of the green-eyed monster here as it is also made by one of my favourite brands, but at nearly £70 including delivery it is not in the budget for this year.

However, the idea of a daily treat for adults through December sounded pretty attractive. Why should the kids have all the good stuff? I think it would be fun to make an advent calendar for your other half, sister, brother, parent(s) or friend. Anyone, really!

So I pulled out my Tonic Advent Treat Squeeze Box die set. I have had this for a long time now – from whenever it first came out, I think. It is one of my all-time favourites, and still available. The box takes moments to make and all the recipient has to do is gently squeeze two opposite corners for the treat to fall from the bottom. And of course you can keep them plain or gussy up as much as you like.

squeeze-box-tgrio

If I am meeting girlfriends for lunch at Christmas I will make a few up and load them with a swanky truffle or wrapped sweets. You can also use them for small gift items such as makeup or jewellery, but maybe not for anything too precious as one squeeze and it could be lost! Also you don’t need to confine their use to Christmas or Advent: just leave the numbers out and you have year round table favours or dinner party treats, or just gift wrap. I have seen them, or something similar, made into Santa, or Rudolph, or a bee, a pig, a cow…Pinterest has loads of ideas for novelty triangular boxes.

This one is the simplest. Just gold card, a scrap of red I had previously embossed and a ribbon loop. You can omit the loops of course if you don’t plan on hanging them on the tree. I just like the extra texture and detail!

squeeze-box-plain-gold

This one is made from a scrap of Anna Griffin card. I wanted to use invisible thread to hang the jingle bells, but I can’t see it anywhere! Clearly it is living up to its name. I made do with white thread, which then broke on me once I had the bells in place, so a bit of keyhole surgery was called for. I had added a second holly leave but then decided it looked like the box had aspirations to be a windmill, so I removed it.

squeeze-box-silver

This third one is a bit more vintage looking. The paper is from Trimcraft’s North Pole collection. I bought it last year but I have seen it still around this year too. Personally I like a bit of glitter with vintage, but I know it is not for everyone. I had tried the number 4 in one of the other papers from the pack but it just lacked impact, so I cut another from red and glued it over the top. Maybe those last three words describe the effect well!

squeeze-box-north-pole

Of course if you fancy doing something like this you don’t need a die. Any small boxes, bags or envelopes can be adapted and decorated, ready for your advent treats!

 

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

 

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