Christmas Countdown

Everyone beginning to feel a little bit festive? Heard your first Christmas songs on the radio? Starting to think about how on earth you will serve the sprouts in the hope of making them palatable this year? Or have you already got all your gifts wrapped, cards written and posted and been on a diet of mince pies and eggnog for a week?

When I looked out onto the street today, approximately mid-morning, for a moment I thought that maybe the neighbourhood had been evacuated for a gas leak and that somehow we had missed the warning. The road, normally nose-to-tail parked, was totally empty. Not one single car in sight. I sniffed. No gas. But perhaps a whiff of credit card meltdown? Everyone was out shopping! It made me realise I need to get a wriggle on.

So far, I have made some cards, experimented with some ornaments and that is it. No decorations up, gifts bought or anything. We usually have the tree up in the first few days of December. Partly because my sister’s birthday is early in the month and as kids it became a tradition to have the decorations in place by then, and I just carried it on in my own home. Also, partly, because I used to spend a whole weekend putting up elaborate garlands, lights and an enormous tree. If you go to all that effort you don’t want to spend the following weekend taking it all down again. You want to get a few weeks’ worth of twinkle for your exertions!

I don’t invest so much time any more – as long as there are plenty of fairy lights and some sparkle I am good. I really used to object to the amount of time it takes to dismantle and pack everything away!

Anyhoo, today as I was sorting through some boxes I came across a few cards I made last year, but didn’t use. They are a more traditional style, using Anna Griffin products. I know I have said it before, but I do love Anna Griffin style. Very classic, very classy.

ag-red-hollyag-reindeer-bowag-holly-with-script

These were all simple to make. The shapes are already cut out and layered for dimension, you just decide how you want to put them together. The kits usually come with inspiration sheets too. I have to say I cannot remember whether all these combinations are my own, or whether I recreated some of the examples. What I would say is that if anyone is thinking of trying their hand at card making, kits like these, with sentiments, 3d elements and coordinating papers and ribbon are a great way to start and build up your confidence. Lots of different companies offer them, and for all occasions.

These will definitely get used this year!

 

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The return of the 3d foam…

No, this is not an Edgar Allan Poe rip off.

Today I had a fancy to make a Christmas card that takes a bit more time, hopefully one of the ‘special‘ ones my mum likes to give to immediate and extended family. I decided to park postage cost considerations too, but that was it, no other real plan, except to cut a whole load of shapes and see what happened.

Colour scheme: gold and ivory initially. So I die cut a load of leaves and berries using various Tonic dies. These particular ones are quite large as they were intended to make wreaths I think, so I wasn’t too sure how, or if, I could make them work on a card. But if you don’t try, how will you find out?

So, I had lots of gold shapes to play with, but whilst I was trying to make an arrangement I felt the open areas of the images didn’t work so well with the overlapping effect I was going for – it just looked a bit muddled to me. A background colour was in order, and I decided to use the ivory for this.

I have seen demonstrators doing what they call ‘undercutting’ to make a two-coloured embellishment: basically sticking the die cut to the backing and then cutting around the edge, but at an angle to make sure the edges are clean and neat and don’t have the background colour showing. I can’t do this very well myself. I think you either have scissorhand skills or you don’t. I don’t. But these shapes gave me the option of grabbing the ‘negative’ left from the die cutting and drawing inside it, then snipping just inside the pencil line. Perfect layers – hurrah!

Then I wanted a bit more drama than just gold and ivory, so found a satin red DL card which I cut in half (one side was a bit scuffed), wrapped with ivory ribbon then layered onto a plain ivory DL base card. I arranged and glued various leaves and cones, cutting into some of them if necessary to get smaller pieces, and using a small amount of 3D foam here and there. I also only glued some of the sprigs at the top, under the cones, so they are able to make a shadow.

Finally an extra knot of ivory satin ribbon at the top and time for the mug shots.

tonic-pine-cone-1

Supplies: Tonic Rococo dies Pine Cone; Pine Leaf, Mistletoe Sprig, Holly Leaf, Berry Sprig. Ribbon from The Ribbon Room. All card from stash.

 

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.

 

Before I was interrupted…

Here is the card I was going to post yesterday, before the cat intervened. It is the simplest of designs in the most neutral palette. I toyed with adding something else, but decided against it. I know the card is beyond bare, but I figure that in its current form it could be used for many occasions, some happy, some not so. Additional colour, ribbon, pearls, whatever, would define its purpose a bit more. Someone has asked me for a few cards that could be used for illness, sympathy or just for a bit of support in tough times and I thought this might work. I hasten to add this person had no immediate need for any of these or I would not be mentioning it in a post. The sadness or misfortune of other people is not my blogging material.

barest tree

It literally is a single die cut, stuck to a base of the same off-white card. It feels a bit cheeky, really.

Unusually, this time my inspiration was…me! This one below was my first ever card that got re-pinned on Pinterest quite a few times, giving me a bit of a confidence boost to pin more of my own stuff. I think it was because it was (a) Anna Griffin (always popular) and (b) completely achievable for anyone with opposable thumbs!

AG holly die by paperfluff

Supplies: Whimsical Tree die by Spellbinders; holly die from Anna Griffin (it came in a set so I don’t think it had a name of its own); linen effect card from Create and Craft.