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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Put that reindeer down!

It’s official. I am obsessed with reindeer imagery. I had a lightbulb moment of realisation recently. You know the kind of thing, when you look at your wardrobe and suddenly notice that almost everything is black, or white, or pink (insert your colour here). So many of the cards I have made for Christmas this year feature reindeer in one form or another. And the thing is, I have more reindeer stuff I haven’t even used! Maybe there is a term for this condition. For my dignity and self-respect I hope it isn’t simply ‘fruit loop’.

Anyhow, just a quick post today as I am still feeling a bit queasy. Luckily you can’t catch this sort of virus online. So, another reindeer card. Sorry! Hope there are no reindeer-phobics out there. This card isn’t actually radioactive as the look would suggest. Just silver, with winter sun catching on it. I quite like the incandescent look though!

reindeer-header-1

This was made using a Die’sire header die that I either bought last year or was maybe a freebie with a magazine, I can’t actually remember which. I can’t find the packaging and I am not sure if it is still available, but I think they do something similar anyway. I also used the Crafter’s Companion Elegant Snowfall embossing folder, plus Marianne reindeer and Anna Griffin Joy dies, again from old stash.

 

Three degrees

deer-family-multi

Whilst rummaging in the craft room at the weekend I came across some snowy acetate I bought a couple of years ago. Nothing like rediscovering an old friend, is there? I decided to give it a bit of a workout. Also, those who read my posts regularly may remember that a vital Christmas die went missing a few weeks ago. The guilty party is either the cat or a poltergeist, because the die was returned last week. Left in the middle of the living room floor. Hmmm. I am pretty sure forensic testing would detect kitty DNA, or at least tuna… Anyway, it is back so Christmas is no longer cancelled.

To the cards, then. The first ‘degree’ of difficulty, is well, not in the least bit difficult really. I used the Deer Family die as it is, plus a banner greeting. A square of the snowy acetate was layered over royal blue card for the background sky, 3D foam and done. Total absolute beginner level. I think it would be good for a male Christmas card, maybe?

deer-family-simple

For the second degree, well there was a bit more thinking required for the composition, but once that was done it was simple to put together. Here I have used acetate to make the base card: it is sturdy enough to stand up with no problem. This time for the Deer Family I cut away the circular dome, so they are just silhouettes on a strip of card. I stamped and embossed the sentiment onto vellum and then wrapped the vellum around the layer with the Tree Landscape and adhered this to the piece with the deer. For acetate cards you need to tidy up the inside too, so nobody sees the gluey mess that is your shame. Just cover it up with another bit of card and nothing to see here! You also need somewhere to write. Well, unless you don’t like the recipient enough to bother, but then why are you sending the card?! My top tip for this (only thought of it today) is to flip the card over so the front is facing down on your work surface. Now you can easily layer a panel to line up with whatever is on the card front. Then you can turn the card the right way up, open it and align the interior panel perfectly with the one you have stuck to the very back of the card. Hurrah!

deer-family-acetate

Now, the third degree of difficulty. I could have done with a lie down in a darkened room after this. All the dies are from different companies, so not intended to be used together but I had in my head that a diorama style would be fun. Fun for who, exactly?? I jest. It was a good thing to try and I felt I had achieved something. I’m not going to explain how I did it, because part-way in I had a bit of an epiphany and may have come up with a better and easier method. I will test it out and share if it works.

deer-3d

I do have a question to throw out there though. I want a detail gold embossing powder that is a really rich, bright, warm gold. The one I used on the first card here is, to be fair, at least 12 years old, but it is too ‘muddy’. Also, it MUST be a detail powder. Anyone got any recommendations? Oh and acetate, nightmare to photograph. I think you can see the roof of the house across the road in one of these shots and our guttering in another….how picturesque!

Long list of supplies today:

Clearly Besotted Tree Landscape and Mini Basic Banners dies; Lawn Fawn Village Border die; Memory Box Deer Family Circle die; X-Cut Rectangle Parenthesis Large dies; The Ton Holiday Lyrics (Dashing Through the Snow); Clearly Besotted Mini Basic Banners III stamps; Hunkydory snowy acetate. Rest of supplies from stash.

 

 

‘Tis the season to be blingy

Put your shades on, people….

Now in essence this is a quick card. In practice, far from it. We went through more reinventions and incarnations than Madonna. I think the problem was that I started with the premise that I HAD to use a gilded reindeer but could not find my large antlered beast anywhere, so used a much smaller die instead. I tried stamps for the sentiment because they were to scale, but the embossing powders could not compete with the blingy reindeer. I only have a few Christmas greeting dies and they are too big for this so just overwhelmed the poor little chap. Eventually I decided to cut one down, just to the word ‘Christmas’ which was fine. Then all the positioning went out of whack. Should there be snow up at the top, or snow down at the bottom? Ditto for the greeting. Everything I did fought against something else!

Eventually I decided on putting all the action into the middle of the black layer to give a border of peace and tranquility top and bottom. I think with such a full-on bling thing it was possibly a wise move! This means my brave little Blitzen is now dodging a gold meteor shower, just to bring some Christmas cheer. I hope we are all suitably grateful for his efforts….

blingy-reindeer

To make this card I cut a card blank in gold, then a smaller layer in black. I used the Avery Elle Falling Snow die to create my stardust/meteor shower in the black card and a cut a gold Tattered Lace Happy Christmas, minus the Happy. The recipient will have to take it as given. The reindeer is a Marianne die I have had for years. He doesn’t seem to have a name, just a serial number LR0179. Seems kind of unfriendly, hence the renaming to Blitzen.

blingy-reindeer-detail

Blitzen was a lot easier to gild than the tree decoration from last week. I dug out some double sided sticky paper that is meant to be used with detail dies to save you trying to get adhesive neatly on the back, but of course if you use it in reverse the front of your die cut becomes sticky instead, ready for gilding. So no gluey mitts this time.

I have to confess that the reindeer is raised on 1mm 3D foam, but otherwise the card is again totally flat and will easily meet the lowest postage charge criteria. Lets hope he makes it through the storm!

 

 

Reindeer Roundup

I so wanted to title this with the ‘it looks like reindeer’ pun, but I figure I have trampled over the line of acceptable punning way too far already on this blog, so I resisted. Practically killed me.

I don’t know where all my Christmas stamps are – I have a suspicion in a box at the bottom of a pile of other very large boxes, which means they will probably stay there unless I find an extra few days somewhere to sort out the craft room. I have a few stragglers lurking around though, and this stamp is one of them. I don’t think I used it much when I bought it years ago, back in the day when this one stamp cost £9.95!! Time to give it a quick workout.

penny-black-trio

So more reindeer themed cards then. I have a trio here, all very slightly different, because some things worked and some did not. Firstly I wanted to stamp this in grey, to be softer than black, but the grey ink didn’t do the best justice to the stamp’s detail. So I also tried it in two different blacks, which both showed the detail fine but were a fraction harsher than I would have liked, and totally indistinguishable from each other. Never mind, they are still usable.

I then decided I would ‘explore the theme‘. Translates as ‘mat them on to different colours and see which flies best‘.

Card number one is the grey ink, on a silver base card

penny-black-reindeer-grey

Card number two is black ink, on a silver base card

penny-black-reindeer-mixed

Card number three is black ink, on a black base. This one definitely did not look very Christmassy with just the knot of red ribbon the others are sporting, so I went for a bit of extra sparkle (glitter ribbon – who knew that existed??) and a sentiment. I also ‘domed’ the sentiment a little bit and supported it in the centre with some 3d foam so it would not get squished. I swear, if 3d foam suddenly becomes unavailable I may need to question my very existence.

penny-black-reindeer-black

What do we think? Which one looks the best? And, did you spot the ‘props’? OK, so it was two jingle bells, but it’s a start… Oh, and Kathy at paper and ink imaginings, three dotted gems – thanks for the suggestion last time!

The stamp is Penny Black “Let’s Play”. I have googled and it still seems to be available here and there. The banner greeting is from Clearly Besotted Mini Banners and ribbon from The Ribbon Room.

 

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.