Mother’s Day Cards

Either late, or early depending on where you live!

These are the cards I made for Mother’s Day this year. I waited until after the day as my mother reads all my blog posts. She also still watches to make sure I cross the road safely, and yet this is something I have been accomplishing without incident for years…

For the first I used some Tonic dies I have had for a long time. They are very adaptable as you can cut the hearts out completely or leave them in the card. I decided to make a kind of layered window effect, so the top layer has the larger heart cut into it and the second layer has the smaller sentiment. It doesn’t show up too successfully in my pictures, I’m afraid! As I was going for an all cream card I thought I needed a bit more interested so rummaged through my embossing folder trough and selected one from Sizzix that has some pretty details but is not an all-over pattern. Sometimes a little bit of blank space is good. I tied the ribbon knot and thought I had finished, but then changed my mind and added the trail of pearls too.

mothers day heartmothers day heart 2mothers day floral muse

The second card is made with Dovecraft Floral Muse papers. I know I have used these a few times now, but they are my current ’go to’ when really pretty and feminine patterns are required. I was inspired by something I saw on Pinterest, but I changed it up a bit and added several details of my own. The various layers of papers were edged with Vintage Photo Distress Ink to give them some definition. Butterflies were fussy cut from one of the pages in the pad and then I spent ages trying to find a good match in my ink colours for the sentiment. Many a green was tried and tossed and finally I went with Brilliance Pearlescent Beige. A few more pearls again (well, why not?) and I was happy. Oh, and another doily from my doily mountain has been used….

Supplies: Dovecraft Floral Muse paper pad; Clearly Besotted Mini Banner stamp and die; Tonic On Mother’s Day Affections Insert die set; Sizzix embossing folder (it has no name on it!); string pearls from The Ribbon Room and individual pearls from Dreamees

 

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Florals Two Ways

I have a quick post today – two cards using florals and a lot of white space – but with quite different results.

The first was partly a result of playing around with die cut letters on busy patterned paper and partly inspired by a card I have seen somewhere…but I cannot recall. The designer had either stamped a whole lot of flowers and then die cut the letters, or die cut the letters then stamped on the lower portion only. It was a thing of beauty and if I could find it, I could tell you what they had done! I loved the look, but wanted a really quick version so took a shortcut. I selected a floral border from a digikit, resized it, and copied and pasted several times. This would give me lots of choice for positioning my dies. After that I just placed the letters to give plenty of variety in colour and flower. Once cut I popped them onto 3D foam and spent far too long painstakingly positioning them. Not quite as quick as it could have been but there you go. I make my own trouble.

flowered-happy-white

The second card is black and pink. Again. But actually I have been very good and not abused this colour scheme for a while. What can I say? I fell off the wagon and indulged in one of my favourite combinations. The roses are from a Craftwork Cards USB I have had for a while, which includes printables of the totally gorgeous Heritage Rose range. Hurrah! So all to be done was print a page of roses, fussy cut and layer them up. A die cut sentiment from Tonic, a knot of narrow black ribbon and we are good to go.

sent-with-love-and-heritage-rose

So, one understated card and one that kind of smacks you in the face, but smells of roses so you have to forgive it…just mind the thorns…

flowered-happy-and-sent-with-love

Supplies: XCut Wedding Alphabet and Numbers dies; Tonic Sent With Love die; Craftwork Cards USB including Heritage Rose Collection; Louise Tiler Birthday Florals digikit for Serif CraftArtist; card and ribbon from Create and Craft

 

3D Thursday: travelling light

Today I have 3 tiny little suitcases. They are made with Tonic Studio’s King’s Cross dies. Naughtily, Tonic omitted the apostrophe on the packaging. I think this could therefore mean the monarch is having a hissy fit instead…. I used a sheet of yellow gingham to brighten the day for one of them and some old Kanban printed cardstock for the others.

They are pretty easy to do – just a bit fiddly getting one side to close into the other as the are both the same size. The extra bits and pieces to decorate them are fun, and the corner bracket thingies were vital for me as I struggle to get a really good finish trying to shape a curve, so they hide the carnage nicely. They are 10 x 2.5 x 6cm, so good for small gifts, favours, gift cards etc, but definitely no heavy luggage!

kings-cross-yellowkings-cross-purplekings-cross-green

 

Travelling light is exactly what we had to do at Christmas, as Riley (the cat) was going on a long train journey for the first time, and carrying a wriggly cat is not the most practical way to travel. I won’t bore you with all the details, just the funniest bit. We were staying with family and basically I think we blew Riley‘s furry mind, briefly. Mum, sister and BIL have three cats between them already, so Riley was given my mum’s bedroom as his ‘safe place’. Early signs were promising as he seemed to be willing to leave the room and explore a bit on the second day. Although it was a few inches at a time, then back to the safety of under the bed, briefly, to then try again. I should explain here that the house has a flight of stairs, then a bedroom off to the left and living room to the right. For some reason (probably to do with the age of the house – it is a couple of hundred years old) there is an additional step up to floor level on each side once you reach the top of the stairs. So you arrive at the landing level, then turn either left or right and step up one more time to continue. I hope this makes sense?! Now the level that Riley’s room was on also has an area between the stairwell and the living room leading to the stairs to the next level of the house. Still with me? Good.

So, Christmas Eve, bed time. Riley decides it is time to channel his inner Christopher Columbus and go exploring. He makes it out of the bedroom, and oh-so-fleetingly across the stairwell and into the living room he had been eyeing up from a distance for a day or so. Then, panic, and he scooted back to the bedroom. But, he went for it again! I was so proud. Briefly. Alas he got it wrong, didn’t make it as far as the living room and instead tore around the corner and off up the stairs to where sister and BIL had, I thought, gone to bed.

Now, the layout of rooms and the location of the stairs and the superfluous steps is EXACTLY the same on this top floor. So Riley headed for the ‘bedroom of safety’, only to realise it was not the room he anticipated. So he shot across the gap at the top of the stairs and into the living room opposite. But, of course, this was not the room he expected or had familiarised himself with either!

Any proud cat owner would hope that their furry charge would realise the error, remember the stairs and slink back down to familiarity. Right? Well, sadly my friends that did not happen. Riley just shot repeatedly from bedroom to living room, vaulting the stair gap like a gazelle fleeing a crocodile. Each time he found himself in the ‘wrong room’ he froze, turned and legged it out again at speed. We realised what was happening after about the sixth time, and, well an intervention was staged. I never knew I could catch a speeding cat in mid-air so cleanly. Maybe this should be my Olympic event?

 

Giving, and Thanks.

Last night we had another power cut, blacking out most of the evening. Initially I was grouchy. I hadn’t yet cooked dinner and having been a bit peaky for a few days I had a lot of blog catching up to do. Then I got a grip. We were safe, warm (as long as we stayed in the one room), and a supper of cheese and biscuits would often be a guilty pleasure anyway. The situation was hardly dire or dramatic. Having some of your creature comforts taken away for a few hours does sometimes give you a bit of a reality check and remind us how lucky we are to have a home at all.

So, I have a story to share. I also tell this story every time I listen to someone complaining about people living on the streets.

In the UK in the 1980s there were a lot of visible homeless people, or beggars (there is a difference, one does not necessarily mean the other) on the streets in central London. Those years were so difficult for so many, and so lucrative for a small minority. I was OK. I was in my first job, with a decent starter salary and most of my income was at my own disposal. Not exactly a ‘Have’, but lucky enough not to be a ‘Have not’.

Newspapers and TV would often comment on the numbers of homeless, some sympathetically and some not. There were warnings that you should not give money, that it was a trick to steal your purse, or that some people were ’professional’ beggars and went home to a nice cosy house at the end of a lucrative day. Many also said that you were being made a fool of if you gave anything.

I found it hard to accept that all these people were con artists. Another line taken was that they deliberately chose to be homeless. Maybe some did, maybe some preferred this way of life, but I couldn’t believe that was the case for all. You had to consider that if they had made the choice to run away, or live on the streets, what awful things happened at home to make this the better option? Maybe this was not intended, but things had simply not worked out and there was no way back?

Anyway, whatever had happened to someone, however they had gotten there, I (and of course thousands of others) could not simply walk by every day and ignore a person on a pavement. I made a decision that I didn’t care if I was being ‘conned’, or made a fool of by some: that would be their problem, not mine. I didn’t give money to everyone I saw, but used to give a decent amount of money, so a few pounds, not pennies, to some, hoping it meant they could definitely eat that day.

It was Christmas Eve, and we finished work around lunchtime. As was traditional, a visit to the pub was in order for a couple of white wine and tonics (really, not sure I would like that now!!) and then a few of us headed to London’s Oxford Street for some last minute shopping. It was cold, getting a bit dark, there was festive music coming from almost every shop and a sea of Christmas lights. The pavements were thick with shoppers and sightseers, making it difficult to progress, or even just keep track of your friends.

But someone caught my eye. She was a young woman holding a notice. The notice was brief, and I have to be honest and say that now I forget the exact details, but I think it just said she and her small family had been recently made homeless, and asked for any spare change. She was not confronting anyone, not even speaking, just standing quietly. I made a quick decision that I wanted to do something nice that afternoon. My purse was full of cash so I went up, tucked a £20 note into her hand and walked on as she was saying thank you. Now in those times, this amount of money would easily buy enough food for a week. Some of my work colleagues told me I was stupid, that she had probably been given many times that amount of money already, I was lucky my purse hadn’t been stolen etc etc. We carried on up towards Selfridges, with them still telling me I was daft.

And then the worst thing happened. She started to follow me. Someone I was with saw her dodging through the throngs of shoppers “oh look, she’s after you!” Stupidly, we sped up. Now I could hear her calling out ‘Miss, Miss, wait!’. There was a comedy chase on for a few moments and then she caught up with me. I honestly don’t know what I expected to happen next. For sure I didn’t think I would be mugged as all the dire warnings would have me fretting was likely to happen, because she just didn’t seem like that kind of person.

But I was definitely not expecting to hear “this is a lot of money. Are you sure you meant to give me this much?”

I told her I had meant to, and she seemed a bit bemused, or surprised maybe. She thanked me again, quietly. I hope we wished each other a Merry Christmas, but you know, this is not the Hallmark Channel so I cannot be certain. But I remember this woman every year, and I always hope she is OK, that things worked out for her. I hope she had a good Christmas.

To me, I actually don’t care if she raked in ££££s that day, but I really don’t think she did. If she was doing well enough standing where she was, and was unscrupulous enough to ask for money when she had no genuine need, why bother to chase me? No. She was a decent and honest person, that for some reason was in a bad situation and had no other options. I think I got more from the encounter than she did, to be honest.

So this is my ‘giving, and thanks’ story. Happy Thanksgiving to all those that celebrate the holiday.

Oh, and whilst we were in semi darkness last night I managed to make a card.

blue-merry

Supplies: Tonic Rococo Build a Wreath dies; Anna Griffin ‘merry’ die; The Works for the smaller sprig die (it doesn’t seem to have a name)

 

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.

 

If you want to get ahead…

Get a hat!!

I have another two quick card designs to share today, both using the same hat image. I need to ramp up the production now that we are in November. Also so as not to cost a fortune for postage, a lot of the cards I make for me or my mother to send out need to be almost totally flat. In the UK, if your item is more than 5mm thick it incurs an extra postage charge. If you don’t realise this and just stick the envelope in the post box, the recipient has to pay or they don’t get the card! All I have for dimension here is a knot of ribbon, which just about keeps within the frankly miserly, very un-Christmassy stipulation. Now I think about it, I reckon there should be a surcharge amnesty for the run up to 25th December. And of course for every other holiday, religious or state, too. Or maybe ‘happy mail’ should be allowed to be any size, and only bills, junk mail and boring stuff should be subject to regulation? Much better idea!

Totally flat is tough for me, what with the addiction to 3D foam, but needs must. I am sticking with a minimal colour palette and a lot of white space. This time though the white space has been turned into snow using Crafter’s Companion Elegant Snowfall embossing folder for a bit of extra interest.

be-merry

For the first card I have used the Lawn Fawn Winter Big Scripty Words stamps and dies for the ‘be merry’ and a Taylored Expressions Santa’s Hat die.

For the second I used the same Santa Hat and a Tonic Dear Santa die. The hat band and pom pom are glittery but, guess what? Yep, doesn’t show in the photo!

dear-santa

I really wanted to add some jingle bells to the cards but made do with using them as photo props. I think I will make some more with all the bells (literally) and whistles (figuratively) on though, and to hell with the postage costs!

Supplies:

Lawn Fawn Winter Big Scripty Words stamps and dies; Crafter’s Companion Elegant Snowfall embossing folder; Taylored Expressions Santa Hat die; Tonic Dear Santa die; Create and Craft gold linen effect card; ribbons from The Ribbon Room

 

 

 

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!

 

Searching for my Inner Anna

Don’t worry, this is not a call to self-examine with a mirror and a yoga position. I mean Anna Griffin, supreme mistress of all gorgeousness. I have bought tons of Anna Griffin products over the years – mostly stamps and papers but a few other goodies too – and I regularly get them out, look at them, shove them around the table a bit and then give up and put them away again. I think it is because I know that whatever I try to make will not come up to the ideal I have in my head. I simply cannot achieve those ‘fully loaded’ cards. I wish I could, but there it is.

However a recent change of mindset has led me to give it another go. I am not going to try and copy Anna’s style; I realise my past failings at this have led to the products not being used, and they are way too lovely for that. It is a crime against paper and ink! So I am just going to use them my way and see what happens.

AG Black grey pink card

This is the first effort. I can’t believe I produced yet another black and pink card! I swear, I don’t even realise I am doing it! Only halfway through did I look down and think ‘oh phooey’ (that wasn’t the word, obviously!!) ‘I’ve done it again!’ So I might have to banish some of the goodies back to the drawers again, to give other colours a look-in.

AG Black grey pink card detail

Because I have had all these products for years, I cannot tell you the names I’m afraid, but the stamp and patterned papers are by Anna Griffin. The sentiment might be from a Chalkboard range, but I can’t be certain! The flower was also made ages ago. Because it is made with paper clay and takes several hours to dry I just have a bag of them all made up in case I have a paper-clay-flower-related emergency situation. The mould was from Tonic.

 

Missing Links, and why I have never climbed Everest

So yesterday I mentioned that I had never done bloggy links and was not sure how to do it. But yay! I tried and they worked. My missing links are missing no more.

Really what I should have done was learnt how to do it a few months ago when I first started, but I am a terrible procrastinator with things like this. I tend to think ‘I’ll find out how to do it when the need arises’, as opposed to equipping myself with all the necessary tools and skills at the outset.

That’s why I’ll never climb Mount Everest. I’d get to the first hilly bit (!!) and realise I didn’t know how to say ‘crampon’ in Nepalese. Or Tibetan. Time to resort to the international language of mime, so oft adopted by the English abroad. Then imagine miming ‘crampon’ without resorting to a “sounds like” depiction that would only lead to confusion or embarrassment for all parties, and no satisfactory outcome.

Best leave mountaineering to others, then. However, what I have done is made a card bright and larey enough to leave at base camp and use as a beacon should you get stranded part way up. Actually I think you might be able to see it from space. So, to all legitimate mountaineering expeditions departing for major peaks any time soon, contact me and I will happily make you a beacon card to guide you to safety. (Do I need some kind of waiver here?!)

cwc heritage rose black dotty card

Back to blogging tech things. What I also need to do is go find those little yellow faces that everyone uses. Is there one with its tongue stuck firmly in its cheek? It may be needed….

Supplies: background and green patterned papers, flowers and sentiment are from Craftwork cards; Frame die is Tonic Keepsake Indulgence; gold card from Create and Craft.

 

 

Rediscovered Roses

I’m still rediscovering stamping. The inky kind, not the hissy fit kind (although sometimes the latter is tempting). This means trawling through boxes of old stash, usually looking for one thing and finding another. Sometimes I have no idea what possessed me to buy the sorry item I have found, but sometimes a little nugget of gorgeousness fights its way to the surface and winks beguilingly at you, just begging to be used. This has just happened. Whoo hoo!

It is Wednesday, so it has to be quick and easy again. “No point in adding extra pressure by trying to produce a midweek masterpiece” was my original resolve when I decided to try and make a card a day. I have already flunked that anyway, and now I have for some mad reason decided to up the ante and sometimes try for two! I can’t even explain or justify the logic of this to myself…

This Darkroom Door stamp is divine, and straight away a couple of ideas popped into my head. Here is the simplest one to accomplish:

Cream and grey look classy and a bit softer than cream and black – although I love that combination too! The embossing folder is from Tonic, the punch is a Martha Stewart one and the heart was in a mixed batch of embellishments that I have also had since for ever.

OK. now off to try and rustle up card number two…..it might be a plaster stuck on a blank card with Get Well Soon scribbled underneath it….would that count??