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.

 

 

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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

 

 

Nun spotting

Lately I have been seeing more than the usual amount of nuns. Zero is precisely the usual number so anything above that is notable. This is Southeast London, not the Vatican City. We have no cathedral, no convents. I really hadn’t seen a nun out and about for years. Then, a few weeks ago, there was one on my bus journey to work. Her habit got caught in the door as she got off, but she and her modesty were luckily intact. She laughed it off as two kind and lovely young men came to her aid and no harm seemed to have been done.

A few days later I saw another, foolishly running across the road in front of a bus, whilst looking the other way.  I screwed up my eyes and…nothing…Nun intact and no harm done again. But two nuns in transport-related incidents? C’mon!

More days pass and I see nun number three. This one was licking an ice cream. I am not sure this is within the rules of acceptable nun behaviour (my nun knowledge is sketchy and based on childhood experience) but she didn’t look guilty so I guess maybe things are more lenient than when I was a kid. I think this might have required some reparation back in the day.

Then, two nuns together, walking arm in arm! Now I am really beginning to wonder. It’s like when you get a new car and your consciousness of the make and colour is raised. Suddenly you see your car’s doppelganger everywhere. I am on nun alert. But I am pondering: all their Habits were various colours, which to me means different Orders, I think? I have some dim recollection that clothing for novices is not the same, but then I think maybe I am confusing nuns with martial arts. I’m pretty sure you don’t get a black belt in ‘nunship’. Then again, times seem to have changed. Maybe they have badges like Boy Scouts now?

What is going on? Why the sudden increase in visible nuns? Is it a ‘Call the Midwife’ factor coming in to play here? My curiosity is piqued!

Then, on my way home tonight, a man gets on the bus dressed in colourful monk’s robes, lugging a crammed bag of M&S food and a box of wine! Has the universe changed that much? Did I miss the email? Was I out getting a coffee when it happened? I guess the world has loosened up a little!

Anyway, I had a yellow rose left over from my last card. Shame to waste it, so a card with just one focal flower is required.

yellow rose grey chevron card

Supplies: Altenew Vintage Flowers stamps and Four Scoops inks; Dies: Poppystamps Hip Hello and Sue Wilson Faux Quilled Leaves; Background paper: Serif CraftArtist Louise Tiler Modern Gent digikit

White on White, mostly

Just a quick post as I lave a lot to do today. Another ‘mostly white’ (off-white) card. This is just two dies, one sheet of hammer finish card, some ribbon, a pearl and a scrap of gold card. I tried the sentiment in the white but it just didn’t look very celebratory, really.

It was quick and easy to make. I cut the off-white card in half lengthways and scored one piece to make my tent fold card. I cut the scallop border four times from the remaining piece, at jaunty angles. Just make sure you leave enough depth in your cut pieces to be able to layer them up without exposing the top edge.

I wanted ribbon at the top so fastened this to the first section before layering all the scallop pieces together, always checking they will fit and the sides are straight.

Make a ‘fake’ bow with more ribbon, add your greeting, a pearl and job done.

Supplies: dies – Spellbinders A2 Scalloped Border One and Poppystamps Fancy Celebrate; ribbon by Anita’s

Not rocket science

The mojo is now requiring CPR. Or maybe it just needs a personality transplant. I have decided to take the pressure off myself, stop fretting about it, chill. It‘s only card and paper after all.

So today it is back to basics. Make something (hopefully) pretty with dies and stamps. That’s it. No rocket science, no lab coat required.

Tonic lattice header

tonic lattice header detail

Supplies: the Ton Rose Background stamp; Altenew Cotton Candy ink; Tonic dies – Just for You and the header lattice is part of a set called Ornate Elegance; Xcut dies – for the tiny little hearts; vellum from Woodware

Still more or less mojo-less

Mojo is now behaving like the sun in Britain this week. Shines weakly for about two minutes then disappears behind angry clouds for ages. So this has been a stop-start project today. I bought this Sizzix die a long time ago for a bargain price but it is a tricky one to use, which I guess is why it was on sale! It cuts all the edges, as opposed to the other ones you can get where you decide whether to leave it in your card or cut it out. So you can’t just use it as a front for a card easily. Normally then, you would place your top cutting edge above your card fold a little, so the cutting edge has nothing to cut. But with this one many of the internal cutting lines are really close (i.e. 2mm!) to the outer line, and the nature of the pattern means this won’t work here either. Finally I decided to try just clearing the card fold with the outer cutting line but placing the fold within the 2mm gap to the inner cutting line and cut through front and back. Fingers crossed!

Literally 20+ times thought two different die cutting machines (one electric, one manual) and it looked like the cut was as good as it was going to get. I should have chosen thinner cardstock, but bearing in mind the amount of card that was going to be cut away I thought something substantial might be a smart move. It was good for the end product but after another 20 minutes snipping carefully away with scissors where it didn’t quite cut through cleanly my sanity had taken a bashing.

I decided to use acetate for a bit of extra support. With the card base being so intricate I plumped for a really simple greeting, ribbon and nothing else. Might go back and add a pearl or two though, not sure.

see thru Love

I like the look of these cards but not the effort involved!

See the angry clown?

Again I am a bit short of time today. Hardly an unusual situation for most of us, I know. Lunch out, a spot of gardening and then back to the (paper) mill. Apparently there is some ironing to be done, but I just can’t seem to see it…ah well, later, maybe.

So, continuing to road test my new Altenew Painted Flowers stamps, I chose a smaller flower this time, with no ‘integral’ leaf (although you can still add some if you want). In a rare moment of foresight I had realised that if I used the same flower as yesterday, I could not make a random background in the way I usually would, and a little more thought and positioning would be required. Well, today is not the day for that (but maybe tomorrow)! I just wanna make somethin’ pretty, pretty darn quick.

I used Altenew Coral Berry and Frosty Pink inks, plus Jet Black (from, rather randomly, their green set of colours!)

The black card I used is not quite the gsm/lb weight I would like, so I also made a card mat for the back of the inside to reinforce it a bit. And stamped a happy flower on it for good measure. A Spellbinders Ribbon Tag die, Poppystamps Hip Hello die, silver glitter card and a spotty ribbon that I have had since for ever to complete it.

As for the angry clown, after I had finished stamping my background and removed the paper underneath, well, this is what I was confronted with…

angry clown

Tell me it’s not just me that sees it?!

Shiny HAPPY, people

I hope REM don’t sue me….

Just a quickie as my new dies to make heart-shaped boxes arrived today and I can barely wait to have a go.

Apart from drying time for the shiny wordy (this is what they are now called in my head), this is a super-quick card to rustle up. Whilst I was making yesterday’s effort I figured I may as well do a second word too, in case the first was a washout. So I have a shiny HAPPY sitting looking at me. Also left over from Sunday’s post I have another stamped flower which I can quickly fussy cut. Two scraps of the old faithful black and white striped paper, and 3d foam of course. I try to make some things flat for postage cost reasons but, like an addict, the hand reaches for the foamy stuff every time. Stick, layer, and we are done.

Martha flower and happy

martha flower happy detail

Black and pink again, I know!! But if you want something quick, it makes sense to use colours you know will work.

The HAPPY die is taken from a Tattered Lace birthday sentiment die.

Phantom bus stop, but getting there?

Today I set out to catch my bus to work and messed up my timings. I thought I was too late to catch the early bus, and far too early for the later bus. But as I reached the main road I saw the (early) bus stuck in a bit of traffic way down the road. Whoo hoo! I pegged it towards the bus stop, got three quarters of the way there only to realise the stop had disappeared, vanished, gone. But it was there yesterday?! OK brain, snap decision required – do I wait there anyway and hope the bus driver is accommodating? Unfortunately the kindness of bus drivers is not universal. So, the choice was to try and make it to the next stop along the route before being overtaken (a bit of a walk, all uphill and a couple of hairy junctions to dice with), or walk back a stop from my original and now missing bus stop and hope that I still got there in time. I chose the latter. And missed the bus. Then I waited for the next bus, which was, of course, late. But hey, I was on it. We crawled through school run traffic towards the (still) missing bus stop and now up ahead a crowd of about 10-15 people were waiting. All standing where they usually stand. But at a phantom bus stop. Tension. You can see it on the faces. Nobody is sure what is going to happen. The bus draws up, everybody gets on. Nobody says a word. Only in Britain.

Anyway, back to the stripy stamp. I tried all the kind hints that other bloggers offered on my last post, and still haven’t quite achieved the inky depth of colour I am craving. I was pretty sure that using Versamark ink to stamp and heat emboss would work well, and it did.  So for a while I stopped experimenting and just made something!

sparkle card

Only a quick and simple one, but during the week I just don’t have the time for anything much else sadly.  I also had a go at adding Glossy Accents to the word dies. I have seen a few people doing this and think it looks great. Mine was not perfect, but passable?!

sparkle detail

In case you’ve not seen it or are wondering how to do it, just cut your die two or three times from card as thick as it can cope with. The card can be any colour, so use whatever you have and once it is cut, cover it with inks or pens if necessary, making sure you get the colour into every nook and cranny. Then glue them together, using wet glue with a good grab. The card I used for the layers here was from green patterned packaging, so I cut the sentiment again in black just so I knew the top layer would have no flaws or missed patches. Slather on the Glossy Accents (without going over the edges) and wait for the joy to happen. Actually mine pitted a bit on the thinner sections so I had to go over it again, delaying the joy somewhat, but it turned out fine(ish)!

Bad ink day

The card maker’s equivalent of a bad hair day.

Today I sat down full of hope for a productive time. A few minutes spent clearing a space large enough to work in (10cm square) and I was away. Except I wasn’t. Couldn’t settle on what I actually wanted to do. Stamping? Die cutting? CDs? Cards? Notepads? Bags? Boxes? One hour gone by. Stamping then. This one? That one? One I know I have but cannot find? Another hour gone.

In my hunting I found a WIP bottle tag, so the rule of ‘if you touch it you’ve got to finish it’ came into play. There are a lot of rules when I craft. Gilding flakes and a cheery greeting are all that is needed, I thought. So, added gilding flakes and turned to the pc to print out a greeting and try to colour match it by eye. Hmm, what font? So many to choose from. Another hour gone.

Eye swerves over to a stamp I have not yet used, a gorgeous large rose background. Maybe I should just try it out? I need a thank you card anyway. I decided to do a quick and simple one, then something trickier and end up with a Nobel Prize winning effort. Ambitious on any day, even more so considering how things were going.

Card one. I used Wild Honey distress ink. Lovely colour. Never used it before so was taken by surprise when, after diligently cleaning my stamp, I saw my hands looked like I have been smoking 1970s cigarettes for a bajillion years. Nothing a bit of soapy water won’t deal with, I hoped. And a lot of vigorous scrubbing, as it turned out..

The rest of the card was a breeze. Sort of. The die cut sentiment is so fine that adhering it is tricky. So I stick it through the sticker maker. Can barely get it off the carrier sheet and some of the sticky seems to have made it on to the front of the die cut, somehow, but a bit of faffing sorts it out. Sliver of vellum, couple of dotty punches and done. Another hour gone.

rose background thank you

Now for the tricky bit. Really? Were the last four hours not torment enough? What kind of eejit doesn’t learn from such an experience? Not, me clearly. I decide to stick with the distress inks, but to go really subtle. Milled Lavender and Spun Sugar leap to my fingers.

I stamp them out – beautiful. Except, strangely, I have Wild Honey hands again. More scrubbing ensues. Then…nothing. Cannot think what to do next. I look at them for an amount of time I am not prepared to ‘fess up to, and a couple of ideas come to mind. I try stamping onto vellum, hoping to heat emboss a glittery something, but the powder refused to cling to the ink (even thought it was pigment so should have). I tried a dropped shadow with a word die but it looked rubbish. Then I gave up.

BUT, my last idea was to open it up to suggestions. Anyone got any good ideas what I can do with these?

rose background

Apparently Spun Sugar (the one at the bottom if you haven’t come across it) has extra magic qualities and pretty much disappears when photographed! They are actually really pretty, a lovely stamp and beautiful colours. They are each 14.8 cm squares.

Anyone? No prizes, just my eternal gratitude.