Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Using Ribbons

A tiled background of patterned paper is the background for a matted focal with a simple stamp and embellished by a little satin ribbon.

I'm not a fussy sort of girl (hmm at the top of my 40s I don't know whether the term 'girl' is applicable any more...) but I do like ribbons.  I don't often use them, but I do like them.  I have a whole tub of them.   A very, very full, push down the lid sort of full, medium sized tub of them.   They are sure to come in handy, one day!  

I will admit to using a few ribbons on tags - the addition of the ribbon really dresses them up.   With cards though I tend to stick to a simple line of ribbon.  Although unexpectedly a bow sometimes appears....

A simple stamped card gets the extra treatment with a line of pom pom ribbon!

Ribbons add a great touch to tags - whether they get used for being tied on, or just as an embellishment.

A ribbon and bow finish off this card which otherwise would have been too simple and rather empty!

Another line of ribbon adds enough extras by itself.  Doing this card I learned that grossgrain ribbon needs to be attached ALL the way along, otherwise it looks a bit wavy where it is and isn't attached!   Just keep in mind I am a keen hobbyist and NOT a professional at this (a professional would have redone this one before showing it I'm sure)!

Kapow.!!!!!! Where did that big bow come from ???   I needed a red ribbon and the only one in the right shade I could find was this one... too big, but I'm sure someone will like it (fingers crossed)!

Mixing it up

Whilst we favour certain techniques, a monthly card challenge is a great way of having to try new things and stretch your abilities.   The more you do, the more proficient you become and when you start to mix it up, it works!   (I plainly recall it didn't always work!!)   If anything I think my girls are better at it than me as they have little in the way of preconceptions and just do what they want to do, or what looks right to them to do.  

Here are a couple of cards I made recently that combine things like punched shapes, stamping, patterned papers and embellishments - that go together without becoming too busy :)

Combining a stamped script section (I masked off the rest of the card) that you could also do with patterned paper, a gold organza ribbon to separate the sections, some little xo stamps and punched shapes.  The circle actually has a heart punched out and a piece of red scrap is taped behind it showing through.

Punched edges and shape, patterned paper, ribbon, stamping, embellishment and layering.  

Lots of layering, some stamping, embellishments and pretty paper.

White on White

One of my card challenges recently was white on white.   This is NOT easy, yet its not hard either!   I think its a mental hurdle of getting over the need for colour.  

Embossed matting that had a hole punched out.  You could have put any shape in there or even a sentiment, but I went with the flying things theme and chose a butterfly.

I found the replacement for colour was texture.   This is when some raised embossing came into its own.   And layering.  

I actually really enjoyed the white on white look and was rather disappointed when I realised I'd burned the midnight oil and if I didn't go to bed immediately I would imminently be turned into a pumpkin! ;)  (Please tell me you say that sort of thing in your house or otherwise I am going to sound pretty silly)!

Without further ado... here are some white on whites to encourage you to try it too!

All white matting and layering.. and embellishing.

A Christmas snowflake theme.  Embossed matting, a snowflake punch and white twine both over a fine organza white ribbon.

An opportunity to use some of those embossing folders!   Emboss white scraps and then punch out squares. Raised embossing can stretch the cardstock, so cut after embossing rather than before.  One square is left plain with the twine around it.

Double matting, the top one embossed.   A white heart punched out and attached.  I could have left it like that but it needed just a little more and I think the little pearls make it special.

Fun Papercrafting

Cardmaking is great, I love it.  Each card is achievable in a reasonable amount of time (unless it all goes terribly wrong), they are small creations that give satisfaction to the maker and joy to the recipient.     They are a good excuse to buy papers, stamps, inks, punches et al.  

Papercrafting is a whole other ball game.  It is defined as the art of making something, usually three dimensional and artistic in form, from paper.  So cardmaking is really just a small portion of papercrafting.   

You can still use many of the same supplies, but your creations may be more along a project line, more time consuming - but once again satisfying and enjoyable!

One of my daughters (Twin 2) in particular loves to make things from paper and cardstock... and I'm not immune to her excitement :) 

We found the wonderful pootles.co.uk website where she has a fabulous array of video tutorials teaching how to make some very useful objects from papers (as well as cards).   The first one we tackled was a simple card holder.  Our cards prior to this were a real mess.  Now we've made a few each and our card stash is far more orderly!   This would also be great as a gift - the holder with some cards and envelopes.

Ooops, I moved the ribbon and made it look crooked - its only adhered at the back so its moveable!

Inspired by our success, Twin 2 embarked on the next project from the Pootles site... and it was a project as it took hours.

The first step was making the mini cartons.  She made three and then talked her sister into making the other three.     She also took the role of expert after making her three, instructing her sister with relatively good grace.    Then she made the holder.  

She let her imagination fly with these - although she followed the directions, the original design had everything matching.  No, she decided, each one needed to be different, with different stamps and as for the holder, she thought black and white was a much better idea as, don't you know, "black and white goes with everything".    She also punched a hole in the carrier to make it easier to carry.

I think she and her sister did a fabulous job!    The cartons with the fold back clips on are Twin 2's.  The holders with the ribbon were done by Twin 1.

It has received some limited use by filling some of the cartons with chocolate nuts for her father!

I wonder what our next "Pootles" project will be?

Pretty Patterned Papers

Everyone likes pretty papers... don't they!?  I remember oohing and aahing over pretty papers as a child and my favourite place in the newsagent was looking at writing pads in the stationery section... and then when I found stores that specialised in paper products I was just in heaven!   I still have a sheet of wrapping paper that I must have bought from Granny May's way back in the early 80s LOL.  It is way to pretty to use!!

Pretty papers definitely get an opportunity to show their worth in this sort of design - used as the matting sheet and as decoration :)  

So this latest obsession of mine has allowed me free reign to buy more pretty papers and I'm in heaven :)   Of course sometimes you have to use them, if for no other reason than then you can buy some more!

Patterned papers come in a variety of ways - some in pads usually 6x6", some A4 and mostly 12x12" and some come as loose sheets.   Some are double sided with different patterns on both sides and some plain white on the back.  Some are quite thin and some are almost as heavy as cardstock. 

If they're not too flimsy you can use them as your matting sheet :)    Here are some cards that feature papers.

This could have been stamped... but it wasn't its a nice paper instead :) 

Take the opportunity to use some funky papers if you keep the background plain :)

A cool vintage looking paper.  The biggest problem was finding a blank piece for the sentiment in the same shade of cream.

Using Sketches

"Sketches"... another card/scrapping term that refers to a design that has been sketched out.  These are often used to challenge you.... make a card along the lines of the sketch.  Now I don't have a huge amount of experience with these, but I have learned from seeing other maker's cards, that these sketches are open to a fair amount of interpretation!

Here is the first sketch I was given:  The added level of difficulty was to make it in black, white and one other colour.

I was told to make THREE cards following the sketch and extra colour challenge.   So, I did.  Pretty darn closely... effectively only changing the colours and the sentiment.

I was a bit bored by the end of making three cards almost the same.  And with all those hearts I had no option but to stick to a love theme.    I was feeling very fortunate I had a three heart punch LOL.

Then I saw some of the other offerings sent in.  The hearts became butterflies, the flags moved up, down and disappeared, the circle was bigger, smaller, the back rectangle became an oval.... and then I realised it just had to basically follow the layout but changes were totally okay.

The next challenge came last month and I was prepared.  The added level of difficulty was to include a bird or animal somewhere in it:

Oh my, its busy.  Waaaaay too busy for my taste.   But the first one I attempted to follow fairly closely, even putting a big bow on it!   I did reduce the size of the circle and changed the shapes of the two smaller circles to a flower and a butterfly and the little pennant under the smallest circle became a flower.   But overall its pretty close.   Its bottom heavy and I hated it.

For the next card I literally lightened it up a bit more....the bow became a snowflake, and the tiny circle with pennant became a row of rhinestones.  The scalloped edge across the card gave way to a strip of glitter.  I still don't love it and it seems very unbalanced, but it meets the criteria of the sketch (and it gave me a chance to heat emboss some cute stamps, so it wasn't a complete waste of time).

The last card I made is simplified dramatically!   The strip across is super plain, the bow has become a cool skeleton leaf, the big circle is an oval and the medium circle has gone completely.  The small circle with pennant in the bottom right corner has become a simple stamped oval.   I quite liked this version.  As it has been simplified it no longer appears out of balance either.   This challenge has only just finished so I haven't seen the other offerings yet... I wonder how far out of the ballpark I will be this time!?

So, there you go, what do you think of a 'sketch' as a design tool?   It can be useful to stretch your creativity if you haven't done the design before, and because its not an actual card you're not tempted to copy each detail.   But on the other hand it can be quite limiting.   Its not for everyone I guess!

Simple Stamping

Pretty paper matting and then the card stamped in the "baby wipe method" - which is adding drops of ink (from refill bottles) onto a folded babywipe in a container and using that as your inkpad. 

Making a card really doesn't have to be complex once you've got the basics sorted out.   Matting your card for structure and to give it a nice heft, and providing a place to write your greeting, along with a basically straight card base is about it.   Then decorate!

Patterned paper again for the matting and a creamy coloured cardstock sheet stamped with an old image and matching sentiment in a neutral colour.  Perfect for men :)

Sometimes its nice just to make a card with stamps.  Truly I have enough sets to stamp every day for a year and be able to use a new stamp every day.  Yes, its that bad LOL.  And sometimes all those extras you might feel like you need to add on to the card, get in the way and stop you from stamping anything but a quick sentiment.  

Another great "guy" card.   These cute little aeroplanes are just that... little, so matting each of them gives them focal status.

Don't be afraid to go back to basics and use some of your stash of stamps.  I know you have one!  ;)

Here are a few more cards I've made over the last year that have the emphasis on stamping images ...

Stamping an image a couple of times without re-inking gives added interest to the stamping.   Here I've used 2 colours and stamped each twice so there is a dark and light version.  It creates a great replacement for patterned paper.    Embellishments feature but the stamping still takes a big role in the final look of the card.

Another male card - keeping the colours neutral and suitable for the subject matter of the stamps.  

A lovely happy card of mixed colours.  Each image was inked up and stamped over each other.  I didn't bother masking the image and it looks great.   The bright inks reflect the bright cardstock used.

Finding What You Like

Twin 1 made this by sponging the stamp with different coloured inks and stamping that image.   The label has also been sponged to "match".

If you've been making cards for a while you will find you are repeatedly drawn to a couple of techniques that will become your speciality.       I have been drawn to watercolouring and colouring although in my recent efforts in swaps and challenges mean that  I've been doing lots of different techniques.  While I still watercolouring  I am wondering if that will become my favourite.

Another creation by Twin 1  - this was an embossed sheet that she brayered with ink and then added embellishments.

It's a bit like men I guess ... you've got to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince... and with cards and papercrafting you have to try lots of techniques before you find the one for you.

Twin 1's effort at a regular sort of card.  On a pre-made base it looks great!

I actually thought my daughters had their favourites - Twin 1 I thought for sure was sponging, but looking through her creations I see she has done regular stamping with some colouring, sponging and a combination of raised embossing and using the brayer.  There is also evidence of heat embossing.  At school in art she is not a bad painter and her lino prints this year were impressive.   

Twin 2's attempt at sponging.   She used a variety of pink inks that she sponged onto the stamp.    She did one in blues as well :)

Twin 2 I was positive was just papercrafts but while she shows a penchant for using punched shapes a little more than her sister, she has also done sponging and embossing/brayering.   Her talents at school are a little more practical with things like woodwork, pottery and she has made some of her own stamps here at home, which have turned out extremely well. 

Twin 2 - she raised embossed a sheet, brayered it with ink, cut it up and glued it onto a card base.

So now I just don't know!   I guess they're tweens and they don't know either! 

Twin 2 - using mostly punched shapes to create her own vision.   With a liberal sprinkling of Dazzling Diamonds its appears too!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Fussy Cutting ... say what!?

A fussy cut butterfly, intentionally left with a white border for impact, sits over a stamped image of grass.

Another term I have learned over the last year is "fussy cut"... this means when you cut something out with fine sharp scissors, with a fair amount of detailed edges.

More fussy cut butterflies - these were stamped and coloured with markers, fussy cut and added to the card with dimensionals.

You might stamp an image on 3 different coloured backgrounds and cut certain pieces from each colour and then glue those pieces on to the final stamped image.   Or you may stamp an image and cut out all or a portion of it and glue it on to the card, often on dimensional double sided foam.  

Whilst not exactly detailed, I stamped out an additional image, coloured it and cut around the edges of the outline and added it on top of the same image underneath to give some dimension.
This was all cut from a single sheet of thick patterned paper.  I cut out the grass and bugs and moved the creatures around to make my own scene, gluing them on to the front of a card.   It's pretty cute for a little one.  But it took quite a long time to do!

This is not my favourite technique, but every so often it may come in handy and at least you know what it is now!

Time for the Big Guns.... Raised Embossing

Raised embossing is cool.  It adds depth and detail without being overwhelming and can easily become the feature with only a simple addition or two.   But, (and its a big, costly but) this can only be achieved with a machine such as a Cuttlebug, Big Kick, Vintaj, Big Shot and other similar brands.    Cuttlebug is the smaller variety and the others are bigger machines.   Machines can be bought from $70-150 new and they retain a decent value second hand.  I believe there may be semi automatic machines as well but as I know nothing about them, I won't comment on those options :)

An embossed pattern of birds and branches is perfect for this card that also features a bird stamp.  The embossed cardstock is also the matt in these cases, with the other details confined to small layers.

All these machines work by pressing dies or embossing folders into cardstock/papers as it goes through a roller that is operated by a hand crank.  

I started out with a well used, second hand Big Kick.  As it was well used the need for shims (extra sheets of cardstock to make it thicker when it ran through the roller) was paramount, otherwise I could run an embossing folder through and not get an imprint!     I was fortunate to stumble upon a very lightly used Big Shot at a great price and that is my machine of choice now. 

Another embossed sheet as the matt.   In a silvery cardstock, a little touch of glitter cardstock and a punched circle with a sentiment keeps this simple, but it did have an impressive look in real life - an achievement for a simple card.

Now the old way of doing raised embossing was with a metal template, a light box and an embossing tool (that looked a bit like a wood and metal pen).  Indeed I did a bit of this sort of embossing at some sort of craft course many years ago as I still have the tool and some templates and I used the tool as my scoring tool initially.   It is pretty time consuming to do this way, though although the results are great.     

Running an embossing folder through a machine like the Big Shot however takes seconds and the results are always impeccable.  Run a few different folders through when you have the machine out to have on hand to use.

This Swiss Dots embossing folder is a firm favourite - it adds interest but doesn't detract from the main image.

This utilises just a strip of embossed cardstock in a shiny gold, taking the place of a patterned paper.   The layering of the different sized punches works well too.  There was some left over embossed card here and I added a strip in the inside of the card too.
 As machines will vary, you are best to follow the instructions for your machine, however the basic gist is that you open the embossing folder and place a sheet of cardstock inside it.  Close the folder, place it on your platform between a pair of cutting plates and run it through the machine.  

A cool circle embossing folder could be bubbles?   Nevertheless it goes well with this stamped image with only minor embellishments.

There are soooo many folders out there - some for accents, some for all over patterns and in so many design you are bound to find a few (or a lot) that you like!   Use the whole sheet, use a strip of the sheet, punch out a section, get creative and think up a use for it!

Another run through with this folder but this time in very bright yellow.   The contrasting colours are eyecatching and the embossed matt takes the place of patterned paper again.
You can even put a section of embossing inside... just for interest :)

Use the same folder on co-ordinating cardstock to add interest inside the card as well.