Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Holiday Thank-You Notes

If you're like me and have been slacking about holiday thank-you notes, here's a simple card that will mass-produce pretty easily.




Really, this card would fit almost any sentiment, from winter birthday to get well to thinking of you. What makes it work for me is the three bright pops of color against a gray winter landscape arranged in a visual triangle. I cut out and popped the banner sentiment, but you wouldn't have to do that.

I can never get rid of Through the Trees (Papertrey) because of these two birds, each facing the opposite direction. They are so much more useful than any other stamps in that set and I adore them. The trees are from Masculine Motifs (Papertrey), which has a lot of good stamps in it.

Question: how committed are you to using older stamp sets? Do you like to see me use them, or would you prefer more new stuff on Simplicity? Just curious.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,
Susan

Supplies
stamps: Papertrey Masculine Motifs and Through the Trees; Hero Arts Thank You Messages
paper: Papertrey white
ink: Hero Arts soft granite; Archival manganese blue, red geranium
accessories: dimensionals

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

My Favorite!

So, back in March, 2009, when this little blog began, I posted a card with my favorite layout ever. It still is, with twists that make it more interesting.




Here's where I'm at today with this design: additional layers of white-on-white and greater sense of movement. The matting brings the three images close together and unifies the design in a very clean way. I also chose a small sentiment and placed it off-center.

These tiny changes give the whole card much more energy, yet it also remains true to Leonardo's precept that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Does this mean I've learned a thing or two in the past nine years? I hope so. I sure didn't use Copics nine years ago, either, yet the images are colored with Copics. Not too bad for this old dog.




Speaking of dogs, I'll try to post new pictures of our BIG puppy. He's growing so fast (already over 50 pounds) and is as tall as Daisy. His head is much blockier than Daisy's, so he looks bigger than she is already, even though she's still got some pounds on him.

Finally, thanks to all of you who've weighed in on dies. I've got lots of ideas and some sense of direction now. Y'all are the best!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,
Susan

Supplies
stamps: Hero Arts Summer Garden, Thank You Messages
ink: Memento black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: 3/4" square punch, dimensionals, Copic markers

Monday, January 15, 2018

Grammatical Bling



For those who don't know, I have another blog called Questioning my Intelligence. Not much has been posted on it in the past few years, but our president's alleged comments over the weekend have made me realize how much the world needs good words preaching kindness and love and joy and gentleness. I'm writing again. If you're interested, please check it out.

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The new Hero Arts set Summer Garden is delightful. It's got a plethora of pretty sentiments and a garden's worth of little flowers and critters.

But it's missing a comma.

Why does this bother me?

Oh, right. I was an English teacher.




Whenever you directly address someone, the name needs to be separated from the greeting by a comma. Hi, Sally. Merry Christmas, Ruth. Hello there, beautiful.

There is no comma in the set, but clearly, we're supposed to put the hello there and beautiful, gorgeous, or darling together.  Now, you might notice there's an apostrophe in the largest sentiment, and apostrophes are, for artistic purposes, the same as commas. But the apostrophe is buried in the flashing and not easy to isolate. I could have done it, I suppose, with clever masking, but I think we've established that I'm lazy.

So I stuck a bling where the comma should be. Yes, it's more like a period than a comma. I actually tried putting a tiny bling under the medium bling to give the idea of a comma, but it looked weird and not at all comma-like. So I decided that the single bling would have to suffice. After all, this is art.

Whatever. Basically, I gave up. Some battles are simply not worth fighting, such as the battle to stop the president from tweeting, but next time, I'll probably use the apostrophe, no matter how complicated because grammar matters, people!




Also, there's a bling covering a mistake, but I shan't tell you which because there are no mistakes, only opportunities for embellishment.

The butterfly was colored with Copics and then painted with a clear Wink of Stella brush pen. For a final touch, I slightly rounded the corners of the stamped panel and its mat with old-school scallop scissors.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,
Susan

Supplies
stamps: Hero Arts Summer Garden
ink: Memento black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones, Copics (for coloring the butterfly and rhinestones), Wink of Stella brush pen, scallop scissors, a dash of OCD


Sunday, January 14, 2018

Little Florals and Some Chat about Dies

Yesterday's card featured what I think is the largest die that coordinates with the Hero Arts set Little Florals. I adore this set. Today's card uses three die-cut stems from the set to make a little bouquet.



The flowers were colored with Copics before being cut. Copic coloring for small images like these perfectly suits my lazy efficient style, and is well within the very modest limits of my Copic expertise. In a few days, I'll show you a card that took F-O-R-E-V-E-R to color and made me vow never to color the stamps from that set again.

But these bitty stamps can be colored quickly. So yay!





I wanted to use a soft yellow or pink ribbon for the bow, but it turns out I don't have either color. So white it is. That keeps the attention on the color of the flowers, though, and covers up the ugly overlap of the stems, so it's a win.

Now, this card could be made with stamping and masking. This would eliminate the slight border on the die cuts and would look more natural. But these petite images in their super-simple setting work for me as die cuts.

While my experience with dies is extremely limited, I've found that Hero Arts' dies are consistently easy to use, work well every time, and cut cleanly. They are open dies (just the outline, not a solid piece of metal) which allows you to stamp and color and THEN cut very easily. I use washi tape to hold them in place.

Finally! A use for the thousand or so rolls of washi I own!

I've bought some Papertrey dies and am less pleased with them. They often leave a slight residue around the edges of the die cuts, making them look dirty. I've washed the dies in Dawn and warm water, but they still leave that residue. Apparently, this is a common problem as I found many irate outbursts on threads and blog posts on the subject. Any suggestions?

Also, Papertrey's are mostly closed dies, so it's easier to cut, then stamp and color, which can be awkward.

What is your experience with various manufacturers' dies? I'd love to hear your recommendations to buy and to avoid.

Thanks in advance for your input.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,
Susan


Supplies
stamps: Hero Arts Little Florals, Summer Garden
ink: Memento black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: coordinating dies, Copic markers, glue pen, ribbon

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Delusions of Grandeur


Have you ever watched a video by Jennifer McGuire and thought, "Hey! That doesn't look so hard! I could do that!"?

And then you can't.

Jennifer inspires delusions of grandeur in me, and today's card proves that even when you're not as grand as you think you might be, you can still be grand enough.




Okay, so this card is NOT like the ones in Jennifer's video here. In fact, it's not even a tiny bit close. But that's okay. Because my failed effort at being Jennifer led to a successful effort to be myself.

So yay!




This watercolor flower was made using Peerless watercolors with white embossing (another Jennifer video), and I thought I could make an in-and-out card using that but no, no, nopity, nope.

As I sat amidst the tattered remains of my delusions, I realized that this lovely little die cut would serve on a totally different card.

So here it is, redeemed by a different purpose.

There's a metaphor for life in this somewhere, but I'm too tired to figure it out.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love for all,
Susan

Supplies
stamps: Hero Arts Little Florals
ink: embossing ink, Archival monarch orange
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones, Copic for coloring said rhinestones, Peerless Watercolors, brush, white embossing powder, heat gun, coordinating die, dimensionals


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Bright Birthday Greetings


Stamping Tip for the Day
Sue C. asked about how I handle photopolymer stamps that have lost their stick. This one is easy: Dawn dishwashing liquid. I put any stamps that have lost their stick in a mesh colander, drop the colander into a sink full of warm water and Dawn suds, rub each stamp to remove the dust and oils that are keeping it from sticking, rinse, and place the stamps on Bounty paper towels on my counter to dry naturally. 

Bounty paper towels don't leave lint, so they are the paper towel of choice for my house. 

Anyway, this technique works great for getting stamps to stick again. 


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Today's card offers up bright birthday greetings in blue and purple using one of my all-time favorite stamp sets: Turning a New Leaf by Papertrey Ink. The leaves and branches in this set are incredibly versatile and so pretty in a very clean-and-simple way. 



The berries come from another PTI set: A Wreath for All Seasons. The sentiment is from one of the Keep It Simple Birthday sets, also from PTI.

The great thing about this card is how versatile it is. You could use any color combination and any sentiment with it.



We are facing a winter weather advisory for tomorrow. Ice and up to four inches of snow are expected starting at 10:00 tomorrow morning. Snow, I can handle. Ice is a whole 'nuther critter, as my grandma used to say. Fortunately, I'll be home at 10:30 or so, and my husband is working from home tomorrow. We'll see what the schools decide to do.

Winter is a unpredictable time in much of the northern hemisphere, and I'm hearing about fires and mudslides in southern California. For all those impacted by weather--and the dire natural consequences of it--my prayers are with you...prayers for safety, for support, and for comfort.

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and safety,
Susan

Supplies
stamps: Papertrey Turning a New Leaf, A Wreath for All Seasons, Keep It Simple Birthday
paper: Papertrey white
ink: Archival
accessories: dimensionals

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Sucker!

Okay, so Valentine's Day isn't my favorite. It feels too artificial and forced, and too many people feel left out or forgotten. There's too much pressure!

But I always make valentines for my husband and my boys, and this year I had an inspirational brainstorm that took me to my favorite valentine I've ever made...because my husband will laugh and laugh and laugh!



Be still, my jovial heart! First, I love the Hero Arts color layering octopus because it's only two stamps and almost always is easy to line up. Second, when I got the idea to use the Hero Arts ombre pink to red inkpad, everything fell into place!


A few heart-shaped rhinestones, and we've got a funny--and dramatic--valentine! I stamped Happy Valentine's Day on the inside, too.

Do you enjoy Valentine's Day? How many valentines do you make? 

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,
Susan

Supplies
stamps: Hero Arts Color Layering Octopus
ink: Hero Arts ombre pink to red pad, Archival black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: dimensionals, heart-shaped rhinestones