Wednesday, June 30, 2010

One-Layer Wednesday: Patriotic Cards

This week's one-layer challenge is in honor of Independence Day, a.k.a. the Fourth of July, here in the United States. Your challenge this week is to make a patriotic card honoring your own country's heritage.

My first card makes use of an outline of the lower 48 states and a God Bless America stamp...both of which I picked up at Hobby Lobby over six years ago. They were soooo happy to see ink!

The second card plays up a ribbon accent but still keeps everything very simple.

Rules for OLW10

1. A one-layer card is defined as a single piece of cardstock folded in half.

2. Use patriotic themed images and colors for your card to honor your native country. Embellishments must be kept to a minimum.

3. Remember to share your creations by posting your card online and then using the InLinkz button in the sidebar of Simplicity to link to it.

4. Most important of all...HAVE FUN!

ink: SU real red and brilliant blue, Memento light blue
paper: PTI white
accessories: ribbon

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Art Paper Week: Day Five Winner!

The winner of Day Five is Cassandra, lucky number 1! She wrote,

Firstly Susan, beautiful yet again. I have some of this paper and will give your design a go. I think I most enjoy the 'doing'. Having sorted the design and its components - cutting, pasting and puting together I love.

Thanks, Cassandra! Please send me an email at susanraihala at woh dot rr dot com with your snail mail address so I can mail you the paper!

As for my favorite part of papercrafting...I love it ALL! The buying, the organizing, the sorting, the selecting, the execution, the joy of giving my creation to someone else and knowing I've given them a bit of joy! Also, the papercrafting community is so generous with sharing inspiration and kindness that it gives me a warm fuzzy to be a part of it all!

Cheers to You

My vacation wasn't tropical at all, having taken place in northern Minnesota, but I love the idea of a tropical vacation involving a cute cabana boy bringing me drinks like this one while I lounge on the beach under an umbrella reading a good book.

In fact, this is a fantasy of mine and my friend Erin. Erin and I were pregnancy buddies eleven years ago and plan on a joint vacation in about 16 years, when all of our little ones have flown the nest. Our hubbies can run around sailing and scuba diving and expending whatever energy makes their Y chromosome happy while Erin and I spend two weeks doing nothing but reading and chatting and drinking boat drinks on the beach.

All mothers deserve such a reward for the long hours we put in over the years!

I can't tell you how the gradation of the magenta ink happened. It's VersaColor cube ink, and it just stamped this way. Don't you LOVE it when something perfect like this happens, rather than an imperfectly stamped image (such as when you don't press down on the whole image evenly or when the stamp picks up yucky lint from the ink pad)? I also love it when I can stamp these outline/fill stamps perfectly aligned. Wish that happened every time. Sigh.

FYI: One-Layer Wednesday will be back tomorrow!

stamps: A Day at the Beach (PTI)
ink: Palette noir, VersaColor
paper: PTI white, SU black
accessories: dimensionals

Monday, June 28, 2010

Flight of the Butterfly in One Layer

Okie dokie. I'm back from my vacation, which included FOUR long days in the car driving to and from northern Minnesota in a car with two small boys and a man...a MAN who kept yelling at the Garmin GPS HE insisted we buy and who furthermore kept telling me how to drive even though I'm perfectly competent and have been doing quite nicely driving on my own for YEARS.

But I digress.

We spent seven days at an amazing cabin with George's amazing family. It was an awesome vacation on Lake Vermilion full of kayaking and boating and laughing and eating and reading and NOT swimming in the frigid water, but alas, no stamping was done by me.

Somehow, I didn't miss a single day of posting on Simplicity despite pitifully intermittent WiFi access (go, me!) except for that weird thing that happened the first weekend when my post scheduled for Sunday somehow posted on Saturday. I know it was my fault, but I'll be danged if I have a clue what I did wrong.

Welcome to my world. Jimmy Buffett has a song about not having a clue which has the brilliant line "We're just recycled history machines, cave men in faded blue jeans." Actually, he has a bunch songs about not having a clue. It's a theme with his music, which I listened to for long stretches of being told how to drive by my husband. "Nibblin' on spongecake, watching the sun bake, all of those tourists covered with oil...."

Furthermore, I returned to find over 300 posts stacked up in my Google Reader account. Did you know you can mark as read all the posts in a particular file? My papercraft file had 281 posts, and with just two clicks of my mouse, they were ALL MARKED AS READ! It gave me the illusion that I really did something when all I did was avoid doing something.

So my apologies to anyone whose blog I read regularly and usually comment on that got marked as read without being, you know, read. It's my husband's family's fault for showing me such a good time. Blame them. Just know I love you and am getting back on track this week.

I hope.

Anyway, I have a card for you today. Remember when I used all those delightful butterfly die cuts that Angela sent me (if you don't remember, click here, and then come back). Well, once I made them all, I wondered if I could make a true one-layer version. To compensate for the lack of dimension, I used the polka-dot, two-step stamp from StampinUp's Flight of the Butterfly* set.

Not too shabby for one layer, is it?

*I wonder if there's a marketing person at SU who gets upset every time I use the SU name without the egregious exclamation point. It's the sort of thing that would have upset me when I was a marketing editor for a computer memory manufacturer. The computer industry has some stylistic quirks that I was paid to police in every data sheet, advertisement, powerpoint presentation, and brochure the company produced. You don't care about this, but I sure did. Just like some poor AR/OC editor at StampinUp. Whoever she is, I'm sorry.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Art Paper Week: Day Four Winner!

Our winner for Day 4 is lucky number 22, judy, who wrote:

Lovely card! I don't think about the mailing issue, (although I probably should). I have some 1/2
inch clear boxes for 3D cards and I
use crimped card stock to protect
other embellishments. I guess I
just use what suits the card. I love
your blog and all the inspiration that your provide. You gave me the
validation I needed for my CAS style
when all around me I was seeing
layers upon layers.

Thanks, Judy! Send me your snail mail address at susanraihala at woh dot rr dot com so I can get your envelope of fun paper out to you!

Day Four's question was about the mailability of a card. I do consider it, but usually after the fact. Generally, my cards are easily mailed with just a little packing tape to protect the bling and pearls, but if I make something for a specific person that requires a bubble envelope, well, I'll use it and not think twice.


Here's a card I tried to make for the flourish One-Layer Wednesday challenge but had to layer up because I stamped crooked. See. There are no mistakes, just opportunities for embellishment.

stamps: Hero Arts (all discontinued)
ink: Memento
paper: PTI white
accessories: label punch, dimensionals

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Art Paper Week: Day Three Winner!

The winner of Day Three is Petra, lucky number 24! She wrote:

I really love the cards you are showing today. It's hard to make cards without words look good sometimes, but you are the master!

I have done some very simple origami. My daughter is really good at it, she knows how to make stunning irises.


Petra, please send me your snail mail addy at susanraihala at woh dot rr dot com so I can send you your envelope of gorgeousness!

My answer to Wednesday's question about origami...tried it, couldn't get the hang of it, and gave up. Sigh. It's so lovely when in the hands of someone who doesn't have ten thumbs.

Textual Butterflies

As many of you know, I love all things textual, so SU's A to Z, which is a background stamp, just had to come live at my house. Marrying the alphabet with butterflies just seems natural to me.

This card took an embarrassing amount of time to make. I wanted to keep the card clean and simple, with the focus clearly on the three butterflies, but matting them on cameo coral (the ink color) looked strange. When I used just one layer of white mat, they looked better, but still were missing something, so I layered the white mats again, and decided that did it. White on white on white doesn't always work, but here I think it does!

stamps: SU A to Z
ink: cameo coral
paper: PTI white
accessories: various square punches, butterfly punch (Martha Stewart), rhinestones

Friday, June 25, 2010

Art Paper Week: Day Two Winner!

Our Day Two winner is number 74, Theresa, who wrote,

Beautiful Card!! I love embossing folders quick texture.

Congratulations, Theresa! Please send me your snail mail address at susanraihala at woh dot rr dot com so I can mail your envelope of fun papers!

It's been great reading all the answers to the questions. For me, adding texture by using textured paper is easiest and usually the cleanest way, but I also like some texture stamps. I don't have a cuttlebug, but I do have a Fiskars Shape-Boss and some brass templates/light box which all need to come out of storage and play.

Art Paper Week Day Five: Handmade Paper

A lot of handmade papers are very natural-looking, with loose, irregular fibers; true deckled edges; and sometimes botanical inclusions (plants or flowers incorporated into them). These papers make you want to touch them because they are so gosh darn textural.

Often, the inclusion papers use plants or flowers that are scaled too large for cards, but if you cut carefully or work the design around them, you can make them work. Here's a good example:

Other handmade papers, without the inclusions, are simply beautiful. I have a large piece that is slightly off-white, is smoother on one side than the other, and has a fabulous deckled edge. Simplicity is key to letting this gorgeously understated paper shine:

The butterflies were punched from the same paper but glued on with the textured side up, giving a lovely textured tone-on-tone look. They are accented with champagne-colored rhinestones. The sentiment is stamped with VersaColor ink (nice and thick, no bleeding into the paper) in a light color (cinnamon, I think). The sentiment is from Hero Arts and perfectly suits such a SIMPLE card.

Today's question for the final day of the Art Paper Week Give-Away is...

What is your favorite part of papercrafting? What aspect of it gives you the most satisfaction?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Art Paper Week: Day One Winner!

Our winner is number 15, TRINA, who wrote,

Your cards are amazing and, as always, so inpiring. I have to say that your blog is my absolute favorite, although this is the first time I have ever commented. To answer the "question of the day", my favorite art supplies to use for card making are prismacolor pencils. I started with them years ago and I've found that they are good for so many beautiful techniques.
-mnfroggie (Trina)

Thanks, Trina! Please email me at susanraihala at woh dot rr dot com with your snail mail address so I can mail out your envelope of art papers!

As for my answer to the question for day one: I don't really have a favorite art department supply. I use prismacolor pencils, watercolor pencils and crayons, brushes, and paper from the art department quite happily.

Art Paper Week Day Four: Bamboo

Over a decade ago, I bought several blank books that were covered with paper with images of bamboo on it. When I came across the same paper for sale in sheets, OF COURSE I just HAD to buy a couple, you know, because it matched the blank books.

I never, ever claimed to be logical.

Today's card plays up the Asian influence of the bamboo with a charm I picked up at Marco's Paper a few months back. I bought only two because it's hard to mail these heavy metal embellishments in a regular envelope. This card is destined to be delivered by hand.

The sentiment is from a set from SU whose name escapes me now.

To be entered in today's give-away of assorted pieces of art papers, please leave a comment answering the following question:

Do you think about mailability when you make a card? Does it ever keep you from using some cool embellishment, or do you just plan your hand-deliveries as needed so you can use the cool--yet bulky--stuff?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Art Paper Week Day Three: Japanese Paper

FYI: The One-Layer Wednesday Challenge will return next week. Thanks so much to all of you who have made it such a popular challenge!

I have no idea where I bought today's paper or what it's called, but it's beautiful! I'm calling it Japanese paper because I've seen similar papers called that. The shiny fibers are laid down in a pattern that is practically mesmerizing! I have white versions of this that would make lovely wedding cards, too, but which don't photograph well at all.

I went super-simple to let the beauty of the paper shine through. The first card is a reprise of my whole series of this layout from (I think) last December. I kept the color of the sentiment muted so as not to distract the eye, but now that I see it on my computer screen, I think it would look better in black.

For the next two cards, I went even simpler: a row of punched shapes, accented with pearls. No sentiment at all.

Remember, if you leave a comment on this post answering today's question, you'll be in the random drawing for a selection of 12 small pieces of art papers for your leisure-time enjoyment.

Today's Question:

Have you ever tried origami and did you like it?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Art Paper Week Day Two: Papyrus

Real Egyptian papyrus is just plain cool. I mean, seriously, this stuff was the only paper available before the Chinese invented wood-pulp paper and started exporting it to the West in the Middle Ages. The ancient library at Alexandria, the burning of which was the greatest tragedy in history for book-lovers, was filled with thousands upon thousands of papyrus scrolls.

I bought the papyrus to use to cover a book I made for my aunt, who is a wood-worker. (She loved the book!) And of course I bought more than I needed. So here is a card using a piece of it. In keeping with the ancient tradition of it, I used a verse from the Book of Psalms, and decided that I would make a card for my uncle, who is an amazing man of faith.

The leaves, from SU's Fantastic Foliage (discontinued), were rock-and-rolled using VersaMagic ink, which is nice and thick and doesn't bleed into the papyrus.

Yes, I wasted some papyrus figuring that out.

Papyrus is pretty flimsy stuff, so I mounted it onto a piece of cardstock so I could pop it up and wrap the twine around it. The twine knot looked feeble, so I tried tying a bow, which also looked feeble. That's when I decided a button would at least be in keeping with the masculine feel of the card. I wish I'd had a button that was slightly smaller and not as dark as this one, which seems too chunky to me, but it'll do.

Maybe this is a sign that I need to order PTI's rustic button assortment, eh?

Papyrus lends so much texture and interest to a card, and those who are more skilled at dude cards than I am will find it simply amazing to work with.

Remember to leave a comment answering today's question to be included in the random drawing for today's little give-away, 12 small pieces assorted art papers, including several sheets of papyrus.

Today's Question:

What's your favorite way to add texture to a card?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Lincoln Hammett

For those of you who have prayed for Lincoln Hammett, a baby with leukemia, I wanted you to know of his passing. The CaringBridge post is HERE.

Thank you all for your prayer support of Lincoln and his family. His mother has told me of her deep comfort in knowing so many have been praying for a miracle for her baby. He is now with his Heavenly Father, but those he left behind will miss him always.

Anyone wishing to send a sympathy card to the family should send them to me. Email me for the address at susanraihala at woh dot rr dot com.

Art Paper Week Day One: Marbled Paper

This week we're going to explore the world of art papers with some cool cards and five give-aways. Are you with me?

I hope so.

Art papers are large sheets you'll find in the art section of Hobby Lobby or in art supply stores on large tilt racks, or specialty papers that generally live in the art supply department rather than the stamping/scrapbooking department.

Why are we doing this? Well, I have two boxes under my bed FULL of these types of papers. When I first started crafting, I mostly made hand-bound books, and of course I stocked up on tons of pretty papers. I used a lot of them but still have lots of scraps and some unused paper.

Okay, a lot of unused paper. My tendency to over-buy started early.

Anyway, when I first started making cards, I used these papers but was never really satisfied with my cards until I moved primarily to stamping. Under my bed they have languished for the last five or so years. It's time to drag them out and show them some love. Besides, I think I've finally learned enough about design to make them work for me.

Today's two cards surely work for me. The paper is a gray-blue marbled paper with just a hint of silver shimmer in it. At one time, I covered a box with it, and also used it on the cover of several handmade books. Only scraps remain.

First up, I decided to punch butterflies out of the marbled paper. Now, butterflies are soft, and marble is hard. But the swirls of the marbled paper made me think of the tracks butterflies...fluid and unpredictible and ethereal. A fog-colored vine (PTI) grounds them a bit, and this seemed like a really good card for a woman's birthday, so the lovely greeting from Sincere Salutations works perfectly. Little pearls accent the butterflies because they can. Like butterflies, pearls don't need a reason.

Next up is a MONOGRAM CARD! I KNOW! You thought I'd given up completely on them. I thought I had given up completely on them.

Never say never. I love this card. Check out those white-on-white layers, the single strip of marbled paper, and the two PERFECTLY MATCHING brads (the only embellishments in my entire stash o' stuff that matched this paper!).

Give-Away: To make Art Paper Week more fun, I'm going to send one randomly selected person each day a selection of 12 art-paper pieces to play with. Most of the pieces are 4.25" x 5.5". It's just a small give-away, but hopefully the infusion of some new bits of paper will get you as excited as I am for stretching out a bit and inspire you to look at your own old, unused supplies in a more favorable light.

To enter the give-away each day, just leave a comment answering the day's question. The deadline for today's drawing is Wednesday night at 12:00 Eastern time (US).

Today's Question:
What's your favorite art supply (as opposed to scrapping/stamping supply) to use for cardmaking?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Thank You, Angela!

Angela, aka angelahath at SCS, sent me a RAK a while back, and WOW! In the envelope I found a bunch of die cuts to play with. Yippy! There were four butterflies, and I originally planned to use three on one card but changed my mind at the last second and went super-clean instead.

It's amazing how the color change affects the tone of the whole card. First up is pink and girly and happy with black pearls and on PTI white cardstock.

Here we have elegant and sophisticated, with silver shimmer and black pearls on PTI white cardstock.

Third is au naturale, with kraft and brown pearls on PTI's vintage cream cardstock.

Finally, we get stylishly understated pea green and brown pearls on PTI's vintage cream cardstock.

Four cards using all the same elements but each with a different personality. Thanks, Angela, for making these possible!

Stay tuned for the next five days for five small give-aways. Details will be up tomorrow morning! Oh, I'm so excited!

stamps: PTI Birthday Basics
ink: Palette noir and dark chocolate
paper: PTI white and vintage cream
accessories: die cuts, dimensionals, pearl

Friday, June 18, 2010

Another Card with Striped Background

(Something goofy happened with Blogger Scheduling. This was Friday's post, and the Final Card post was supposed to be Saturday. Sigh. I tried.)
Here's my second card with the no-longer-neglected striped background from Hero Arts. As you can see, I just used a small part of the whole. This is in many ways my favorite way to use background stamps, which sometimes get a bit too busy for my clean-and-simple style.

The flower is from a Hero Arts clear set, and the sentiment is also by Hero but is from a wood-mounted set. Inks are Memento, and paper is SU's pretty in pink and chocolate chip, and PTI's white. Of course.

When I cut the stamped panel, I used my craft knife to cut a curve following the flower stem so it bulges a bit from the rectangle. That helps bring some attention to the flower even though it's stamped in pale colors.

Simplicity Tip: When using stripes, pay attention to what is on the edges of your piece. Having one end cut on a white stripe and the other on a green would look a bit off. Cut so the end stripes are even in width, or at least the same color, so the eye isn't distracted by unbalance.

Final Card in the Striped Background Trio

(This was scheduled to be posted on Saturday, not Friday. Sorry for the mix-up. There will be another post on Sunday.)

Today's card, like yesterday's, only uses part of the background as a border, but the effect is completely different. It's amazing what a crisp look you get using only black, a touch of green, and lots and lots of white. This card is not the standard A2 size; it's 6.25" x 4.5" and fits a larger standard envelope.

The adorable tiny rick-rack was sent to me by Patti M., along with some other goodies. Thank you, Patti! I like how the zig-zag of the rick-rack contrasts with the straight lines of the stripes. For the same reason, I chose the sentiment (from Hero) because of the flourished Joy.

Three little green rhinestones (colored to match with Bic Mark-It marker) lead the recipient into the inside of the card, which says, "and I find joy with you." Made this one for George, of course, but it would work equally well for my imaginary Latin lover Juan.

George knows all about Juan, by the way. In fact, he's the one who invented Juan in the first place to explain why I was on Ramada Inn's preferred customer list. Really, it was because I worked in corporate at the time and got on every mailing list known to corporate-kind.

But I digress.

Simplicity Tip: Curves loves angles, and angles love curves. This is just a specific example of the idea that contrast makes things more visually interesting. If you're ever working on a card and feel it's blah, you can use this essential truth of design to kick up the interest on your card. If everything is all straight and right angled, try a swirly sentiment. If everything is organic and curved, try something right-angled and straight for contrast. This doesn't always work, but often it's the best design choice you can make.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

One-Layer Card with Hero Arts Striped Background

Have you ever left any stamps languishing, unused, for years?

No, of course you haven't. You are on top of things, you don't neglect a thing, you USE your stamps, you would never in a million years ignore one for so long.

Yeah? I'm not buyin' it.

I pulled out this sadly neglected Hero Arts striped background, floral border, and birthday sentiment to give them some love and ink, and made three cards in an hour. I love all three. Today, you're enjoying (I hope you're enjoying!) a one-layer, blinged-out happy birthday card.

To make the card, I stamped the stripes in Memento angel pink and then put post-its on either side to stamp the long border stamp just over the stripes. Then, I blinged.

For those who are interested, all three Hero stamps are discontinued. Fret not! Just pull out your own neglected stamps and do something pretty. Anything. It doesn't matter. This was a very satisfying exercise, and I highly recommend it.

stamps: Hero Arts
ink: pink and black Mementon
paper: PTI white
accessories: bling, stamp positioner

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

One-Layer Wednesday 9: Flourishes

This week's One-Layer Wednesday Challenge is to use a flourish on your card. Small or large, one or more, doesn't matter. Just use a flourish.

My card uses PTI's Silent Night flourish and a sentiment from My Sentiments Exactly. The ink is Memento bamboo leaves and Danube blue. A sprinkling of blue rhinestones in two sizes completes the card.

Rules for OLW9

1. A one-layer card is defined as a single piece of cardstock folded in half.

2. OLW9 highlights flourishes: use at least one flourish on your one-layer card.

3. You may embellish as necessary, but please keep it clean and simple, with minimal embellishments to make your design work.

4. After you post your card online, come back here and link to it using the OLW9 InLinkz button on the sidebar.

5. The most important rule: HAVE FUN!

FYI: For the next week and a half, I'll be spending time with extended family and will have very limited time to plug in. Karen Dunbrook has graciously agreed to start the Clean and Simple Favorites thread at SCS on the 19th and 26th. Next week, I will not be posting a OLW Challenge, but it will resume on June 30. I have something special planned for Simplicity next week (you'll never guess the theme!), but if I miss a day or two, know that we're having lots of fun in real life and my internet life will resume soon.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What I Think about Ink

This is the second post for Tuesday. It's just words, words, words, so if you want to see today's card, please scroll WAAAAYYYY down. Thanks!

Amy Kilbreath asked my opinion about inks and good matches for Papertrey colors, given PTI's recent decision to discontinue their inks. I don't have a list of matches (perhaps one of you can share a link?), but I do use VersaMagic Aquatic Mist to match PTI's aqua color. Other than that, I wing it, which really isn't very helpful, is it?

Ink is a funny thing. What one person loves and works with beautifully is a challenge and annoyance for someone else. I could write a whole book on my experiences with and opinions about the inks I've tried. Below is just a summary. Perhaps it will help anyone who is shopping for new ink. If you are, I recommend starting with just a pad or two in your most-used colors and playing before investing whole-heartedly in a particular ink type or brand.

1. VersaColor, VersaMagic, Brilliance: These are thick-formula, quick-drying inks that give really nice coverage. They are archival, so they are safe for scrapbooking. My one beef with them is that the thick formula tends to dry out easily, especially in the large pads. I've often had to re-ink them right after buying them! But this seems a natural hazard given that they are formulated to dry quickly. The dewdrop size of the Brilliance and VersaMagic are my favorites, and they have all been nice and juicy for me and last longer, perhaps because of the tight fit of the lids. The VersaColor comes in a cube, which doesn't seem to last as long and doesn't have the tight lid of the dewdrops. These all work GREAT with clear stamps and rubber.

2. Memento: These are runnier dye inks that are pretty safe for scrapbooking. I love the dewdrops and have every color available. The small pads are very juicy and give lovely color. They occasionally are a little blotchy with photo-polymer stamps, but only with bigger block images. As you can see, they did an awesome job on today's card with clear line stamps. They come in a marker form as well, which I will likely acquire at some point in the future.

3. SU Classic Ink: LOVE these. I have almost all the colors in full-size pads and will use the discontinued ones until my paper and refills are gone. I may or may not get the new SU colors, and I may just be very selective. These, like the Memento inks, usually work fine with photo-polymer stamps but can get blotchy on large block images. I NEVER use these in my scrapbooks because they are not archival or permanent. They WILL fade over time.

4. Palette/PTI inks: I have dark chocolate, noir, and vintage cream, and love all three. Vintage cream is more like a pigment ink (and comes on a foam pad) than the other two colors (which are on felt pads). The chocolate and noir will not run with Bics, Sharpies, or Copics. They work great with clear or rubber stamps.

5. Memories, Ancient Page: These were the first dye inks I ever bought, and I have most of the colors. They are waterproof dye inks. They don't work like watercolors, as do SU classic inks. They are safe for scrapbooking, but don't work well AT ALL with clear stamps, although I believe Memories reformulated after I stopped buying them...Hero Arts sells them and their designers use them without apparent problems with their clear stamps.

6. Colorbox Pigment Ink: A slow-drying pigment ink appropriate for heat-embossing. These are archival. I have a bunch of the Petal Point sets and use them occasionally, though not as much as when I started stamping. Most of mine are 7 or 8 years old and still going strong. They work great with clear or rubber stamps.

7. SU Craft Ink in white: Hands down, this is my favorite white ink. Love it.

8. StazOn: Great for stamping on slick surfaces.

I have a few Colorbox Chalk inks (don't like them...dry out soooo fast and the color selection is just odd!), VersaMark (love it), and a few other miscellaneous pads. My total pad count is over 300, so I'm really particular about what I buy now. I will not likely buy the PTI inks when they are available.

If I had to get rid of inks, I'd cull most of the Ancient Page and Memories, some of the SU colors, and all the Colorbox Chalk ink. As these dry out, I'm pitching them and not replacing them. I'd keep/replace all the Memento, VersaColor, VersaMagic dewdrops, VersaColor dewdrops, and Palette inks, and most of the SU classic ink.

A note about matchy-matchy: Now that my style has settled into CAS, I'm much less concerned about matchy-matchy. I sort of wonder why I had such a hard time matching inks and paper before, but really, when you use white card bases and very little colored cardstock, life is easier.

Thanks, Sue Berker!

Sue Berker was kind enough to send me some die cuts for the Up, Up, and Away set from PTI. Seeing as I'm a backward hick who doesn't own a die cut machine, this is akin to winning the lottery, especially since I do have the set and frankly wasn't looking forward to cutting out those baskets. The balloons, no problem, but those tiny baskets...not so much. So thank you, Sue, for making this card possible.

I chose to make it a Miss You card because every time I see balloons up in the air, I think about people being out of reach, off in the distance, out of touch, hopefully having a good time but oh my gosh that thing could plummet to the ground in a heartbeat!

You might say I have issues with hot-air balloons. But they are so pretty and colorful up in the big blue sky and a perfect subject for cards, don't you think?

Angelahatha at SCS also sent me some other die cuts that I'll be showing later. Y'all are just too good to me!

stamps: PTI Up, Up and Away, Mega Mixed Messages
ink: Palette noir
paper: bashful blue, green galore, white
accessories: balloon die cut, cloud die cut, dimensionals, rick rack, gemstones

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Inspired by Joan B...Again

I love Joan B's blog Paperlicious, and as soon as this post came up on Google Reader, I knew I just HAD to copy her card. 'Cause it's wonderful.

As you see, I didn't change much other than the stamps and type of ribbon. Joan used Waltzingmouse Stamps flower and sentiment (I haven't gone there...yet), and I used a Hero Arts flower and Clear and Simple Stamps sentiment. My ribbon is grosgrain, only because I didn't have a matching satin ribbon. She blinged, and so did I because blinging makes me happy. Oh so happy.

Remember, to bling is a verb. At least here on Simplicity it is. Webster's needs to catch up.

Oh, and I forgot to round the bottom corners, but since I like the corners square or round, we'll pretend that I did that on purpose.

Happy Monday!

Scale Matters: Before and After

First of all, thank you all so much for your kind comments on my last post. I'm so very excited, and it makes me even happier to know that you are, too.

For today, I wanted to make a super-clean card using the Martha Stewart whale punch, which is just so stinkin' cute. But the experience turned into an entire Simplicity Tip on scale. So here we go with a Before and After.


We might title this one Where's the Whale? Good grief, he looks sooooo small on a standard 5.5" x 4.25" card, doesn't he? That sentiment is too big and further takes attention away from the whale. Plus, he's stuck in the center (because the sentiment was centered and it looked weird for him to be offset over it), which makes the whole design look fairly uninteresting.

And yes, I used old-fashioned deco scissors to make the waves. At first, I used the Fiskar's wave border punch, but the waves dwarfed the whale even more, so I switched to the scissors, which worked much better for scale but not well enough to save the whole card, LOL!


So I adjusted the scale by using a 4.25" square card, moved the whale into the natural "sweet spot" on the top left of the card, and used a smaller sentiment in the "sweet spot" on the lower right. The scale is much more pleasing to the eye now, and the offset layout more balanced and interesting.

Well, I think so, and hope you do, too.

stamps: Hero Arts (top card); PTI (bottom card)
ink: Palette noir
paper: cool caribbean, sahara sand, white
accessories: whale punch (Martha Stewart), dimensionals, deco scissors, small black half-pearls

Friday, June 11, 2010

I'm in Soooo Much Trouble

Second post today...please scroll down for today's card!

Have you checked out Nichole Heady's blog today? Don't go there! No matter what you do, just DON'T. Trust me. It's terrifying. It's absolutely, positively sucking the balance right out of my bank account and into the heart of darkness.

The horror. The horror!

I'm doomed. Resistance is futile. Why bother?



Coffee and Penguins and a Really Cool Blog Badge

Memory Box's penguins are just the cutest little critters. There are dozens of them with all sorts of accessories. My favorites are, of course, the aviator, the chef, the artist, and the coffee-drinker. If you could see me now, sitting in my breakfast room at my desk with a cup of coffee by my side, you'd know why this coffee-drinking penguin stamp is so extremely appealing to me.

Simplicity Tip: To matte or not to matte? That is the question. Here it is necessary, but I ALWAYS try to do without mattes whenever possible. In this case, the gingham ribbon and sentiment put too much black on the left side of the card, resulting in an unbalanced feel. By adding the black matte, the penguin gained a little visual weight and evened the card back out. My Simplicity philosophy is to always ask, "What is the LEAST I need to get my point across visually?"

Which leads me to the extremely cool badge my very creative reader Tejal designed. I don't know if Tejal had read all the way back to the first post of Simplicity, but I used this quotation from Leonardo Da Vinci to jump-start this whole crazy blog. So I've added Tejal's pretty creation to the sidebar of Simplicity. If you would like to do the same, she gives easy-to-follow instructions on her blog. Just click the link in her name above.

Thank you, Tejal, for sharing your talent and enthusiasm with all the rest of us! You ROCK!

Long live simplicity!

PS I can't believe how easy Blogger's new design feature is. It took all of five minutes to completely freshen and update the look of Simplicity. I hope you like the new look because I sure do!!!!!! And I never would have tried it if Tejal hadn't mentioned how much she loved it. Thanks again, Tejal!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

My Aviator Penguin

A couple of years ago, Memory Box asked people to submit ideas for their penguin stamps. I immediately fired off an email asking for a WWII-era aviator penguin.

You see, my grandfather David Lee Willis actually was a WWII aviator who flew in B-24s in the China-Burma-India theater, as well as other aircraft during the Berlin Airlift. Doesn't he look like Clark Gable?

(If you'd like to read more about Papa, check out this post on my other blog, Questioning my Intelligence.)

I thought the Memory Box penguins needed an aviator because penguins are flightless birds, just like people (well, we're not birds, but you get the idea), and how they must long to fly! The good folks at Memory Box agreed with me and MADE MY IDEA INTO A STAMP! How totally cool is that?!?!

Aviator penguin is so gosh darn cute! I colored him with Prisma colored pencils and used white liquid applique on his flight jacket collar, cuffs, and hem. I also curved the sentiment on the acrylic block to fit inside the circle. Here's a little more detail:

If you'd like to check out the Memory Box penguins, StampinTreasures sells them here. Not that I'm encouraging you to buy any of them. I'm just sayin'....

stamps: Memory Box (penguin), PTI Up, Up and Away sentiments, A Muse oval
ink: Palette noir, VersaColor cement
paper: SU blush blossom, PTI white
accessories: Marvy circle and scallop punches, dimensionals, Prism pencils, liquid applique, heat gun

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

One-Layer Wednesday 8: Masking a Background

OMGOSH! Yesterday, I went over 150,000 hits! I gotta think about a give-away for that, but for now, let me just say thank you to each and every one of you. Who knew in March 2009 that my little blog...with no fancy banner or pretty wallpaper or cool, hip doo-dads...would find such a wonderful audience? You all ROCK. Your words of encouragement keep me going. Thank you.

And thanks also for making the OLW challenge such a success! I still haven't commented on all of the OLW7 cards (there are 69...and I'm too thrilled to crack a joke about that), but I will today. If you're linking to 2Peas in a Bucket, however, I can't comment because I'm not registered and when I tried to register, the internet gremlins kept giving me weird error messages. I tried.

For OLW8, we're masking a background, mainly because I bought this REALLY COOL LABEL PUNCH (EK Success) at JoAnn's on sale last week and wanted to use it on a one-layer card. That's how random these things are, folks. Shopping serendipity leads to awesome challenge!

That would make a great headline, don't you think?

Anyway, today's challenge requires you to create a mask and use it to create a background on your card. You can punch, cut, diecut, or use a found object to create your mask. Feel free to go buy something if you want. You have my permission. Just use a coupon or get it on sale, okay? That's what I did, and wowza, it felt good!

I actually masked my mask because I didn't want the brackets on my card. Extra points for me!

Rules for OLW8

1. A one-layer card is defined as a single piece of cardstock folded in half. No other layers allowed.

2. Mask a background for whatever image/sentiment you're using. You can use a spritzer, sponge, direct-to-paper, dauber, or whatever else occurs to you to apply ink, paint, or whatever else you want to use. Lots of options here!

3. Upload your card to the internet somewhere and link to it using the InLinkz button on the sidebar of Simplicity.

4. Most important rule of all...HAVE FUN!!!

stamps: PTI Fruitful, Mega Mixed Messages
ink: Memories soft leaf, Versacolor grape, VersaMagic Tea Leaves
paper: PTI white
accessories: EK Success label punch, corner rounder, post-it notes, sponge

CAS70 Quotes, Verses, and Sayings

This is the second post for today. To see the tutorial on precise placement of images, please scroll down!

The CAS70 Challenge this week is to make a quote or saying the focal point of your card. I got a little carried away with this one, so I made three.

First up, a patriotic card with a few layers but still very CAS. The flag image is a photo sticker, and the pledge is stamped with Staz-on on vellum.

Next, a bit of lace makes the ground on this simple card using Happy Harmony, one of the best sets StampinUp has ever made.

Finally, an even simpler card that uses a repeated graphic to reinforce the message of the sentiment. This is my favorite stamp from SU's Refuge and Strength set. Isn't its message so comforting?

I just love it when the ideas start popping into my head faster than I can make them. This only happens when I let go of being all perfect and just play. Some ideas work, some don't. When I'm playing, it's all good.

Thanks to Jen for a wonderful challenge. And check out the inspiration cards from the new DT members, guest artist, and Jen herself linked on the first post of the challenge...they ROCK!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Tutorial on Precise Placement

A number of participants in OLW7 have moaned about ruining lots of paper trying to get exact placment of their images. I feel your pain. If you're gonna do CAS, you gotta be willing to ruin paper. It goes with the territory. It's unavoidable. It's deeply annoying. It might make you run back to multiple layers and tons of embellishments so you can hide the slips.


I love the Hitchhiker's Guide. Have I mentioned that? Not relevant, but still.

I need coffee.

Anyway, back to paper. Especially if you are a beginning stamper or even if you're just branching out into more CAS style, it's not always obvious how to achieve precise stamping. You'll absolutely have to pitch mistakes in the recycling bin, and that's okay. Accept that and move on with a few handy tools that will minimize (but not eliminate) mistakes. Let's get started, shall we?

First, the easiest thing you can do to get precise placement is use clear stamps with a gridded acrylic block.

This isn't full-proof by any means. Blocks slip, stamps smoosh, smudges happen. But the grid helps you get even spacing and straight lines, especially if you stick out the tip of your tongue to the right side of your mouth and don't breath while stamping.

Okay, I'm kidding about the not breathing. But the tongue sticking out works. Sometimes. Or not.

Not everyone likes clear stamps, and not all images are available in clear. Let's say you love the feel of wood blocks in your hands as you stamp, but wood is, sadly, opaque. So is rubber. You can still get nice, even spacing like this:

DON'T PANIC! You can do it. All you need is a ruler (I like this clear plastic L-shaped ruler because it's easy to get right angles with it), pencil, and stamp positioner. A gridded cutting mat is a good idea, too, but not essential.

Start by drawing a light pencil line where you want your images to be.

At this point, you can mark the center, or you can use your grid to eyeball it. See how I centered the card on the grid? It's one less mark to erase, but seriously, how hard is it to just erase? Not very.

Put your central image first, and once it's in place, put the ruler down and mark where you want the others at even intervals. It's a good design idea to have the end images run off the card a bit, but not essential.

Next, use your stamp positioner to get each image in exactly the right spot.

DO NOT prematurely erase. You will smear the ink and hate yourself. Go ahead and set it aside to dry, color it if needed, and THEN erase the line. Patience is a virtue.

See? It's not that hard if you get all obsessive about it. Practice makes close to perfect, too.

Note on Stamp Positioners: I bought mine YEARS ago. PSX has been out of business for a long time, but all positioners work the same way. A flat square or rectangle of plastic or acrylic fits inside an L-shaped guide. Nestle the L-shape against one corner of the rectangle, and let the L-shape guide your inked stamp onto the rectangle. Then position the image on the rectangle over the place you want to stamp it, slide the L-shaped guide onto the corner, remove the rectangle, and then stamp onto the paper by sliding the stamp straight down the L-shaped guide.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Matchbook Card


You would NOT believe how much paper I wasted to get to this card for the EONAC fold challenge. I think I made five (or perhaps six?) before getting something I actually liked. Frankly, I'm in serious need of a break from pink. Three of the failures were pink. Pink, pink, pink. Bleck.

So here's the best I could do. I can live with it--happily--because it is cleaner and simpler than any of my other efforts. And it's not pink.

To make the card, cut a 4" by 11" piece of PTI white cardstock. Then score at 5" and 10". Then cut 5/8" off the end opposite the 1" flap. That way, you can fasten the 1" flap with the brads and still tuck the 4 3/8" stamped flap into it.

If this doesn't make sense, try it with a piece of copy paper. It's way harder to explain than to do.

Now yes, the ugly brad butts are exposed on the back of the matchbook, but a simple strip of cardstock glued over them will hide them nicely.

The gemstone brads are sooooo pretty....and soooo bulky. So this will go to a neighbor as a hand-delivered card. She's very girly and will love this blingy floral creation!


I hope you all had a lovely weekend and had a chance to make beautiful things. What a blessing it is to have time to create! If you haven't checked out last week's post on Questioning my Intelligence called Creator's High, please do so. And please take time to read the comments because they are better than my essay!

stamp: Hero Arts (flower), PTI Simple Little Things (sentiment)
ink: Memento
paper: PTI white
accessories: ScorPal, rhinestone brads

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Coolest Thing I Ever Gave my Son: EONAC20

"Thanks, Mom! This is the coolest thing you ever gave me!"

Those are the words my son shouted when I gave him this:

Yes, he loves the Wii, and yes, he has his game on.

I made this for EONAC20. When I read the challenge on Sue Berker's blog, I realized what a rut I've been in with cards. Everything I've made lately is either 4.25" x 5.5" or 4.25" square, with a simple fold. EONAC20 is to try a different fold, one you have never tried or haven't used recently. I immediately thought of a staggered accordion-fold card I saw in a magazine recently and went from there.

The folded piece is 5.5" x 11, scored at the following intervals 1.5, 1.5, 1.75, 1.75, and 2 inches. Scoring is sooooo easy with a ScorPal. Oh, my. Then I cut off the extra half-inch so the last flap is 2 inches. The circles were punched with 1.75" and 2" circle punches.

This uses the Game On set from Clear and Simple Stamps, which I bought after Sue recommended checking out CSS's kid sets. Given Nick's response, I plan on using it more. CSS makes high-quality photopolymer stamps and has some great designs, if you haven't already checked them out. And no, I am not paid to say that. I just like to push stamps. Makes me feel better about having so many myself.

Once I'd made the Coolest Thing I Ever Gave my Son, I decided to make another card with a half-front. The Wii remote stamp gave me the idea. I wanted it to be in the background but not interfere with the Mii winner image. I love how clean and minimalist this turned out, especially when you consider that the black line running down the center was drawn with a marker; it's not a cardstock layer. I rock.

Shot at more of an angle, it's easier to see the construction of the card. The white circle is punched with a 2" punch, and the black circle is cut with a Creative Memories circle cutter. My next punch size up yielded too big a matte and it looked heavy and unbalanced the card. We can't have that, now, can we?

I've got another, different fold to share tomorrow, if I can get it photographed. In the meantime, why not try your hand at EONAC20 yourself. It's fun and has opened up possibilities in a very exciting way!

stamps: Clear and Simple Stamps Game On
ink: Palette noir
paper: PTI white, SU black
accessories: light gray Copic, darker gray and black Bic Mark-It, circle punches, Scor-Pal, CM circle cutter

Friday, June 4, 2010

Inspired by Jessica Witty

Card Creations Vol. 8 contains the following card by Jessica Witty:

Gorgeous! I love the subtle colors, the big blue flowery button, the glitter, the dotted ribbon, the punched border...raptures!

But...that big blue button is, well, really BIG, and the other buttons are a bit thick as well. And glitter is so messy. And I don't have that dotted ribbon or the dotted border punch.

Whatever is a girl to do?


The Primas are a good, flat substitute for the buttons, and the bling doesn't add enough bulk to matter. The satin ribbon adds a touch more shine to the matte finish of the cardstock and white ink; I opted out of the knot because this ribbon is not double-sided and the matte/shiny sides would be distracting. Plus, it's simpler this way. Finally, the apron border punch adds a nice scalloped feel to reinforce the scalloped ends of the Prima petals.

Whenever you see a card that you love in a magazine or on a blog, don't feel you have to do everything the same. Improvise and play around with what you have. Modify the original design to express YOUR crafting style and values. Go confidently in the direction of your own artistic vision. (Gandhi was smart, and his sayings so adaptable!)

And when you post your inspired creation for the world to see, always acknowledge the source of your inspiration. It's the right thing to do.

Thus speaks the English 102 instructor who once had the entire MLA Handbook memorized.

So thanks, Jessica Witty. I couldn't have done it without you.

stamps: PTI Beautiful Blooms, Birthday Basics
ink: SU white craft ink, close to cocoa classic ink
paper: sahara sand, white
accessories: primas, rhinestones, ribbon, apron punch