Saturday, October 31, 2015

OLS22 A Multitude of Gratitude

Tonight's post helps kick off the last One-Layer Simplicity Challenge of 2015! We're so excited to be celebrating two years of this monthly challenge and hope you'll choose to play along with us.

After all, it's a very practical challenge.

For OLS22, we're focusing on thanks and gratitude...for anything. You may, of course, make standard thank-you cards (holiday images and thank-you sentiments might come in handy about two months from now), or you may put your thinking cap on and find outside-the-box expressions of thanks, such as my card currently on the OLS blog. Here's a little teaser for it!

You'll need to click over to the OLS22 post to see the full card in all its one-layered, blinged glory!

I hope you'll play along this month!

Friday, October 30, 2015

A Very Deer Christmas

Fair Isle Motifs from Papertrey is such a warm and wonderful set. Here's a deer card that is simple and festive in red, green, and gold.  Awww. Isn't the heart sweet?

If you're interested in some non-scary ghost stories, you might enjoy my current post on my other blog Questioning my Intelligence.

Have a happy Halloween!

stamps: Papertrey Fair Isle Motifs, Keep It Simple Christmas
ink: Memento Luxe
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: metal ruler, gold metallic pen (PrismaColor), craft foam, glue

Thursday, October 29, 2015

There Are No Mistakes

...only opportunities for embellishment.

While playing around with Fair Isle Motifs from Papertrey, I tried to use the two-step stamps in the set. There is a tiny, four-stitch stamp that fits (supposedly) into the center of the largest design. My idea was to add a spot of red to the center of the gray motif, but OF COURSE I lined it up crooked and it looked ugly.

Very ugly.

Two-step stamping and I have a history. A dysfunctional history. Too many mistakes like this one. Too many groans of frustration.

So then, I thought, "Hey, what about stamping a larger center for the design on a scrap, punching it out with a circle punch, and covering up embellishing the mistake?"

And a card was born.


stamps: Fair Isle Motifs (Papertrey), Everyday Wishes (StampinUp)
ink: Memento Luxe
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: circle punch, dimensionals

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

An Even More Unconventional Color Scheme and a Funny Story or Two

One of my aunts loves the color purple, and as I contemplated this fact for her Christmas card, my first thought was snowflakes. Then, I found the Fair Isle Motifs stamp set from Papertrey, and this card was born.

The ombre effect was achieved using two shades on a Kaleidacolor ink pad. The dark purple ink pad was on the bottom of the row of pads, the lighter shade the next pad up. I simply inked half the stamp by tamping it repeatedly on the pad, moving the stamp slightly up and down to get a good blend of the two shades. Then, I turned the stamp upside down and repeated the process. This gave the strip of dark purple across the middle of the design, fading to light purple top and bottom. It took three different impressions to make the border.

Isn't the effect pretty cool?!? I love this for my aunt and know she will completely appreciate it. I also love that the card is so interesting yet completely, absolutely flat. No problems mailing this whatsoever!

Now for the funny stories. Y'all know that my younger son, Jack, is on the autism spectrum, which means he has difficulty with metaphorical or figurative language...he tends to take people's words very literally. We were driving to Barnes & Noble (a common occurrence in our lives) after having stopped at McD's (not so common) to get Jack fries and a cookie. (Don't judge my parenting until you walk a mile in my shoes...people with autism often have food issues. Jack makes Mikey from the old Life cereal commercials look like a gourmand.)

Anyway, my husband George called Jack a cookie monster, and Jack was offended. We tried to explain that George wasn't insulting him. Anyone who really likes cookies can be called a cookie monster...we weren't trying to offend him, just making an observation. He shot back, "Do I look like I have blue fur to you?"

And that put us in our place.

Our older son is quite amusing as well. Nick did a lab report on an experiment with a soda-bottle biome, in which he had to grow various plants and keep a fish and cricket alive. In the Discussion section of the report, he wrote: "The carrot plant grew but then died. We suspect the cricket."

He's doing extremely well in biology. I think I'd really enjoy having coffee and conversation with his teacher!

stamps: Papertrey Fair Isle Motifs, Keep It Simple Christmas
paper: Papertrey white
ink: Kaleidacolor
accessories: none

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Let's Get Unconventional

A Blue Christmas need not be sad at all, especially when you tweak the shade of blue and dress it up with silver!

I love the contrast between the soft blue mistletoe and the dark teal berries. The teal--just a shade off from standard holiday/winter blue--really is a fresh surprise on this card. 

There's a lot of movement going on in the border, and the bold "Joy" balances the berries perfectly, making the sentiment the focal point of the card and unifying the two elements that don't touch each other at all. 

Joy to the world, indeed!

Thanks to all who shared their favorite holiday/winter images. I just love the variety in the answers and am so grateful we have such a selection to choose from in our hobby. 

Today's question: 
Do you enjoy playing with unconventional colors or do you stick to traditional green and red (or blue and silver) for your holiday cards? 

stamps: Papertrey, Altnew
ink: Impress Fresh Ink, Memento Luxe
paper: Papertrey
accessories: silver metallic pen, ruler

Monday, October 26, 2015

Jolly Holly and Mistletoe and a Random Question

Today's card has an in-and-out thing going on. The outside of the card is extremely clean and simple, with not an image in sight...just sentiment.

This sentiment is from the Holly and Mistletoe set from Papertrey, which is dominated by two very large of holly and the other mistletoe. Duh. Anyway, the big stamps are hard for me to work with, but I love the fonts of the sentiments.

For the inside of the card, I decorated the two lower corners with holly from Papertrey's Holly Jolly set, leaving plenty of space for a handwritten sentiment.

Here's today's random question: What are your favorite winter/holiday-themed images? Holly, mistletoe, nativity scenes, poinsettias, candy canes, snowflakes, snowmen, deer, palm trees, something else entirely? Inquiring minds, and all that jazz....

stamps: Papertrey
ink: Memento Luxe, Impress Fresh Ink
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: gridded acrylic block because lining up the three stamps in that sentiment so precisely can't be done without it

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Christmas Cards and Pears

My friend Francie M. posted on Facebook that she didn't feel inspired to make Christmas cards this year, despite having purchased new product to work with, so she'd be sending out store-bought cards.

I love this. 

We need to listen to ourselves and take care of ourselves at all times, but especially during the holidays. The insidious push to have a perfectly Pinterest Christmas is unkind to us. Do we hold others to such unrealistic expectations? No. Yet we expect we can "do it all"...and exhaust ourselves.

Last Christmas, I shifted some things around and had a mostly minimalist Christmas, although I gave in to my enthusiasm for decorating our house. It was delightful and balanced! This year, I'm actually excited about shopping for presents for the first time in years, and I've already started. Not sure where this enthusiasm is coming from, but it's there, so I'm taking advantage. The thought of decorating, however, seems less interesting, so the halls won't be nearly as decked this year as last.

It's all good. 

I knew months ago that I'd never have enough Christmas cards made for this year. Our list is very long (a consequence of my husband's military career), so today I bought my first box of cards at Barnes & Noble. No guilt. No stress.

The fact that people still send cards is wonderful. Who cares if they are handmade, store-bought, or unsigned photo cards? Someone thinks enough of me to spend time and postage. I'm so very grateful!!! I hope they are, too.

On an unrelated topic, my friend Joan posted recently about making cards for non-crafters, offering a refreshingly honest look at what we do and how some people just don't get it. Her words got me thinking and made me look at the Crane and Papyrus notecards...the "quality" brands people spend gobs of money on...for inspiration.

What I saw dovetailed nicely with a strategy I've used to produce more Christmas cards faster by coming up with an extremely simple design and making 6 or 8 of them. 

Today's card is one of a set of eight I made using a Papertrey set called Wet Paint Holidays. 

Card Size: 4 7/8" x 3 3/8"

The envelope has the earth map stamp from Masculine Motifs, also from Papertrey. 

Keeping it simple makes me so very, very happy. And hopefully, the thick card stock and crisp stamping give the impression of a nice Papyrus card. 

Now, onto the pears. Some of you may not know about my pear "issue." If you're curious, check out this post from 2009. Since that post, people have sent me LOTS of cards with pears on them, some pear stamps, links to particularly disturbing pears, and pear jokes. 

I can't eat a pear without laughing...or cutting it up into slices first. 

Anyway, my friend Leslie H. has her own popular blog and was stamping with friends when she made this card. Her friends, who also read Simplicity, told her to send it to me. She did. And it's now hanging next to this card on my inspiration board. 

Because life is short, and pears make me laugh!

Thanks, Leslie! 

stamps: Papertrey Wet Paint Holiday, Masculine Motifs
ink: Hero Arts cornflower, Memento Danube blue
paper: Papertrey White
accessories: none

Monday, October 19, 2015

Bloggus Interruptus


Due to circumstances beyond my control (ordinary life and low crafty mojo...nothing alarming), Simplicity will be taking a mini-hiatus. I'll return by Monday, October 26, at the latest.

In the meantime, please feel free to poke around my Pinterest boards, if you wish.

Mahalo. Grazie. Gracias. Merci. Obrigado. Thank you.

This post brought to you by a woman who is functionally illiterate in many, many languages. Because polylingual omniscience would be boring, of course. Cool. But boring.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

White Ink and Kraft Card Stock, Plus a Christmas Tree Card

Curious reader Beth asked what white ink I recommend for stamping snow on kraft card stock. Well, I don't use kraft paper very often, so I tried a little experiment. Only two white inks reside in my stash: StampinUp's Whisper White craft ink and Brilliance Moonlight White. Here's what I got when stamping both with a rather large shadow stamp from Hero Arts:

Top: SU Whisper White Craft Ink
Bottom: Brilliance Moonlight White
Card Stock: Papertrey Ink kraft 

Both pads were recently re-inked, which is critical to good performance. Clearly, the SU ink gives a denser, more opaque coverage, but the Brilliance isn't doing too badly.

Beth also wanted to know about drying time. Today, the Brilliance was dry within just a few minutes, but the SU ink took about two hours to fully dry. (Do you like how I split that infinitive? Ah, the joys of non-academic writing!)

Drying times can vary HUGELY depending on all sorts of factors. I have some inks that dry in a few hours, but for other people in other parts of the country, the same inks never dry or dry much more quickly. Perhaps humidity, different manufacturing batches of the ink, type of paper used, and/or amount of ink on the stamp can cause different performance.

Whatever the cause, individual results WILL vary.

Usually, if I want a good white-on-kraft, I'll heat emboss with white embossing powder. But that adds shine, which can conflict with the rustic feel of kraft card stock, depending on what style you're going for.

Beth, I hope this helps!

And now onto our card. My plan to use all my Christmas stamps or pitch them into storage for a year is proceeding nicely. The storage box has gained some sets, as well as a few wood-mounted stamps. It's amazing how hard it is to admit defeat when a stamp or stamp set is so pretty, though. I made a lot of pretty trash this weekend.

This one, however, is a keeper.

Clean, simple, geometric. The Impress Fresh Ink celery looks stylish and different with the VersaMagic tea leaves, and the little star atop the popped tree is a fun touch.

This card happened right after a VERY failed effort at a vintage-y/collage-y card, so you might imagine how happy it made me!

I hope you all had a fun weekend. We in Ohio enjoyed fine fall weather and some lovely autumnal foliage against blue skies. My favorite time of the year!

stamps: Clearly Besotted Modern Christmas
ink: Impress Fresh Ink harvest, celery; VersaMagic tea leaves; Memento Luxe rhubarb stalk; Colorbox light brown 
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: small star punch, dimensionals

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Review: SU's Rotary Stamp Alphabet

When I saw the Rotary Stamp Alphabet in the SU catalog (it first appeared a few years ago, if I remember correctly), I wanted it. When I placed my last SU order, it jumped right into the shopping cart as if it were meant to be there.

After opening the order, I was a bit taken aback at how big it is. Here's a photo of it next to a standard ink pad for comparison.

Here are a few things I expected of the very inexpensive device...and it met expectations.

1. Lining up the letters perfectly and getting a perfect image is tough. I don't recommend stamping it onto a finished card, especially if that card isn't an "artsy" loose, collage-style card. The imperfections will be glaringly obvious.

Mistakes abound.

We got there in the end, partly by rocking the device
back and forth just a bit.

A better choice is stamping the sentiment onto strips and cutting it out to add to a card. That way, if it's crooked, you can cut it out straight (quilting rulers and craft knives are PERFECT for this sort of triage).

2. With only 13 rows, it's hard to make a full sentiment. Happy birthday, for instance, had 14 spaces/letters, so you can't stamp the words together. Aligning separate impressions would be extremely difficult...not impossible, but very difficult nevertheless. I wanted to stamp The First Noel, and it also has 14 letters/spaces. Bummer. The work-around for this is, of course, cutting the words out separately and popping them on a card.

3. It's really cool, even if it is finicky.

Not quite perfect with that E, but still pretty in Delicata Golden Glitz.

The E still didn't stamp great, but the stamp worked with
Brilliance chocolate in dew-drop pad form.

The hard pad of a Hero Arts dye ink pad worked really well...once that
E was lined up right. 
4. The strips of rubber spin more smoothly than I expected, and once the words are set up, you can stamp them repeatedly much more easily than with regular stamp alphabets, although it pays to check visually that you haven't knocked anything out of alignment before each impression. This is perfect if you want to stamp out a unique, long saying for a set of card. You could stamp the first few words of the saying repeatedly, reset for the next few words and stamp those repeatedly, and so on until you're finished. That level of customization isn't often needed in stamping, but it's handy to have anyway if you want it.

My bottom's worth the money ($15) as long as you don't expect perfection and are willing to practice a bit to get the hang of it. 

Here's my first card made with it:

The hand-drawn irregularities in the snowflakes (from SU's Endless Wishes) make the irregularities in the sentiment appear to belong. I think this would be EXCELLENT for people who like a looser, collage style of stamping, shabby chic, or such. Also, it would be excellent for art journalers...which is really why I bought it in the first place. I've been wanting to start doing that for a while now and this will certainly be useful.

And don't panic! I'm not thinking of changing Simplicity to anything other than the card-making blog it is. Just want to play around a bit with other crafty/stampy things.

Oh, and I used craft foam to back the sentiment so it won't get all wonky in the post.

Hope you're all having a lovely weekend!

stamps: SU Endless Wishes
ink: Hero Arts stone wash
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: SU rotary stamp alphabet, craft foam for dimension

Friday, October 16, 2015

Celebrate Good Times

...with enamel dots.

Have a happy weekend!

stamps: Papertrey Good Times
ink: VersaMagic, Impress Fresh Ink
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: enamel dots

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Christmas Thoughts

For those of us who like to be both organized and crafty for the holidays, it helps to have a planning system of some sort. Since 2004, I've kept Christmas notebooks. Here's volume two:

It's a Coptic-bound blank book with a fabulous illuminated page from the Book of Kells on the cover and lined paper on the inside. Coptic bindings lay flat when open, which makes writing in them very, very easy.

Volume one of my Christmas notebook (which is basically the same...just a different page from the Book of Kells on the cover) contains 2004 through 2012. Volume two brings me up to date.

Inside are gift lists, check lists, and copious ideas for holiday cooking, decorating, card-sending, gift wrapping, crafting, and such. A good bit is brainstorming ideas that didn't happen, so it's worth re-reading each year. After each season is over, I jot down notes of what worked, what didn't, what was fun, and what wasn't so I have good advice to start the next year.

To kick off a new holiday season, I start thinking about what I want to do. Am I feeling energetic and psyched, or am I feeling peaceful and minimalist? Does the idea of shopping send shivers of dread down my spine or does it seem appealing? Realistically, how much time do I have for baking, sending cards, wrapping and shipping gifts, making small gifts for friends, etc.? What's this year's budget?

This process of examining my feelings and practical matters BEFORE getting started has resulted in much happier and less stressed holidays. We tend to put such pressure on find or make the perfect gifts for people, to bake for everyone and every event, to decorate our house in over-the-top style, to do it all...perfectly. The result of all this striving for perfection is often Scrooge-like moods and feelings of inadequacy and failure.

"The neighbor's lights look so much better than ours!"

"Look how cute Melinda's gift wrap and bows look! Mine look like a kindergartener taped and tied them."

"My cards aren't nearly as nice as Geri's, or Joan's, or Leslie's, or Sue's."

"Bobbi's cookies beat mine all to pieces."

"I can't believe that the Jones's tree is ten feet tall and all color-coordinated! No wonder ours looks so skimpy and random."

Comparison is the thief of joy. Christmas is supposed to be a joyful time, especially if you're an observant Christian like me. This is why I think it's important to refocus each year on what's important to you right now. This year is, after all, different from last year. Perhaps you moved, have a new job, lost a job, lost a family member, have an empty nest, have children who no longer believe in Santa, have a sick loved one, had knee replacement surgery scheduled for December 1.

All sorts of things bring change and necessitate re-evaluating what you need, want, and can actually do without going crazy.

Ask yourself some questions. What traditions are more of a drain and drag than pleasure? Are there "new" traditions we can start that might be more meaningful? Will the world stop spinning if I don't make ten different types of cookies or if I wrap gifts in just plain white paper with red ribbon or if I do all my shopping online?

What's really important about this season, this year, for you?

Cognitive dissonance is the term for a disconnect between our values and our behavior. If your values call for holy observance and celebrating Jesus' birth, but you spend all your time caught up in the ridiculousness of competitive decorating, you're going to be unhappy and the holidays will feel flat for you. If you're a power shopper year-round who thrives on good deals and lavish gift giving, you'll likely feel cheated if you finish all your gift shopping online at Amazon in two hours.

Don't get swept up in the mindless current of busyness and perfection.  A little forethought and planning can make for a much more satisfying, meaningful holiday season.

And simple cards like this one are easier to mass produce so a few more people will get handmade cards!

Size: 6.25" x 3.5"
Or you could just wing it and revel in the chaos. Really, there aren't any rules.

stamps: Clearly Besotted Tiny Trees, Papertrey Keep It Simple Christmas 
ink: Hero Arts 
paper: Papertrey
accessories: dark red rhinestones

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Two Looks, One Color Scheme

This particular color scheme came up on Pinterest, and it spoke to me.

Well, not literally. That would be crazy, and I'm not crazy. My mother had me tested.

But it spoke to me of water and waves (not flowers and sky), and prompted me to make this card:

Well, yay! The watercolor splashes (Papertrey Watercolor Wonders) are so much fun in these colors!

But then, I thought, hmm, what if I used MFT's Party Patterns for a different look?

And made this card:

This card emphasizes the greens over the blues, circles over splashes and swaths. The design is still energetic and free-form, but it's got a different feel because of the strong geometric component.

Do you have a preference? Does one design appeal more to you than the other? Why?

Inquiring minds....

stamps: Papertrey and MFT
ink: assorted
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Dressing up the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree and Organizing for Christmas

I really, really love that little Charlie Brown tree in the Clearly Besotted Tiny Trees set, and today's card dresses it up a bit.

No real commentary today, except to say, "BLING!"

I'm starting to think about other Christmas presents and gift tags and such. That means it's time to pull out my Christmas notebook, which contains all the planning I've done for the past eight years or so for Christmas.  After each New Year, I write notes about what worked, what didn't, what was fun, what wasn't. It's extremely helpful.

How do you keep all your Christmas chaos organized?

stamps: Clearly Besotted Tiny Trees, Modern Christmas (sentiment)
ink: Hero Arts, Delicata gold
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones

Monday, October 12, 2015

A Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

I continue to work my way through my Christmas stamp collection, having added about six or seven stamps to the "store for a year and get rid of" box in the past few days. This plan to purge is succeeding in its early to follow through completely. I can do this!!!!

Today's card uses the spindly tree from Clearly Besotted's Tiny Trees set.

A hint of glitter glue on the star adds just a little something to this card that's big on white space. Note that the sentiment itself becomes the ground for the tree, adding to the unity of the few elements on the card.

This started off life as a one-layer card, but it needed something. That's when I decided to pop up a panel. The popped panel uses Jennifer McGuire's suggestion of craft foam, and I must say the solidity of it gives the whole card a nice feeling of quality lacking when just dimensionals are used. Yay, Jennifer!

And now for a T-shirt I need:

To adult, or not to adult? That is the question. Whether 'tis nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous adulting or to simply curl up alone in a comfy chair, sip coffee, and read a book while avoiding all pretense of responsibility and housework...I don't know.

Excuse me while I buy another book on my Nook....

stamps: Clearly Besotted Tiny Trees, Papertrey Keep It Simple Christmas
ink: Hero Arts butter bar, field greens, red royal
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: craft foam, glue, Stickles

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Trying a Jennifer McGuire Tip

Months ago, my friend Leslie at The Crooked Stamper blog shared a link to Jennifer McGuire's blog post about adding dimension to cards using craft foam. Jennifer mailed herself a card she made using dimensional tape and didn't like how the top layer looked after being handled by the USPS.

I sympathize with her perfectionism. It's a problem that I've noticed on cards I've received, and no doubt recipients of my layered cards have noticed the same.

It took me a while to take the plunge and add this step to my card making, though. Yet here I am, once again taking the advice of a better stamper than myself and feeling really grateful for it!

The snow bank on this card was stamped using an old, discontinued, and treasured Hero Arts shadow stamp. The rest of the stamps are by Clearly Besotted, which is easily in my top-three favorite stamp companies, mainly for its commitment to clean-and-simple designs.

The top layer is backed with a layer of craft foam (a.k.a. fun foam). Jennifer attaches hers with a tape runner, but my tape runner isn't nearly strong enough to hold this. (No, I don't have one of those giant super-duper tape runners all the cool stampers have...and I'm okay with that.) I used my standard Scotch Quick-Dry liquid adhesive, which worked pretty well.

The dimensions of the craft foam are 1/8" smaller than the top layer, so there's just a 1/16" overhang all the way around. Hopefully, this holds up better, although I suspect since the card stock is pretty heavy, too, .I'll need to pay extra postage for thickness on anything with rhinestones or pearls on it.

No worries. If the card gets to its recipient intact, that's what's important. Besides, the solid feel of this card conveys a sense of quality construction lacking in my cards using just dimensionals. It feels worthy of a little extra postage!

Besides, most of my cards are one layer anyway.

Thanks, Leslie, for the link, and thanks, Jennifer, for the awesome tip!

stamps: Clearly Besotted, Hero Arts
ink: Fresh Ink, VersaMagic, Memento Luxe
paper: Papertrey Ink
accessories: craft foam, glue

Saturday, October 10, 2015

One Stamp, Two Ways

It's always fun to experiment with getting different looks from one stamp, and when that stamp has a VERY distinctive style, doing this can be a real challenge. Here's one I worked with today:

The pen and ink tree from Hero Arts has an extremely distinctive, fun style, My first run at it today uses standard Christmas colors of red, green, and gold.

The sentiment is an old one from Hero Arts, and the star comes from some random clear set, also Hero. The rich, shiny gold is Delicata ink, and the green and red are both Brilliance Pearlescent shades. The Brilliance Thyme green and Poppy are lovely colors for the holidays! To make the banner, I used the corner of a square punch on either end.

After making this card, I felt satisfied, but as I stared at my ink swatches, the Sicilian Blue from Impress Fresh Ink caught my eye. Hmmm. What would happen if the tree were stamped in that very, very pale gray-blue?

Perhaps something like this:

Eeeeep!!! The soft, serene colors, the trees falling gently down the card, the white space.... Happy sigh!

Don't be afraid to experiment using unexpected colors with stamps. Sometimes, the results will be utterly enchanting!

stamps: Hero Arts
ink: Brilliance, Delicata, Memento Luxe, Impress Fresh Ink
paper: Papertrey Ink
accessories: dimensionals and square punch on first card

Friday, October 9, 2015

Tools: Ink Color Charts

Have you ever noticed that the colors on lids of ink, caps of pens, and skins of colored pencils rarely match the color as it appears on paper?

Sure you have.

That's why we stampers need color charts. If you're really obsessive about organizing color swatches, check out Jennifer McGuire's ink swatch book. It's lovely and easy to update, and for someone like Jennifer, who's a professional stamper, I imagine keeping her swatch book current is critical.

If you're like me, however, and only play a stamper on the internet, you might be only mildly obsessive about organizing ink swatches in a useful way. My method might work for you. It's not as easy to update as Jennifer's, but it works pretty well and uses standard stuff you already have lying around: card stock, ring clips, and a standard hole punch.

A few things to note...

1. If I have the reinker for a color, I underline the color name.
2. These are organized as they are stored in my color and ink type.
3. Colors are so pretty and make us happy!!!! Thank you, God, for color.
4. I have a LOT of dye inks and fast-drying pigment/chalk inks, but even so, there are gaps in some of the color collections. When oh when will someone come out with good Christmas green and darker oranges in fast-drying pigment ink formulas, or a pink dye ink that's neither too light nor too dark?


The swatch collection also includes other inks on separate pages (Kaleidacolor, Brilliance, SU, etc.) as well as colored pencils, Copic/Sharpie/Bic markers, and watercolor pencils, but the charts pictured above were freshly re-stamped yesterday and today. I'd gotten rid of quite a few inks (mostly into the trash as the pads dried out and I chose not to replace them), so the old chart looked a mess.

My color-swatch booklet gets used every single time I sit down to craft. Every single time! So it's truly a useful tool in my stamping supply.

Feel free to share about your swatch method in the comments!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Jazz Up a Christmas Card

Regular readers know that one of my favorite things to do with a two-layer, white-on-white card--when it needs a little something extra--is to outline the top layer with a metallic marker. So easy, so pretty!

When I made today's card, however, outlining the top layer wasn't enough, and there's a good design reason why. First, let's look at the card.

The central panel has a LOT going on...dark colors, no white space, random placement. When I put the panel on the plain card base, the whole thing looked...incomplete. Framing it with an additional outline of gold seemed like a good idea in my head.

And it was in real life, too.

That's something to celebrate, people!

Sort of like I'm celebrating the fact they found the escaped cobra in Florida. Not so happy they gave the thing back to the guy who let it escape in the first place, though. But thrilled the woman who found it in her dryer didn't get bitten.

Back to the card. It seems that when the stamped panel is so very, very dark and busy, a simple white mat may not be quite enough. Uniting the white base with the panel by outlining it the same way brings the whole thing together well.

By the way, I'm never doing laundry again.

stamps: Papertrey Peaceful Pinecones
ink: pigment
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: gold metallic marker, dimensionals

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Peace with Stipple Brush

After masking the edges of the card base with washi tape, I used a stipple brush to apply a very pale blue to the bottom of the card. Rather than pouncing the stipple brush, I brushed it firmly from the bottom of the card to the top. LOVE how soft and pretty this is!!!

Washi Tip: Always pat the tape on your jeans before putting it on the paper to take some of the sticky off, and then pull the tape off the paper toward the edge to prevent tearing the paper.

Here are some pictures of how the washi was adhered so precisely. Of course, I used a ruler!

And make sure you label the bottom of the card on your scrap sheet. I could see me going in the wrong direction, although that would have worked on this card's design given the simplicity...just flip the snowflake and sentiment. I liked the idea of peace falling DOWN from heaven, though, and blanketing the world.

stamps: Hero Arts 
ink: Hero Arts soft blue, pool
paper: Papertrey Ink white
accessories: snowflake punch, rhinestone, stipple brush, washi tape, glue pen

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Extreme White Space

After yesterday's cards with no white space, let's visit a little square card that is almost nothing BUT white space. It satisfies my soul, although I suspect it makes my friend Leslie itch a bit. Or a lot.

Card Size: 4.25" square

stamps: Hero Arts Autumn Blessings, My Favorite Things Fall Florals
ink: Memento cocoa, Ancient Page henna
paper: Papertrey White
accessories: not a single one

Monday, October 5, 2015

Christmas Contrast

Yesterday's post provoked a big response. Lots of feels regarding buying stuff.

Lots. Of. Feels.

If you missed the post, check it out here. And make sure you read the comments. Good thoughts, different perspectives. Many thanks to all who chimed in the comments and in private emails.

I feel very good about the plan, and today's cards reflect that good feeling! I pulled out Everyday Christmas Wishes from Stampin'Up. After years of buying stamps, finding a really good one still happens more randomly than I'd like. This was a random, impulse purchase from last year, but I liked it so much I recently bought SU's birthday and thank-you versions of it. Perhaps it's the simplicity of the set that makes it so very, very easy to work with.

You see what I did there?

Anyway, here's the bold version of the card, using sky blue Brilliance and Memento Luxe Danube blue inks.

And then there's the subtle version (which was really hard to photograph!). It uses Avery Elle's pixie ink and Memento Luxe rhubarb stalk.

The hand-drawn snowflakes and handwritten sentiment are so very appealing! And yes, I filled all the space, but every now and then, I get a little carried away. The high energy of the blue card contrasts so nicely with the more peaceful, serene feel of the pink one.

Isn't color magnificent!!!!

These cards make me happy. I hope they make you happy, too!

stamps: Stampin Up
ink: various pigment
paper: Papertrey
accessories: rhinestones, dimensionals, scallop scissors (for rounding two corners of the raised panel a bit), Sharpie for coloring the pink rhinestones (the blue came pre-colored ;-))

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Anger Management

Today, my pastor preached on the emptiness of consumer culture and how when we're unhappy, we buy new stuff, but the joy of having it wears off quickly and then we need more new stuff. It's an endless cycle that never permanently satisfies.

Oh, my! The truth will set you free, but first it ticks you off!

A few weeks ago, I pulled every winter/holiday stamp and set in my hoard out for my hard push on Christmas. Here's what I found.

Clear and unmounted rubber sets. About 33 sets. I have more sets
than years Jesus lived on earth. How did this happen?!?!

Random wood-mounted Christmas stamps. Several of these are
old Stampa Rosa stamps...maybe they can be put in my coffin with
me. Can we take stamps with us?

Trees suitable for holiday cards. Stampa Rosa here as well.

More trees and winter stamps. A few Stampa Rosa ones in here, too.

So the question is "What does one stamper possibly need with this many holiday stamps?"

Even more important is this question: "Where will she start?"

Honestly, I wanted to go take a nap after pulling all this stuff out. It took several days of feeling very angry at myself before I worked up a strategy for dealing with this embarrassment of riches. Here's what I learned....

  1. I still feel compelled to buy new holiday stamps and feel ashamed of myself.
  2. Some of these stamps (mostly some of the sets) do not excite me. At all.
  3. Some of these stamps do excite me, but I wonder how I will ever make anything with them that is different from what I've already made with them. 
  4. The sheer quantity of stamps here is intimidating and stifles my creativity.

And that makes me angry.

So what does a girl do to manage her anger? She comes up with a PLAN.

And here it is: I'm going to use as many of these stamps as I can, and if I don't have fun using a set or stamp, it's going into storage. Next year, if I make all my holiday cards without retrieving any from storage, those stored stamps will be sold off in grab boxes. Gone. Out of my hair. Into someone else's...where they might be appreciated and loved and whipped into something useful.

The first set I played with was Candy Cane Christmas, which yielded these two acceptable cards (and several other not-so-acceptable ones).

This set is a keeper. Not only were these two cards fun to make, but they didn't make me feel as though my creativity was exhausted for future use.


Do you have a plan for dealing with the consequences of consumerism? Or do you just buy more storage?

stamps: Candy Cane Christmas, Faux Ribbon
ink: assorted pigment inks
paper: Papertrey
accessories: circle punch, scallop circle punch, dimensionals, rhinestone