Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Little Agenda Valentines

February fourteenth is fast approaching, and Mama Elephant’s January card challenge has a Valentine’s Day/love theme — so why not kill two birds with one stone and get my valentines made before the last minute?

I wanted to make these quickly, so I kept my supplies minimal and the designs simple. This is my favorite of the valentines I’ve made so far; I adore the clean, graphic look and the red, black, and white color scheme.

For a hint of dimension (that the photo entirely fails to represent), I popped each die-cut circle up on two smaller cardstock circles. The card is flat enough to go through the mail safely, but it has more visual interest than if I had merely glued the die-cuts to the card base on their own.

Since I’m sending this card to a stamping friend who likes kitties, I sneaked a little crafty cat inside and another cat onto the envelope.

For the past several years, I’ve been using a wood-mounted rubber Hero Arts “created by” stamp on the backs of my cards, but when I placed a My Favorite Things order around Christmas, they enclosed a mini set of sentiments for envelopes and the backs of cards. I was hyped to find the gift in my package (it still excites me every time I pull it out of my stash), and I love how well this stamp coordinates with the card design.

For my next two valentines, I went tiny. Mini cards are my go-to for speedy designs, since I can use cute little stamps without having to figure out what to do with overwhelming white space. (Sneaky bonus: mini cards don’t have a lot of space on the inside, so there’s no pressure to fill them up with a long message — just a quick note and I’m good to go.) To add some interest to the background and keep the cards from looking too simple, I used watercolor patterned paper and built my color scheme around that.

I love the versatile designs of Mama Elephant’s Little Agenda series and how there’s almost always a stamp that will coordinate for the back of the envelope.

Again, a new stamp for the back of the card! I’ll fill it in with my name and the date when I prep the cards to mail.

Stamps:  Mama Elephant “Little Panda Agenda,” “Little Cat Agenda,” “Little Bunny Agenda”;  The Ton “Country Rose Cluster” (“sending”);  The Stamp Market “Double Take” (“hugs”);  Lawn Fawn “Winter Alpaca” (outline mini heart), order freebie (“I Like You”);  My Favorite Things “Hand Stamped” freebie (“handmade by”; “from my ♥ to yours”)
Dies:  Hero Arts “Nesting Circles” (1 ¼” for top, ¾” for dimensional layers);  Mama Elephant “Little Panda Agenda” (coordinating)
Ink:  My Favorite Things Black Licorice dye, Hero Arts Bubble Gum, Memento Love Letter + My Favorite Things Chili Powder (layered)
Copics:  R27, R000, C00, N1, E43;  Stampin’ Up Blendabilities Melon Mambo medium
Paper:  Papertrey Ink Stamper’s Select White;  My Favorite Things Watercolor Wash 6x6 Paper Pack (light pink)
Miscellanea:  Scotch Permanent Double-Sided Tape

Red card: 4.25” x 5.5”
Pink cards: 3” x 4.25”

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Sledding Penguins Tag

Sandy’s Day 9 tag for Ellen Hutson’s 12 Tags of Christmas 2019 Challenge made me think of some iconic panels of Calvin and Hobbes in their wagon and the many variations of them sledding. My brother loves Calvin and Hobbes (he even has his own Hobbes stuffed animal), so I had to make a similar tag for him.

I turned a sentiment strip die into a sled, added some falling snow to the sky with a white paint pen, and emphasized the motion of the scene with snow on the sled and little dashes behind the penguins’ heads. On the back of the tag where the penguin and sled overhang the circle, I colored in the penguin with a black fineliner so he looks finished.

Stamps:  Mama Elephant “Arctic Penguins”
Dies:  Hero Arts “Nesting Circle Dies” (3 ¼”, ⅛”);  My Favorite Things “Essential Slanted Sentiment Strips” (sled);  Lawn Fawn “Stitched Hillside Borders”;  Mama Elephant “Arctic Penguins”
Ink:  Memento Tuxedo Black, Summer Sky
Copics:  R22, R05, R27, YR02
Paper:  Papertrey Ink Stamper’s Select White, ice blue lightweight cardstock from stash
Miscellanea:  Scotch Permanent Double-Sided Tape, Gina K. Designs Connect liquid glue, Posca pen 0.7 mm white, Sakura Pigma Micron 0.45 mm black, craft knife

Simple Pine Boughs Tag

I needed a quick tag for a present I was mailing this morning, so I whipped up a simple one inspired by Lisa’s Day 3 tag for Ellen Hutson’s 12 Tags of Christmas 2019 Challenge.

Since I was coordinating the tag with some wrapping paper I have, I went ahead and made a couple others to use for other presents this season.

Stamps:  Hero Arts “Build a Wreath by Lia”
Dies:  Hero Arts “Nesting Circle Dies” (2”)
Ink:  The Ton Found Topaz;  My Favorite Things Dill Pickle
Paper:  Michael’s Recollections “Seaside” pack 65 lb. cardstock

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Holly Jolly Unicorn Tag

This year, I’m participating in Ellen Hutson’s 12 Tags of Christmas 2019 Challenge for the first time. I’ve got a couple of other tag designs roughly sketched out, but this month has been so crazy that I haven’t yet had the time to sit down and make them. The design for this tag, however, leapt into being pretty easily — it was inspired by Carly’s tag for Day 10. I liked her circular base, the candy-like colors she chose, and her use of holly.

For my tag, I went for a pepperminty color scheme with cool, minty greens, a pink-toned red, and lots of white. Arranging the sentiment took way longer than I’d like to admit, but I’m satisfied with how it turned out — definitely worth all those scraps of paper I consumed while testing iterations.

I originally intended to make a pile of presents for the unicorn to be standing among, but that didn’t work with the circular card, so I ended up going with a wreath of presents and holly in a scaled-down echo of Carly’s. Rather than stamping the unicorn and presents in black ink, which would have been very stark against the white areas, I used a dark purple, which adds to the cool tones present in the rest of the design. Adding dimension to the white body with a purple marker, instead of just grey, further boosted the candy-like wintry feel. I covered all the white surfaces of the unicorn with a shimmer pen, and for once I think my camera managed to capture it decently.

The pearly shimmer pigment ink I used to stamp the sparkles and snowflakes is somewhat opaque, but it has almost no color to it, which makes it impossible to see on white paper unless the light hits it just right. I wanted the sparkles and snowflakes to fill in the space, not just hint at glimmer, so I first stamped Fairy Dust ink three times to get a light cool grey, then layered Platinum Planet on top of it, muting the grey color and leaving the shapes pale but clearly defined. Although the sparkles and snowflakes don’t show up well in the photos, they’re perfectly visible in person.

I almost forgot to stamp the back of the tag, and then I had to scramble to see if I even had any “to/from” stamps to stamp it with! Somehow, I only have these two, so they’ll be getting a workout if I can make the time to create more tags. Do you have any good “to/from” stamp sets to recommend?

Stamps:  Lawn Fawn “A Little Sparkle” (unicorn, sparkles), “Winter Alpaca” (snowflakes), “Year Five” (present);  Hero Arts “Build a Wreath by Lia” (holly);  Papertrey Ink “City Scene Christmas Sentiments” (“merry & bright”);   Clearly Besotted Simple Silhouettes (“to,” “from”)
Dies:  Hero Arts “Nesting Circle Dies” (3 ¼”);   Lawn Fawn “A Little Sparkle”
Ink:  Memento Elderberry, Brilliance Platinum Planet;  The Ton Caribbean Turquoise;  Hero Arts Pale Tomato;  WPlus9 Fairy Dust
Copics:  R27+R22 (cheek, rear present), V20+C00 (body shadows), BG32 (hooves and ear);  Sharpie Mint (mane, tale, presents), Turquoise (mane and tail);  Stampin’ Up Blendabilities Costal Cabana medium (mane and tail)
Paper:  Papertrey Ink Stamper’s Select White
Miscellanea:  Zig Two-Way Glue Pen, Spectrum Noir Clear Sparkle pen, hole punch

Friday, November 8, 2019

Layton’s Legacy Card Drive

In honor of her own much-missed children, Lea Lawson is collecting sympathy cards for NICU parents who have lost their babies. I really wanted to participate this year, because two families close to my heart have NICU stories.

Some dear friends had boys with twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, and after a difficult pregnancy the boys were born three months early. The oldest and smallest twin lived only seven days, and the younger, larger twin was in the NICU for about four months. He has just celebrated his first birthday, but he still has a lot of health issues that require surgeries and regular hospital visits. Last week, I sent off this first card to the family in remembrance of the twin that they are missing.

I made an identical blue one as well as one in peach to send to Lea for the card drive.

Just last week, one of my childhood friends had to induce her firstborn a month early on account of fetal growth restriction and pregnancy risks. The baby seemed fairly healthy at first, but he has developed several complications that the doctors still haven’t been able to diagnose. He’s currently in the NICU and may be for some time, and they’re having to drive in to see him every day. This next card is heading off to her this weekend.

On a design note: I’m not a fan of how it turned out; there isn’t enough contrast between the colors I picked, so it looks flat and very crowded. My friend loves aquas, so I tried to create a palette around that. Since I only have one aqua in my collection, I paired it with a light blue and a light green, and those just don’t differ enough in saturation. If I made it again, I’d trade out the Celadon for Fairy Floss.

Since I already had my stamps out and a pattern perfected, I made three more cards with a different sentiment to send to some other people who need encouragement. In addition to making another with the same blues, I created two with a cozy, autumnal brown color scheme on flecked cream paper. I’m much happier with how that turned out, even if the ink pad was a bit too juicy for the teeny sentiment.

Also, I want to thank Susan for inspiring the design for these cards. I don’t have the same stamps she has, and I didn’t CASE any of her designs exactly, but mine are very much inspired by her series of wildflower silhouette cards. You can find the ones I took the most inspiration from here, here, here, here, and here.

Stamps:  Cleary Besotted “Simple Silhouettes”;  The Ton “Beautiful Butterflies 1”;  Simon Says Stamp “Tiny Words
Ink:  VersaColor Atlantic, Smoke Blue, Celadon;  WPlus9 Fairy Dust;  Memento Cantaloupe, Summer Sky;  My Favorite Things Insulation Pink, Peach Bellini;  The Ton Peach Blossom, Blue Diamond, Coral Cavern, Warm Hazelnut, Found Topaz, Aspen Cocoa
Paper:  Papertrey Ink Stamper’s Select White, WPlus9 Oatmeal

4.25” x 5.5”

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

MFT Sketch Challenge #428

I needed an encouragement card to stick in a care package to a friend, so over the weekend I whipped up this cheery number following the sketch challenge from My Favorite Things.

For a few weeks now, I had been wanting to do a little something with this umbrella cat, and I realized that the tiny umbrella stamp from my new Hello Bluebird set coordinated perfectly. Although I don’t have any particular predilection for umbrellas, this one is the cutest little thing, and it just begs to be paired with the various adorable critters in my collection. I have a feeling it’ll be showing up a lot in my designs this spring and summer.

Stamps:  Mama Elephant “Little Cat Agenda” (cat);  Hello Bluebird “Puddle Play” (umbrellas);  Simon Says Stamp “Tiny Words” (sentiment)
Dies:  Mama Elephant “Little Cat Agenda”;  Hello Bluebird “Puddle Play”;  My Favorite Things “Inside and Out Stitched Square STAX”
Ink:  Memento Tuxedo Black;  MFT Persimmon
Copics:  C00, N1, R05;  Bic Marking Hot Aqua, Moonstone Yellow
Paper:  Papertrey Ink Stamper’s Select White, dark aqua lightweight cardstock from stash
Miscellanea:  Scotch Permanent Double-Sided Tape, Gina K. Designs Connect Glue

4.25” x 5.5”

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

National Pig Day & MFT Sketch Challenge #426

Obscure holidays are the perfect excuse for surprising people with cards, and March 1 was National Pig Day. My little sister has been a pig fanatic since she was eighteen months old and met a pot-bellied pig in person, so I whipped up a clean-and-simple card for her.

While brainstorming the card design, I checked this week’s MFT’s sketch challenge to see if I could incorporate it. I adored Anna’s card—everything about the placement of her elements delights me—so I kept it up for inspiration, pulled out the cutest new pig stamps, and set to work.

I didn’t want to take the time to blend or stamp a background, so I grabbed my brand new Watercolor Wash paper pad and chose a blue that coordinated with the cobalt color scheme. This is my first MFT 6x6” paper pack, and the paper surprised me by how thick and sturdy it is. It feels at least twice the weight of the various 12x12” patterned papers I have, and it’s wondrously smooth. It made creating a background a snap, too, so now I’ll be torn between conserving the good paper and wanting to use it every chance I get. It’d be great if MFT came out with a watercolor pad solely in blues and greens; I foresee using this primarily for sky, grass, and backgrounds, and there are only two sheets per color, so a pack with a dozen sheets of blue would be fantastic.

Since the alphabet set I used to create the interior sentiment doesn’t have an apostrophe and I couldn’t bear to let the card leave my hands with an improperly punctuated contraction, I added in the apostrophe with a gel pen in a blue that almost exactly matched The Ton’s Azurite ink. I have this line of Japanese pens in a variety of colors, and I love using them to write notes inside cards and to address envelopes. Although they’re hard to find and not cheap, their line weight is half the size of that of the typical American gel pen (0.38 mm instead of 0.7 or 1.0 mm), and their ink flow is incredibly smooth. I’m a wholehearted stationery geek, and the Signo DX is my all-time favorite gel pen.

Stamps:  Hello Bluebird “Farmyard Little Bits”;  Hero Arts “Many Everyday Messages” (sentiment);  Mama Elephant “Bella Letters” (interior sentiment)
Dies:  My Favorite Things “Essential Slanted Sentiment Strips,” “A2 Stitched Rectangle STAX 1”;  Hello Bluebird “Farmyard Little Bits”
Ink:  The Ton Azurite;   Memento Espresso Truffle
Copics:  R000, R20, B26
Paper:  Papertrey Ink Stamper’s Select White, My Favorite Things Watercolor Wash 6x6” Paper Pack (light blue)
Miscellanea:  Scotch Permanent Double-Sided Tape, Gina K. Designs Connect Glue, Uni Posca paint marker (0.7 mm white), Uni-ball Signo UM-151 (aka Signo DX) (0.38 mm blue)

4.25” x 5.5”

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

MFT Sketch Challenge #421

Every two weeks or so, I send a card to my grandmother, and this week I finally broke out the butterfly stamps that I got for Christmas—she adores butterflies, so I knew it would be an especially nice surprise. When I checked My Favorite Things’ sketch challenge, the simple layout of this week’s sketch appealed to me, and I immediately saw how to incorporate a butterfly.

I also jumped at the chance to use some patterned paper from my stash. I adore the nature patterns in the Affinity patterned paper pack, but since it’s a 12x12” pad, I rarely have opportunities to use it. (I should have gotten the 6x6” pad, but back in my younger and more ignorant days, I thought that the patterns were the same size and I was just getting more paper. Alas no, younger self: the patterns are scaled.)

I also used another item from Christmas: a blending brush. With one of my gift-cards, I bought a ten-pack of cheap makeup brushes from Amazon for about $10, shipped from China. Since I had never tried ink blending before, I didn’t know if I’d like it or be good at it or use it much, so I didn’t want to drop fifty bucks on the Picket Fence Studios Life-Changing blending brushes. The makeup brushes are essentially the same thing, but at a much more accessible entry price—not a big investment if I ended up deciding that I wouldn’t use the technique much. They worked well, however, and although it took me a few practice runs on scrap paper to figure out how to ink-blend, I’m pleased with the results. Getting an even blend was easy, and the ink didn’t splotch at all, even though I was using dye inks that are said to be difficult to blend (at least compared to the two Distress Ink lines). The Life-Changing brushes are reputedly a higher quality, so if these don’t hold up well I might invest in those later. Already, half of one small brush-head came unglued and fell out while I was rinsing it, but I had used rather a lot of water; the larger brushes have stayed intact.

For my very first time blending, I don’t think I did half bad, but I learned a lot, too, and look forward to improving. I originally intended the focal circle to be softer and fade out at the edges, but after laying the mask down and starting to fill in color, I kind of forgot. I was aiming for an even blend and a slight dark-to-light gradient, which I achieved, but at the expense of that soft, glowy circle. The hard edges were difficult to discern since the ink colors were so light in general, and I didn’t realize how much color I had laid down until I peeled back the mask and went, “Whoops.” Now that I have a better idea of what I’m doing, I’d like to try the same type of focal area again and aim for faint edges that blend out into the cardstock.

As is my wont, I stamped a matching envelope and wrote the address in a coordinating gel pen (I swear by the Uni-ball Signo UM-151), and I dropped the card in the mailbox this morning.

Stamps:  The Ton “Beautiful Butterflies 1”;  Hero Arts “Many Everyday Messages” (sentiment)
Dies:  The Ton “Beautiful Butterflies 1”;  Hero Arts “Nested Circle Infinity Dies”;  My Favorite Things “Essential Slanted Sentiment Strips
Ink:  Memento Tuxedo Black, Morocco;  My Favorite Things Dye Peach Bellini;  Hero Arts Butter Bar
Copics:  R05, YR02;  Blendabilities Pumpkin Pie medium and light
Paper:  Papertrey Ink Vintage Cream, The Paper Studio Affinity patterned paper pack
Miscellanea:  Scotch Permanent Double-Sided Tape, Gina K. Connect Glue, unbranded makeup brush (like “Life-Changing Blending Brushes”), Post-It Removable Labeling Tape

4.25” x 5.5”

Sunday, September 23, 2018

MFT Color Challenge #101

The palette of MFT’s color challenge this week seemed very wintry to me, so I broke out my new “Winter Hills” set, which I had been itching to use ever since I got it for my birthday. I stamped the image in teal ink rather than black to give a frostier feel to the trees and the snow-covered hills, and I used coral shades for the sky to evoke a December sunset. My lighter teal color veered away from the saturation of Summer Splash since I needed something very pale for the shadows giving dimension to the snow, but Copic BG000 fits the category of light aqua. The teal of the roofs is more green than the ink of the outlines, but since the palette is so narrow, the colors harmonize rather than competing—I hope! The red house and barn round out the tetrad, but it’ll be fun to try a less conventional color for them next time.

I applied clear shimmer to all the white spaces within the frame—glimmering snow was just the little something to take the super-simple card up a notch. The shimmer is arresting in person, but no matter how I tried, I couldn’t get the photos to represent it well in its entirety. Whenever the camera did succeed in capturing glitter, it would only catch one area rather than every snowbank. One day, I will manage to photograph glitter properly, but it is not this day.

Stamps:  Papertrey Ink “Winter Hills”, “Vintage Picnic Sentiments”
Ink:  Memento Teal Zeal, Love Letter
Copics:  R27, BG000, 0;  Blendabilities Costal Cabana dark, Calypso Coral light, medium, and dark
Paper:  Papertrey Ink Stamper’s Select White
Miscellanea:  Scotch Permanent Double-Sided Tape, Spectrum Noir clear shimmer pen

4.25” x 5.5”

Monday, September 17, 2018

PTI’s “Create Along With Us” Challenge, September 2018, & MFT Sketch Challenge #402

This month’s Papertrey Ink release was heavily Christmas-themed, but since I’m not yet in the mode of making Christmas cards, I looked for inspiration that I could use for a more generally autumn- or winter-themed card for the Create Along With Us challenge.

What first drew me to Michelle’s card was the color scheme, but the reason I ended up choosing it as my inspiration piece was the background, since I could emulate that with the large pine branch stamp from PTI’s “Winter Woods” set. I love the Ocean Tides ink color, but I haven’t anything like it (I’m going to have to get the cube during PTI’s anniversary sale next spring). The closest I could come to the color was Hero Arts Forever Green, and that’s definitely green, not greyish blue-green. Still, it works well for pine needles. In hindsight, I think perhaps the card would have been more cohesive if I had stamped the wood of the branches in grey rather than brown and if I had chosen lighter colors for the background, but at least the color of the branches is realistic.

Although I have a fox stamp from a Stampin’ Up set, it’s horizontal, so I chose the chickadee from “Winter Woods” since it fit the vertical layout I was following from both Michelle’s card and this week’s MFT sketch challenge. Since the chickadee faces right, I flipped the sketch to accommodate it. The solid pine trees behind the chickadee are from the aforementioned SU set; I fussy-cut them and colored them with an alcohol marker to make the focal point bolder than the background.

For the banner, I smooshed a strip of cardstock against the Field Greens ink pad and let it dry overnight. It was still a bit splotchy when I went to stamp the sentiment, but at least it coordinates! The finished card is busier than I prefer; if I ever have time in the future, I’d like to tackle the design again with much lighter ink in the background. It might be fun to use the other birds from the same set—perhaps softer green pine branches for a background for the cardinal or pale grey snowflakes behind the bluejay.

Stamps:  Papertrey Ink “Winter Woods”, “Vintage Picnic Sentiments”;  Stampin’ Up “Life in the Forest”
Dies:  Papertrey Ink “Winter Woods”;  My Favorite Things “A2 Stitched Rectangle STAX Set 2” (3 9/16” x 4 13/16”; 1 7/8” x 3 1/8”)
Ink:  Memento Tuxedo Black, Grey Flannel, Toffee Crunch, Northern Pine;  Hero Arts Field Greens;  Simon Says Stamp Fog
Paper:  Papertrey Ink Stamper’s Select White, cheap lightweight grey cardstock from my stash
Miscellanea:  Scotch Permanent Double-Sided Tape, Bic Marking Forever Green

4.25” x 5.5”