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”

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

MFT Color Challenge #100

This card is my final entry for MFT’s one-hundredth color challenge, but it’s the first idea I had for the palette. The similar shades of blue brought to mind the gradation of blues that one sees in photos of misty mountain ridges, and that concept immediately paired with the backpack-wearing bear from Neat & Tangled’s “Schoolhouse” set. Who says he has to be headed to school—why not let him be a hiking bear?

I stamped him in a Copic-friendly brown ink so dark it tends to look black, then I fussy-cut him. Usually when I fussy-cut I’ll trim right along the stamped line, but since I don’t have a brown marker the right shade to color over the edges and I wanted an easier shape to cut out, I cut him with a border. To get a uniform margin, I cheated a bit: I laid the cleaned stamp over the image and lightly traced a pencil around the stamp, then used that as a guide for cutting.

None of the sentiments I have on hand seemed quite right for the card, so for now I’ve forgone a sentiment. Once I decide who I’m sending the card to, I might add a sentiment in Persimmon ink beneath the focal square. I think this would make a good encouragement card for someone setting out on an adventure, such as graduating school or getting a new job or embarking on a significant trip, but it would also work as a thank-you or birthday card for any of my mountain-dwelling relatives who like hiking—so we’ll see.

Stamps:  Neat & Tangled “Schoolhouse” (bear)
Dies:  My Favorite Things “Inside and Out Stitched Square STAX” (2.75”)
Ink:  Memento Espresso Truffle
Copics:  E34, E43, E30;  Bic Marking Sunset Orange
Paper:  Papertrey Ink Stamper’s Select White, cheap lightweight blue cardstock from my stash
Miscellanea:  Scotch Permanent Double-Sided Tape

4.25” x 5.5”

Monday, September 10, 2018

MFT Sketch Challenge #401

A couple of weeks ago, I spotted this card by Larissa Heskett and fell in love with the color scheme. My sister’s birthday is approaching, and she loves pandas, so making her a card provided the perfect excuse for CASEing Larissa’s. This week’s sketch challenge from My Favorite Things suited the layout I had in mind, and I’m also submitting the card to MFT’s Birthday Project.

I stamped the flowers multiple times, two layers for the orange, three or four for the yellow, because I wanted deep colors as well as a solid impression to capture the details of the flowers. I drew in the stems and am not happy with them—it’ll be a while before I can freehand anything satisfactorily. Whatever I draw never quite conforms to the law of gravity, and the lack of realism bugs me, but the only way to improve is to practice, so I’m continuing my attempts and trying to convince myself that the wonky results are just going to look whimsical to anyone else.

I edged the matte in the same orange ink, just smooshing the cube onto the paper. The cheaper cardstock rippled a little as it dried, but my dictionary helped mitigate that somewhat, and the focal panel disguises the remaining undulations.

Stamps:  Mama Elephant “Incoming Mail” (panda);  WPlus9 “Fresh Cut Florals”;  Papertrey Ink “Keep It Simple Birthday III” (sentiment)
Dies:  My Favorite Things “A2 Stitched Rectangle STAX Set 1”
Ink:  Memento Tuxedo Black;  My Favorite Things Dye Persimmon;  Hero Arts Butter Bar
Paper:  Papertrey Ink Stamper’s Select White, cheap lightweight white cardstock from my stash
Miscellanea:  Scotch Permanent Double-Sided Tape, Sakura Pigma Micron 01 (0.25 mm)

4.25” x 5.5”

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

MFT Sketch Challenge #399 & Color Challenge #100

I particularly like this fortnight’s color challenge—it’s a splendid palette for the one-hundredth challenge, and I’ve had so many ideas for how to use it. Practicality must come before sheer play, however, so I’m first applying the palette to cards for my grandmothers for Grandparents Day, which is Sunday, September 9.

Memento Toffee Crunch makes a good Kraft, and Memento Morocco stamped twice makes a good Persimmon, but I have no ink pads the right shade of blue. The closest I could get to Blue Yonder is VersaColor Atlantic, and that’s a bit too purple, and I have nothing at all near Blue Breeze. (A good range of blue ink cubes is next on my crafty wish list.) I’ve had a sheet of persimmon paper hanging around these past few weeks, hoping for a home on a card, and I found a light blue scrap of cardstock in my stash that’s near enough to Blue Breeze to round out the palette.

I also followed this week’s sketch challenge, and the circle element gave me a good way to ground and form the floral cluster. I’m still rubbish at arranging flowers—it takes me hours to find something that looks pleasing—but it’s so much easier to fiddle and find the right arrangement now that I have dies for them. Taking inspiration from Inge Groot and some other MFT designers, I went with white leaves, and I really like the simple silhouette look they give to a card.

Stamps:  WPlus9 “Fresh Cut Florals”;  Hero Arts “Many Everyday Messages” (sentiment)
Dies:  WPlus9 “Fresh Cut Florals”;  My Favorite Things “Fab Foliage”, “A2 Stitched Rectangle STAX Set 1” (¾” x 2”);  Hero Arts “Nesting Circle Infinity Dies” (2.25” circle)
Ink:  VersaColor Atlantic, Smoke Blue;   Memento Morocco, Love Letter, Toffee Crunch
Paper:  Papertrey Ink Kraft, cheap light blue cardstock and persimmon origami paper from my stash
Miscellanea:  Scotch Permanent Double-Sided Tape, liquid glue

4.25” x 5.5”

Sunday, August 26, 2018

MFT Summer School: Monochromatic

Since I was running out of time last night to complete the second session of My Favorite Things Summer School, I abandoned my plans for a more elaborate take on a monochrome card, pulled out my dies, and whipped this up. The die-cut panel lets the colored cardstock base show through, and an auxiliary sentiment in matching ink finishes it off.

With that, I have graduated from the second session of Summer School.

Stamps:  Hero Arts “Stamp and Cut: Hello” (sentiment)
Dies:  My Favorite Things “A2 Stitched Rectangle STAX Set 2” (4 x 5 ¼);  Hero Arts “Stamp and Cut: Hello” (sentiment)
Ink:  Hero Arts Butter Bar
Paper:  Papertrey Ink Stamper’s Select White, Lemon Tart
Miscellanea:  Scotch Permanent Double-Sided Tape, liquid glue

4.25” x 5.5”

MFT Summer School: Visual Triangle

For the visual triangle challenge of MFT Summer School, I balanced different colors and shapes in multiple triangles throughout a floral arrangement. There’s a triangle of purple, of coral four-petal flowers, and of one shape of stamped leaves. In a much looser sense, the Fab Foliage die-cuts behind the rectangle form a triangle as well, since they are concentrated in the top left corner, bottom edge, and right side.

This was my first chance to use the Fab Foliage dies, and I loved it. Even with only one use, I can tell that they’re well on their way to becoming a staple for me.

I’m also entering this card in MFT’s Birthday Project.

Stamps:  WPlus9 “Fresh Cut Florals”;  Papertrey Ink “Keep It Simple: Birthday II” (sentiment)
Dies:  My Favorite Things “A2 Stitched Rectangle STAX Set 2” (1 ⅞” x 3 ⅛”), “Fab Foliage”;  WPlus9 “Fresh Cut Florals”
Ink:  Simon Says Stamp Dusty Sage;  Hero Arts Field Greens, Soft Cantaloupe, Pale Tomato;  Memento Lulu Lavender, Sweet Plum, Elderberry
Paper:  Papertrey Ink Stamper’s Select White
Miscellanea:  Scotch Permanent Double-Sided Tape, liquid glue

4.25” x 5.5”