Tuesday, 27 June 2017

In The Garden Challenge

Hi there, I hope you're all in fine fettle and getting your individual craft on? Things have been a tad mish mash here at Warts n All Towers, I'll just say menopause pffft and leave it at that lol! I recently joined a rather fun group on Facebook via a new card making friend, they run weekly challenges and this was my entry for last week. I played with distress inks and some new cheap dies from China, I'm building up a good collection of them now and can't believe how brilliantly they cut. In all the ones I've bought so far, I've only had one that didn't cut very well and on closer inspection it wasn't finished correctly, but its not that noticeable and the other 3 dies in the set all work brilliantly.

Sadly the photo doesn't do the colours in the inky backgrounds justice, I was really pleased with the colours, the bird card was a blend of Wild Honey, Spiced Marmalade and Seedless Preserves one of my favourite colour combinations for making morning sky style backgrounds. The evening twilight cat card was a combination of Mermaid Lagoon, Blueprint Sketch and Wilted Violet with a spritz of homemade silvery shimmer.

I first die cut the cross stitched dome pieces first using one of my dies from China, I loved how the ink didn't go into the stitched edge which added to the panel I think. After adding the Distress Inks to the panels I then stamped them using a selection of stamps I've collected over the past few years that came free with magazines using My Favorite Things Hybrid Ink Pad in 'Black Licorice', I did stamp a few times to get a deeper intensity of colour as the first stamping sank in to the water colour paper. I used my new Tim Holtz Stamping Platform, which I love because it has a larger area to stamp in than the MISTI.

I wanted to keep these cards as flat as possible, so I glued the panel direct to the card blank, I was pleasantly surprised to discover when I added some clear sparkle pen to the inside of the butterflies on the twilight card, it had a lightening effect which made the butterflies stand out a little more. I stamped the sentiment from an Imagination Crafts set that I got at the NEC craft show last year and used Black Onyx Versafine ink, then added the die cuts, again both cheap China dies to the card on some 3D foam pads and then gave them a coat of shimmer using my clear sparkle pen again.

These were really quick to make and I loved the way the dies looked after they'd been cut, I plan on making lots more colour variations and to give them a variety of sentiments like 'Just A Note' and 'Thinking of You'. I also need to bolster my stash of birthday cards and congrats cards, so I need to get my thinking cap on.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Baby Die Cutting Machine

I'm really getting in to making ATC's and I'm finding that its a perfect thing to craft with scraps and things from my Maybe Someday Box late at night when I can't sleep, but my Big Shot takes up a lot of space on my craft desk and by using it I make noise as the floorboards that side of the room make a noise, which wakes the hubby up and makes him grumpy. So I wanted a smaller machine that I could use on my computer desk the other side of the room and a size specifically for making ATC's.

As I already have a Big Shot Plus and a Big Shot, my criteria for getting a new machine was it had to be universal. What I mean by that is it had to take any make of dies and embossing folders of the size that can be used to make ATC's. It had to fit on my computer desk, be light weight but sturdy and enable me to die cut shapes up to 3.5" and emboss folders up to 5" wide - the size of the majority of my most used embossing folders.

If it couldn't take those it required me to buy smaller folders and meant I couldn't use my favourite embossing folders late at night. If I had to buy smaller ones, it would be more expense and the mini machine starts to become a niche rather than universal machine. I asked people on a Facebook group I belong to what they thought of the top 2 best selling mini die-cutting machines and took their comments on board. I did some research myself and decided then to go along to Hobbycraft and get a feel for the machines on offer that were in my price range.

I ruled out the Tattered Lace 'Baby Blue' machine almost straight away, as soon as I encountered its flimsy plastic handle and when I realised that actually it wasn't wide enough for some of the dies I wanted to use and felt not very stable. I didn't appreciate how small it was to be honest and it just didn't fit my criteria. So I'm glad I went to check the machines out, I struggle with sizes, when something is described as being 3" for example, I don't always register how big it actually is until I see it and I'm often disappointed and moan that I expected it to be bigger/smaller.

Next I looked at the Spellbinders Prizm machine, a little sturdier than the Baby Blue but still a very narrow slot to run things through and my small embossing folders wouldn't fit. I didn't even seriously consider the Crafters Companion Diamond Press because, well it was just too damn small. It looks good for kiddies to make small shapes but not what I would pay £25 for, yes I know you can get it for around £15 in some places, but its still not something I want to play with.

I was about to give up when a display caught my eye in the store, Hobbycraft do their own small Die Cutting Machine and it came with accessories, it was more than I wanted to pay at £50, but it was sturdy and ticked all my boxes, in actual fact I didn't buy it, hubby treated me to it, I know I'm a lucky girl :)

These are the specifications of the machine: -
  • Machine Size: 29 x 24.5 x 16 cm (11.4 x 9.6 x 6.3 inches).
  • Maximum Cutting width: 14.9 cm (5.9 inches).
  • Maximum Cutting GSM: 220 gsm.
  • Included in the box - Die-cutting machine, an A Base Plate and B & C Plates for embossing and die cutting, two 15 x 10.5cm embossing folders, six 5 x 5 cm dies, a pack of 9 15 x 10.5cm sheets of cardstock (3 x red, 3 x white and 3 x black) and instruction booklet.
  • The machine is compatible with X-cut, Cuttlebug and most other manufacturer's dies. In Fact I've tried lots of dies in it and so far I haven't encountered any it wouldn't cut, although some are harder to cut see below.
  • The machine cuts cardstock and paper, and will also cut fabric with the addition of a metal shim, although one isn't supplied and I haven't tried to cut fabric with my machine.
To sum up, I LOVE this little machine, I use it all the time now in place of both of my Big Shots, only using them if I want to work with a die or embossing folder that won't fit in the Hobbycraft machine. It cuts almost almost all the dies I have that fit the machine, there have been some problems with very intricate dies like lace borders, but I've found if you run the die through a few times and use a paper shim the die will cut. I've successfully cut paper, cardstock so far up to 280 gsm, craft foam and felt with it and also cut thicker card around 2mm thick.

I got this machine for ATC making purposes, but its now my go to machine for most things I do, I don't think I've used my Big Shot's since I got this machine. I'm happy with the way the machine embosses and cuts and the real bonus is its small enough to fit on my desk so I can work all in the same space without having to move everything to accommodate the larger machine.

The dies that come with the machine are rather jolly as well and are all perfect for ATC making as well as for adding to cards and projects. You can get replacement A & B plates from Hobbycraft, I would like to see them offer more accessories like a metal shim and maybe a crease plate in the future.

The machine is lovely and solid and has metal rollers and the handle is rather sturdy, not flimsy at all like the Baby Blue machines handle, on the whole for what you get in the box, its super value for money and would make a great beginners machine if you only want to start off making ATC's or cards up to 5" x 7".

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Father's Day Fishy Cards

Hello lovely blogger peeps, its past the middle of June already and I haven't blogged for over a month, I've still been crafting to keep me sane, but life things have happened and I kind of reverted in to my shell whilst I processed the events. I'm all processed now and have got over the hump so feel like I can embrace the world again, just avoid one little piece of it, lesson learned.

So time to get my happy on and check out what everyone else has been creating lately and to also  share a couple of projects I've made recently.If you've been following my blog for a while you may recall the "Just Keep Swimming" easel card I did last year using a stamp and die set by Hero Arts? No worries if not, I've linked to it above, I mention it because in that post I said I'd seen the Lawn Fawn "Fintastic Friends" stamp and die set and wanted to use it to make cards for my Dad for his birthday and father's day this year.

Well I bought the set and these are the resulting cards, I used some of the cheap dies from China to cut the white card bases, I stamped the images on to water colour card then coloured with my Zig Clean Color pens. After colouring I die cut the images out, then I layered up the elements, I decided to colour the edges of the die cut images to blend with the nearest colour background rather than leave then white and I think it looks better that way.

I stamped the sentiments, the DAD and happy Birthday came from freebie stamp sets and the fishy puns sentiments are part of the Fintastic Friends set. I stamped the images and sentiments with My Favorite Things 'Black Licorice' Hybrid Ink Pad, its perfect for using with Zig pens and doesn't bleed or smudge :) I used 3D foam pads to add the tanks to the white card bases when everything was layered up and then added some dabs of glossy accents to the bubbles and eyes to give some extra dimension to the cards. I added both of them to some Craft perfect Kraft card from Tonic Studios.

Both cards took me about 3 hours to make from start to finish, I did colour a couple of extra tanks and fishes for future use, developing that habit, if you have bits ready it makes having to make a card in double quick time infinitely easier . The cards I made for my Dad actually came out better than I thought they would, but they didn't look like I originally envisioned if that makes sense? Now I want to use the fish and elements to create an underwater scene card, although I think it would look kind of cute as a framed picture.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

ATC Watery Inspiration

I haven't made any ATC's for a while, but I joined a facebook group set up by the wonderful Jodie Johnson and she recently set up an ATC Swap with Jodie group after the success of the Tonic Studios ATC die launch, although you don't have to use the dies to be part of the group.

The theme for the first swap was anything goes, its really about getting people new to the medium playing and sharing their creations, so without a theme and having elected to send 2 ladies an ATC I sat for ages scratching my head and no clue what to make, then I had a brain wave (yes gentle reader it does happen sometimes lol!) I decided to get out all my 'small' stamps, dies and bits that would be perfect for ATC making and went through my Maybe Someday box and found scraps of paper I'd coloured the background on the 'Dancing in the Rain' ATC and the ferny seaweed on the 'Mermazing' ATC were left over scraps of pieces I'd coloured for other projects.

As I went through my stamps I came across an Altenew set called 'Dancing in the Rain' that I "just had to have" last year and shamefully until this ATC I'd never used it! As an aside this ATC group has made me take a look at my stash and also do a little bit of a clear out as a result.

For the first of my two ATC creations I knew that I wanted to use the little girl dancing, raindrops and "Happy Rainy Day" sentiment stamps from that set, the images in it and the sentiments are perfect for ATC and will be appearing on other ATC's in the future.

The background is a remnant from a cat in the window autumn card I did last year. The scrap wasn't big enough to be a full ATC on its own, hence backing it on to silver foiled card the correct size which for those not familiar with ATC is 2.5" x 3.5" or 64 mm × 89 mm if you do metric.

From what I can gather some people don't mind a little over hang, others keep strictly to the standard ATC size so they will fit in plastic folder pockets in an album, for the same reason lots of people don't like too much dimension and height on the ATC as they won't fit in an ATC plastic pocket. That said, there are only 2 official rules for ATC's that they are 2.5" x 3.5" and that they are only ever swapped/traded and never sold.

For those interested my background scrap was done with distress inks on a piece of Neenah Solar White cardstock which was then spritzed with some gold shimmer mist. To make the ATC, I inked up the rain drop stamp with Versamark and stamped on to the piece, having first used my powder tool to prevent any sticky finger marks, then I covered the stamped raindrops with silver detail embossing powder and heat set it. I put the panel in my MISTI again and positioned the little girl where I wanted to be then inked up the stamp with My favorite Things 'Black Licorice' Hybrid ink and stamped the girl where I wanted her.

I'd forgotten that an embossed image would resist the ink, but in this case it was a happy accident because I found I liked the raindrops being visible over the girl, looking more realistic in my humble opinion :) I covered the black ink with clear embossing powder to seal the ink and created a raised shine. The final touches were to heat emboss the sentiment with the same silver embossing powder on to a piece of powder blue vellum and attach that to the back of the panel. I rounded the corners of both the stamped panel and the silver backing piece and glued them together. I decided to add the swirls which I cut from the same silver cardstock using some small Xcut dies that came free with 'Creativity' magazine called 'Flourishes'. I was a happy bunny with the finished result and it was time to move on to the next one.

If I'm honest this one was hard to part with, when I finished it I was happy with the result and I'm chuffed to report the lady I sent it to really liked it as well :) I didn't manage to capture gold mirror card or embossing very well on this one due to the rubbish lighting in my room. I really must make a light box!

The image was in my MSD box and comes from my Crafters Companion 'Flights of Fantasy' CD, I use this one a lot as it has some lovely fairy and enchanted images. The sentiment was done with Versamark again and WOW Metallic Rich Gold Super Fine embossing powder using the sentiment from my Hero Arts 'Color Layering Goldfish' set. The gold embossed 'rocks' are also from that set and after die cutting them out I went over the piece with some 'Gathered Twigs' Distress Ink to colour the background like sand.

I found scraps for the 'seaweed' also in my MSD left over from some distress ink backgrounds I used to make the herbal cards last year and a scrap from some green pixie powdered papers I used for the background on the leaves on my Pixie Powdered Roses cards. Pleased I kept them now, and there are more where they came from!

I used 2 of the dies from my Tattered Lace Paradise Ferns set that I got for £5 earlier this year because I don't have any seaweed dies and I wanted to add some greenery to the ATC. After attaching the image to the mirror card, I glued down the 'seaweed' and trimmed off any over hang.

The final touch for this 'Mermazing' ATC was to use a couple of small 3D foam pads to raise the height of the 'rocks' slightly and to glue on a couple of clear Nuvo Crystal Drops that I'd made previously. I'm finding it better to make the drops ahead of time in different sizes and store for future use, that way you can get the right size and you just glue them on, and you don't have to wait several hours for the crystal drops to dry if your impatient like me lol!

I now have a set of drawers full of ATC bits and bobs and a notebook where I've started writing down ideas, I may have already added a few ideas to a board on Pinterest as well. I'm looking forward to making more and taking part in more swaps in the future, just need to finish sorting the stash and then I can get cracking making new ATC's to my hearts content.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Creating Craft Foam Flowers

I've been captivated by the gorgeous flowers I've people making with a new (to me at least) material called Foamiran, which by all accounts is a very fine foam which is around 0.6mm thick and comes in A4 sheets, it can also come in 0.8mm thick sheets as well. It comes in a good range of colours and varies in price from around 99p. The Foamiran can be cut by hand using templates, or you can run it through a die cutting machine.

There are loads of YouTube videos showing the flowers being made using specialist dies and by hand, they can be coloured using lots of mediums to give the flowers some dimension. Check out Emilia Sieradzan blog for the low down on Everything You Need to Know to Make Foamiran flowers.

Making the exquisite creations is definitely on my crafting horizon but I have lots of things that I want to get this month with my craft allowance and more materials for new hobbies like the Rosy Owl dies and sheets of foamiran are not on this months crafty shopping list, that said I did want to have a play. So I decided to look and see what I had and see if I could make flowers with stuff from my existing stash.

In my stash I had some A5 sheets of pastel coloured craft foam that is 2mm thick and a large variety of flower dies to play with, I knew that the flowers I made would be a lot thicker than the Foamiran flowers but I decided to go for it anyway.

The first foam flower I made yesterday using my Sheena Douglass 'Wild Rose' die from Crafters Companion. The flowers were stuck together with a hot glue gun and I used Altenew dye ink to add some highlights to the stamen and petals. Sadly the ink smeared very easily and didn't colour the foam as I wanted it to. I also made the bee using a new die I treated myself to from Hobbycraft, more on that in a future post.

The centre of the rose I added a dot of 'Orange Soda' Nuvo Glitter Drops to add a touch of bling, I layered the large rose up with 3 lots of die cut petals and the smaller rose with 2, in hindsight it would have been better to just use 2 on both flowers. People who stamp the rose and doe cut mostly use just one layer, but I wanted to add more dimension. My first attempt wasn't too bad, but I wanted to make more flower shapes and try colouring the petals in other ways.

The pieces to make the flowers in the first photo were each die cut and then coloured and finally I used a Tonic Studios Floral Crafters Tool (12mm-8mm size) to round and curl the petals, it works on foam but not as well as on paper, below I've listed the dies and colours used : -

Purple Daisy - Cut from lilac craft foam and consists of 2 layers of the same size pieces, cut using dies from the Xcut 'Petal Posy' die set, plus a stamen cut from the stamen die in the Wild Rose die set above.  I coloured the petals with a 'Grape' Gelato and also a 'Metallic Purple' Gelato, the stamen I coloured with Metallic Gold and when the flower was glued together I finished it off with some 'Purple Rain' Nuvo Glitter Drops.

Yellow Marguerite - Cut from cream craft foam using dies from the Crafters Companions Floral Delight 'Pretty Petals' set in both sizes. I used a 'Lemon' Gelato to colour the petals to be more yellow in colour and once glued together I added 'Honey Gold' Nuvo Glitter Drops to the centre.

Pink Hollyhock - Cut from pastel pink craft foam using 3 different sizes of die from my Leane Creatief Multi Die 005, I used a 'Metallic Red' Gelato to colour the edges and finished off with 'Sherbert Shimmer' Nuvo Glitter Drops.

Marigold - Cut from peach coloured craft foam, I used the other flower petal shape from the Crafters Companions Floral Delight 'Pretty Petals' set to cut both sizes of petals. The centre of the marigold was finished off with 'Orange Soda' Nuvo Glitter Drops like the Wild Rose and I used a 'Mango' Gelato to colour the edges of the petals.

Forget-Me-Not - This was the only flower that I did as a single using the small and medium dies from my Crafters Companion Floral Delight 'In Bloom' set. I edged these with a little 'Blueberry' Gelato and finished the centres off with some 'Dandelion Yellow' Nuvo Crystal Drops.

As I took the photos of these flowers, I was still waiting for the Nuvo drops to dry, when the centres are completely dry I will cut some greenery from card and use the flowers on some projects I have planned. Whilst my craft foam flowers aren't as delicate and lifelike as the Foamiran flowers, they are usable for decorating cards and other items. I have a few other flower dies sets that I can play with next and lots of leaf and greenery shapes so I should get some good effects.

I found the best way to add the gelato to the petals was to use a baby wipe, just run it across your gelato stick and then 'paint' your petal. I have seen people colouring Foamiran with Distress Inks, I've not tried that yet medium on craft foam yet, I will and update this post if it works. The foam flowers have a nice soft velvet like texture to them and go together very quickly once you've cut, coloured and shaped the petals. I can see me making more of these even after I get my hands on Foamiran. I'm pleased that I managed to create something with what I had in, rather than buying lots of new things.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Distressed Enchantment

It's May already, ummm where did April go? I had so many good intentions of posting about cards I'd made, but I failed to do it, mostly because I was busy working on the garden and off visiting places and people, we also seem to have sorted out the problem of the noisy neighbour, its coming up to two weeks since it came to a head and so far she's been quiet. I can't tell you what a difference that has made to my state of mind the relief is huge.

I hope you've all had a lovely bank holiday weekend? We went to Mablethorpe for a few days visiting the Seal Sanctuary there and we went to a couple of National Trust places as well and saw the most beautiful exhibition of Pre-Raphaelite art by the De Morgan's, Evelyn De Morgan being my favourite Pre-Raphaelite artist so it was a joy to stand in front of her painting called 'Flora' this weekend and get to study every exquisite detail.

I walked in to the room and actually said WOW! as I entered, I didn't expect to come face to face with so many of the paintings that I've admired for so long, and having the time to look at every detail and brush stroke was a real treat, its filled me with floral ideas for cards for the future and yes I'll be going back to the exhibition at Wightwick Manor again.

It's a co-production between the National Trust and the De Morgan Foundation that will run for 10 years and each year from what the lady I spoke to said, items will change. I have to say that Wightwick is already one of my favourite NT places to visit, and we go at least twice a year, but I can see me going back a lot more times than that over the next 10 years. #lovedemorgan

Okay my art fan girl thing aside I'll get to what most of you are here for, and talk about the cards I recently created, I was chuffed when I saw what the free stamp set with issue 42 of Creative Stamping was full of enchanted fantasy characters like knights, princesses, dragons, unicorns and even a fairy tale castle to boot. The set also contains playing cards and and other elements and lots of useful sentiments.

When I got my copy I immediately started to play with the set stamping the Unicorn on to white card and colouring it in with my Zig brush pens. Then yesterday I decided to have a play with my new Distress Oxide inks. By the end of the evening I'd created 3 A6 cards in bright colours for my box.

I started by creating backgrounds with the Distress Oxides laying down bands of colour that blend so easily. Once I had the colours I wanted I placed some masks over the inked panels and sprayed water on to the unmasked area. I left it a few minutes then used some kitchen roll to blot up the excess water, this created the lighter pattern on the background. During this exercise, I realised that most of my masks were Christmas or cat orientated so I had a limited selection, which has now been rectified thanks to Ebay lol!

I removed the masks and left the pieces to dry completely, then I die cut the panels with a stitched edge die and placed the panels in my new Tim Holtz Stamping platform, I used a powder tool first then stamped the images with Versamark and heat embossed in white and gold.

Once the image was heat set I used some bleach in a water brush pen to change the colour of the oxide inks to make the images pop, when the bleached area was dry I added some shimmer pen to finish. I used the sentiments from the set and heat embossed each one on to some vellum strips and finished with some sequins from my stash.

I love this stamp set so much, and know that it will get lots of use, I've already created some different styles of toppers since I got the set, I may be a little addicted, especially to the unicorn. The stamp sets with Creative Stamping  just keep getting better, in the future I'd love to see some cat and kitten stamps, and maybe a signs of the zodiac set with some month sentiment stamps. I can't wait to make more cards using this set, I will certainly be making more distressed backgrounds using the oxide inks as well. 

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Wreath of Roses Cards

I think I'll have to change the name of my blog to 'Just Another Floral' or something, I'm sorry but not sorry for the influx of floral images about to come this blogs way but hey ho, its my blog and I'm indulging in a little paper gardening. I blame Tara over at Seven Hills Crafts for getting lots of lovely floral stamps and dies, the latest to fall in to my basket and join my craft stash is this lovely little 'Wreath of Roses' stamp and die from Lil'Inker Designs.

I've discovered that the best way to use this set, is to first die cut the shape, then put the card piece you die cut from and the shape in to a stamping tool like the MISTI, line up the stamp and stamp the image exactly where you want it. I did try stamping first then die cutting but the die is solid so you can't see if you are lining up properly and my image wasn't accurately lined up so pieces got chopped off flowers.

I think I'm having a bit of a light and dark phase at the moment, maybe something to do with the days getting lighter after winter or maybe my brain wants creative contrast. Suffice to say when I make a light version of a card, I can't help but wonder what it would look like if it was done in darker tones?

First the light card, I used two elements from my MSD box for this card, the wood-grain effect panel was done with a Darice Wood Grain embossing folder and was intended for a christmas card background but I decided to go with something else so in my Maybe Some Day Box the panel sat along with the white frame cut from an Avery Elle die set called 'Scalloped Pierced Rectangles', which I confess to being disappointed with because I didn't realise it cut a thin frame, I expected it to cut solid pieces, but hey ho!

The frame from my box even had 3D foam pads on ready to use, I cut it for a card but wasn't happy with the design, so in my box the frame went. I trimmed the wood grain panel down a little and fixed it to a 5" x 7" white card blank and added the white frame. The rose wreath on this card was coloured with my Zig Clean Color Real Brush pens which I adore, I haven't got the shading technique quiet right, but I'm getting there and loving the vibrant results I get using them. I added some shimmer with a Spectrum Noir Clear Sparkle Pen, the effect in real life is amazing, it really does give an added dimension to your creations.

I added a sentiment from the Wreath of Roses stamp set on to a scarp of white card that was cut to fit across the back of the wreath by 2/3rds. As an aside the stamp set comes with 8 different sentiments and the die wreath has the word 'hello' with it. I added the wreath to the sentiment card with 3D foam pads and attached the wreath to the wood grain panel with more 3D foam pads so that the leaves from a couple of parts of the wreath overhung the scalloped frame et voila!

As I pointed out earlier in the post when I make a light coloured card, I'm wanting to make a darker version and this is the darker version of the wreath of roses card. I created the background last week when I was experimenting with Nuvo Mousse -further details can be found in my Proud as a Peacock post from the other day.

To create the embossed panel the shades of Nuvo Mousse used were 'Aubergine' added all over a piece of black card as described in my previous post. Once I had enough coverage I embossed the panel using the 'Rose Garden' embossing folder from Crafters Companion Shabby Chic range. I then used a mini blending tool to apply some 'Peony Pink' Nuvo Mousse to the raised areas to bring out the detail.

I used the same technique to make the wreath panel as I did for the light version, colouring the wreath on this card with metallic gelatos, I bought them last Summer on my holidays but only got round to using them this weekend! I loved the results though so I expect I'll be using them a lot more in the future ;)

I made my own card blank from a piece of the same black card I made the wreath panel from and decided to round off the bottom corners of the embossed panel and the card blank for added interest. I think the end result is rather effective and the light and dark versions of the card have their own merits, but I love the darker version the most. What about you do you prefer the light or the dark version? More from me soon when I'll be continuing to explore my darker side, until then happy creating, keep well and stay safe!

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Proud As A Peacock...

I'm really pleased with the way this card turned out, and its the first of what will be a long line of peacock cards that I'll be creating over the next few months, not because I've acquired this die, but because I've been acquiring lots of peacock related stash from embossing folders to stamps, dies and paper backgrounds.

It seems I have some affinity with the peacock, although I'm not sure what or how aside from the fact that the stunning colours that they display has appealed to me since I was a young girl.

The die on this card is another of my cheap Demiawaking bargain dies from Amazon its a lot like the Tattered Lace Peacock die but the Demiawaking Peacock is just £2.99 with free postage. It took a little while to arrive but the cash saving was so worth the wait.  It's different insomuch as the tail on the TL die is longer and points to the left and the the beak and feather crest are more elaborately defined, but for a saving of around £16 I don't mind the detail not being as good. I have to point out that the TL die that is similar to the cheaper one is now retired by TL and they've replaced it with a different peacock which in my opinion isn't as nice.

On to the actual card construction now, I've added 10 different colours of Nuvo Mousse by Tonic Studios to my stash over the past few months, but as yet hadn't played with them. I have seen other people use them including Christine Smith from Crafti Potential and decided I wanted to create some of the lovely silky metallic goodness they seemed capable of, and I wasn't disappointed. I love adding texture to my cards, so I often use embossing folders and I like to add some metallic shimmer and until now have used gilding wax to achieve the result like on these fairy cards I made last year, but as pretty as the effect is, its a bit uneven. The beauty of Nuvo Mousse is it can be used in so many different ways, as a wash, a paint even put in a spray bottle to make a shimmery mist.

I started with a piece of white card in the case of the wood-grain and feather backgrounds and used black card for the rose and script panels. I applied the Nuvo Mousse using a mini blending tool - the kind used for distress inks - it went on smoothly, some colours I noticed seem to sink in to the card a little more than others, but I think that was down to the cardstock I was using.

For the peacock feather background I first applied a band of 'Spring Green' Nuvo Mousse followed by 'Aquamarine' finishing with 'Pacific Teal' blending each colour in to the next to create a smooth blended look. I then let the panel dry, it dries very quickly but if you're impatient, you can use a heat gun to dry the mousse off. Once dry I ran the panel through my Big Shot inside a Crafters Companion embossing folder from the Kimono range aptly called 'Peacock Feathers'. I went over the embossed area with a little 'Peacock Feathers' distress ink to help bring out the pattern on the feathers even more.

I knew from the start I wanted to give the die some colour and I'd been saving something for just the right purpose and I'm rather pleased with the result. I can't take the credit for the idea I picked it up from my card making friend Jackie Trinder from Tiny Rose's Craft Room who makes some fabulous cards. I think Jackie may have got the idea from someone else, that's how this crafting lark works, we learn from each other. When I first read what Jackie wrote, I could have kicked myself as I'd been throwing this things away for ages!

And what was my light bulb moment? Don't throw away paper towels that you use to clean up inky messes generated when you clean your craft mat after making inky messes using things like Pixie Powders that have mica powders in them.

Instead put the paper towels to dry and use them to back die cuts, or glue them to the front of a card and then embossed it to create a really fun card that looks like you've used a piece of fabric. Simples!

The end results are fabulous, I have a box now, full of paper towels pieces in an array of colours some single colours, others in multi coloured tones like this one that I used for the feather background.  To add the coloured piece to the gold foiled card die cut I traced round the die cut with a pen and cut the shape out. Then I added glue to the back of the die cut and put the coloured panel in place and trimmed it to the exact shape where there was any over hang.

If you hold the peacock up to the light the effect is stunning, almost stained glass like, I've tried die cutting the paper towels and whilst it will cut in basic shapes like circles and squares, some of the more intricate detailed dies don't have the pressure required the paper towel doesn't always cut.

I made my own card blank from a piece of dual coloured card from a 12" x 12" pad from The Range and cut a circle from the lighter side to emboss a sentiment from the Wild Rose Studios 'Circle Greetings' stamp set using Metallic Gold Super Fine WOW embossing powder, which seems to be my embossing powder of choice at the moment. I backed the sentiment on to a piece of gold card the same as the die cut after die cutting it out with a die from the Presscut 'Round Dies Stitched Holes' set.

After adding the sentiment I thought that the card still needed something, I tried adding some white feathers I bought for another card but they were too big, then I remembered a die set of small feathers I got recently by EK Success from their Cutter Bee range and after colouring a scrap of white card with some more 'Pacific Teal' Nuvo Mousse, I die cut a couple of the smaller feathers from the set and attached them with a little glue under the sentiment. To finish the card, I added a small blueish green coloured gem to the peacock's eye and there it was my first peacock card of the year created.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Altenew Build A Flower - Camellia

I'm not sure if its due to the herbaholic in me, but whatever the reason is, I think its obvious to note that I adore floral stamps and images. This makes me a big fan of Altenew who make some absolutely stunning floral stamps, many of which have matching dies.

I was thrilled to discover last month that they were introducing Altenew Build A Flower, a monthly set on floral dies and stamps that can only be bought as a set. The first flower to the collection is the Camellia a single bloom that measures approx 8.5 x 7.5cm in size and is stamped in 3 layers.

The set includes a triple leaf stamp again with 3 layers, in the cards I've created with the image I've done the top layer in a darker contrasting ink colour and also using gold embossing powder, I love both effects but think that the gold embossed card looks more regal and would be perfect for special occasion cards. Although I must admit to liking to add gold embossing and splashes of gold to lots of my projects.

The set also comes with 2 sentiments as can be seen on the Altenew product photo here and also on my other card images below. I've been a fan of Altenew now a year or more, I'd seen photos of the products prior to getting a free small rose and Altenew die stamp from Simply Cards & Papercraft last year. But I wasn't sure I'd be able to stamp the images accurately and line everything up.

As it turned out I wasn't 100% accurate, you can see some of the cards I created using the freebie here, but the beauty of these layering stamps is they are very forgiving, and if you don't get it spot on it doesn't matter, if nature things are not always picture perfect! I quickly ordered the Vintage Roses and Beautiful Day sets and have since acquired more Altenew stamp and die sets, even buying some none floral, because I love the quality of the stamps and the beautiful images.

I can see me getting lots of use out of each of the Build a Flower sets, flowers can be used to decorate cards for many occasions and if you use fabric paints, you can use the stamps to decorate fabrics, something I plan on doing in the not too distant future with a selection of archival inks. I've yet to make a card with more than one of the camellia images on, I think being a large bold flower you can get away with just 1 image which makes creating lots of cards a doddle.

I used my MISTI to stamp the images, to save having to keep moving the stamp, I cut some white card in to 9cm x 9cm pieces and worked through stamping all the base layers in one colour, then switching to the next colour and moving on to the second and third layers. Doing this means you only have to align the stamp once making it easier and quicker to stamp lots of the images in one go.

I used Altenew inks to stamp my images, not that I'm a fan girl or anything, I love the fact that Altenew inks come in cube sets that contain light, medium and dark shades of ink that contrast making them ideal for stamping layered images. I used the Red Cosmos and Green Fields ink cube sets for the red camellia card, and Rose Petal and Tropical Forest sets for the pink colour way and Tropical Forest again for the leaves on the peachy orange card and the Warm and Cozy ink cube set to create the orange camellia.

The cards themselves came together really quickly after I'd stamped and die cut the camellia's out, and I have lots more camellias ready to use on other cards. For the card in the main photo I used a card blank from my Maybe Someday box, when I was making the wedding invitations for my stepson, I embossed lots of patterns until I found the one I truly liked, those discarded cards with embossed patterns not right for the invites went in my MSD box for use at another point. I love that when I need something to cement an idea in place, I can dip in to that box and come up trumps.

The embossing folder I used on a 6" x 6" white card blank is by X-Cut and is called "Square Gilt Frame", I think it makes a stunning frame for a clean and simple card. I added the camellia on foam pads to give it some dimension and glued the 3 sets of leaves direct to the card, I finished the design off with a sentiment die cut from gold foiled card using one of the dies from the Paper Smooches Love and Cherish die set. For the other two cards I used some papers from a Wild Rose Studios paper pad called 'Peach Blossom' that I got free when I subscribed to a magazine a couple of years ago, the colours were perfect for the cards I wanted to create.

The stamped edged panel was created with one of my recent bargains found on Amazon, nesting die sets good quality at cheap prices. The postage stamp style set is known as a Square Wave Frame and cost me £3.99 with free postage, not bad for a set of 6 dies where the largest is 12cm x 12cm and the smallest 2cm x 2cm. They cut beautifully as well, and are very strong and sturdy. I have bought from two companies so far Demiawaking and CalistoUK, of the two I've bought mostly from Demiawaking, CalistoUK takes forever to get your items to you, but I could have just been unlucky. There are lots of sets available, I have to say that I've bough some of the expensive Avery Elle and My Favorite Things dies and these cheap one cut just as well.

That said on the waved border dies, one of the dies isn't cut properly so the edge is flawed, but you have to be looking for it to notice and for £2.99 for a set of 4 dies as opposed to £12 or more for a set of 3 similar dies by Lawn Fawn the saving is worth it, if it means that I have more money in my pocket to indulge my passion for florals. Like anything its buyer beware, not all of the dies are good quality, but if you read reviews and ask around you can weed out the good from the bad.

I'm already anticipating the next Build a Flower release which is a gorgeous large Aster image, this one comes with 4 sentiments, I can't wait to play with this beauty, and I'm really looking forward to what the next 10 months with bring in terms of floral images from one of my fav stamp and die companies.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

All Occassion Roses

I mentioned in my previous post how I was a little bit of a rose addict, this upon reflection isn't really an exaggeration, says she sat wearing rose scented perfume, with a rose candle burning and a cat called Rosie sat on her lap all snug and comfy, after coming in from the garden checking what needs doing to all the rose bushes out there, me not Rosie lol! The only thing  I don't have yet are rose tinted spectacles, but there's time and I do need to make an opticians appointment this week lol! I love herbs and flowers and as roses count as herbs due to their myriad of medicinal, cosmetic and culinary uses they have become my favourite herb as well, I make wine and vinegar from the petals and lots of other rose infused products, like rose petal sugar for baking. If people are interested I'll share some recipes and history?

Back to card making, I needed some late night crafting therapy last week, I'm at that funny age that gets called the menopause and is often spoken about in whispers. I've been very lucky so far, and escaped with very few menopause symptoms, one issue I do have though is suffering from crazy sleep patterns, sometimes my body refuses to get tired until 4am in the morning which is an actual pain.

So instead of fretting about not sleeping, I've started stamping or colouring pre-stamped images ready for using on future projects. This level of stamping is enough to keep me occupied without making too much noise, so I don't keep Simon awake and it furnishes me with things to turn in to projects like in the first photo.

I'm using my MISTI stamping tool a lot more these days, I stamp several sheets at a time with a leaf then move it along and stamp more until the A5 sheet is full and I have several sheets of each image I want to die cut. Doing it this way saves a lot of lining up, once you have the first image in position then on the rest of the sheets the images will be in the exact same place.

I decided to make several sets of cards to sell, I say to sell but not to make a profit, I'm just covering the cost of materials, plus every set of cards sold I give £2 to my local Cats Protection. People have been asking to buy cards I make for a while and I've done a few commissions but so far I haven't sold cards.

The rose and leaves are from an Altenew stamp and die set called 'Beautiful day', I stamped each image using Altenew Crisp Ink cubes, they stamp a little splotchy but they even out as they dry to give wonderful results. I've collected so far 11 of the 15 sets of ink cubes that Altenew have released, if you're interested in which colours I used for any particular rose leave me a comment and I'll let you know.

In the image at the beginning of this post the photo shows a few cards where the outline of the stamp was done with Versamark ink and Gold embossing powder, but for these cards I decided to stamp the outline with black ink. I used 'Black Licorice' My Favorite Things Hybrid Ink, it gives lovely crisp images and I can use it with my Zig brush pens and the ink doesn't bleed.

The roses were added to the centre panels using 3D foam pads, regular readers of my blog will have noted that I once again have made use of 2 of the dies from the Tonic Studios Sew Pretty - Have A Beautiful Day Circle Frame. I've used it on a far few cards now, its so versatile. My sentiment banners were all made using the Hero Arts 'Ribbon Messages Stamp & Cut' set and were stamped with Black Onyx Versafine ink. I used pre-made card blanks with a scalloped edge the ones I used this time were 5" x 5" and come with envelopes.