Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Distress Oxide Water Painting

Hi there, I hope that your week is going smoothly andlife is treating you well? All is good here at Warts n All towers, its been a busy few days, our Young Roboteers course finished last saturday, our YR's gather one last time at Robot Day to race their robots and we're off being STEM ambassadors this week at a Home Education Science Fair as part of British Science Week and we'll also be taking K9 along to robot day.

As well as that I've been prepping for our first "Meet & Make" session that we're giving for a group of young adults later this month. The idea is they get to meet us and K9, see him in action and then they make an assortment of robot themed cards, I'm loving that my hobby and Simon's are starting to cross over.

I'm now on day 14 of Miserly March, boy is it ever flying by! At the start of the challenge I seriously doubted whether I'd be able to do it, but I haven't spent a penny on crafting since the 26th Feb, so a total of 16 days! I'm almost halfway through the month of March and thanks to my supportive friends and Simon I'm now confident that I can make it.

I've still be looking at craft supplies, some of my favourite companies have been launching some fabulous things, and I've still got my nose in pinterest, youtube and my favourite papercrafters blogs, but when I see an idea that catches my eye, instead of running off to buy the exact same products to make the project that takes my fancy, I'm looking in my supplies at what I have that can create the effect without spending money.

Last week I watched Jennifer McGuire create some gorgeous cards using a very simple but very effective technique involving Distress Oxide inks and water, a match made in heaven. I knew instantly that I wanted to recreate the effect myself but with the prep, birthday card making and all the robot stuff going on, I didn't have time, so it went in to my future ideas pile in my head.

Then this weeks Wednesday Challenge over on Victoria's Crafty Friends asked us to create either a 4" x 4" card or an ATC, my head saw the Lil'Inker 'Wreath of Roses' stamp and I knew from using it in the past that it was smaller than 4" x 4", and using it would mean I could play with the Distress Oxide technique that Jennifer had shown on her blog. Everything I used to create these cards came from my stash, and yes I know there are some mistakes, like failing to remove all the embossing powder residue for one. That said I'm happy with the final results the cards are bold, bright and beautiful.

I won't go in to huge detail about how to do the technique, I'll post the video of Jennifer's below so you can see her in action. I decided when I'd finished applying the water inside the flowers and blotting the access away to leave the paler background, that I wanted to add some secondary colour.

So I used some distress inks (Picked Raspberry, Mowed Lawn, Mustard Seed and Salty Ocean) on an acrylic block mixed with water to create a paint and I dropped that in to the areas I wanted to colour. Once that was dry I gave the flowers and leaves a coat of clear Spectrum Noir Shimmer Pen before finally adding my sentiment and some 'Morning Dew' Tonic Nuvo Crystal Drops.

I'd pre made my drops, I add them to the backing left over from 3D foam pads and make a variety of sizes and colours, that way they are ready to add to a project and I don't have to wait for the drops to dry. It also helps prevent the drops soaking up the colour from the Distress Oxides which happens if you apply wet drops to the design, something Jennifer covers in her video. I used gold and silver vellum for the backs of the sentiments that I picked up on sale from Hunkydory in February, I bought it exactly for the purpose of being sentiment shadows, it has a lovely shimmer, but sadly the photo doesn't do it justice.

As part of my experiments I tried using bleach on the Distress Oxides and they just don't react to bleach in the way that the original Distress Inks do, all that bleach does is lift the colour in exactly the same way that water does, whereas bleach on Distress Inks sees colour changes and differences. If you fancy giving this a go for yourself, then watch the video below. The technique is certainly something I'll be making lots of use of in the future, I've already had a rummage in my stamps and found some designs that will be perfect, I'l also going to try using the Altenew outline images from my sets, watch this space 😁

Friday, 9 March 2018

Digital Crafting for Free - Resources

The Miserly March challenge (Day 9 and still going strong) has got me looking at ways of crafting without spending money. Making use of existing digi crafting CD Roms that I've bought or got free with magazines is a no-brainer option for no cost crafting. I have a monthly subscription with Hewlett Packard called Instant Ink which allows me to print off 100 pages a month for £3.49. When my printer is running low on ink, HP ship me out fresh cartridges and I send them the old ones back in prepaid envelopes they send with the fresh cartridges. The link I added above is a referral link so if you have a compatible HP printer and you sign up I get a free month and so will you!

As I look at the folders on my PC of the cards I've been making since I started crafting in 2014 I realised that almost all of the cards I've made consist of some printed element or other, be it a topper or a background paper. I've even made notelet sets and matching envelopes πŸ˜€ Not all of the things I print and use are from CD's though, I make use of lots of elements from sites that offer free downloads and I occasionally buy from a few talented designers on Etsy, but I love the finding and using free toppers and papers, especially now 😁

So I thought it would be a good idea to blog about some of the ones I regularly use and add a list of them to my Links list look for the section "Free Download Digis & Papers" whichI'll update as I find new sources. It should be noted that not all the links contain entirely free downloads, some of them also sell stuff to download, but they also give you some lovely free stuff to download.

Making Cards Magazine - Every month MCM have a free download, you get to download it if you sign up to their monthly newsletter, and as a bonus when the email newsletter arrives you get a bonus download. I've used MCM images a lot, they are always such fab quality, they print out without any issues and they are always vibrant and colourful. Other card mags have downloads but they tend to be half size papers and I prefer A4 sheets, check out Cardmaking & Papercraft (you have to sign up to get their downloads) and also Papercraft Magazines lots of papers and templates to download.

Harper Finch - If you like using checks and plaids as backgrounds for your papercrafting creations then sign up to Harper's newsletter, she gives regular freebies via email. I've mentioned Harper before in other blog posts because I use her background papers a lot, she also gives away scrapbooking elements as well. She has so many stunning designs which you can purchase via her Etsy shop.

Pixabay Free Images - Great site full of photos, illustrations, vector graphics, background images and lots more, you can download low resolution files for free, higher resolution files you have to have an account for, all the images are free to use for personal use, the majority of them have a Creative Commons Licence.

The Coffee Shop Blog - Nothing to do with coffee (well unless you count the lovely free coffee papers download), I came across Rita's fab blog whilst I was looking for some free clover leaf background papers, I found some on her blog and so much more. As well as lots of free digital download stuff, Rita also has tutorials and explains how you can edit some of the downloads yourself to alter colours, size etc.

Docrafts - The Docrafts site has some good templates and papers that are free to download and use, and if you sign up to the club you get access to downloads before the general public and also 15% off in the Docrafts shop. I met a lot of lovely ladies that now visit my blog via the DoCrafts site back in the day when they had a thriving forum and magazine, both sadly gone now but the freebies are still there.

My Craft Studio - Lots of freebies to download and use, toppers, backing papers etc, you have to create an account to download the files, but doing that is free. The files download in .zip format so you need to have a program on your PC to unzip them. If you run Windows then there is a built in unzipping tool more info here.

Crafters Companion Download of the Month - Note the link won't work properly for you until you've signed up to a Club Inspire account, once you have you get discounts on your CC purchases and access to the free downloads, its free to join and download the files even if you don't make a purchase.

Club Hunkydory - Another set up similar to CC, sign up for a free account via the Hunkydory website and get a discount on their products and you can also download some lovely papers for your digital crafting, also templates, how tos and videos.

These are most of the ones I use regularly, I'll update the list as I find more, I'll also add them all to a links section soon. If you have any good freebie resources for free to download craft papers leave me a comment and I'll add the links to the list.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

For the Love of Pets: Kitties & Bunnies

I'm on day 7 of no spending this month and day 9 if you add the last 2 days of Feb, and I'm loving finding treasure of all kinds in my stash, thank you to all of you who commented on my Miserly March post and were so supportive, it means an awful lot to have the love and support of such a super talented bunch of lovely people. I'd like to give a special shout out to Shabneez of Happy Hijaabi's Papercraft Creations for her kindly nominating me for an Altenew giveaway such a lovely surprise πŸ’–πŸ’‹.

This morning I completed a couple of cards using some digital images from the 'Lovely Jessica Collection' a free download back in January from Making Cards Magazine, you have to sign up to get the downloads but its so worth it, each month you get a email newsletter with a link to something to download, usually additional backing papers to go with the cover gift but sometimes something different. MCM is now the only magazine I subscribe to monthly, their free papers and downloads are brilliant and I can always find a use for the free gifts.

The backing papers on both my cards are from the collection, and they work fabulously together. I had to play with the images in Corel PaintShop Pro x8, I captured the image I wanted to play with and saved it as a jpg file.

I then took the jpg into the paint program and removed the surrounding images and resized it for my card and then printed it off, finally die-cutting it out with the largest die from my Wonky Nesting Ovals die set from Craft Stash.

I used another die from the set to cut an oval for the sentiment and the sentiments for both todays cards come from the "New Best Friend" stamp set from 'My Favorite Things'. I'll be using the actually images soon from the set, they are soooo cute, I'm going to make some cards for the craft fair in May for people to send when someone they know gets a new furry friend 😸 I used a leaf and the flower dies from a Crafters Companion set from their 'Floral Delight' Collection the die set is called "In Bloom".

I decided to make these cards a little bit special by adding a surprise inside in the form of a bookmark, I've done the same thing before in September 2017 using some cute 'Barry the Book Owl' images from Making Cards Magazine. I detailed how I did it in that post so I won't repeat myself, but you can follow the link if you're curious.

The bookmarks are super quick to make, and these images were just the right size. There's a cool bit of upcycling in these cards as well, I cut the ribbons off tops I buy and save them in a jar and use them for adding to bookmarks and for gift tags.

I think a bookmark card is the perfect accompaniment to a book gift voucher and its something to keep once the event the recipient has been given the card for is over. I've found lots of images for making more for young and old, I'm also going to make some with stamped images and attach the bookmarks to the front of the card like a topper. 

Before I go I thought I'd share a tip and I know this will be old news to most of you, but for anyone that is new to the world of alcohol markers and card making I thought I'd share... You can use  alcohol markers to colour sticky gem stones to match your project. Whilst working on these cards this morning I found the perfect gem for centre of the flowers for the pink version of the card, but I didn't have them in red. So I used one of my red Nuvo Alcohol Marker pens to change the pink to red et voila, the flowers got red gem stone centres!

I have clear gems in my stash just for this purpose, you can also use the markers to colour white ribbon and lace so it matches your project with your pens. I always colour my gems off the card on the acetate backing, that way you won't accidentally catch the card or paper you're working on, this I learnt from experience. Once you've coloured the gems set them aside for 5-10 minutes so that the ink dries totally, then attach the gems to your project as you normally would. Clear gems are better but if you are going for a similar tone pink to red, yellow to orange, light blue to dark blue etc. then any colour works.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Miserly March

Hello there, it seems that the snow is gone here in Derby, it was 10ΒΊC today, we had blue skies and sunshine, I even started thinking about sowing seeds for the garden! During the time the Beast frim the East was making it cold and gloomy I stayed indoors and did some crafting and planning for "Miserly March" which came about late last month after a dilemma I put myself in when I realised that my hobby was fast turning in to a spending addiction.

Thanks to some lovely friends on Facebook, I know that I'm not alone in my craft stash buying addiction, lots of us joke about how much we spend on craft stuff, but at the end of February when our households joint bank statement arrived I was hit by a VERY sobering reality. After a chat with hubby I realised that I can't keep buying hundreds of pounds of stash every month not without getting a new job.For ages I've carried on spending like we still had my wage as well, I did cry a lot when I realised the mess I've got us in to, but then I decided that instead of weeping I had to do something more constructive, so  I have vowed to stick to my monthly spends and try to buy only what I need and use up what I already have. I've set out to do this by: -

1) Un-following lots of the craft companies on Facebook, many of them are putting products out too frequently, and are too much of a temptation. I suffer from the "I need that" when I actually don't need it at all, I just buy it because it looks like it may be useful. I make the purchase, usually on pre-order and whilst I wait for it to arrive something else comes out by the same company or another when I still haven't used the stuff I've just bought. That merry go round keeps turning and I have to get off, as much as I enjoy the ride.

2) I've unsubscribed from almost all the craft supply online stores emails, they appear weekly or daily in the case of some companies, bringing sales, offers and bargains, I see something reduced and think its a bargain so I buy it, but bargain or not, I can't really afford it. I'm ashamed to say that many of those bargain purchases are in tubs and boxes and they still haven't been used! So I figured unsubscribing from the emails removes the temptation. Yes I could miss out on some bargains in the future, but my bank balance will be healthier.

3) I've cancelled all but one of my card magazine subscriptions, I figured I can buy a specific magazine if it interests me and I will use the freebie. Some of the mags are showing the same stuff because they get published by the same company, and after 3 year subscriptions the freebies are being repeated or they are giving away gifts that don't appeal to me, and if I'm honest I haven't been that inspired by the makes in the magazines for a while. I get much more inspiration and ideas from friends and groups on Facebook and from Pinterest and they don't cost anything.

4) Remember the boxes and tubs of 'sale bargains' I mention in point 2? Well I've started working on sorting through the boxes, once finished I'm going to sell off some things I've bought in moments of madness that I won't use. I just need to take some photos, figure out the postage and then I can do some listings on Ebay. I've also started a spreadsheet listing the stamps/dies/inks etc that I have by each company, its good to take stock of what you have. I have in the past forgotten I'd bought a stamp or die and bought it again!

5) I've begun sorting out all the kits/projects I've bought and put to one side because I'm too busy looking at all the new stuff being released and sales etc. There is a meme about using stash and buying it being two different hobbies, its true and whilst on the one hand that meme is funny, its not funny to the bank balance and I simply have to give up the buying hobby.

6) Which brings me to point 6 and the title of this blog post, I've set myself a challenge to spend zilch, zero, nada on crafting throughout March and I've called the challenge "Miserly March", my goal is to use only what I already have in my stash and buy nothing at all. I'm in to day 5 and so far its working. I admit to almost caving in once, because I've made some 8" x 8" cards and I've run out of white 8" x 8" envelopes. I'm actually on day 7 because the last day I spent any cash in Feb was the 26th, 7 days without spending a single penny, when you think I spent an average of £15 a day and became seduced by some craft sale/bargain daily, I'm feeling good, baby steps.

After 31st March I aim to keep within my monthly budget and for a few months spend only on staple things I need like card blanks and glue, the kind of things we use every time we create a card. Although I can tell you 5 days in to the month and 26 days to go, it seems like my strength will be tested, new releases from Altenew and Tonic Studios will test me, but I can do this, I WILL do this :)

I posted most of the points above on a Facebook group I belong to recently and the ladies in my group were so supportive and gave me loads of ideas like going 'shopping' in my stash and finding forgotten 'new' things to use and swapping images/diecuts with others. So many ideas and some I hadn't considered. I'm learning to use what I have in, or if I see an idea on somewhere like Pinterest that I like, looking to see what I have that I can put my spin on the idea without having to spend any money buying new things.

This weekend I went 'shopping' in a set of drawers and discovered lots of Hunkydory kits, some were member freebies still not used, some I'd bought in sales and again not used. I decided to use one of the cat kits to make the two rocker cards above and I can create at least two more cards from what was left over in the kit. They went together so quickly, just a bit of die cutting and glueing, kits are the perfect lost mojo fixer and a good way of making several cards in a short space of time, note to self, use the ones you have in more!

I'm not sure what it is in me, if I have a set or something like a pad of lovely papers, despite having bought it to create cards when it comes down to it I leave them in a pile because it feels wrong to use it, in the event that a better project comes along and I don't have any left!!! You wouldn't believe the stack of 6", 8" and 12" paper pads I have not being used, its stupid, another habit I have to break. I seem to like digital crafting, I can print out as many as I like and use when I wish, that said I have a habit of getting an idea, printing papers off and then getting distracted and not making the card, so the papers go in a box and by the time I pick them up again, I've forgotten what I was going to make with them, ooops!

So now I'm on the look out for free crafting stuff, ways of using what I have and dreaming about saving money to get a scan & cut one day. If I stop spending on things I don't need, then I'll be able to get something I want, and in the long run something like a scan n cut will save me money because I won't have to buy dies for stamp sets and can cut out any shape I want.

If you have any suggestions to add please feel free to leave them in the comments below, I can turn over a new leaf and make my crafting about actually crafting and not just about buying to never make. If I'm honest over the past 12 months, I've spent more time looking at stores and buying crafting supplies than I have actually crafting which is bonkers! Yes its good to get happy post, but not if that happy post will have a long term unhappy effect on our finances. Fingers crossed I can stick to my challenge, I'll try and post things I find or do to save money, avoid spending over the next month, don't forget to share your tips if you have any, thanks for stopping by and happy crafting :)

Friday, 2 March 2018

Eclipse Cards A New Obsession

I hope you're staying in a keeping safe and warm if you're in the UK and gripped by the current winter weather from the 'Beast from the East'? It's currently -3 here, this time yesterday it was -5 so its warming up a little. the bad weather is set to stay for another few days according to the weathermen so its looking like this weeks Young Roboteers session will be cancelled, so I'm going to have some extra crafting time this weekend, which is a good thing, although I have to tidy the room first.

How does it get so messy every time I work on a project? I think its the craft room pixies, they come into the room when I'm not looking and throw everything everywhere, and they hide things, usually the exact stamp or die that I NEED to finish a project which causes chaos when you upturn the room trying to find the missing item, least that's my story and I'm sticking to it lol!

I thought I'd share a coupel of cards from my new found obsession today, which  all started a couple of weeks ago when one of the ladies in my favourite craft group posted a card she'd made using the eclipse technique. Suffice to say almost all of us that are members of the group have now a) become eclipsaholics, and b) invested in a 5cm Alphabet die set lol! I already have a couple of die sets, but they were too small and too thin for this technique, so I picked up a set from China via Ebay.

Not wanting to not be able to start until the full alphabet set arrived, I used the only die that I did have to hand, a HUGS set that was again from China and came inside a double letterbox style frame, the letters are 3cm tall and 2cm wide, the die cuts all 4 letters at once so you don't have to worry about spacing them out, its fabulous for making quick eclipse cards, I've used it to make a couple of quick cards already. For this first rabbit card above, I used an image from a free set of Woodland Animals that Making Cards Magazine provided last year. The images are so cute and they make lovely simple cards.

The rabbits and teddies above were in a free printed papers booklet with an issue of Making Cards last year, when I posted these photos on my facebook page I got lots of lovely comments which I was pleased to receive, but I did feel a little guilty because all I did was use a couple of dies and the toppers and added a bit of ribbon, its the gorgoeus images from making cards that make these cards look so lovely. Of all the card making magazines I much prefer the free papers and downloads that making cards give the readers, moe on that in another post soon.

Just before I finished writing this post my dies arrived from China, so I couldn't resist making another couple of quick cards, I had a few problems lining up the loose letters, but I managed it sort of. I've since thanks to a tip from a crafting lady bought a t-square ruler, waiting for it to arrive from China, so eclipse cards are on hold until it arrives.

I made my own card blank again using the Tonic 'Victorian Frame Layering Die Set', the image was a free paper download from Hunkydory from the 'Shimmering Watercolours Collection'. Note you have to be a member of the club to be able to download the papers, its free to join and you get lots of other benefits. I've seen some fabulous examples of eclipse cards in groups that I belong to on Facebook and on Pinterest, so I'm fueled with lots of ideas and as soon as my t-square arrives I'll be making lots more eclipse cards. Time to go an appease the craft room pixies now, I also need to bake something nice for the weekend, I can't decide on Red Velvet cake or Chocolate Orange Muffins, whatever it is I better do it soon or it'll never get done! Until next time, stay safe and warm and enjoy your crafting :)

Monday, 26 February 2018

DIY Wreath Stamping Template

Hey everyone :) I hope you had a good weekend? Ours was a bit of a mix, Saturday was very busy and Sunday was more relaxed, we had sunshine so I went in to Spring cleaning mode and cleared out of some the cupboards and drawers in the house, its amazing just how much stuff we keep that we don't have a use for or can't remember why we have it?! I had a little crafting time over the weekend, but this was mostly catching up with other crafting friends blogs, doing some prep for a Robot style "Meet, Greet and Craft" session we've been asked to run next month and I caught up with some crafting You Tubers like Jennifer McGuire and Kristina Werner who both give me lots of inspiration.

Late last week we got a bank statement and without going in to too much detail I realised that I couldn't keep spending the amount I have been on crafting goodies, I was going to have to start spending less, using what I have in and finding ways of creating cards and papercraft projects WITHOUT spending more than I have to spend. It doesn't help when so many wonderful products are released every month by all my favourite craft companies, but I really have to learn to resist and adapt.

This weekend I watched Jennifer McGuire demo a new template for helping you create wreaths on cards, something I've tried to do myself but it always ends up looking random and messy and not in a good way lol! The templates are designed by Gina K and if you buy the set then it will cost you $29.95 plus shipping from the USA for the basic set, granted the set comes with a sheet of stamps as well but we're still looking at around £35 for the templates and shipping!

Given that I'm trying not to spend this month and also trying to use the many things I've bought in the past 12 months and not got round to using and stop spending, buying this set is not on the cards at the minute. Whilst I was watching Jennifer using the templates and loving what I was seeing Simon came into the craft room, he asked what I was watching so I told him. I explained I couldn't buy them, but I would save up to get them in the future because I thought they would help me make lots of single layer wreath cards more accurately than when I try to do it myself. A couple of hours later he came back in to the craft room and presented me with a test template he'd 3D printed!

The first one he made is a 3 inch one, he's making me some 4", 5" and 6" versions, after he gave it me, having first saying thank you and wiping away the happy tears, I tested it and it works like a dream. I used a selection of Memento Dewdrop inks off my ink rack, I have so many ink pads that I really don't need to buy any more, not unless one dries up or they do something incredible effect wise. On the first floral card I messed up slightly I didn't make sure that the stamp would be in the right position on the card as you moved it around. It doesn't look that bad, but when I did the second card this morning I made sure that the stamp was in the right position all the way around the card before I started stamping.

Simon said if I want some stencils making with designs we could work on them together, and he'll print them out for me, he's also going to make me some masks, so far I've asked for a star, heart and circle so I can stamp leaving a shape in the middle. He has ideas for making templates that will give more areas for stamping as well.

I didn't realise that he could 3D print so thinly, he's made me lots of things before like the pen pot for my Zig pens, little stands for helping me stand my cards up for photoing and handles for stamps, its lovely when our hobbies can cross over.

I certainly think I could become addicted to making wreath cards and can't wait for Si to complete the other sizes of templates for me. I can see so many different types of wreaths, spring, summer, autumn and winter flowers and colours, snowflakes and lots and lots of paw prints. I coloured the cat with Prismacolor pencils and gamsol, it was a very quick colour, so I think I could make sets of these in next to no time and in lots of different colour combinations, combine them with a little box and I have some gifts for friends and family. I'll do another post when I've used the other size templates as I want to try a few techniques and mediums. I'm off to do some more cupboard sorting now and maybe later stamp some more wreaths. Have a lovely day and thanks for stopping by :)

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Colourful Monsters

Hi everyone, outside the window its bright blue skies and sunshine, but go outside and its blinking freezing, that said I noticed more of the Spring bulbs are pushing their way through the cold, damp soil which must mean that Spring is in sight? Think I'll dig out some Spring and Easter stamps and dies and have a see if I can create something that will encourage the Spring along in the house.

I posted the other day about having a day off and spending it mostly crafting, I went a little nuts printing off things from CD's to use after Si installed a new DVD drive for me. The old one gave up the ghost and refused to even open anymore, apparently the bearings had worn out that allowed the drawer to open. The shiny new one means I can print things off again with a relish.

I have lots of CD's with images for toppers and backing papers, I've been using papers I print off to make cards for a while now, and I love the fact that if the images are not the right size or colour I can take them into Paintshop Pro and tweak them to get the colours I want.

These two cards are a perfect example, the purple distressed background was a free download - and I can't remember from where! - I decided that I wanted to make the same card but using the different monster toppers in colours to compliment both, but the background paper came only in the purple variant.

So I took the image in to my paint program and tweaked the colour, hue and intensity and shifted the colours over from the warm (red/orange/purple) side of the spectrum to the cool (blue/green/white) spectrum, it worked perfectly and looks almost like it was made to match in the beginning.

The monster toppers are from a "Making Cards for Boys" CD that came free with Making Cards Magazine in March 2017, it has over 120 papers (an assortment of backing papers and toppers) and includes the lovely dinosaur set that came free with the magazine last year. Again I made my own card blanks for these two cards, I can't believe I'd not done this before, I've made stepper and easel card bases so its amazing that I didn't, I really have to stop thinking that things are too complicated because each time I try something new, I realise its not as hard as I think it is!

To create these card blanks I used Lavender and Xmas Green centura pearl card stocks and a die from the Tonic Studios Bowscale die set. I cut the toppers and sentiment circles using the Creative Dies Plus Wonky Stitches Nesting Circles Die Set and backing it with a slightly larger circle cut from a plain circle in the same colour centura pearl that I'd used for the card base.

I'm trying harder this year to make more cards that can be given to male recepients, I find when I create without an intent or project in mind that I gravitate towards making cards for female recipients. So when I enter a challenge or I create a random card I'm going to try putting a male slant on the challenge or making cards that can be given to either a male or female recipient.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Altenew Build A Flower - Carnation

Hello out there in blogland, I hope you're all well and the crafters amongst you have been finding time to create and play? We had a fun filled weekend of teaching youngsters about robot making, visiting my adorable neice and nephews and I also managed to fit in some crafting and I'm full of ideas for some other projects that I've made a start on.

I've been waiting to get my hands on the Carnation Build-A-Flower set by Altenew since I first heard it was being released back in January, it took me a while to get hold of it, but when I did I began the process of making lots of flowers and leaves in a variety of colourways. I've used shades of Altenew inks for all the carnations that I've stamped so far, I love Altenew inks because they smooth out over as they dry making the colours more even. I have a very soft spot for carnations because they are my birth flower and because it was another close relative of the Caryophyllaceae (Dianthus) family the Clove Pink that first got my interested in flowers which led to a passion for herbs.

When I was about 6 my Nanna had a vase of clove pinks on her windowsill when I went to visit her, the scent was so heavenly I kept going to smell them, I was smitten, so much so I recall asking my Nanna if I could have the pretty flowers and she wrapped them in paper for me when I was going home. I kept them on my windowsill in my bedroom for as long as they lasted and after first finding out what they were, I then started to find out more about the plants that grew locally, I got interested in growing things and identifying flowers and my love of plants blossomed from then. Now everytime I smell the distinctive perfume of a clove pink or a carnation, it takes me back to my childhood and brings back lovely memories of my Nanna.

The Altenew carnations measure almost 7cm across and 5cm high, the die does leave a white border around the edge of the flower, but I've been using the lightest of the 3 colours of ink I stamp each flower with with a blending foam and colouring the white which I think makes the flower look a little more realistic.

If you have a stamping platform or a MISTI or similar stamping tool its easy to make lots of flowers at once. I cut pieces of card to just bigger than the die cut image will be and then stamp all the bases, switch to the next layer and repeat until all the flowers are complete. I've made lots of flowers and leaves so that I can create a variety of cards, the top card I made my own card blank using the largest die from the Tonic Studios 'Victorian Frame Layering Die Set'. The technique for doing this is so easy, and despite having seen other people do it, I've only recently started doing it myself.

My second card is a simple A6 card blank, layered with some pink card and a white piece that I ran through an embossing folder. I added a die cut white panel that I stamped with one of the sentiments that come with the Carnation set and added some Pink Champagne Nuvo Glitter Drops to finish off the design. I have more cards planned using the carnations, I want to make add some of the other flowers from other Altenew sets and make some floral wreath cards on homemade shaped card blanks. I can paper garden with this colourful and bright 'flowers' whilst I wait for Spring to come along. I wish that the flowers had the same heady fragrance as the real flowers, I'm going to having a play with fragrance oil and see if I can imbue any scent to the die cut flowers without messing up the ink. I'll keep you posted!

Friday, 16 February 2018

Bee Happy Card

It's been another crazy hectic week, but its got round to the weekend and this morning when I should have been cleaning I had an idea and this is the resulting card!

I also sorted out my cardstock now, everything is all in one place, well at least all the A4 stuff is, I couldn't believe how much watercolour card, assorted colours of centura pearl etc I have! At least its easier to get to now and I now know just what I have, I don't need to buy any white card, acetate or vellum for a very long while as well lol! Despite being busy by day, I've managed to pack in a fair bit of crafting this week by night.

Thanks to the lovely ladies on a fab group I belong to over on Facebook, I've become addicted to making Eclipse Cards and this week I got a proper set of alphabet dies, more on those in a post very soon. Back to my Bee Happy card, sadly the lighting in my room is not so brilliant so the gold frame and sentiment aren't standing out as well as I would have liked, but it really does shine :)

I actually made the bee in May last year when I got the die from Hobbycraft its from the Intricut range, I cut it out in black card and then added yellow card behind the body and vellum behind the wings that I'd coated with some clear sparkle pen. The bee sat in my maybe someday box waiting for the right project to come along and although I've nearly used it on a couple of occassions, none of the projects were right, until this morning.

I bought the Sizzix hexagon framelit dies in the 2017 January sales and until today I hadnt used them, this whole card started with the backing paper catching my eye. I'd printed some papers off to use and put them to one side and whilst sorting the craft room out yesterday I came across them again. This one is called Honeycomb and if you're a DoCrafts member you can download it here, if you're not a member, its free to join and there are lots of papers to download and lots of inspiration on the site.

This card is the first time I've made a card blank from 2 pieces of card where I've 'hinged' the back piece with a fold and glued the top piece to the fold to make the card blank, a technique that I learned from the lovely Jennifer Mcguire :) I was so chuffed with how easy it was, I can see me making lots of cards like this in the future, in fact I already have one sketched out in my head for some flowers I've just stamped and cut out.

The flowers and greenery on this card were cut using a Crafters Companion Die'sire set called 'Lace Bloom' and I inked through the die with 'Wild Honey' Distress Ink and finished them off with a small golden orange pearl that I picked up at The Range today. They're from the 'Simply Creative' range, they are 6mm in diameter and have 7 colours in the pack and a total of 372 pearls in the pack. They have larger and smaller sizes as well and are just £1 a pack, I didn't go for them though, I went for the Dovecraft ' Bee Happy' die set for the sentiment for the card, I picked up some lovely pink and blue buttons to add to some baby cards I have planned.

This card was really quick to put together once I'd decided what I wanted to do, I've decided I need to stop over thinking what I'm doing and just go for it, sometimes I spend so much time thinking about what I'm going to make and looking at Pinterest for ideas that my craft time gets eaten and I have nothing to show for it. It's also time to start using things from my stash and bits box and stop stock piling lol! That's all for now, I need to put crafting things away and have some chill time with the hubby, we have a nice chilled weekend planned after tomorrow, the sun is apparently going to shine, I hope it shines on you to and you have a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Creative Stamps - A Lovely Surprise...

Last week I tuned in to the Craftstash Facebook Live as I started to do several weeks ago, they broadcast live every Friday at 10am and they show new products that are unique to Craftstash and they do giveaways, share tips, ideas and lots of inspiration. Whilst I was watching I fell in love with the new range of Creative Stamps background stamps that they were show casing last week and whilst watching I added the four stamps above to my basket ready to check out when I'd finished watching the show.

During the live broadcast the lovely Janette from Craftstash announced a competition to win all 10 background stamps, all you needed to do was write a comment telling the team how you got in to crafting. So I had a go and imagine my surprise when Eleanor picked me as the winner, I was THRILLED, I didn't get round to checking out, I didn't need to, thanks ladies :)

So I waited patiently and my goodies arrived yesterday morning, as soon as I got time I started stamping. I've made 5 cards so far and I've stamped more backgrounds to make lots of cards over the next few days. The stamps are brilliant quality, nice and thick, they stamp like a dream and are A6, dye inks do stain them but that's a sign of a good stamp, they clean up really well.

I love all the stamps, but the bottom row are my favourites and I know that they are going to get a heck of a lot of use over the years. This 'Floral Sketch' stamp is so delicate and has lots of detail but it stamps like a dream, they all do and what you see on the stamp is the image you get.

For this purple and gold card I stamped with Versamark ink and heat embossed with clear embossing powder, then I used Wilted Violet Distress Oxide ink to colour the white card. The flower came from my stash and was made from craft foam that I got from the kids crafting section, I did a post about making those a while back (Creating Craft Foam Flowers).

The leaves were die cut from card and I'm proud of my Hello sentiment, because its made from offcuts and recycled Christmas cards! I'll do a post on that soon, but I have lots of sentiment toppers ready to go to put on cards. Having elements like that and fab background stamps means you can put together a card in no time at all.

The Rainbow card in the main photo that I also made with the 'Floral Sketch' stamp was done in the same way, except I used Distress Inks to create a rainbow background (Salty Ocean, Twisted Citron. Mustard Seed, Spiced Marmalade and Candied Apple). I trimmed the stamped and inked panel down and stuck it to the front of an A6 card blank and all I added was a simple stamped sentiment panel using a die from another fab product from Craft Stash they brought out the Wonky Stitches Collection last year and I love them. In these cards I've used dies from the Nesting Rectangles, Circles and Ovals, I also have the Squares and  the Stitched Borders.

This card again was really quick to put together, I used Distress Inks again on the 'Watercolour Wash' stamp stamping the top first with Wilted Violet, then Picked Raspberry and the final layer I used Spiced Marmalade, at the end I ended up with a super wash effect on my card, something I'm not very good at doing by hand, I can now achieve with a stamp WHOOO HOOO!

The cute purple monster comes from the Monster Madness set that Si got me for Christmas, sentiment is from the same set and I added them both with 3D foam squares to give a little dimension. I coloured the monster with my Zig Clean Color Brush markers and added a dab of Tonic Nuvo Crystal Drops in Ebony Black.

The 'Woodgrain Planks' stamp is going to be such a useful stamp, I love making cards with a nature vibe to them and this background stamp is going to make it so easy to create my own wood effect backgrounds. This panel came together so simply like the others, I stamped the image in Caramel Hero Arts Hybrid Ink (a pigment and dye fusion).

I then die cut the panel with the largest Wonky Stitches Nesting Rectangles die and used Tea Dye Distress Ink to colour the white card. The pots with herbs in, I made a while back using my Sheena Douglass Perfect Partners Home Life 'Herb Garden' set, the herbs and pots were also coloured with Distress Inks, you can find out more via the link Herbaholic By Name.

Again the pots were in my Maybe Someday box, I love making extra elements when I'm playing and I leave them waiting for the right project to come along in the future. This card was finished with another Wonky Stitches panel, the sentiment was a freebie but I can't remember which magazine off the top of my head.

The final card I want to share for now is one I used the 'Brushstroke' background stamp on, I stamped the image 6 times, each time adding a new colour, I used my Zig pens to create a bright bold rainbow effect, and I think it came out fabulously.

Again I've tried using an actual brush to create a brushstroke effect and failed epically, but this stamped makes it really easy. I want to play with this stamp with other mediums and add some water to the mix to see what I end up with and also want to use shades of one colour to make an Ombre effect. The Unicorn and sentiment are from a Neat & Tangled set called 'Magical Day' and the unicorn was another image from my maybe Someday box. I used most of the same colours of Zig pens to colour the unicorn so the image and the background stamp worked well together.

If you fancy expanding your stash and want to get some background stamps that will enable you make some super quick cards then I highly recommend the stamps from the Background Collection, and at only £4.99 not only are they are affordable, but they are superb quality and give amazing results. I'm hoping they will expand the range to include some more florals, autumn and maybe some animal/cat backgrounds. That's all from me for now, I'm off to play with the other stamps I haven't used yet. Happy crafting!