happy birthday♥ – SSS Wednesday Challenge

I send out a lot of birthday cards.  I only send out more thinking of you (random purpose) cards.  I needed a couple more cards this week.  Since I was going to sit down and make some cards, I checked the challenge sites first.

Simon Says Stamp Wednesday Challenge is a color palette challenge.  Be still my heart.  Seriously.  This color and pattern combination is my favoritest favorite currently.

And this stamp.  How had I not noticed until today that happy birthday ended with a ♥.  Really?  Too cute.

IMG_4232 IMG_4231Supplies:  Canson (watercolor paper), Distress Ink (tumbled glass), SSS (white embossing powder, stamp), Avery Elle (dies), Crate Paper (paper), misc (cardstock & foam adhesive)

You Card for SSS Monday Challenge

I’ve really been enjoying stamping my own background patterns.  I know.  I’m as shocked as you are.  It’s inky.  It’s multi-step.  It’s not white space.  Yeah.  I know.

But I do find it to be a very fulfilling task – looking at the completed project and thinking I made that!

I made this card for the Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge.  The challenge was X, Y, Z.  Create a card with something, somehow related to these letters.  While I could have done a zipper, or an x-ray, I don’t have any of these things.  Besides the first thing that came to mind was Y, YOU.

This was one of the first stamp sets I bought when I crossed over to cardmaking a year ago.  I haven’t really used it much.  After today, I think I’ll break it out a lot more.  This was a very fun use.

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Supplies:  Neenah (cardstock), Misc (sequin), Paper Studio (rhinestones), Simon Says Stamp (stamp), Memento (inks – cardstocks colored to match with inks), Paper Smooches (oval die), Avery Elle (die)

Hello – Watercolored Card

I’m not artistic.  I can’t pick up a paint brush and paint a picture.  As much as I’d like to be able to, and I have tried, I can’t.  I don’t force it because there are other things I can do, and enjoy.  For a long time, I didn’t even try to color or do anything.  Then I tried watercolors and found that it is a great medium for me.  It doesn’t require perfection.  Perfect!

I found this stamp from Unity on sale for a great price and thought it would be a great image to watercolor.

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I wanted to do some foiling, but I don’t have a laser printer, and I haven’t been into town yet to have some black sheets printed.  But I thought it would be a great way to add foil and dimension by cutting a piece of foam and running it through my xyron.  (Actually, I put a piece of foam through the xyron, then foiled it, then cut it).  The Decofoil works great with the edge to edge xyron.  Just make sure you burnish it on pretty good without scratching or ripping it.

Supplies:  Unity stamp, Distress inks (sea glass, cracked pistachio, abandoned coral, fossilized amber, weathered wood), Staz-on ink, Canson watercolor paper, Neenah cardstock, Bazzill cardstock, Thermoweb decofoil (gold), Xyron, craft foam, Papertrey Ink (wet brush die)

Yay! Card {and Card Photography Trick}

My nephew is graduating High School in a couple weeks.  This is a picture of my sister’s pride and joy.  {to protect the innocent, I have blurred his face}.

IMG_3923Yes, he is wearing a suit of armor made entirely of pillows and bed sheets.  Apparently a 10 year old cousin with a single shot nerf dart gun demands this fancy get-up.  Yeah.  This happened.  Don’t ask.  That’s all I can say with a straight face.

Anywhoo…I needed a graduation card for him.  Although, a ticket to the looney bin may possibly be more appropriate.  At any rate, all of my congratulations stamps are girly.  And while I have given he and his brother $20 in pennies, or a child’s coloring book for Christmas a few years ago {money enclosed, of course}, I didn’t think a girly card was an appropriate joke for a graduation.

Enter Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge.  Use a Simon Says Stamp product.  Easy peasy!  I have a collection of stamps {previously mentioned girly congratulations stamps}.  But I pulled out a recent monthly kit birthday stamp set and used the Yay! sentiment.  With the help of the brilliant tool called MISTI, I whipped out this card.

IMG_4084Now, here I confess.  I tried to foil one of the YAY! sentiments.  I used an opal foil, so as to give it a metallic color, but not be opaque.  It looks pretty neat.  But I had intended for it to be the focal point.  Of which, it wasn’t.  So I had to tear my card apart and add something more to it.  I don’t normally do this, I usually live by the done is better than perfect motto.  But this one, I couldn’t let it go.

And I’m delighted I took it one step farther adding the “let’s celebrate” banner.

Here is a close up of the foiling.

IMG_4083Supplies:  Simon Says Stamp (sentiment stamps), Ranger ink (because all my SSS inks were girly colored! – I have a problem, I tell you….), MME (enamel dots)

And now for my solution to photographing cards…..

There are a million and a half ways to photograph a card.  It seems there best way to decide how to set up your system is depending on your budget.  Me, I’m a cheapskate.  I’m not going to spend money if I already have something that will work.

Enter my laptop, a roll of white paper and a window.  Yup.  Easy.

I have this roll of white art paper by Melissa & Doug (any white or butcher paper would work).  I place my laptop at an angle to my source of natural light.  Place the unrolled paper over the screen and keyboard of my laptop and set the card on the keyboard.  I make any slight movements that may be needed to reduce shadows.  Viola!  Cheap card photography studio.

IMG_4085After taking the photo, I make any lighting (brightness and warmth) adjustments to my RAW file in Photoshop Elements, add my watermark and save.  It’s the fastest method I’ve found, partly because I don’t have a space to keep a permanent “studio” set up for photography.

Masculine Card

We always tease our son because he is a wealth of useless knowledge.  But I can’t fault him much, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  I’m the same way, and I think I learned the trait from my Dad.  Today, I’m going to share some useless knowledge with you.  Just because I want to.

  • Americans purchase approximately 6.5 billion greeting cards each year. Annual retail sales of greeting cards are estimated between $7 and $8 billion.
  • It is estimated that 80% of these cards purchases are made by women.
  • Every year, Most people now acknowledge many more birthdays than ever before because of Facebook, but they aren’t necessarily sending fewer cards as a result. (I find this one interesting, as many other industries have taken a hit due to digital accessibility (print magazines, print newspapers)).

Did you catch the 80% bought by women part?  Yeah, it honestly doesn’t surprise me in the least, as women tend to be more wordy and such.  I’ve always had a hard time finding masculine cards I liked.  And I can’t help but wonder if it’s because of women are majority of the customer base.  I don’t subscribe to the idea that there are no differences between men and women.  Nope, nope.  So following the reasoning, it would make sense that it’s easier to find a feminine card than masculine (I think many masculine cards are still a bit feminine).

Along those lines, I always struggle making masculine cards.  Which is something I find a little ironic, because I really like simple cards.  Often masculine is (can be) simple as well.  But for some reason, I’m not good at mixing the two.

Well, this week we needed a card for a guy who we work with in a professional relationship.  He is by far the best person we have to deal with at his job, so we wanted to express our appreciation.

I have several Father’s Day stamps, but I don’t have any masculine, non-holiday sets.  But I pulled out an anchor from this Stampin Up Guy Greetings set and decided to watercolor it.  I find watercoloring to be the most relaxing way of coloring an image.  It’s all a matter of personal preference though.

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Supplies:  Bazzill cardstock, Stampin Up (Guy Greetings stamp), Tim Holtz distress inks, Canson watercolor paper, Papertrey Ink (sentiment stamp), Simon Says Stamp stitched rectangle dies

SSS Monday Challenge – Don’t Abandon the Coral

Yesterday I was given a new stamp by Unity Stamps.  It was this giant heart cluster.  Well, giant is relative, but compared to most of the stamps I have, I consider it giant.

So last night when I had some free time to make a couple cards, I pulled up the Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge to use the new distress ink color Abandoned Coral.  I knew immediately that I wanted to use the ink with the heart collage stamp and use it to watercolor the insides of the collage.  Distress ink sure has some great properties for techniques!

I pulled out my old Wink of Stella brush.  That little gizmo is my favorite!  (gizmo doesn’t sound proper when speaking of an item with a feminine name?)  I have several of them because when one is used up, I don’t discard it.  I purchase a new brush to use for items which will not bleed onto the tip, and I refill with water the old one.  There is enough shimmer left clinging to the inside of the chamber for at least one refill, but likely more.  Additionally, it’s my favorite water brush of all that I’ve tried (I’m too cheap to buy the expensive ones), so even if there is no shimmer, I find it’s a great water brush.  I then use the refilled brushes for anything that could potentially contaminate the brush or chamber.  (I’ve had issues of my water brushes sucking up the wetted ink and contaminating the chamber, however, Wink of Stella doesn’t seem to do this!  Which is why I say it’s the best water brush of those I’ve used).

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With the help of MISTI, I was able to whip out 5 of these cards in a little more than a half hour.  I didn’t have the correct color of cardstock (my selection is really rather limited), so I used the ink to color the card base.  Viola! It worked perfectly.

Supplies:  Neenah Index paper, Canson watercolor paper, Tim Holtz Distress Ink (Abandoned Coral), Unity Stamp, Simon Says Stamp (sentiment), Memento Brilliance Starlite Silver, misc (bling), Wink of Stella brush

Make It Monday with PTI #220

I learned a long time ago to never say never.  I learned this the hard way, through various things, when I had to eat crow and do the things I said I’d never do.  (Like drive a 1980 Volvo – don’t ask, really.)   I’ve also learned there are many things in life that we just can’t control.  In addition to that, as we change, age and grow, our tastes changes.  What is important is different.  What we like can be different.

Today, I’m sharing a card in which I did three things that I’m a bit surprised I like.  I can’t say I said I’d never, but I know for certain I’ve said I wasn’t likely to….

This card was made for the Papertrey Ink Make It Monday #220 challenge.  This is another one of those things I didn’t expect, although I can’t say I’m surprised.  I’ve loved their dies and stamps for years, although I’d had a very limited collection.  But as I’ve been making so many cards lately, I decided to invest in their inks as well.  Like ’em, yup, they’re my favorite, I’m pretty certain.  I haven’t made a 100% complete decision, but it’s definitely leaning that way.  (I’ll probably share more about that at a later time).

Enough rambling, on to the card in which I share the nevers (or almost nevers).  The challenge was to use a piece of vellum to tone down a bold background.  While my background was especially bold, I thought softening it would be fun anyway.  So, the nevers:

1)  Stamping my own background – I always thought this was way too time consuming.  Yes, it did take a few minutes, but it was worth it.  I’ve also found having several small blocks helps make it quicker, as I don’t have to mount, clean and unmount repeatedly.

2)  Use Vellum!  After all, vellum is so 1990s and old school!  Until probably 8 months ago, I didn’t even any vellum in my stash.  And use it?  No, not so much.  But, I’ve come to like it.  I really like the Papertrey Ink vellum, it’s a great weight, and affordable.

3)  Coral & mint.  Yeah, that’s a color combo I thought I’d never get on board with.  It goes back to the early 90s.  My sister was getting married and peach and turquoise were her colors.  They had to be exact!  By the time the wedding was over, I was sick to death of peach and turquoise.  The wedding was beautiful, but I wouldn’t have minded if I never saw the color again.  So much so that when I chose my wedding colors about seven years later, I intentionally choose colors that I liked but I would be totally fine with if I was sick of them after the wedding.  While I know coral and mint isn’t quite the same, it’s close enough that I thought I’d never, ever purposefully use those colors together.  Okay, so this is one that I may have actually said never on.

Now that I’ve rambled on, let’s look at the card, which I happen to be thrilled with!

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I also did a fun new technique that ended up being different than I intended, but is really neat!  I used this technique from Jennifer McGuire to use stamps and foil.   But thinking I could make it work a bit better, I did two layers of embossing powder on the die cut.  Well, it didn’t help foil better, but it gave it a really cool outline!

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upplies:  Neenah cardstock, Papertrey Ink (Graceful Greetings stamp, Ripe Avocado, Ocean Tides, Aqua Mist, Melon Berry, Sweet Blush, Berry Sorbet, vellum, wet paint die), Bazzill cardstock, Minc foil

Simon Says Stamp – Monday Challenge

Two anything goes challenges in one week!  How does that rate!  Fun, since I saw a card made by Kristina Werner that I wanted to lift, with my own take.

I didn’t have any flowers sets that I liked that would work, so I pulled out the Sending Happy Thoughts set.  I am embarrassed to say I have used that set much less than I thought I would, so it needed some attention.

And of course, I used pigment inks, then forgot I did so.  Urgh…So my ink blending was kinda muddy since the pigment inks hadn’t dried (and probably still aren’t dry three days later LOL, but they were so vibrant and happy!)

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Supplies:  Neenah cardstock, Simon Says Stamp (stamp and fog ink), Avery Elle pigment inks

MFT Sketch 226 Challenge

When it comes to sketches I can’t decide if I’m horribly boring or compliant to a fault.  I rarely take a sketch and modify it.  Nope, I’m pretty much a what-you-see-is-what-you-get type of girl when it comes to sketches.  And I’m per.fect.ly okay with that.

Enter the sketch for My Favorite Things Card Challenges for the week, sketch 226.

IMG_4074I didn’t embellish much, just left it clean and simple.  I used my MFT Cooper Alpha set to stamp the hi.

Supplies:  Simon Says Stamp (dies & heart stamp – Sending & Wishing), Neenah Index cardstock, Stampin Up Crisp Cantaloupe ink

Simon Says Wednesday Challenge – Anything Goes

I’ve been out of the challenge blogs for a few weeks.  We took vacation and then it was really hard to get back into my routine!  So when I logged in to see that Simon Says Stamp Wednesday blog had an “Anything Goes” challenge I thought that was very helpful to get back into the groove.

I made this card for my kids.  I made a pink one for my daughter as well, but it was slightly wonky, so I’m not sharing it.  I was delighted that with some patience, I was able to use my Spectrum Noir markers.  Of course, I think it helped that I finally used a smooth cardstock.  Yeah, I was ready to chuck the silly things out the window!

 IMG_4066      Supplies:  Neenah Index cardstock, Bazzill cardstock, Simon Says Stamp (balloon stamp, circle dies, Love you stamp), My Mind’s Eye (twine), Spectrum Noir markers, Glossy Accents