Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Paper Players Challenges

I have so many challenges that I like to play, that I been ignoring other challenges.  But one particular challenge kept calling my name because I loved the participant cards that I was seeing.  I finally went over and checked them out - and it's a wonderful place!!

The blog is The Paper Players.  Their monthly schedule of challenges is:
Week One: Theme Challenge
Week Two: Colour Challenge
Week Three: Clean and Simple Challenge
Week Four: Sketch Challenge
Week Five: Anything Goes
I like the variety of challenges, but what I really like are the design team cards and the participant cards - they are totally my style!!  I read their entire blog because I kept finding cards to CASE and other fun ideas!  So even if you are not a challenge player - you can get great ideas from this site.
This week's challenge is a sketch and here is my card:

I was playing at a friend's house yesterday and pulled out this Stampin' Up set called Happiness Shared.  I had never noticed it in the catalog.  It's a sweet image, but I really didn't know it was there.  I always laugh at myself when a new catalog comes out because a chunk of my order always includes stamps that were actually in the old catalog.  For one reason or the other, I never noticed them, but the new catalog has them placed differently or has great samples - and now they pop out at me. 

This next card is an example of finding fun ideas on this challenge site.  A winner from their most recent clean and simple challenge included a very unique use of a border punch that I have used on this card:

It's so easy to do and I love that woven look. You can find instructions for this technique at Linda's Stampin Loft
FYI: I am NOT good at random.  I tried a number of times to place the flowers on this card randomly but still looking clean and balanced.  I could not do it.  So I browsed my files to get ideas.  The "random" placement of these flowers is a CASE from a card by Kay at Stamping to Share.
Happiness Shared:
  • Stamps: Stampin' Up Happiness Shared, Teeny Tiny Wishes
  • Ink: Staz-on Black, Stampin' Up Pink Pirouette, Pretty in Pink, Pear Pizzazz and Old Olive
  • Paper: Stampin' Up Crumb Cake, Blushing Bride CS and dsp, Black
  • Accessories: Stampin' Up Oval and Scalloped Oval punches, Martha Stewart border punch
Celebrate You:
  • Stamps: Stampin' Up Awash with Flowers, Papertrey sentiment from Take 3 Summer
  • Ink: Stampin' Up Regal Rose, Peach Parfait, Rose Red, So Saffron, Wild Wasabi
  • Paper: Stampin' Up Regal Rose, dsp scrap unknown
  • Accessories: Stampin' Up Rose Grosgrain, border punch, gems

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Chasing Butterflies...

Today's card is just a basic following of the sketch challenge at SplitCoast stampers.  I didn't do anything fun or unique because I wanted this darling stamp to be the star!

This stamp comes from a cute set by There She Goes.  I actually got it because of a darling image that shows a big pudgy bear lounged out in a hammock.  I'm thinking there is Father's Day potential here - big belly, napping - at least it works in my house!  (Sorry, honey, just want to see if you are still reading my blog!)

If you are interested in the double-bow and other tips and tools about bows, check out this post.

  • Stamps: There She Goes Back in 10
  • Ink: Memento Rich Cocoa, copics
  • Paper: Stampin' Up Barely Banana, Chocolate Chip, Spring Flowers dsp
  • Accessories: Stampin' Up Cream Grosgrain, EK Success border punch

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I {heart} sketches (and colors)

My card for today is a combination of the sweet and gentle color choices for the Splitcoast Color Challenge and the monthly sketch from i{heart]2stamp

I am loving the double-bow look - check out this post for five tips and tools to help make bows - including a fun tool to easily create these double bows!

  • Stamps: Stampin' Up Asian Artistry
  • Inks: Stampin' Up markers in Celery and Marina
  • Paper: Stampin' Up Marina, Celery dsp (last year's dsp), Green Tea dsp
  • Accessories: Stampin' Up Embossing folder, border punch and Marina taffeta
  • Challenges: Splitcoast Color Challenge and i{heart}sketches (links above)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Cut Up Your Sentiment

Today's Splitcoast Clean and Simple challenge is to cut up the sentiment. 

Because the sentiment was in pieces, I thought it would coordinate best with something else in "pieces" as in the three cut-out balloons.  I looked through current color challenges and found one with the most festive colors.  Then to keep it clean and simple, I just added some simple embossing.

  • Stamps: Stampin' Up Party This Way
  • Ink: Stampin' Up Pumpkin, Marina, Olive
  • Paper: Stampin' Up Pumpkin, Crumb Cake
  • Accessories: Quickutz Label Embossing Folder, Crochet thread
  • Challenges: Splitcoast Clean and Simple and Color Throwdown

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Less Is More: Sketch

The sketch for the Less Is More challenge came out on Saturday morning and I had this card made within 15 minutes.  Then I started second guessing myself on its total simplicity and i tried different colors, branches, ribbons, embossing etc.  But I kept coming back to this original card and realized that it displayed sympathy best without any other embellishments.

This is my third post today so be sure to keep reading...
  • Stamps: Bird from Memory Box clear set, sentiment unknown
  • Ink: Papertrey Fresh Snow (on edges), Stampin' Up Not Quite Navy
  • Paper: Papertrey Fine Linen, Stampin' Up Mellow Moss
  • Accessories: Tattered Angels Pearl Glimmer Mist, Sizzix die, circle punch
  • Challenges: Less Is More sketch

Wax Fruit Free Crocus

I finally got a chance to do some browsing on the Crafter's Digital Art Center (CDAC).  It's a website that is the home to around 100 digital companies.  I stumbled on it because I have fallen in love with digis by Wax Fruit Company and I knew that they were part of the CDAC.  As luck would have it, Wax Fruit is hosting a sketch challenge and has a free crocus image if you would like to use it on the sketch!!  This is the link to the sketch and the freebie - but I don't know if it will work for you because you do have to sign-up at this site - no obligations or fee - you just need to sign up!

You can see other images by Wax Fruit by clicking on the appropriate label on the left column of my blog.

I have been working with pastels all week doing Easter cards.  Pastels are NOT my favorite.  So I really wanted to do something different with this crocus image.  I just got a new pad of DCWV paper on sale at Michaels - it's called Playtime, but don't let the name fool you.  It's full of gorgeous kraft-based prints.  I had to dig deep into my cardstock stores to find matching paper, but I do like the final result.  Recipe at the bottom of the post.

On a totally different subject, I need to tell you a true miracle story from this week.  On Thursday, 8,000 people in my small town were evacuated due an uncontained wildfire.  (It is truly a bad sign that it is only March and the area around Denver has already experienced four wildfires.)  The fire was south of a particular road and was in an open grassy area, full of ranchland, etc.  But it was threatening to jump the road and move to the north due to VERY high winds. The great fear was that immediately north of the road was a middle school, a high school and a heavily populated area set in a beautiful wooded area (the subdivisions are called The Timbers and The Pinery and those names are very appropriate!). 

We are a few miles to the north of the evacuation area so we weren't particularly scared, but we were glued to the television all afternoon - in one particularly tough scene there was a horse and some goats in a panic with the fire going along the edge of their fenced in area.  The entire newsroom and my family cheered when a helicopter flew over and dropped water!!

The forecast was for high winds for the next 24 hours - the weather people were absolutely certain of this.  But, a total miracle occurred - the winds dropped off and then shifted direction.  Our weather people were dumbfounded.  The fire ended up only burning 1,600 acres and not a single building was damaged.

I knew this was amazing, but on Saturday I was at my son's lacrosse game which is next to the middle school that was threatened.  I couldn't believe my eyes.  I am standing at the middle school taking this picture - immediately behind me is the forested area.  Look how close the fire came to the populated area.  LOOK how close it came to the houses on the ridge!!

Thanks to all the firefighters and PRAISE GOD for His intervention against this potentially catastrophic fire!

Wax Fruit Crocus:
  • Stamps:  Wax Fruit Company crocus digi
  • Ink: copics
  • Paper: Papertrey Ocean Tides, Stampin' Up Crushed Curry, Old Olive, DCWV Playtime stack
  • Accessories: Stampin' Up Crumb Cake taffeta and buttons, Tattered Angels Pearl Glimmer Mist, Cuttlebug Embossing Folder

Skate On, Bday Dude!

Today's Splitcoast Featured Stamper has a darling gallery just full of cards using Magnolia, Stampavie, Greeting Farm and Sugar Nellie stamps! 

My first inspiration from Elaine was simply to pull out some of these fun stamps.  I don't have a huge collection, but they are so much fun to color!

Then I fell in love with the layout and rich colors on this card.

Here's my CASEd card - I changed the image, colors and shape of the card.

The timing of this challenge was perfect.  While I was busily catching up on Sympathy and Easter cards for our church ministry - somebody really needed kids cards because that section of our card racks was totally emptied out!!  I think I am going to have to do some more browsing in the Featured Stampers gallery today because it is FULL of great ideas!!

  • Stamps: The Greeting Farm, Papertrey Fillable Frames 7 (sentiment)
  • Ink: Memento black, copics, Stampin' Up Night of Navy (sentiment)
  • Paper: Stampin' Up Night of Navy, Confetti Tan, Studio 8 Paper Company dsp
  • Accessories: Stampin' Up round tab punch, Metal Stickers Nailheads

Friday, March 25, 2011

March Papertrey Blog Hop

I am on such a roll right now - this is my third post in the last 12 hours!!  If you keep reading, one of those posts goes over 5 different tips and tools to tie bows!!  I've been promising that post for a month and I am just thrilled that I finally got it up!

For this post...I am playing along with the March Papertrey Blog Hop.  The theme was to use embroidery floss in a unique way.  I'm not sure that stringing five different colors of floss across the front of my card is particularly "unique", but the card makes me smile anyway!!

Be sure to hop over to Papertrey's Capture the Moment to see all the fun creations!
  • Stamps: Papertrey Bird Watching and Bird Watching Additions
  • Ink: Papertrey Dark Chocolate and misc inks to coordinate with Papertrey's Lavender Moon and Spring Rain
  • Paper: Papertrey Lavender Moon
  • Accessories: Papertrey Scallop Border die, Posh Impressions Music Notes punch, misc embroidering floss.

Sun-Inspired Easter

This morning's Splitcoast Free For All challenge is to be inspired by the sun.  There is nothing more inspirational than the sun/son scene in this image.

I am in the middle of making Easter cards for our church cardmaking ministry.  It is a wonderful time for cards as each is so very inspirational.  Check out my post from last night for five other Easter cards.
  • Stamps: Wax Fruit Company digi
  • Ink: copics
  • Paper: Stampin' Up Pear Pizzazz, Regal Rose
  • Accessories: Stampin' Up dot embossing folder, ribbon punch, Smooch Pearlescent Top Coat, Nestabilities Label 5
  • Challenges: Splitcoast Free4All: Sun and Color Challenge: Pear, Rose, Saffron

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Friday Focus: Bows's a love/hate thing.  So often, a bow is the perfect finishing touch on a card.  But I know that my group of church cardmakers run the other way from cards with bows.  There are very few people out there who feel that they can make a perfect bow. 

But there are so many ways to do it - and so many tools available to help - here are just a few ways that I do it. 

Your "bow" doesn't actually have to be a "bow".  Sometimes a simple knot serves the purpose.

All the focus on this card is on the cross - the layers around it are minimal - so I just used a quick "knot".

I have resolved with my Friday Focus posts to not assume anything.  I can't tell you how many times I have been crafting with others - they do something in their usual way - and I look at them in astonishment because their "usual" way had never occurred to me.  It seems that even with the basics, we all have things to learn.  So, here is basic knot-tying (with a tip as to how to make these bows go different ways!)

Cut a piece of ribbon slightly longer
than the piece it is going around.

Wrap each end around to the back
and adhere with a piece of tape.

Cut another piece of ribbon and start
your knot. Tie the first part of the knot.
Realize that for a knot, you do the
same "twist" twice.  For the first
"twist", tie the knot in the way
that is comfortable for you (as if you
were tying your shoe). 
To get the "bow" to lie this way, do
your second twist in the "uncomfortable"
way.  (I know this type of knot has an
actual name - I just prefer to think
comfortable/uncomfortable).  For
me, comfort is the right loop up and over
and then back under the left.  Bringing
the left side up and over is awkward.

If you would rather the "bow" lays
along your ribbon this way, just
do both "twists" in the way that
is comfortable for you - like
you are knotting a shoe.

BUT - before you do this, check
out the next tutorial on the
"cheater's bow".
In fairness, I have to tell you that with thick ribbon, tying a knot can often get quite bulky.  If you have a good adhesive, just tie a single "twist" in that second piece of ribbon (not the two twists that comprise a knot).  Pick the good side of your knot, apply adhesive to the other side (Zip Dry is my favorite) and glue it on!

This is a quick and easy way to get the "bow" that lies in the same direction as the ribbon (see last picture above).  We use this A LOT in our church cardmaking group because it is so very simple and doesn't scare people like bows do.

FYI: the pearls match perfectly IRL!

Cut a piece of ribbon longer than
the panel - don't skimp on this piece
because you will be tying part
of a knot in it so you need some
extra length.

Tie the first part of a knot - leave it loose.

Thread a small piece of ribbon through
the knot before you pull it tight.
(The kraft ribbon is just so you can see it)

Pull it tight.  Trim it. So very easy!
You can manipulate it at this point, e.g.
if you want it at a jaunty angle, you can
pull on the top part on one side and the
bottom on the other side.

Wrap the ends around the back
of the panel and tape them.

Bunny Ears Bow:
Now it's time to get into actual bows.  To be honest, this is the first time that I have used this type of bow (I hope it doesn't show!).  But at our last church cardmaking gathering, I was demonstrating the Bow-Easy and a couple of ladies said they could tie perfect bows without a Bow-Easy.  Huh??  I'd never heard of anyone casually saying they could tie bows.  It turns out they simply used that child's method - the bunny ears bow.  It works!

Make two loops from your ribbon.

Cross over like you are starting to
tie your shoe.

Finish the simple knot.
When you pull the bow, don't
worry that it gets really big - you
can always pull the ends and
shrink it again.

For my finished card (see first photo in this section),
I took the ends of the bow around back for a different
look.  You could just as easily trim the ends and
adhere the bow as above.

TOOL #1: Magic Bow Maker
I recently stumbled on this tool while reading blogs.  Lee at Stampingleeyours sells them through her blog.  Here's the tool:

I have seen people rig their own version of this tool.  I recently saw a picture of someone who used two pencils, rubber bands and a mesh paper holder.  But Lee's tool is quite reasonably priced and it has two huge advantages: (1) you can easily change the size of the bow by simply moving the pegs and (2) she has a really nice pictorial tutorial that comes with it.

One thing that I particularly like about Lee's tool is the ease of making double bows. It's a nice, unique touch on this simple card.
I am walking a fine line here as I don't want to steal from Lee's instructions as the instructions are part of her product, yet I also want you to realize how simple the tool is to use.  So I am going to give a basic overview, but realize that her instructions go over this in explicit detail - so if mine doesn't make sense, don't fault hers!!

I am also concerned about my instructions, because one of the major pros of this product is that I find it more intuitive than the next product that I am going over - the Bow-Easy.  So, if my instructions don't seem intuitive to you - please realize that Lee's will!

Place the pegs the appropriate
distance apart.  Wrap the ribbon
around the pegs.  In this case,
I wrapped twice, but you can
do a regular bow or even wrap
more times!

Wrap the center of the bow by
bringing one side down, to the back...
...and over the top to the front.

Then simply tie the two ends together.

Here it is from the front.  Just lift it
off the top of the pegs and adhere
it to your card.

TOOL #2: Bow-Easy
The Bow-Easy is a very popular tool right now.  I purchased mine a year or so ago from an E-Bay seller that sells nothing but Bow-Easy's.  But if you do a Google search you will find that many, many on-line stores now carry it.

I have gotten used to using and find it a VERY handy tool.  However, it is not particularly intuitive.  When I take it to my monthly church cardmaking gatherings, I have to re-teach it each month.  So if you don't make many bows, you may not find this at all easy to remember and do.

You need two "arms" to make a bow.  See the upper left of the picture below - those two pegs make a bow.  Then see the upper right part.  There is a big bow you can make - but one of the arms is split into two other "arms" - you can use those to make a smaller bow.  So, by using space effectively, you can make seven different sized bows with this one tool.  (FYI: There is a bigger bow-easy that makes larger bows particularly for wreaths and flower arrangements.)

I'm going to do my best with instructions here - but if you have a new Bow-Easy and want instructions, I would highly recommend you go to YouTube and find a video of the process - it's much easier to see!

Hold the end of the ribbon on the left
side of the two arms that are the
right size for your bow.

Loop your ribbon around the
two arms.  I don't cut the ribbon until
this point - I cut it just beyond the

Take the part of the ribbon that the
previous picture shows dangling
to the right - and poke it down the
crease between the two arms.

Pull it around the back-side and up
again through the crease.
This may seem complicated, but
the next picture shows what you
have accomplished...

This is the backside of what you
have just done.  By pulling the ribbon
through the crease and around, you
have formed your bow!

Now we need to anchor the ribbon.
You would think that you need a
leg of the bow pointing down
and to the right as shown above.
But for a brief moment, you have
to suspend logic.  Instead of
going down and to the right,
you do exactly the opposite...

Pull your ribbon to the LEFT side
from the bottom to the TOP, so
it's headed totally the wrong way!!
Don't pull it tight.  See the loop that
is formed.  Guess what happens
when you now pull the ribbon through
that loop....

It's headed the right way!

Pull the bow tight BEFORE you
take it off the Bow-Easy.  This is
NOT a normal bow and you will
not be able to tighten it once
you pull it off the Bow-Easy.

FYI: I have seen it mentioned that the Bow-Easy is a problem if you have ribbon printed on one side.  If you wrap the loops so that the print is appropriate on the outside, the legs of the bow are actually backwards.  I haven't found this to be a problem - just before you pull it tight, flip the legs over to the correct side.  When you pull it tight, they stay where they belong!

If you have made it all the way through this post, I do hope you have found at least one useful tip or tool.  As I said at the very beginning - bows are a love/hate thing.  We all love them on our cards, but most of us HATE doing them.  Hopefully this post will help turn you into a bow-lover!

Lemon/Aqua/Kraft Cross:
  • Stamps: Sweet 'n Sassy digi
  • Ink: copics
  • Paper: Papertrey Kraft, Lemon Tart, Everyday Blessings dsp
  • Accessories: Stampin' Up white taffeta and scallop border punch
  • Challenges: the sweetest thing Sweet Sunday Sketch Challenge (turned sideways)

Sweet Kraft and Pink Bunny:
  • Stamps: Ichiyo bunny (I have no idea where I got this), Papertrey Tags for Spring sentiment
  • Ink: Stampin' Up Crumb Cake, a light pink copic
  • Paper: Stampin' Up Crumb Cake, Pink Pirouette
  • Accessories: EK Success corner punch, Stampin' Up Pretty in Pink Taffetta and embossing folder, Michaels brand pearl flourish

Three Crosses:
  • Stamps: DRS Designs (crosses), Our Craft Lounge Prayers and Blessing (sentiment)
  • Ink: Stampin' Up Elegant Eggplant
  • Paper: Stampin' Up Elegant Eggplant, Certainly Celery
  • Accessories: Offray ribbon, Stampin' Up embossing folders, Stampin' Up gems colored with copics
  • Challenges: clean&simple Fall To Layout and Pals Paper Arts: Embossing

Calla Lillies Easter:
  • Stamps: Calla Lillies digi from Wax Fruit Company
  • Ink: copics
  • Paper: Stampin' Up Pear Pizzazz, black, Bazzill white
  • Accessories: Stampin' Up Rose Grosgrain, Magic Bow Maker

Springtime Vintage Cross:
  • Stamps: Verve Everlasting Life (cross), sentiment unknown  (FYI: the Verve set has spectacular sentiments - they were just all too big for the circle.)
  • Ink: Stampin' Up Always Artichoke
  • Paper: Stampin' Up Very Vanilla, Always Artichoke, Pear Pizzazz, Baja Breeze, Springtime Vintage dsp
  • Accessories: misc scallop and circle punches, Stampin' Up Baja seam binding, Stampin' Up mini flower punch (in punch trio), Stampin' Up pearls