Friday, 16 September 2016

A splash of red

White Christmas card, swirly tree with three white and red butterflies

Another 52 Christmas Card Throwdown Challenge today.

It's a colour theme, white with a splash of red.

52 CCT Colour Challenge, white with a splash of red

What a lovely combination, and the design team cards were brilliant.

So I'm a bit disappointed with how my cards have turned out - I think they need more work, and maybe I'll go back and give them some TLC at some point before sending them out.

I had two ideas, and sent hubby on a search (fruitless) for red mirror card last weekend, before getting it in our fabulous local shop, Berkhamsted Arts and Crafts.

The first uses an old favourite die, the swirly Christmas tree. I cut it out of Centura Pearl hint of gold - I've lost count of how many times I've done that combination! I then cut three Tattered Lace butterflies out of the same card, using an adhesive sheet on the back. I know butterflies aren't traditionally Christmassy, but I thought it might work! I used the card waste with the butterfly outline to trace onto the back of the mirror card, and cut out the shape. I then attached the white butterflies on the top, so the red shows through the filigree. Beautiful!

I arranged the butterflies on the tree, and this bit I am pleased with! However, a background for the tree proved more complicated. I went for a simple solution, and drew lines of dots down the sides of the card blank with a versa mark pen, and heat embossed with white powder. You can see them in the photo if you squint! It doesn't look quite so plain in real life as in the photo. But I think maybe some matting and layering, or something to add a bit more interest, would have been better. I still might cut the front off this card and layer it up somehow.

The second card needs a lot more work on the composition, but I like the idea!

White Christmas card with reindeer with red nose, and red Merry Christmas sentiment

What's a Christmassy splash of red if not Rudolph's nose?

For this one, I stamped and embossed snowflakes down the sides of the card, giving a fancier border. The reindeer die is Tattered Lace, the nose is punched from self adhesive glitter card, and the sentiment is a stamp from a magazine, heat embossed in red.

I need to work on my white on white backgrounds and layers!

Friday, 9 September 2016

Words and music make it

Christmas card in warm red and brown/cream shades; three squares with a central snow scene

It's the first week of the month, so we have a sketch from the 52 Christmas Card Throwdown challenge.

52CCT September sketch

I used a die from a nesting set for my "squares" - a bit of a more interesting shape.

For the two on the outside, I die cut and embossed the shapes (from Clarity stencil card, as is the whole card except the card base), and left them in the die while I coloured them. This created the white border. I used antique linen distress ink through a music stencil from That Special Touch first. This is a stencil I've had for ages and not used before - I'm trying to use things like this from my crafty stash, rather than the same few things all the time. I then stamped parts of a music background stamp, using brushed corduroy. I didn't used a mount, just pressed areas onto the card with my fingers. Finally, I blended brushed corduroy around the edge, which really brought them together.

2 ornate squares with music notes pattern in warm brown and cream with white border

For the central shape, I cut and embossed with the same die, and again added ink while it was still in the die. I use the brushed corduroy and aged mahogany.

Ornate square with warn red and brown, in the die used to cu the square

For the foreground, I used a circular scene die. I carefully kept all the dots from the sky part of the die - I missed a few but got most of them.

White circular snow scene die cut

I glued this onto the background, then fitted it back into the die and re-cut it, to trim off the excess and re-establish the embossed border.

Snow scene in white on a warm red/brown background, on an ornate square with white border

The scene was a little too white, so I brushed antique linen distress ink into the centre, and with a Faber Castell pencil very lightly added some details to the houses and trees, so they were less cartoon-like.

I wanted a narrow border for this square, narrower than the next die in the set would give. So I drew around the outside of the die and careful cut it out with scissors. I coloured it with  aged mahogany, then toned it down with brushed corduroy.

The background is an idea I copied straight from one of the Clarity Design Team cards from the telly last weekend.

I brushed antique linen onto card, to tone down the base, then stamped the words "Merry", "Christmas" and "Noel" from the word chain stamps, all over, using aged mahogany and brushed corduroy again, and second and third generation stamping. I then went back with the same stamps and antique linen, and stamped over, filling in any blank areas. I really like the effect this gives, and it's a bit different from a single sentiment. The example from the telly had Merry Christmas stamped in black over the top once. I quite like how I've ended up with a red Merry Christmas at the bottom of the card - luck rather than judgement! I completely forgot to take photos from this point!

I cut a mount and blended the same colours around the edge, and then a narrow strip of card to go across, to ground the squares a little.

I put it together on a 5x7 card base, then decided that it needed a little something else on the corners. I tried a few things, and settled on a tattered lace corner die, coloured with aged mahogany and brushed corduroy again.

Christmas card in warm red and brown/cream shades; three squares with a central snow scene

I'm pleased with how the card has come together. Just using three ink colours throughout has given it a nice co-ordinated feel, and these colours are warm and Christmassy.
Christmas card in warm red and brown/cream shades; three squares with a central snow scene

For me it's the backgrounds that make this card - I'm really pleased with both the musical pattern on the side squares, and the random word background. I'm already thinking how I could use this elsewhere!

Friday, 2 September 2016

Dabbling in watercolouring

The technique challenge at the 52 Christmas Card Throwdown this month is watercolouring.

I was a bit intimidated at this! It's a real skill, and not one I've really tried, let alone mastered.

But I decided to have a go anyway.

For my design, I used a stencil, the holly frame from That Special Touch. I embossed it onto the watercolour card, through the Grand Calibur.

But which side to use? I started with the embossed side.

When that was going badly - colour leaking everywhere - I turned onto the debossed side - which was better as the depressions helped contain the colour. I also used less water.

I used distress inks, watered down, to add colour. For the leaves it was mowed lawn and pine needles, with fired brick and aged mahogany for the berries.

I then added a wash to the background with chipped sapphire.

While that dried, I sorted out a sentiment topper. I tried a few things- different stamped sentiments on a die cut shape. But I settled on my Merry Christmas die, as being delicate to fit the frame. I cut it in white, from the watercolour card, then coloured some card with cobalt blue archival ink, and cut another one for a drop shadow to help it stand out from the background.

I mounted on a grey-blue matt, then on a 7x7 card base.

I can't pretend that this is the most perfect colouring ever, but I'm going with the idea that the inexactness is part of the charm.

Certainly I'm pleased with how this has turned out, I like the look. Not bad for a first attempt!

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

The fussiest of cuts

It's another Clarity Challenge today.

I had such good intentions to not leave it until the last minute this month (after my "6 minutes to spare" effort last month). I did start my snipping back on the 8th, but have still had a day of it today!  So posting the finished picture now, and will be back to blog properly once I've linked it up, to make sure I don't miss the deadline.

Back again!

The challenge theme is fussy cutting. So I thought it'd be the perfect opportunity to practise my parchment snipping. I had a go at the Clarity Retreat in July, and got some scissors. It's a bit of an acquired skill, but I thought even if I start out a bit ropey, I should be a lot better by the end of the challenge!

I used the leafy swirl Groovi plate. I love this design, the stencil is my favourite, so I had to get the plate when it came out, although this is the first time I've used it. The idea was to use the stencil for the background, so the two tie together.

I quickly realised that the swirls aren't the easiest way to start with the picot cutting! But, I ploughed on anyway. And I think I have got better. I figured out that when doing the piercing (around the design, with a two needle tool), working towards me is a lot easier than away, I get a smoother line.

And snipping is easier when you've got a solid sheet to work on, so doing the fiddly swirls first, then the straighter bits, is best. The actual picot varies, some is alright, other bits are a bit ropey, and I'm not always sure why - I think I'm doing the same but the results say otherwise! Practise, practise, practise.

But despite this, I think the results are very pretty.
You'll spot the butterfly there as well. This is a Clarity Club stamp. I heat embossed it in white onto parchment, and picot cut it out. There is a Groovi butterfly, but I don't have it.

So, that was the time consuming part of the project. I was expecting the gelli plate background to be a lot quicker. I didn't allow for the unpredictable element! I've had several goes and different approaches to this today. Some just didn't turn out as I wanted, but I also had a lot that looked great but then stuck to the plate and were ruined when I tried to pull the print. Not sure what was happening, maybe I'm using the wrong paint, maybe the plate needs a bit of tlc, maybe the paint needed to go in the fridge(!). On the up side, I have some lovely waste prints etc to use, and some partial prints - I may need to get into paper piecing to make use of them.

These are the prints I ended up using. They both started with a thin layer of yellow on one side and blue on the other, then south pacific, lifted off through the punchinella. 

The top one then had a layer of cream paint, also lifted off. I put hey pesto on to lift the print, that didn't take much of the paint off, so I used the cream paint again to pull a second print, which is what I've used.

The second print had a layer of hey pesto which I laid the stencil into, and lifted paint off through the stencil and punchinella. As it dried I removed the stencil and pulled a waste print to remove the paint under the stencil, which was still wet.

This is the waste - how lovely. I have a few of these now! I might try to work them into next month's challenge, In the Garden.

I then used the cream paint to pull a print with the paint left on the gelli plate. It tore a bit, but was the best one, and I was able to cut a panel out of it to use.

I over stamped the first print with the butterfly, in Potting Soil archival ink, to add interest.

I then put it all together. Both gelli prints were trimmed, then edged in brown sharpie pen, and mounted on white stencil card with a narrow border. The small piece went onto the larger, on foam pads to lift it. I then attached the parchment using a tape pen - I use these all the time, so it's a bit of a result to find that they can be used on parchment and don't really show.

And here's the finished article again.

I'm not sure how I thought this would turn out. I had hoped for more of a stencil background, but it wasn't to be.

However, that did lead me to using the two prints together, which I like. It's all a learning curve, I had fun playing with the gelli plate, despite the frustration at times. And I'm happy with the outcome, it's delicate and pretty.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Holi Elephants

Elephant image with red, yellow, blue clouds behind, mounted don red and yellow

Gilded elephant image over bursts of red, yellow, blue, mounted on blue and red

As the month draws to a close, I've finally (and not as last minute as sometimes) done my Berkhamsted Creative Challenge entry.

The theme for this month is Far Away Lands.

Berkhamsted Creative Challenge Aug 16 - Far Away Lands

In keeping with my personal challenge to use something I've had for ages and not used before, I brought out my elephant stencil from Clarity.

I wanted to capture the feel of the holi festival, with all the clouds of coloured pigment. I started in my favourite place, messy backgrounds. For these ones, I used fired brick, mustard seed and peacock feathers distress inks. I applied them to my blending mat, then added water to them, and to some Clarity stencil card, and then pressed the card into the ink. I used varying amounts, and moved the card more or less, to get different effects.

Five sheets of card with messy ink patterns in red, yellow and blue

I used the two on the left for this project, the others have gone into the stash.

My plan was to use texture paste through the stencil, to contrast with the background. But one of the backgrounds had such a gorgeous mix of colours I wanted to use them, so a second approach was born.

I did a trial run with the texture paste. I wanted to try stamping into it to give texture. I tried it a couple of times - this is the second attempt.

Partial elephant image in texture paste, with stamped impression

I wasn't happy with it, so gave up and didn't stamp into my "real" elephant.

Elephant image in texture paste over red, yellow, blue bursts

However, when I came to try out the gilding waxes on my scrap piece, the pattern really came to life.

Partial elephant image in texture paste, with stamped impression and gilding wax

So I wish I had persevered with the stamping. One for another time!

For now, I added the gilding waxes - mainly gold but with touches of green, red, bronze and silver in different areas.

Gilded elephant image, close up showing stamped pattern

To add the texture that I wanted, I stamped with archival ink, in potting soil.

I also wanted to add more texture to the background, so I used the same stamp (a swirly corner from a Japanese set from Clarity) to over stamp the coloured "clouds". I used second generation stamping so it was subtle.

Gilded elephant image over bursts of red, yellow, blue

I also added a bit of shadow under the elephants feet, to ground her, using faber castle polychromos pencils.

Gilded elephant image over bursts of red, yellow, blue, mounted on blue and red

Gilded elephant image over bursts of red, yellow, blue, mounted on blue and red To finish off, I trimmed back the image and edged it with a blue sharpie pen. I mounted on blue, with a  narrow border, then red. I used my perfect layers rulers to cut the mounts.

For my second background, I applied versamark ink through the stencil, with a make up sponge, then heat embossed in clear powder.

Elephant image just visible, in clear embossing powder, on red, yellow, blue clouds

Unfortunately, my versa mark isn't as clean as it could be, so the colours have been dimmed a little.

To make the elephant stand out, I used a makeup sponge to apply adirondack ink in slate. The heat embossed areas resisted the ink, so just the lines stood out. Originally, I very careful went round the edge to give a narrow border. However, I then realised I needed a bigger contrast with the background, so went back and added a much bigger graduated shadow.

Elephant image with red, yellow, blue clouds behind

I used a black polychromous pencil to add definition under the feet, again to ground her.

Having trimmed back the card, I felt that the bottom left corner was a bit empty. So I was brave and added more ink, again adding water to ink on the blending mat and dabbing the wetted card into it.

Elephant image with red, yellow, blue clouds behind

Once this had dried, I edged the card with a black sharpie, and mounted onto red then yellow to finish.

Elephant image with red, yellow, blue clouds behind, mounted don red and yellow

Elephant image with red, yellow, blue clouds behind, mounted don red and yellow

Two colourful elephants, ready to celebrate holi, and I hope evoking some sense of the exotic.

Friday, 26 August 2016

A sleighful of gifts

Black card with image of gold sleigh filled with presents, "wishing you a merry christmas" sentiment

A theme challenge at 52 Christmas Card Throwdown this week - Gifts.

52CCT Theme Challenge - Gifts

I thought I'd incorporate these with a lovely sleigh stamp I've been meaning to use for ages (personal "use something I've had for ages and not used" challenge met!). I couldn't remember exactly what it looked like, I hoped it was full of presents, but it wasn't. So I thought I'd fill it, using a tattered lace present die.

I also thought I'd use black coated card (Clarity Card) - which is very dramatic, but difficult to use, as every mark shows!

I started by stamping with versa mark and heat embossing in platinum.

Black card with image of gold sleigh stamped and embossed

I added a line for the ground, although I wasn't happy with it so changed it later.

I then die cut the present, in black and in Centura Pearl hint of gold. I backed them with the opposite colour, and also in gold.

Die cut presents and corners in black, gold and pearl white

Thinking I might need a few extras, I cut out a corner die, to use for bits of presents peeping out from behind the big ones.

For the sky, I used a star cluster from Lavinia's stamps. They are in chateau mica powder (on versamark ink) which is a really good match for the platinum embossing powder.

I cut a slit in the sleigh image, along the top of the die, and arranged the presents through it. Once I was happy with the layout, I taped them in place from behind, with a bit of super sticky as well to make sure they were secure.

I cut another section of black card to go over the lower section, to hide the mess I'd made, with the ground line and finger prints etc. I stamped a sentiment from Clarity, and also edged it with a versa mark pen.

Finally, after trimming the image down (removing more fingerprints etc from the edge!) I ran the versa mark pen around the edge and heat embossed for a frame, then mounted on an A5 card base made from Centura Pearl hint of gold, to tie in with the presents.

Black card with image of gold sleigh filled with presents, "wishing you a merry christmas" sentiment

I do like this colour combo, and I'm pleased with how the presents look in the sleigh, and the sleigh itself - the star pattern has come out beautifully. But I did battle with the glossy card - not an easy card to just knock out this one!