Friday, 14 October 2016

Snowing gently

Christmas card with green and blue snowflake pattern on right and Let it Snow sentiment

The second week of the month means a colour challenge at the 52 Christmas Card Challenge.

This time, it's grey, soft blue, soft green.

52CCT Colour challenge grey, soft blue, soft green

For this one I took my starting point from a card Sam Crowe showed at the Clarity Open Day in June. The front was cut narrower than the back, and the pattern from the front carried onto a strip of the back/inside. She also used the shape stamps, which are firmly on my wishlist. I had a first run at this style with a birthday card I made this week, which I'll blog at some point.

I started with a 6x6 card base, and trimmed back the front. I then masked off the left of the front.

Card base with front narrower than back, left masked off

Out came the gelli plate. I wanted to use a technique derived from something Barbara Gray demo'd on the telly last week, using the petite gel plates. I only have the very big one, but I can adapt!

Firstly, I spread green distress ink on half of the gel plate with the brayer. I used mainly bundled sage, with a touch of crushed olive to soften it a bit. I then stamped the Clarity snowflake stamps into the plate, to lift the ink off. Turns out, it's pretty difficult to see where you've been, especially if your plate is a bit mucky. Next time I'll stamp onto paper first, and put that under the gel plate to give me a guide.

I then pressed the inky plate onto the exposed card, transferring the ink, with voids where I'd stamped.

Card with green snowflake pattern on right, left masked off

It's not perfect, but that's okay, it's a slightly grungy look I'm going for. Life is definitely much more straight forward with techniques that give you a bit of wiggle room, life's too short to be exact all the time.

Next I cleaned the gel plate and spread the blue on - tumbled glass, with a touch of salty ocean. I pressed the stamps into the plate again, but this time used the ink I picked up to stamp into the voids on the card, matching up each snowflake. Again, it doesn't need to line up perfectly.

Card with green and blue snowflake pattern on right, left masked off

I have to say, I am really pleased with the way this looks.

Card with green and blue snowflake pattern on right.

And without the mask. Snowflakes work well for this, but you could use flowers or leaves, so many other stamps, even words, and of course, any colours you fancy.

At this point I forgot to take more progress photos!

I cut 3 squares of white card, using my new Crealies double stitch square die set (bought for another project this month, but pressed into service for this card too). Using sky grey versa color ink, I stamped a smaller Clarity snowflake into the centre of each. I was going to heat emboss with clear powder  but the ink had a nice pearl finish so I left it without. I mounted the squares as diamonds along the border of the coloured area, on foam pads. I trimmed the bottom of the card so they fitted exactly. I like the contrast between the messy, grungy pattern and the crispness of the border.

Finally, I used the same grey ink to stamp the "Let it Snow" sentiment to the left of the card.

Christmas card with green and blue snowflake pattern on right and Let it Snow sentiment

This shows the pattern well, although you can't see the strip that carries onto the back section of the card.

Christmas card with green and blue snowflake pattern on right and Let it Snow sentiment

The pattern reminds me of wallpaper somehow.

Soft colours used to create a soft, gentle looking card. I don't usually use grey (I had to buy the grey ink especially for this card) but I'm won over by the gentle effect. I guess watering can archival ink is next on my shopping list.

Friday, 7 October 2016

A Winter Scene

The 52 Christmas Card Throwdown have announced a Design team call for October, to add a bit of interest this month!

As always, the first challenge of the month is a sketch.

For this one, I pulled out the Clarity Wee Christmas Folk, for a snowy scene.

I started with stencil card, and a torn paper horizon. I brushed in the sky with chipped sapphire distress ink, and a touch of bundled sage. I stamped the two figures having a snowball fight, using cobalt blue archival ink for a nice, crisp finish. The trees were added with the same distress inks, to fall into the distance a bit. I added some shadow under the figures with torn paper and a make up sponge.

(No progress pictures for this one, I was too caught up in making it!)

I added snow to the sky with a white pen.

I cut out the circle with a die, and edged gently in more chipped sapphire.

The sentiment is from a Clarity set, stamped in the cobalt blue archival. I cut it into a ribbon shape, then brushed chipped sapphire around the edge.

The background is also edged in the chipped sapphire, and embossed with a tattered lace embossing folder.

The layers have been mounted with foam tape for dimension, onto a 5x7 card base.

A simple layout, giving the perfect foil for a sweet Winter scene.

Friday, 30 September 2016

In The Garden - Clarity Challenge September 2016

Wall hanging, 6 squares with the letters G, A, R, D, E, N, each decorated with a garden theme

I'm posting my Clarity Challenge entry on the last day again! At least this month it hasn't been quite the last minute panic of the previous two months.

The theme is "In The Garden", which gives so many possibilities, but I still struggled to come up with an idea that I liked and that worked. After a few false starts I came up with this design, based on the letters of the word Garden.

I spent what feels like hours looking at different fonts in Word to find one I liked. This is called Harrington. I printed it out onto copy paper (my printer wouldn't take stencil card, I did try!). I then traced each letter onto a 8.9cm square of stencil card. Why that size? It's a quarter of a 7x7 sheet.

This where a light panel would have been very useful. I had to improvise with the light box I have for SAD, laid on its back with a large acrylic block on top for a smooth surface.

I carefully drew round each letter with a small permanent pen.

And then filled in with a medium pen.

The results aren't a carbon copy, but I think look pretty good.

I then stamped on each square, a different design on each, using black archival ink. I used pebeo masking fluid, both for over-stamping, and to protect the stamped images while I applied the backgrounds.

So let's look letter by letter.

"G" uses one of my favourite stamps, the Daydreamer. In this case, I extended the tree by repeating higher up, and moved the birds from the left of the tree to the right, to extend the bottom part of the image. The birds on flight added balance and interest - there's one more than planned, drawn in to hide a smudge!

I wanted to try making clouds using cottonwool covered with versa mark ink, but it didn't really work - partly as my ink pad is to dirty the clouds were blue (I'm not great at removing the indexing), and the stencil card reacts differently to Clarity Card. The sky is salty ocean distress ink, with bundled sage and spiced marmalade to add warmth.

All the squares were edged with a black sharpie.

"A" uses a butterfly stamp from the New Design Club. I coloured it with a blue-purple pencil. The background uses the birch trees stencil - I've had this for a while and not used it, although I really like it, so good to have a chance to do so. The inks are antique linen with brushed corduroy and a little ripe persimmon.

"R" has a flower border stamped with the bouquet stamp, and coloured with pencils. The lawn background is mowed lawn (appropriately) with stripes (using the stripes stencil) of bundled sage, to try to tone it down. I hadn't planned these, but got a stripe from the brayer which these disguise perfectly, and I think they work well. I blended iced spruce over the top of it all, to tone down the mowed lawn some more, as it was virtually luminous to start with!

"D" is possibly my favourite, a garden pond scene. The water lilies are from a Japanese set I got from one of the workshops. I masked off the tall stems, to look more realistic and fit the scale better. They're coloured with pencils again. The rushes at the bottom are two wee flowers stamps. I don't think the one is meant to be bull rushes, but that's what it always looks like to me, so it goes in my pond.

The water is bundled sage with a touch of salty ocean. I ran the brayer over crumpled paper before brayering the card, to give the watery texture. It doesn't show that well in the photo, but has worked well.

"E" is where I had a bit of a disaster at midnight last night!

The stamp is a recent New Design Club image, with a bird from the Christmas sentiments set added. They're coloured with pencils. The background uses the maple leaves stencil (another first time use!). I used the "innies" first, with antique linen ink, and a make up sponge.

They were a little indistinct, so I went back with the "outies" and added darker colour - brush corduroy I think. This gave a little halo around the leaves, which I really like. I went over the whole background with a brushed corduroy and ripe persimmon mix, to warm it up.

So far, so gorgeous. Unfortunately, when I was edging with the sharpie, I had a momentary lapse of attention! Hence the black line at the bottom right. No way to remove it, so I had to hide it. I went with another bird - I wanted it facing the other way, so stamped onto scrap, and traced it in reverse with the permanent pen. My light box was pressed into service again. Not perfect, but acceptable. Maybe if I'd slept on it, I'd have stamped another leaf on a separate piece of card, cut it out and stuck it on.

"N" is maybe the prettiest letter. It uses another New Design Club stamp, the carnation. The background is brayered with salty ocean and dusty concord. I was going to colour with pencils again, but my set doesn't have any pinks! So I painted with distress inks. The main colour is seedless preserves, watered down, with picked raspberry and unwatered seedless preserves to add depth. The stems are mowed lawn.

I also used grey pencils to add drop shadows to each square.

To mount, I found, fortuitously, that I had a die that fits well for the square size, it's from a spellbinders set. I then decided that to tie in, I needed a thicker black line round the edges of the squares, so had to go back with my sharpie, and a ruler this time. You can imagine how careful I was!

I cut the die 6 times, in black card, and attached each letter to one.

I then joined them together on a woven textured ribbon, with a large jump ring at the top to hang it from. This was silver, I sprayed it with a little gold to tone it in.

Part of wall hanging, 3 squares with the letters G, A, R, each decorated with a garden theme

Here's a close up of the top half - of course, something long and thin is difficult to photograph and doesn't really work for thumbnails!

Part of wall hanging, 3 squares with the letters D, E, N, each decorated with a garden theme

And the bottom half.

I think I could use each of these little scenes separately for cards etc. The "E" would make a lovely Christmas card.

Wall hanging, 6 squares with the letters G, A, R, D, E, N, each decorated with a garden theme

There you have it, my take on "In The Garden".

I wish my garden were as pretty, and varied, as this!

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Purple butterflies

Three square butterfly images in shades of purple on purple patterned background

Here's a little piece I made for this month's Berkhamsted Creative Challenge.

Berkhamsted Creative Challenge Sept 16 - Purple

The theme is purple, which I thought would be easy, but it took me a while to come up with something to make.

I started by making a purple splodgy background, with ink in a plastic folder. I used dusty concord distress ink, then two purple felt tip pens, for variety of colour. Haven't done this for a while, so forgot how it goes and they ended up a bit blotchy, but fine for what I want today. I also used a plain white and a black card.

The butterfly is a stamp from Clarity, it came with a set and I hadn't used it before (still trying to use things I haven't played with before!). I stamped in versamark, then added three different purple embossing powders.

Four stamped butterfly images in shades of purple

The two at the front of the photo are both violet pearl. This one looks completely different on white and black. On white it's iridescent and needs to catch the light - I didn't use this one. But I really want to try using it to do bubbles.

On the white card I stamped with a glitter powder. These two are both Wow powders.

Glittery purple butterfly stamped image

Finally, on the background I'd made I used a white powder.

White butterfly stamped image on a splodgy purple background

I trimmed all three down to the same size. I brushed some more dusty concord over the splodgy background, to give more contrast with the butterfly, and to change the colour a bit to be less pink and tie in with the other two better.The embossed lines resist the ink, it just wipes off them, so they stay nice and white.

I edged each piece with the same embossing powder (a versamark pen run along the edge gives a nice even line), then mounted on a piece of matching card. The splurgy one was still white, without the added ink, but I like the slight contrast.

To mount them all, I looked through a stash of printed patterned paper I found in a charity shop a while ago and bought for an absolute steal! I chose a purply one that I thought worked well, and cut it to size. I mounted the three toppers, on different levels of foam pads to stand out. I edged the background with a purple sharpie to finish it off. The final touch was some gems on the corners.

Three square butterfly images in shades of purple on purple patterned background

The repeated panels sort of remind me of Victorian naturalist drawings. These are a funky, purple take!

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!