Thursday, January 30, 2014

Stamps of Life Christmas Tree Card

Some of my favorite stamps sets are from Stamps of Life, by Stephanie Barnard. I especially like the stamps with coordinating dies (these are made by Sizzix). For this card I used trees4christmas stamps and Tree Dies. Whenever I am stamping solids or want a crisp, sharp line (barring the use of alcohol markers or stamping on nonporous surfaces), I reach for my Versafine Ink Pads. The dark green is Olympia Green; the light is Spanish Moss. I also edged the snowflake patterned paper with Olympia Green (direct to paper), stuck it down to the light green paper, then sewed around the inside edge.

I mounted those layers onto black card stock, cut about an eighth of an inch larger around, then adhered it all to the craft card stock base.

The sentiment is from the same stamp set as the trees. I use my EK Success punches to punch the circle (looking from the backside of the punch to line up the stamped image) and scalloped circle behind it. The middle tree and the sentiment were mounted using dimensional tape to pop them up. I added a few little enamel dots as a finishing touch.

Even though this is a fairly simple card, I really love the way it came out.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Tutorial: Faux Glass Flowers (Video)

I'm always looking for ways to use my growing stash of plastic packaging (those pesky plastic packages that have no recycle numbers on them!). This is one of my favorites.

Note: this is my first video tutorial! (The video is near the bottom of the post.) Please be kind - I'm a photographer, not a videographer! Also, I was using a Flip camera and couldn't tell where it was focusing - as it turns out it doesn't do well with closeups. I guess I'll have to invest in a better camera, one that will focus close up and further away.

Supplies & Tools:

Start by die cutting the plastic packaging. I usually create flowers with two or more progressively smaller layers, although you could just use one. These flowers were created with two layers. Lay the die cuts on your craft mat. Add maybe three colors of Adirondack Ink to your felt alcohol ink applicator, plus a little mixative if desired (use sparingly). For the red/orange flower I used Red Pepper, Sunset Orange, and Sunshine Yellow. I also added a small amount of Pearl mixative but it didn't show up in the photos. For the blue/purple flower I used Sail Boat Blue, Wild Plum, and Raspberry plus the Silver mixative.

Pounce over the die cuts turning the flower and/or the applicator to get a nice mottled look. Once you are happy with the color, add a little Adirondack Alcohol Blending Solution to the clean side of the felt and pounce in a few places. This pushes the ink around, making a variegated effect. It tends to lighten the centers "splots" where it is applied and darken at the edges. Dry briefly with a heat tool (do not heat too much or the plastic will start to curl).

Ink up a detailed background stamp with StazOn (you cannot use dye or pigment ink for this; they will rub right off). Newsprint, script text, dots, or other detailed backgrounds are all good choices. Dry briefly with a heat tool (do not heat too much or the plastic will start to curl).

Apply acrylic paint (or StazOn from the pad) to the petal ends using a swiping motion. If you don't have paint dabbers, you may use a paint brush to apply acrylic paint; use it somewhat dry, without too much paint so you will create streaks.

Now for the tricky part - shaping the leaves. Caution! Do not get your fingers in front of the heat tool! I put just the petals in front of it for a short time then shape the petals quickly before they become too cool. Do not over heat the plastic. It heats up rapidly. Once you are happy with the shape, use Glue Dots or other strong adhesive to glue the layers together; be sure to offset them.

On the red/orange flower I pounced some alcohol ink onto a half pearl, to match the lighter colors in the flower. For the blue/purple flower, I punched a hole in the center with my Crop-a-dile, then put a rhinestone brad through it (I bought the brad at a Michaels craft store).

Here is the video tutorial:

Note: in case you noticed the lovely bruise on my arm, it's from practicing martial arts (karate to be specific).

You may use a similar technique on metal, such as soda pop cans. I carefully cut off the ends, flatten, die cut, then use the metal inside part as my inking surface (i.e. the tops of the flowers). Do NOT use heat to shape the petals, rather give them a slight bend using a burnishing bone (bone folder), popsicle stick, die pick, or an embossing tool. On the one below, I used the tip of my burnishing bone with a mouse pad (rubber type) to draw a line down the middle of each leaf. Instead of stamping, you might want to use an embossing folder to give them texture then sand lightly to bring back some of the metal. You may color the raised embossed surfaces if desired. Alcohol markers will work on these surfaces too.

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Free Stuff for Scrapbooking and Crafts

I've been checking a bunch of sites regularly for free stuff, plus downloading files en masse when I find them. I thought I would share. Sites vary in what they offer. Cutting files will contain at least an SVG file and usually a JPG or PNG file, if not others (e.g. formats for different cutting machines). Digital Images are usually JPG or PNG formats that can be printed and colored (some are considered digital stamps).

Posted freebies (posted daily, weekly, irregularly, or via newsletter):

Miss Kate Cuttables - One of my favorite sites, high quality free cutting files posted weekly. Cutting Files.
Treasure Box Designs - There is a weekly freebie if you subscribe to their newsletter (files usually via Facebook) or check their page - click the freebie button near bottom of list on left. Cutting files.
Cuddly Cute Designs - Click the freebie button on the front page, near bottom of list on left.
My Scrap Chick - Subscribe to their newsletter for weekly freebies. Cutting files.
KaDoodle Bug Designs - Weekly freebies plus surprise freebies, you may want to check daily. Cutting files, digital files.
Silhouette - Free designs periodically. Click Site Link at bottom of page to go to free designs. Studio files (proprietary).
Lettering Delights and associated Under a Cherry Tree blog - Sign up on the LD website for their newsletter for promotions; earn free stuff. Other freebies on the blog. Digital images/cutting files.
Love SVG - If you like inspirational quotes or pretty mottos, this is the site for you. It's great for vinyl wall art or notebook covers. Thousands of cutting files to download.
Dustin Pike Designs - Doodle Dragon Studios used to have regular freebies but now only once in a while. I subscribe to his blog via RSS feed so I don' t miss any. I love his images - very whimsical. Digital images.

Links to lots of freebies and downloads

SVG Cuts Blog - Pages and pages of free files. Cutting files.
Sherry K. Designs - Two pages of downloads. Cutting files/digital images.
Monica's Creative Room - Freebies by category. Cutting files.
Images by Heather M - Lots of free files (click free SVG link). Cutting files.
Bird's Cards - Loads of free files. Cutting files/digital images.
ScrappyDew - Not sure how often things are added but there are quite a few freebies. Cutting files.
SVG Cutting Files - Not sure how often things are added but there is a page of free downloads. Cutting files/print and cut.
Printable Cuttable Creatables - Hundreds of free SVGs. Cutting files.
The Free SVG Blog - Loads of SVGs. Cutting files.
Hello SVG - Lots of free SVGs. Cutting files.
Free Cut Files - Lots of free SVGs. Cutting files.
SVG Designs - Lots of free SVGs. Cutting files.
Creative Fabrica - Lots of free SVGs. Cutting files. There is also a tab for free fonts.
Caluya Design - Lots of free SVGs. Cutting files.
Kevin and Amanda Fonts - Loads of awesome fonts. Look through the postings for "Download New" buttons to get their periodic archives rather than the individual fonts. Fonts.
My 25 Favorite Free Chalk Fonts - As the name suggests, she has compiled a list of downloads for 25 chalkboard fonts. Fonts. She also has some free SVGs and printables - click the links on the page.
1001 Free Fonts - Fonts.
DaFont - Fonts.
FontSpace - Fonts.

You can probably find a lot of other font sites by searching for "free fonts" on the web. If I find other good links, I'll add them to this post. Please comment if you have any to share.

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Pop 'n Cuts Chair in Santa's House Card

My idea for this card was a peek inside Santa's house. I imagined Mrs. Clause being the designer (and a bit frou frou in taste, as you will see). Through the window you can see their decorated Christmas tree, from A Glimpse Inside stamp set by Taylored Expressions. I watercolored it with Derwent Inktense watercolor pencils then fussy cut it. The window, curtains, and shutters were cut using Taylored Expressions dies: Picture Window and Window Accessories. The curtain is vellum with a little Copic gray marker added for shading. Although you can't see it in the photo, I used recycled clear plastic packaging for the window glass.

I wanted a bright cheery red brick house exterior, fairly aged (the Clauses have lived there a long time); I used Bazzill paper with the Bricked Texture Fades embossing folder by Sizzix and Tim Holtz. To create the look of mortar, I used a white gel pen, which was not working the best but my nicer pen puts out a bit more white than I wanted between the bricks. I found those cute lights at Michaels in the stickers and embellishments section.

The sentiment was made by hand on my computer in Photoshop. I made a whole page, some with Season's Greetings, printed them on card stock, then punched them out (as well as the scalloped border) with my EK Success punches. I stamped the bow in the center then watercolored it with my Inktense pencils.

Now for the best part, the surprise pop up chair when the card is opened! I used Karen Burniston's Pop 'n Cuts dies for the card base and chair, along with the matching embossing folders to create the rug, lamp, table, and picture frame. I embossed them on white card stock then used Distress Inks and a blending tool to add color. I cut them all out by hand (a little time consuming but totally worth it).

Below is a close up of Santa's framed "photo". I stamped the image with Tuxedo Black Memento Ink then colored it with Copic Markers. I love how whimsical the image is.

To create Santa's hat, I made a little cone out of card stock, inked it up in red to give it a velvety look then added some puffy paint to the rim and tip of the hat. (Note: the red will bleed into the white if you don't add something to seal it under the paint. I probably used Glossy Accents, although I don't remember for sure.) Being impatient, I used my heat tool to both dry it and puff it up.

As a final touch, I scattered around a few colorful gift stickers (from Michaels). I figured Santa would have lots of gifts laying about.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Tim Holtz Christmas Tree/Easel Stand Up Card

This card was so much fun to make! The base card is from Stephanie Bernard and Sizzix: Sizzix Movers & Shapers XL Die - Card, Square Stand-Ups. As you will see below, the card is what is typically called an easel card; it will stand up, showing part of the inside.

The decorative paper came from a Christmas stack bought at Michaels. It was applied to the part of the card base that would become the front of the card before I die cut it. I chose a plaid for a more masculine look. A strip of it was used to decorate part of the inside as well.

For the tree and ornament images, I used Tim Holtz's set: Sizzix Framelits Die Set 6PK w/Stamps - Tree Blueprint. It comes with a blueprint tree stamp with ornaments, a holiday sentiment stamp, and a label border stamp (the latter two are shown further below). I stamped three copies of the blueprint tree on watercolor paper. I decided to only use the tree and bulbs - the stamp has a little more to it, mainly the blueprint part.

I colored the tree and ornaments using Tim Holtz Distress Markers. I applied the markers directly in the darkest parts then used a water brush to bring out the color. I also scribbled some of the marker onto recycled plastic, which I used as a palette in order to get more control over the color. The markers give a beautiful water color look to the images. The set comes with several dies so you can layer the tree perfectly. All edges were inked with Brushed Corduroy Distress Ink using a blending tool. I used dimensional tape to pop up the ornaments and tree layers. I also added some to the bottom of the full tree (base layer), but not under the top. I used my Wink of Stella clear glitter brush pen to add some sparkle to the star.

The background frame was cut out of black card stock using Spellbinders Nestabilities, Fleur de Lis Squares. Below is a photo showing how the card stands up. Note the little notch that the card front bottom edge tucks into. Here you can see the label and sentiment.

To finish off the card, I wrapped gold/beige twine around the part that shows when in easel mode and tied a bow.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Cricut Noël and Door with Petaloo Flowers Card

This card was crated mainly on the Cricut with Winter Wonderland and Christmas Noël/Solutions cartridges. I cut the NOEL from Winter Wonderland using three layers rather than the four available. You can't see it very well in the photos but the gold is a beautiful shimmer paper. I love the way it came out. Both the door and the wreath were cut from Christmas Noël (this cartridge was also released as Christmas Solutions); it is out-of-print but you can get the digital version from ProvoCraft.

The flowers are from the Petaloo Color Me Crazy collection, colored with Viva Decor Inka Gold and Precious Metal paints. I cut the leaves with an old Sizzix leaves and branch die that is being re-released this month on Tim Holtz's Sizzlits Decorative Strip Die - Spring Greenery. The new die will have six branch/leaf combinations!

Below is a close up of the beautiful lettering and intricate cuts. Be sure to use a sharp blade in your Cricut to create this.

The wreath as presented on the cartridge only has a few holly leaves on it. I cut a bunch more and glued them (using Glossy Accents) in different directions to give a nice full look. The edges were inked with green Distress Ink (not sure which one) and a blending tool. I also used a little of the ink (Aged Mahogany) to paint some shading on the bow. I added sparkle with my Wink of Stella brush pen in clear.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Snowman Pop-Up/Lettering Delights/Cricut Card

This was one of the more involved cards I made this year. I wanted to make a snowman themed card after seeing this cute 6x6 paper by Recollections from 2012, Festivus pad. I used a Die-Namics Notebook Edge die on one side for interest. You have to love the perforations! I am not sure where I bought the "Let it Snow" stamp (it was a long time ago) but I used my favorite EK Success punches to cut out the circle and scalloped circle behind it; I used dimensional tape to pop it up. The snowflakes were punched with Martha Stewart snowflake punches and decorated with Stickles, brads, pearls, and crystals.

The snowman was cut on my Silhouette Cameo with a graphic from Lettering Delights Sew Snowy Stitchy. The card base was cut with my Sizzix Movers & Shapers Pro Die, A7 Card set. I don't always mention the base card dies in a lot of my posts but they are either this one for 5x7 cards or one of the other size Sizzix card dies. Yes, I'm too lazy to hand-cut card bases (although many are Movers & Shapers dies so I can add windows and other decorative elements to them - that's my excuse!). I also cut the envelopes with the coordinating Sizzix dies.

Here's another photo of the card front, shot on a black background. You can see the popped up sentiment a bit better, as well as some of the details.

Now for the fun part… when you open the card, a snowman pops up! Sadly this die is being clearanced from Sizzix, so get it quickly! The 3D Pop-UP Snowman die was designed by Karen Burniston. Be sure to watch her YouTube videos on how to assemble it.

I tried to decorate the pop-up snowman to match the version on the front of the card (although he traded his boots for a scarf). Sorry if the edge frame is a bit much - I just had to use it because it reminded me of frost and snow. I backed it off the subject so you should be able to see everything. The next photo show the sentiment in back.

I cut the "Winter Wishes" sentiment from the Jolly Holidays Cricut cartridge. The cartridge itself is out-of-print but you can still buy the digital download from ProvoCraft to use it with Cricut Craft Room (or your Gypsy). Below is a close up.

Finally, on the backs of this year's holiday cards I decided on a little humor. I love this stamp set from Stephanie Barnard, created4you. I find I use it more than any of my other "created by…" stamp sets.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

NitWits Beary Christmas Petaloo Flower Card

I finally used this adorable polar bear image from the NitWits Beary Christmas collection. The collections are digital downloads for paper crafting. (These images may also be found at CraftsUPrint in various forms.) To create layers, I imported the graphics into my Silhouette Studio Designer Software, created copies, and traced various parts that I wanted popped up (erasing the rest as necessary). It takes a bit of patience to get the cut outlines just right; I usually end up editing the points by hand to get them as tight as possible. Once done, the graphics may be printed/cut as many times as you like.

After creating a file with layers laid out the way I wanted them them, I loaded my color printer with white card stock and used the option to print with registration marks from Studio Designer. The Silhouette finds the marks and perfectly cuts out the pieces. I went around the edges with a matching Copic marker to give them a polished look; for example, I used a light green marker to go around the edges of the hat and scarf. This helps hide the distracting stark edges of the white card stock against the graphics. I used dimensional tape between the layers to pop them up. The photos further on better show the layers.

The bow was made using seam binding from Hug Snug. I love this stuff - it can be easily custom colored with inks and paints to match your projects, although in this case, I just left it white. The large gold/white flower is from Heidi Swapp's Color Magic Paper Flowers. I colored it with Silks Acrylic Glaze in gold. Typically when I add paint or inks to paper flowers, I start by misting them with a water first. Sometimes I use a waterbrush to apply the medium, other times I just use a regular paint brush. My craft mat or a piece of recycled plastic packaging makes a great paint palette.

The small white flower was cut from white paper using Sizzix Thinlits Die Set 3PK - Flowering Quince, also colored with gold Silks. For the pollen, I used yellow Flower Soft. I usually make a bunch of these flowers at one time, storing them in a zip top bag for future use. The three red flowers and all the leaves are from Petaloo's Color Me Crazy white mulberry flower collection. I used Viva Decor Inka Gold and Precious Metal paints to color them. I crinkled the layers while wet and used my heat tool to dry them, carefully straightening the petals/leaves until I achieved the look I wanted. Note: hold the layers down with tweezers while drying; don't get too close and keep the heat tool moving or they may burn. I tapped them lightly with an Adirondack metallic gold acrylic paint dabber to highlight the texture. I used Glossy Accents to adhere the layers and glue the flowers/petals to the card. For the flower centers, to one I added a half pearl colored with gold Adirondack Metal Mixatives, to the other two I added Stickles in coordinating colors.

The tag was cut using the The Stamps of Life minitags2cut die and stamp set. I don't remember where I bought the sentiment - I've collected a bunch over the years - but there are a couple small text sets available from Taylored Expressions. I tied the tag through the bow's knot with red and white baker's twine.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Dustin Pike Christmas Carol/Pop 'n Cuts Noel Card

For the front cover of this card, I used one of Dustin Pike's digital images. Every once in a while he holds a special to purchase a bunch of his images at one time. I was lucky enough to catch a big one - all of his images up until that date on CDs. I printed the caroling bear and penguin on pearl paper then used watercolor pencils to color the image. I fussy cut around it so I could pop it up from a the background. To create the snowy nighttime background, I used an old random dots rubber stamp I had with Powdered Sugar White pigment ink by Color Box/Stephanie Barnard on black card stock. I also edged the black card stock to give it a frosted look and make a nice border. The fancy red frame was cut using Spellbinder's Fleur de Lis Rectangles Nestabilities.

The three enamel dots were created with a red Viva Decor Pearl Pen. I made a bunch by squirting out dots in different sizes on my Ranger Nonstick Craft Sheet. The nonstick surface is perfect for creating these dots; it doesn't take much effort to get them off. I used Glossy Accents to glue them to the card.

The date in the top right corner date was stamped with Perfect Fit Holidays by Close to My Heart in VersaFine Satin Red ink. VersaFine is my favorite ink for stamping solids. The circle can be cut out using the coordinating Cricut cartridge but I just used my favorite circle punch along with the slightly larger scalloped punch, both by EK Success. I love these punches - not only do they work really well, but they store flat and even have a little button to keep them closed when not being used. The metal star and rhinestone embellishments were purchased from my local craft store. The striped paper was from the 6x6 City Sidewalks pad (Recollections, Michaels). The white strip of glittered paper was cut from a 12x12 sheet (Recollections, Michaels).

The card was cut with the Sizzix A2 base and Sizzix Pop 'n Cuts Magnetic Insert Die - Phrase, Noel 3-D. I used the matching decorator Sizzlits Die Set 3PK - Noel to add the red Noel title (fits nicely inside the pop up) and create the poinsettia.

Below is a close up of the poinsettia. I cut the leaves and center from green card stock and 3 poinsettias out of red card stock to make the layered flower. With two of the poinsettia die cuts, I used my scissors to separate the petals so I could shape them individually. With the third, I both cut the petals apart and made them smaller for the middle layers. I used Prismacolor pencils for veining on both the petals and leaves. Using a die pick and rubber mouse pad, I rubbed along the petals/leaves, using the round back end of die pick, to crinkle them, then drew lines down the centers using tip of die pick. I also curled the petals along the edge of the die pick using my thumb (you could easily do this with a thin paintbrush handle too). I added Liquid Pearls to the center die cut (green with red dots).

I used Glossy Accents to glue the layers together, offsetting the first two poinsettia layers then adding the smaller petals individually with tweezers. Finally, I added the green center piece and leaves.

Here is a final photo showing the layers and pop up greeting.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Fremelits Flip-it Square Holiday Cards with Molding Paste

I bought some brass stencils a long time ago but hadn't really used them. I played around with Golden's Light Molding Paste with stencils on multi-media projects; I really like the dimensional look. This was the perfect opportunity to combine the two. Liquitex makes a 48 color set of their Basics, which I found at my local JoAnn's. I was able to use a 50% off coupon (great deal!). I found a green and red in the set to perfectly match the colors of my card stock and patterned paper (6x6 pad, City Sidewalks, Recollections from Michaels). Just mix a small amount of paint with the molding paste until you get the desired color. Very little is required to fill in the stencil. I both mix color and apply the paste with a palette knife.

After the paste has been applied, quickly remove the stencil and wash everything. It is difficult to impossible to remove once it has dried. The moulding paste takes a while to completely dry so I set these aside. The white glitter paper background (12x12 glitter pad, Recollections, Michaels) doesn't show up very well in the photos but looks really beautiful in person - very sparkly. This is what I used as the base for my stenciled sentiments.

The cards bases were cut from smooth card stock (Recollections) using Sizzix Framelits Die Set 12PK - Card, Square Flip-its #2 by Stephanie Bernard. These clever framelits come with several dies that make it really easy to cut the exact shapes needed to decorate your cards. This one is also a Flip-its die; the card center flips when the card is opened. For my cards, I wrote a notes to the recipients on the back sides (not pictured).

Once the molding paste had dried, I added Christmas Red Stickles to the holly berries and a drop of green Liquid Pearls on each of the centers of the poinsettias. Dimensional tape was used to pop up the sentiments.

Below is a view from the top showing dimension, with the centers starting to flip. When the sides are pulled all the way open, the middle flips completely to the other side.

Pop 'n Cuts Ribbon Tree Snowflake Card

I didn't post my holiday cards earlier mainly because I didn't want the recipients to see them before they arrived. Next year I may post them as I make them so anyone interested can use them as inspiration. If the recipients want to spoil the surprise then so be it. At least they won't know which card they will get!

This card was made with the Sizzix Pop 'n Cuts Magnetic Insert Die - Tree, Ribbon 3-D by Karen Burniston. The inside took most of the time to make, as you will note below. I decided to make the front rather simple since the inside has so much decoration. The patterned paper is from Teresa Collins, Santa's List 6x6 pad. Some of the snowflakes are printed right on the paper but I wanted to add more. I used a several Martha Stewart punches - 3 different snowflake punches for the larger snowflakes and the snowflake edge punch for the smaller snowflakes. The white edges of the snowflakes were too distracting (it was white core paper) so I added Aged Mahogany Distress Ink to the edges to help hide them. I cut a strip of gold glitter paper to cover the seam between the patterned paper and my base card stock (Bazzill Basics). The bow was made with gold wire ribbon I bought at one of my local craft stores and stuck down using Glue Dots.

Below is a photo of the inside of the card taken at an angle; there is a full open photo, taken from the top, further below. Since the tree stands straight up, it is too hard to see it in the full open shot. I used the matching Sizzix Sizzlits Die Set 3PK - Noel Set to decorate the tree. I added gold Stickles to the edges star to give it some sparkle and pull in the gold from the front of the card. I used a couple more Martha Stewart snowflakes here (see above). The banner was cut using Tim Holtz, Sizzix Sizzlits Decorative Strip Die - Tattered Banners. The sentiment is a rub on I bought at my local craft store. I used some dimensional tape to pop up the banner in the middle.

The Pop 'n Cuts tree insert die also cuts triangles on either side of the tree. I covered one of them up with patterned paper but I put patterned paper under the other so it would look like another (abstract) tree. To finish off the card, I added some enamel dots in matching colors (there is one in the middle of the burgundy snowflake above the banner as well).

Here is a closeup of the tree. This was the first time I used the tree dies; I really love how the card came out.