Saturday, 17 December 2016

Exciting news

52CCT Design Team badge

Just a little update to share some very exciting news. As you can see from the new badge on my sidebar, I've been invited to join the design team at the Christmas Card Throwdown. I'm very chuffed indeed, and looking forward to sharing my designs and seeing all the wonderful and inspirational Christmas cards the challenge inspires over the coming year.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Can glitter be clean and simple?

Christmas card with blue panel, black glitter snowflakes and reindeer

It's a stash challenge at the 52 Christmas Card Throwdown this week, and they've given us "Glitter". And what's more Christmassy than a bit of sparkle?

52CCT November stash challenge - glitter

I'm really feeling that silly season has set in - I had my first Christmas dinner last night - so it's another CAS card. I'm really appreciating having built up a stash of cards over the year, and having been able to take my time over at least some of them! This time I've done a version of this card I made last year (almost to the day).

I cut Clarity Card to size to go onto a 5x7 card and also an A6 card, as I couldn't decide which to use.

I tore copier paper, and attached with masking tape to create a panel.

On the smaller piece I added picked raspberry and seedless preserve distress ink, with a blending tool.

Torn paper masks with a pink panel between

On the larger piece, I used tumbled glass, salty ocean, peacock fathers and chipped sapphire.

Torn paper masks with a blue panel between

With the paper still in place, I stamped snowflakes into the panel in versamark ink. I added white glitter embossing powder to the pink one...

Pink panel across a card, with glitter snowflakes

... and black glitter embossing powder to the blue one, which I completely forgot to take a photo of.

I drew along the edge of the pink panel with a black pen, and edged the card with a bright pink sharpie. The blue one I edged with black sharpie.

For the topper, I got out my "other" Tattered Lace reindeer die. The one I used last year is my favourite, but it's nice to give this one an outing.

I cut it from black and white glitter card. I wanted a drop shadow behind each, so cut out two of each, and attached them (with PVA on the back of my hand) to the opposite colour, one with black on top, one with white.

Leaping reindeer die cuts, in black and white glitter card

If I'd planned a bit, I'd have cut two of them with the thin adhesive sheet on the back, to use to attach them.

I then put the panel cards onto the card bases, and the reindeer on top (with foam pads for dimension). I ended up putting the blue one the opposite way up to the original plan, but it just looked better that way!

Christmas card with pink panel, glitter snowflakes and white glitter reindeer

This is a brighter, more shocking pink in real life, the contrast with the black is pleasing.

Christmas card with blue panel, black glitter snowflakes and reindeer

This black embossing powder is a more solid colour than I'd anticipated. I quite like the modern black snowflakes!

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Blast from the Past - Clarity Challenge November 2016

ART vs Craft canvas board

It's the last day of the month, so obviously I've been doing my Clarity Challenge entry!

The theme is "Blast from the past". This has been used as a Clarity stamp you've had for a long time, or a challenge theme for the past. I've tried to cover it all ways!

I haven't been collecting Clarity products for that long, but the first stamps I bought were a selection of New Design Club back issues. One was the nautilus, which was issue 7, so I reckon must be quite old! So I've used that.

The first stencils I got were the leafy swirl, abstract squares and flared frame, so I've used the first two. I've also got a wheelie stencil, which I think goes back a bit, so I've used that, as well as the brick work and the curly 2 in 1.

In terms of a past challenge, well, Challenge 1 was "Anything goes", but that seems a bit like cheating, so how about Challenge 15 from May 2014, "It's all about the words"?

I've just started reading and working through Melissa Dinwiddie's book, The Creative Sandbox Way. I've followed Melissa for a while, I love her art, as well as her approach. The book has prompted lots of thinking and conversations about art vs craft, which has led to this piece.

I have been raiding my stash of backgrounds recently, and have used a lot of them in this (more blasts from the past!). I have a lot of gelli prints using the leafy swirl stencil, some which tore and can't be used as a whole.

Gel plate prints using the leafy swirl stencil, light green, red and dark green/blue

I dug these out for my "ART" letters. I remember being so gutted when the red one tore, it looked beautiful through the plate.

I printed out the three letters in very bold, and cut them out as templates, then drew round them on the prints and cut out.

Letters A, R and T cut from patterned card

I roughed up the edges with a craft blade, then mounted them on cream zeta hammered card, and cut round with a border.

For the "CRAFT" letters, I pulled out some scraps, from mopping up ink and cleaning the brayer. I cut squares out with a die (using my amazingly useful nested squares again!)

4 squares of card with textured colour

The letters were then stamped with different colours of archival ink. I used the initial letters from word chain words, masking the rest of the word. One day I'll get the alphabet set, but in the meantime I'm getting quite good at this!

Letters A R T in patterned card and C A F T stamped on coloured squares

Before I mounted them, I added vintage photo distress ink to the edge of the ART letters, to tone them down.

More words for the background, using the wheelie stencil. I inked through the stencil onto white tissue, using distress inks and a blending tool.

create, express and explore stencilled onto tissue

All words that resonate with the creative process, whether it's art or craft!

The other element to go on is the nautilus stamps, onto another scrap from cleaning the brayer. I used black archival as it was acrylic paint. (I didn't get photos of these !)

For the background I used an A4 canvas board. I started by adding grunge paste through the squares and curly stencil.

A4 canvas board with grunge paste in squares and curls

When this had dried, I painted it all with black gesso. I then started adding colour, with acrylic paint. I brushed through punchinella, and dry brushed, although as the gesso wasn't quite dry, it ended up a bit muddy. So I dried it with the heat tool (short on time!) and had another go, with lighter colours - a cream, and hey pesto green. I overdid the cream and punchinella, although the mix of the two colours was lovely. I then brought in some cherry red, and got pink where it mixed with cream. This was turning into one of those "keep going till you like it" projects.

I dry brushed cream over the curly grunge paste, which highlighted it nicely.

The squares on the bottom left needed lifting, so I added red dots, then went through the leafy swirl stencil (didn't work), then the brick stencil, which I liked, but it was too pink. So I added purple, and was finally happy!

I tried the leafy swirl stencil on the main area as well, with a make up sponge, but it didn't look right, so I ended up dabbing over with the sponge, and sweeping up from the bottom with it, with the mix of colours that had developed on my palette (a plastic box rescued from the recycling!)

A4 canvas board with grunge paste in squares and curls coloured in greens, pinks and purples

They say it's about knowing when to stop. Sometimes the time to stop is when you have to go and pick your daughter up from the childminder!

The next stage is to get the mod podge out, to add the tissue words and the nautiluses. I had to be careful with the tissue, as I'd used a dye ink and didn't want it to run, but I didn't want to use an archival ink and get it all over the stencil. The tissue more or less disappears, so the words sink into the background, as I'd hoped.

A4 canvas board with grunge paste, nautiluses and words added

After this point, I decided I needed a third nautilus (they say odd numbers look better, turns out they are right!). I dabbed green paint over the two shown here, to merge them into the background a bit more, they looked too clean and crisp.

I added the letters with 3D silicon glue, to stand out a bit. To define the edges of the canvas I ran the black archival ink pad around them.

To mount, I got an A3 canvas board. It looked a little plain, so I added a final touch with one of the pattern stamps, in opposite corners. I used black archival ink, and touched up with a permanent pen - stamping on canvas is a bit inexact!

I attached the two canvases with an adhesive sheet.

And the final thing - I put my initials on the bottom corner.

ART vs Craft canvas board

I had no real idea how this would turn out when I started. The process was a lot of fun (and isn't that the point?), and I'm pleased with the outcome.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Ivy wreath

Ivy wreath on white front door, with red bow, baubles and poinsettia

We have a gorgeous ivy covered wall at the front of our house, which grows madly. We used branches from it in the table centrepieces for our wedding, I love ivy leaves and it was a way to include something from home, as we didn't get married locally.

I've been making use of it again for a Christmas wreath. I saw this done on TV years ago (Kirstie Allsop I think), and have been meaning to try it each year since. My prompt was this month's Berkhamsted Creative Challenge - which has a Christmas theme to help us get ready.

Berkhamsted Creative Challenge November 2016 - Christmas

Ivy branches with box of Christmas deorations

My ingredients are a selection of long branches cut from the wall, and a box of decorations I've had for years. I think I bought these on the post Christmas sales, for gift wrapping and things.

First step is to make the wreath - twisting the ivy strands round each other. Forming a circle is very easy, filling out the gaps and getting the leaves pointing the way I want is a bit more fiddly.

Ivy wreath

But I think it looks quite good, very verdant.

Next I add some decorations - a ribbon at the top, some baubles and poinsettia flowers around the ring. Not too much, I don't want to overwhelm the ivy, I want it to stand out rather than be the background. The Baubles are tied on with their strings, the poinsettia are wired - very handy.

Ivy wreath with red bow, baubles and poinsettia

Touches of red to set off the lush green ivy. Ready to hang on the front door.

Ivy wreath on white front door, with red bow, baubles and poinsettia

Just fits below the knocker - luck rather than judgement, maybe I should have measured first!

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Old Fashioned Christmas

Christmas card with old fashioned Santa image in frame, foliage and bow

This week's theme challenge at the 52 Christmas Card Throwdown is Old Fashioned Christmas.

52CCT theme challenge - Old Fashioned Christmas

I have some paper packs with lovely, vintage images, which I really like but don't fit with my usual cards. So this was a good excuse to dig them out.

I also pulled out some wooden frame embellishments, some old and some new, to, well, frame the pictures.

Hubby has been getting me some great dies from The Works (very reasonable too) so I used the foliage ones, and a Tattered Lace ivy die, to cut another design paper - it has a subtle snowflake pattern and a linen texture, so the foliage doesn't look too flat.

The red background paper contrasts nicely with the foliage and frames, so they stand out. I blended brushed corduroy distress ink around the edges. I added a strip of cream "Merry Christmas" ribbon around the card.

The final touch is the bow and stars. These were die cut from another of the vintage images, which had a glitter and gloss finish, to give a touch of sparkle and to match Santa's hat, which also has a bit of sparkle in it.

I put the card together on an A6 card base, using super sticky tape. I really don't get on with glue, but needed something more than tape runner to hold the wooden embellishments.

Christmas card with old fashioned Santa image in frame, foliage and bow

It's a bit of a change from my usual style (if I have one) but it's been fun to try a different look, and a bit of a mixed media approach.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Quick and easy, twice

Christmas card, foliage branches and seasons greetings sentiment

I was just finishing my clean and simple cards for the 52 Christmas Card Throwdown colour challenge, when my daughter woke up. As I cuddled and settled her, I had another idea of what I could do (simply) with lime green and real red.

52 CCT colour challenge, lime green and real red

I say I had an idea, it's a straight copy of a card Barbara Gray did on telly, adapted to the colours and the stamps I have.

On 7x7 stencil card again, I positioned a sticky note in the centre. I stamped under one corner (using the sticky note for positioning) with a big wooden stamp of a fir branch. This was a bit of a favourite last year, I haven't used it this year so good to get it out again.

I reversed the sticky note and stamped again in the opposite corner. I used crushed olive distress ink.

With the sticky note in place, I brushed on more crushed olive with stencil brushes, between the images. When the note is removed there's a nice crisp aperture.

I stamped the "Season's Greetings" sentiment in fired brick in the middle.

Then it's just a case of trimming back, edging in the crushed olive with a distress marker, and mounting on a 7x7 card base.

Christmas card, foliage branches and seasons greetings sentiment

Having done this, I wondered whether a red border would have been better. Only one way to find out, and it's such a quick card, it's easy to make another and try it.

Christmas card, foliage branches and seasons greetings sentiment

Hmm, think I do prefer the green, but now have two cards I'm happy to send to friends - it is getting to that time where my stash will be put to use!

Keeping it simple

CAS Christmas card, Merry Christmas with holly, in lime and red

It's a busy week, with Bethany's second birthday on Friday and my mum arriving tomorrow, so I needed to get my card done early for the 52 Christmas Card Throwdown challenge.

It's a colour challenge, lime green and real red.

52 CCT colour challenge lime green and real red

Hmm, not sure what I think of these colours! They would be good for a poinsettia, but I don't have a stamp or a die for that (makes a note on the wish list!). What with everything, it's a week for clean and simple, and I decide to stick to words (sort of).

I also don't have the exact colours, but again, not going to muck around so I'll make do with the nearest I have - fired brick and crushed olive distress ink and distress markers, plus barn door marker, and a red and fresh green pigment ink.

I get out the 7x7 stencil card and start playing, and end up with a range of cards. I like some more than others, and some I think are a bit too simple, I'll add something to them before using.

CAS Christmas card, Merry Christmas with holly, in lime and red
I think this is one of my favourites. It uses word chain stamps from Clarity, and an old rubber holly stamp, one of the first stamps I got, that I love. I stamped the words in fired brick, then went around one side of each letter with the crushed olive distress marker (the fine nib).

The border is a wide stripe of crushed olive, then a narrow stripe of red sharpie. And yes, I did test this on scrap first to make sure it worked! I cut down the card around the words, and mounted on a 6x6 card base; some are on 5x7 cards.

CAS Christmas card, Merry Christmas with holly, in lime with red

This is a similar card, but with the colours reversed.

CAS Christmas card, Merry Christmas with holly, in lime and red, portrait

And again, but portrait.

CAS Christmas card, Season's Greetings with bird, in lime and red, portrait

A different set of word chain stamps used here, and I had another go at a stamped drop shadow. The bird is from a Hobby Art stamp set.

CAS Christmas card, words in a circle with starts around, landscape

A different approach here. This is a Crafters Companion stamp (the word bauble), with a Lavinia's stamp star cluster around it. Very plain, but looks pretty good in real life (in my humble opinion!)

CAS Christmas card, Ho Ho Ho in red with lime green swirls

Another take again. I used the red pigment ink here; the Ho Ho Ho stamp is not such good quality, I can't remember where I got the set, might have been a freebie, so the distress ink just beaded on it.

CAS Christmas card, Ho Ho Ho in red with green swirls

This is a version of the card above. This time I used my "Hope" stamp from Clarity, masking to get Ho Ho Ho, so could use the distress ink. But I used the pigment ink for the swirls.

CAS Christmas card, Merry and Bright in red with green holly swirls

And a final card using the pigment inks. I definitely think I'll add something to this one before using it.

So lots of playing, and a batch of cards, some more successful than others!

Friday, 11 November 2016

A warm welcome at Christmas

Christmas card, houses with a moon above, Season's Greetings sentiment and 3 presents on the left

We're back with another sketch at the 52 Christmas Card Throwdown Challenge this week.

52CCT sketch - three squares in a vertical line on left, square behind

I love this design, it's sparked so many ideas. I have several cards half made using this, and some stash pieces from things that didn't work out, but here's the card I finished.

I started with Clarity stencil card, and stamped the wee houses along the bottom, using potting soil archival ink.

Masked houses with a moon mask above

I added a mask for a large moon, and also masked the houses (the masks come with the stamps, makes it very easy).

Next I added the sky with chipped sapphire distress ink, using the brayer.

Masked houses with a moon mask above, in a dark blue sky

I stamped stars in the background with versa mark, hoping for a resist effect, but they didn't show through the ink.

I used a make up sponge to add ink around the moon and houses, to sharpen up the edges.

With the masks removed, there's a nice contrast.

Houses with a moon above in a dark blue sky

I brushed a bit of blue across the moon, to tone down the whiteness a little bit.

I stamped a sentiment across the moon, using the Clarity word chains. First time in the potting soil archival.

Houses with a moon above, Season's Greetings sentiment

I took a picture at this stage in case I mucked up the next bit.

I then used aged mahogany distress ink, second generation, for a drop shadow.

Houses with a moon above, Season's Greetings sentiment with drop shadow

Not perfect, could have been straighter and closer to the original, but still like the effect.

I trimmed the card down, and edged with brown sharpie.

Next to add some colour to the houses. I used Faber Castell pencils. Warm yellow for the windows, and red/brown shades to fit in with the line art and words.

Coloured houses with a moon above, Season's Greetings sentiment

For the three squares down the side, I die cut three presents, using a Tattered Lace die.

I cut pieces to fit behind, and brayered ink on in red, brown and blue to coordinate with the background. I didn't like the bows on the die, so cut a different bow using a spellbinders die, and inked though the die to give a white border.

3 die cut  filigree presents, white with re, brown and blue behind, with matching bows

The orginal idea was to have Santa's sleigh going across the moon, which makes more sense of the presents!

Blue houses stamped below a large moon, with Santa's sleigh

This is the first version using that idea, but it was a bit too blue, and I cut it portrait for a 5x7 card base, then didn't have space for the squares. I'll find a way to use this though, maybe add sparkly snowflakes down the side.

This time, I used a 6x6 card base. I mounted the background and the presents on foam tape to raise them up, with the bows on little pads. The top one was off the top of the background, so needed two tiny pads, and a bit of super sticky tape under one of the tails to secure it.

Christmas card, houses with a moon above, Season's Greetings sentiment and 3 presents on the left

I like the warmth that using the brown tones gives to my favourite blue. It feels much more like a traditional Christmas card.

Christmas card, houses with a moon above, Season's Greetings sentiment and 3 presents on the left

And I have finally used my wee houses - I wanted these from launch, treated myself in the summer, but hadn't actually put them to use. They're such lovely, detailed stamps.