Thursday, 31 March 2016

Every morning is a fresh beginning

I have finally made my entry for the first challenge of the Berkhamsted Creative Challenge! Just in time, tomorrow we announce the next theme.

This month's theme has been Fresh Beginnings; we've had some beautiful entries.

My sunrise picture started with Clarity Stencil card (7x7) and a torn paper mask, plus a sun mask, cut from a sticky note with a die.

I brushed over a little squeezed lemonade distress ink, including where the sun is so it's not too white, using Clarity Stencil brushes. I then switched to mustard seed, then spiced marmalade around the sun and horizon.

Switching the mask to the lower half, I applied mowed lawn distress ink at the bottom, then a layer of bundled sage, using a make up sponge to help define the hill, then iced spruce for the furthest hills. I also added a Hobby Art tree stamp, in black permanent ink.

Well done if you spotted that my hills changed from the first picture to the second - my first tree stamp smudged,so I started again!

The next step was the quote - I used the Groovi parchment system to write it out, then tore the parchment to mimic the hills.

The parchment has curled where I've embossed it, so has been under a heavy book for a lot of the afternoon.

For the background I tried a couple of approaches.

First I used a plastic folder, cut open. I put distress ink on the inside (mowed lawn, spiced marmalade and mustard seed to match the main image), spritzed it with water then put a larger piece of stencil card inside.

I repeated a few times, and got this bright and funky sheet.

I also used my gelli plate, applying the same colours with the brayer, then removing some ink with cling film or crumpled tissue.

I think both could work, but I went with one of the gelli plate sheets - the rest are added to the stash!

I cut the main image back, and edged it with a black sharpie, and did the same with the background. I folded the parchment and attached it on the back of the landscape.

To mount, I used black foam board. I cut pieces to fit behind both sheets, attached them, and attached the landscape to the centre of the background. The foam board is thicker than foam tape, so gives a nice height to the central image, and stiffens the background.

It has gone back under the heavy book to reduce the curl on the parchment (it may require a little glue dot if that doesn't work). But that's my take on Fresh Beginnings. For me, it's about warmth and optimism.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Green and white

A colour challenge over at the 52 Christmas Card Throwdown Challenge this week.

Julie did ask us to think beyond trees and holly, but this was done this afternoon at the last minute, so please forgive me! At least the tree is white not green!

I started with Clarity stencil card, and added colour with distress inks - pine needles, mowed lawn and squeezed lemonade. I used stencil brushes and my brayer, creating a gradation of colour across the card.

I added circles of the same colours, using Jo's bubbles stencil from Clarity and a blending tool.

I also tried making circles by lifting off colour with water. I worked well but the water tended to bleed so the circles weren't defined enough.

I put a double sided adhesive sheet onto the back, then cut the sheet into strips 1.5cm wide.

I then turned half of them around, and stuck them onto copier paper.

I trimmed it down to an even shape, and edged it with pine needles distress ink. That gives me a green background.

My topper is a fancy Christmas tree cut from centura pearl card with a spellbinders die.

To finish the card, I matt the background onto plain green card, then mount on a white 8x8 card, cut down across the bottom. The finishing touch is some white gems on the corners.

Quite simple, but I like the way the background has turned out, modern and clean.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

All About the Girls - March Clarity Challenge

Mothers Day card with parchment house martin and purple and yellow background

This month's Clarity Challenge is All About the Girls. So I decided to make my entry my mum's Mother's Day card. She loved it, which is the main thing, but let's hope the Clarity guys do too.

The card is in two main parts, the foreground and background, and I flitted between the two, working on one as the other dried.

The foreground is parchment, using the Groovi system, but I also stamped on it.

I started with the lettering, from the Groovi plate mate, then stamped the house martin (the February Clarity New Design Club stamp) in permanent black on the front of the parchment.

Parchment with Happy Mothers Day and stamped house martin

While that dried, I started the background. I used Clarity stencil card, and added distress inks with a blending tool. The colours I used are dusty concord, mustard seed, spiced marmalade and seedless preserves.

Purple and Orange inked background

It looks a bit like a bad bruise, but I have faith it'll work out!

Coming back to the card the next day, I add a border to the parchment using the nested squares - I've not had these long, but they're very useful.

I start to add white work, gently embossing from the back, to the house martin.

Parchment with Happy Mothers Day, coloured, and stamped house martin with white work

I also colour in the letters with a sharpie.

The white work is something else to leave and come back to, gradually building up from grey to white.

Meanwhile, in the background… I add some detail with stencils. I used the harlequin and Jo's bubbles stencils, with the same distress inks. I can't believe I nearly didn't get Jo's bubbles when it was in the sale at the start of the year, it's proven to be so useful already.

Purple and Orange inked background with stencilled patterns

Back with the parchment, once I'm happy with the white work I turn to the border, to add a bit of interest. I settle on the deckle border from the border plate (I don't have the deckle nested plate). 

Parchment with Happy Mothers Day, stamped house martin with white work and border with deckle detail

Time for some colouring in. I used a navy, purple and turquoise sharpie for the house martin, and purple for the outside of the border.

Border and house martin coloured in

Close up of coloured in house martin

The final step is to cut it out. I don't have my piercing plates yet, so I used a pair of curvy cut scissors to cut just outside the border.

The background needs its final layer - I use one of the shepherd's purse stamps in dusty concord around the outside. I didn't take a picture of this for some reason, you can see it on the finished card though.

As always, the question is how to mount the parchment. As I didn't colour in the border completely, I can't add tape behind it. So instead, I make another section of background, using the same colours and the blending tool.

Purple and yellow inked background section

I use a corner punch to make two slots, and mount the parchment in this. I use a small piece of tape behind the bird to help secure it.

This piece is then mounted with foam tape onto the main background. This is mounted onto an A4 card base, which I cut down to the right size.

Mothers Day card with parchment house martin and purple and yellow background

Mothers Day card with parchment house martin and purple and yellow background

I'm pleased with how rich and warm this looks - parchment can be soft and understated, it mutes the colours, but then again it's all about how you use it. I've not tried stamping on it before, but it adds another dimension. I'm constantly amazed at how versatile the Groovi system and parchment is proving to be.

I'm also chuffed to get an entry in well before the deadline - think that's a first!

Friday, 11 March 2016

Stag Night

It's a sketch challenge at 52 Christmas Card Throwdown this week.

My automatic response was to look for an oval die or shape to add, then I remembered my oval stencil from ClarityStamp (part of a set of outline shapes, which come with the "innies") and decided to go a different way.

I don't have many photos this week, as this was done late one night as I've had my mum to stay - it's been lovely!

As well as the stencil, I used a moon mask cut from a post it note with a die, and torn copy paper hills. The card is Clarity card. I added the sky in chipped sapphire distress ink, using a brayer and make up sponge. The hills were made with a make up sponge, and the trees stamped over the torn paper in black permanent ink. They're from Clarity's cabin in the woods stamp set. The stag is a dovecrafts stamp.

This is the first version I made:

I really liked it (although the stag will need a little touching up), but the black ink had bled through the paper a little, and when I tried to tidy it up I thought I'd ruined it. Fortunately, it's dried okay, but in the meantime I had another go, and changed the composition a little.

I'm not as happy with the trees in this one, but it is a bit tidier. The stag in front of the moon is perhaps a bit contrived, but why not! I'll use both, but I went with the second for my challenge entry.

I've used a white pen to add snow to this version.

For the layers, I added chipped sapphire with a little black soot distress ink to the edges of two more sheets of card, one with a blending tool, the other with the brayer.

I trimmed back the image and the layer.

For the vertical strip, I was going to do snowflakes, but thought it would look odd, and not match the plain and naturalistic style of the main image. So I added hills and trees to a strip of Clarity card instead.

I like how this looks too, as my mum said, it'd make a lovely book mark. I'm not sure whether it's needed on this card (except to match the sketch), when I make up the other image, maybe I won't add this bit.

I mounted it onto an A5 card, cut down to be shorter to fit the images. I constructed the card flat, just with a tape pen, keeping it simple.

I've been wanting to have another play with these simple landscapes for a while, they're so effective and atmospheric. There are so many stamp images you could use with them, some more dramatic like the stag, or more playful, with Father Christmas and elves. And once you get the basics, they're quite quick too. I think they make great, stylish Christmas cards.

Friday, 4 March 2016

The one that got away

Stencilled Christmas card, purple and orange with Merry Christmas sentiment

The 52 Christmas Card Throwdown this week is about stencilling. I've used stencilling for the last two weeks, so I'm on a roll for this one.

52CCT technique challenge - stencilling

I don't have a lot of time this week, and have birthday cards, new baby cards and a mother's day card to make as well, so this one needed to be quick and simple. Which it is, but didn't turn out quite as planned, it got away from me a bit. I think it's the least Christmassy looking Christmas card I've ever made!

I started with 7x7 Clarity stencil card, and the Vintage Label stencil from That Special Touch. I used a little bit of a repositionable tape pen to hold the stencil in the middle of the card. With Clarity stencil brushes, I added ripe persimmon distress ink to one side, and dusty concord to the other, blending where they met.

Purple and orange background with stencilled frame

The plan had been to add tumbled glass snowflakes in the middle, but I decide that would be too much, so went with the same colours, dry brushing for a subtle look. The stencil is Snow Flurry by That Special Touch.

Purple and orange background with frame and snowflake stencil being added
Purple and orange stencilled background with frame and snowflakes

I raided my stash of bits and bobs I've already made and found this Merry Christmas die cut, in Centura Pearl hint of gold.

Merry Christmas die cut sentiment in white

A really useful die! But it disappears a bit in white, so I take another piece of the Centura Pearl card and add the same distress inks. I started with the brushes again, then used the blending tool to get a deeper colour.

Purple and orange coloured card

I cut it with the same die, across the blend on colour.

Purple and orange die cut Merry Christmas sentiment

The idea is to use this on top, with the white one as a drop shadow.

I also kept the negative piece, and all the bits from the middle of the die, to try to make another topper.

Purple and orange negative from die cut Merry Christmas sentiment

We'll see if I can not lose them all, and stick them down in the right place so it's legible.

So I have all the bits now. I trimmed the background down, and brushed the edges so they weren't bright white. Stick the sentiment down (both layers), and mount on a 7x7 white card. Simple. Not even foam tape on this one, very postage friendly!

(A confession - I don't have 7x7 cards, and didn't want to cut an 8x8 down, so it's just mounted on a piece of card for the photos, with removable tape, until I can get the right card bases.)

Stencilled Christmas card, purple and orange with Merry Christmas sentiment

Stencilled Christmas card, purple and orange with Merry Christmas sentiment

Stencilled Christmas card, purple and orange with Merry Christmas sentiment

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Bethany Creates

Mother's Day card with flowers, dragonfly, caterpillar and star

Like Mother, like daughter - here's Bethany's first card, made for Mother's day, or "día de la Madre", at our Lingotastic Spanish class yesterday. I love the colours, and the balanced composition. She's discovered glitter already, I'll have her embossing and gilding before you know it!

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Fresh Beginnings

I just wanted to share a crafty creation of a different sort. I've helped to start the Berkhamsted Creative Challenge Group on Facebook, with Berkhamsted Arts and Crafts, our fantastic local craft shop. Today our first challenge has been launched - with the theme of Fresh Beginnings.

I can't wait to see what the creative folk of Berkhamsted (and around) share with us! The idea of the group is to get people's creative juices flowing, and encourage them to actually get making. I really hope it develops into a supportive space for people to share their work, develop their skills and inspire and be inspired by other local artists and crafters.

Watch this space for my take on Fresh Beginnings!