Friday, 4 November 2016

Swirly Noel

The fifth challenge of the month of October for the 52 Christmas Card Throwdown is pick a previous sketch. I have gone back to July 2013 for this one:

The technique I've used is based on Leonie Pujol's stencils and masks, and matching stamps. She hasn't brought out the Christmas sets yet (she admitted the other day they weren't done in time for this year - so they'll come out next June - I'll be looking out for them!) So I'm rather cheekily doing the same approach but with a Clarity stencil, and a mix of Christmas stamps.

I started by putting stick 'n' spray on the back of the stencil, letting it dry a bit, then applied it to Clarity stencil card.

Using a blending tool, I applied antique linen around the stencil.

I went though all my stamps and pulled out all the small Christmassy ones, including some swirls and embellishments.

Using archival black, I started stamping around the stencil.

I chose archival black for a crisp finish, although it doesn't wipe off the stencil. I used stazon cleaner when I'd done, and most of it came off, although it doesn't look like new! A dye ink would be better for that, but I only had distress ink, which isn't so crisp.

I gradually added stamps, building up the area around and inside the stencil.

The finer stamps work better, and I like the swirls extending the image out. It goes quickly once you get going, and is 
quite fun. It would be nice to do one with mainly snowflakes. I'd also like to try doing it with versa mark and adding mica powder, but that would end up as a blue card with silver or gold, and after three blue cards already this month, I wanted to go for something different.

Once I was happy with the stamping, time to lift off the stencil.

I think Leonie's stencils are wider than this one, so give a bit more of a dramatic void, and I could use a darker colour ink, but it's still a nice contrast with the busyness of the stamping.

I added colour with pencils, and used grey around the "Noel" to emphasise it. I then trimmed back the image and edged with a black sharpie.

I made the line thicker before finally constructing the card.

I had a few goes at the tilted panel behind the topper.

I wanted to try a technique I saw on Mister Maker (a children's art show my daughter watches) using wetted tissue to stain the card.

I laid the strips over wetted card in both directions, in Christmassy colours, and stuck them down with more water. After it dried, I brushed the strips off, to reveal the stain.

Not really the tartan pattern I was expecting! I think maybe my colours were too dark, and I used different brands of tissue from my stash, which bled unevenly.

So next I tried aged mahogany and pine needles distress inks, dragging the pads directly onto the paper to give a tartan like effect.

Not great either, I think these colours are too dark again, the technique looks lovely with lighter colours.

Third time lucky (otherwise I'd have been searching through my design papers for a tartan or similar!), I blended aged mahogany around the card, then overstepped in the same ink with one of Leonie's stamps, a swirly pattern.

For the base layer, I used pine needles ink and a little star stamp from Lavinia's stamps, that I'd used on the topper.

I love the delicacy of this stamp. However, in this colour it's a bit strong for a background. I brushed more of this ink over to tone it down a bit.

I put the card together on an A5 base, using foam tape to lift up the top two layers. I then decided the topper needed a little lift, so added some gems on two corners, and tiny ones into the stamped pattern, in the centre of the snowflakes mainly.

And I took my photos.

Unfortunately, I then decided I didn't like the background, it fights with the main image too much. And my "in bed at a reasonable time" last night turned into "a late night".

I gently eased the top layers off the card (which I kept in case it works with another design - waste not want not!). And had a bit of think about what to do instead. Maybe the same in a softer colour?

In the end, I went for an embossed layer, in plain white. It's a swirly pattern, which fits better with the topper than the stars, which looked a bit spiky.

I edged the card with black sharpie first, then used a tattered lace embossing folder. It was smaller than the card, so I had to extend the pattern; there's a slight line at the overlap, although the pattern is continuous, but it's disguised by the toppers.

So here's take two.

A fair few false turns to get to this final card. But hopefully some learnings along the way.

I can't wait to play with this technique some more, it's very satisfying. The only problem will be working out where all those stamps I pulled out belong when I come to put them away!


  1. I think your card is absolutely lovely and a great use of the sketch. I've really enjoyed your process too - thanks for sharing all the photos. Love the finished card. Thanks so much for playing along with 52CCT this week! Deborah, DT.

    1. Thank you Deborah. Lots of fun making this one!

  2. Beautiful card. I love how you used all those little stamps to make it look like one complete image. Great job. Love all the details in your instructions and even showing your fails. It's great to learn what works!

    1. Thanks Linda. The technique is "borrowed", not my idea, but I do love it. Crafting is very much a learning journey for me, so much is still new - but then I hope it always will be! I'd rather share that journey than pretend it always goes perfectly, takes the pressure off!


Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I really appreciate hearing from you, and try to respond to every one.