Saturday, 2 December 2017

Frosty snowflakes

Our final Christmas Card Throwdown of the year is a bit different, as the big day approaches and things tend to get hectic for most people! We're asking you to pick a previous challenge from 2012 or 2013. The challenge archives are on the challenge site - over two years that gives you loads of choice, and loads of scope to be creative!

I have chosen to go back to April 2012 for a theme challenge

Although these cards could just about fit with the colour challenge from April 2013.

I had a session with the gel press plate a while ago, in preparation for another project which I really must blog soon!

I had these pieces left over.

This was a print in shades of blue, including metallic. I'd lifted paint off the gel plate with snowflake stamps before printing.

This was similar, but using a snowflake stencil to create a void in the print.

Finally, this was some of the card I stamped off on after I'd lifted the paint - so technically waste!

On the first two pieces, I covered the snowflake stencil in versamark and ran through the grand calibur. I then added silver embossing powder and heated. I wanted to fill the void in the second piece, but it was a bit wonky, and the void was larger than the stencil, so it looked a bit rubbish! But I think you can usually do something with most things. I tried adding ink to fill the white spaces around the embossing (which acted as a resist). I used salty ocean and chipped sapphire distress ink. And it looked amazing, if I do say so myself! It gave a really enchanted look. I wish I'd taken before and after photos, but as always I was pushed for time.

On the first piece, I added detail with a music score and a script stamp, using archival permanent ink over the acrylic paint (watering can and cobalt blue).

I cut each piece down to create smaller sections to go into aperture cards. I used the apertures, held over the larger piece, to work out which areas looked best and how to position them, before cutting down.

I wasn't organised enough to go and buy aperture cards, so I used dies to cut standard 5x7 and 6x6 cards. That meant I didn't have a third flap to cover the back of the sections and make them neat. Instead, I used an insert and fixed it at the edge as well as the centre of the front part of the card.

For the third piece (the waste!) I blended distress ink around the edge of the cut sections to create a large ombre, which again changed the cards from crisp to ethereal.

So from three pieces of card (and possibly some leftovers from other pieces, I can't remember exactly!) I made 8 beautiful cards!

If I were more organised (or didn't like playing and trying new things so much!) I'd do this more, making sets of cards together,

The snowflakes I've used for this are a stamp set from Clarity, which I go back to again and again. The stencil is also Clarity.

To join in with our final challenge of the year, head over to the Christmas Card Throwdown. You have until Friday 29th December to play - a long time at this busy time, and if you have any special cards you don't want to show until you've given them to the lucky recipient, you will still have a chance to post.

I look forward to seeing all the variants that you come up with from the challenges from the early years of the Christmas Card Throwdown.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Green and brown reindeer

A second, very different, card for our colour challenge at the Christmas Card Throwdown.

I bought this set of stamps in one of my bargain bundles a couple of months ago. It's not my usual style, but I thought the images were very pretty, so worth getting at sale price.

I started by stamping the reindeer in vintage photo distress oxide and using a water brush to draw to the colour. But it quickly got messy, so I stamped again, in potting soil archival ink this time.

I then coloured using the distress oxides and a water brush. Vintage photo and frayed burlap for the browns, and twisted citron, cracked pistachio and iced spruce for the greens, with salty ocean, stormy sky and black soot mixed in to create different shades.

To frame it, and bring the kraft card in, I cut an aperture with a die from a nested set from The Works. To add interest, I ran it through an embossing folder from spellbinders, then brushed vintage photo distress ink over to catch on the raised areas. I also edged the aperture and outside with the ink pad.

I used a little black soot to add shadow under the hooves to ground the reindeer a little.

I added to a 5x7 card blank.

I'm not a colourer, but I do enjoy playing with colouring images like this. Using the inks and water brush naturally gives variation and makes blending easy, so while it may not be perfect, I find I can get results I'm happy with, without a lot of skill.

To play along with this colour challenge, visit us at the Christmas Card Throwdown, you have until midnight GMT on Friday 1st December.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Brown, green, kraft

As we enter the final straight for Christmas card making (for this year) we have a colour challenge for you at the Christmas Card Throwdown.

I always find the colour challenges including kraft hard to get my head around - until this time I realised I could play with my distress oxides on kraft card!

I used cracked pistachio and twisted citron for my greens, and frayed burlap and vintage photo for the browns.

I also did a couple of pieces on white card (at the top in the photo), the lime green came out well on these, so they're in the stash, possibly for the reminder card next week!

For my first card (shown second above), I cut the kraft card down to size for a 5x5 card, then die cut my favourite Merry Christmas sentiment from the centre. I cut a white card to size to mount the sentiment on, using the remains of the piece I'd cut as a mat to frame it. I dragged the vintage photo ink pad around the edge.

The white looked a little plain, so I used a holly corner punch on each corner, which also showed the background through. After I attached the sentiment, I decided it was still too plain, so added some second generation stamping in brushed corduroy distress ink.

I wanted to show the background off more with the second card, so reversed it. I cut the sentiment from white card and added to the background. These letters are from a Christmas alphabet set I bought a while ago but haven't used. I think it's gorgeous, but the first time I cut it, the card stuck in the dies so tightly that I tore the letters trying to release them. I wiped over the dies with a tumble dryer sheet and tried again, with a slightly thinner plate in my machine, and they worked much better. I used the same holly punch on the corners. I edged with the vintage photo ink pad again.

Two more cards to add to the pile, which I'll need to start sending out very soon! 

To join in with our colour challenge, head over to the Christmas Card Showdown, where you'll see all the great inspiration cards from my DT teammates. You have until midnight GMT (7pm EDT in the States) on Friday 1st December to enter. I can't wait to see how you play with this combo!

Saturday, 11 November 2017

A quick mica sketch

As we get nearer to Christmas, my Christmas card making seems to get squeezed more and more! I guess there's so much else going on, especially as we have the builders in at the moment. That's one reason why I love doing the Christmas Card Throwdown - I have a stash of cards built up by this time of the year, so no last minute rush!

Here's another quick card using our current sketch challenge.

I started with a mica powder background. This is a Wow stamp I got a while ago as it was so gorgeous, but haven't actually used before. I stamped in versamark then dusted over with blue mica powder, it looks so gorgeously shimmery! If I hadn't been so last minute, I'd have stamped more and used different colours, to put aside for another time - although I'm meant to be reducing my stash of backgrounds, not adding to it!

I cut an aperture with a die from a magazine.

To go behind, I used a snow scene stamp from Hobby Art. I stamped in black momento onto white card - super simple!

The image was a little narrower than the aperture, so I added more leaves at the top and flowers at the bottom by inverting the stamp - the stamp platform really helps with positioning.

For a sentiment, I stamped in black on white, to tie in with the image, and die cut with a rectangle die.

I trimmed back the mica background; the size of the stamp determined the card size, which is A6. I constructed with foam tape to lift the aperture away from the image.

This one really relies on the beauty of the stamps to make the card, along with the mica. I haven't used mica powder much recently, although it's one of my favourite products.

To join in with our sketch challenge and top up your christmas card stash, head over to the challenge blog, you have until midnight GMT on Friday 17th November to join in.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Two stash cards

My cards for the current Christmas Card Throwdown challenge are really last minute, even for me. I started about 5.30pm Friday evening!

We have a sketch to play with this time.

I was looking in my stash for a background to use, when I found these pieces.

I made these playing with distress oxides and embossing folders. The two at the bottom are in pink, red and green as I made them while the September colour challenge was on, but didn't get round to making them into cards. The two on the left are using coated card, as a friend at a crafting workshop had suggested trying it for a less chalky finish. The two on the right are uncoated.

I trimmed the snowflakes down for 5x7 card bases (the folder size was a match so I basically trimmed back to the embossed area). I then cut ovals from the houses, using a die. I went for the left side, on the basis that I'd be left with usable pieces for other cards - waste not want not!

I edged the ovals and backgrounds with the distress oxides I'd used to make them. (This meant I had ink on my blending mat, so you know I made some amazing mop up pieces for my stash - but as I took four out, and put three back in for this project, that's a net win on clearing the stash!)

I wanted to frame the ovals, so die cut a wreath twice from white uncoated card. I cut this into sections to fit around the coated card oval. I cut an ivy die from the same card, again twice, trimmed a little and used to frame the other oval.

This was quite fiddly - at this point this went from being a quick and easy card to a bit more involved - it was inevitable!

I needed a sentiment for the bottom of the cards, and this involve more faffing about, trying different die cut words and stamps/banners.

In the end, I die cut "Noel" and inked with the distress oxides for the coated card. It didn't stand out enough, so I mounted onto white and fussy cut around with a border.

For the uncoated card, I used a solid stamp. I inked up in two distress oxides to match the background (stormy sky and peacock feathers) and stamped onto white card, then trimmed back to give a white border.

I attached the backgrounds to the card blanks with double sided tape. As they are embossed, and had warped a little as they'd had a lot of water on them when they were made, I wanted something stronger than a tape pen.

I mounted the ovals and sentiments with foam tape.

I'm pretty pleased with the results. The snowflake backgrounds are gorgeous, so atmospheric. I don't remember being that impressed when I made them, maybe I had a different result in mind, but I love them now. The topper colours are a little random, I wouldn't have planned them like that, but it works, serendipitously.

To play along with this sketch challenge, head over to the Christmas Card Throwdown. You have until midnight GMT (7pm EDT in the States) on Friday 17th November to join in.

I can't wait to see what you come up with!

Monday, 23 October 2017

Canvas and Wood

It's time for a stash challenge at the Christmas Card Throwdown.

This month, we'd like to you make a Christmas or Winter card using canvas and/or wood.

For this, I pulled out a roll of canvas I got "on spec" over the summer.

I cut a length, and started painting it in purple shades.

I added streaks in silver and metallic white.

I also painted a smaller piece in metallic white. I used the same brush, so some streaks of purple came through as well.

I added purple brusho to the larger piece, and spritzed to activate it.

Once dry (I used a heat gun to speed it up), I watered down some silver paint and splattered it over the canvas.

I cut the length in half, and die cut one piece with a spellbinders background die. I moved the die, lined it up again and recut to turn a rectangle into a square.

I had to put it through a few times, and use a shim. Some of the narrower diagonals are a bit delicate, where I've cut through the weave of the canvas, but I'm sticking this down onto the other half of the canvas so it doesn't really matter.

I decided I wanted the die cut piece to stand out a bit more, so I dry brushed the background with more silver paint to tone down the purple and give more contrast.

I trimmed both pieces.

I then die cut from the metallic white canvas, to give my sentiment.

This really is a bit thin to cut from canvas, you can see the "s" has come off, and it's broken between the "e" and "r". All repairable when I stick it down.

The final touch is two wooden snowflakes. I was going to leave them plain, but decided they would look better if they coordinated more - I painted them with purple, then gradually added more metallic white until I was happy.

I constructed the card with PVA glue, onto a 6x6 card blank.

I have really struggled to get photos of this card, it comes out blue a lot! The shimmer doesn't help. But I hope you get the idea. The texture of the canvas looks lovely, and a bit different to the usual card.

To join in with our stash challenge, head over to the Christmas Card Throwdown, we always love to see the cards that people share with us. You have until midnight GMT on Friday 3rd November to play!

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Gel Plate Skaters

Another couple of cards for our "Winter Sports" challenge at the Christmas Card Throwdown.

Tired and want to get to bed, so I'll fill in the details tomorrow!


I'm back!

I saw Leonie Pujol using with her gel press plate on telly the other day, and she inspired me to get my plate and paints out for a play! I love using paints, and they're not really that messy (they come off fingers much more easily than dye ink!) but I do have a mental block about using them if I'm in a rush.

I also used my Sam's shapes stamps from Clarity - the ovals. I cut masks out first, and added them to my card (which was cut to size for a 6x6 card blank).

On the gel plate, I started with red and green paint, brayered to spread it. I then used Clarity snowflake stamps to lift paint off (and stamped onto spare paper with them). I used a corner stamp with smaller snowflakes to do them same, then pressed punchinella into the paint.

Then I pressed the plate over the card to transfer the paint and pull a print.

I have to say, I was very pleased with this for a first attempt!

I cleaned my masks and attached to another piece of card.

There was still a lot of red and green paint on the gel plate, I added magenta and a lime green to it. I then lifted some off again in the same way. My spare paper built up into a great pattern.

I pulled my second print.

I adore this! The blending of the colours just really appeals to me!

I carried on with the gel plate, making more backgrounds for other cards, and in my art journal. Even cleaning the plate gave me some gorgeous backgrounds. My attempts to reduce my stash are not going well!

Back to my Christmas cards. Time to fill in the ovals.

The theme for the Christmas Card Throwdown is Winter Sports.

I have an ice skater in my Clarity Christmas wee folk set, so I used her, and two children throwing snowballs. I'm not sure that snowball fights count as a Winter sport, but I think they should!

I used my stamp platform and black stazon ink, for a really crisp outline.

I used the outline oval stamp to define the ovals.

I didn't line up very well, so I used pencils to fill in the gaps outside the line. I don't mind the paint inside the line, it all adds to the interest. This technique is not about being perfect!

I also used the pencils to add a simple suggestion of a landscape behind the figures.

For the ice skaters, I used a straight edge, to suggest a frozen pond.

For the snow ball throwers, I used torn paper for hills and snow drifts.

I didn't want to do much more to these, so the gorgeous backgrounds could carry the day. I edged with a black ink pad. But they did need something more, so I added a sentiment. I chose a simple "Happy Christmas" in a scroll script that I think goes with the detail in the background.

The words disappear a bit, especially on the red background, so out with the white gel pen to highlight them.

It makes such a difference, and works so well over acrylic paint.

Then it was just a case of mounting onto my 6x6 card blanks.

The ovals and figures stand out beautifully, but for me it's the gel plate backgrounds that  make these cards, I love this technique and can't wait to play some more.

To join in with the Winter Sports challenge, head over to the Christmas Card Throwdown. You have until Friday 20th October to play.