Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Something a bit fishy about this one...

I don't know why, but ever since I saw this Koi fish stamp by Hero Arts I've wanted to use it. And I don't even like fish that much - unless they're fried with chips!

This is one of those clever multi layered stamps where you build the picture up by using different layers of colour and although they say you can layer the stamps by eye, I needed to use the Misti Stamping Tool to achieve it. Several firms are bringing out cheaper versions of this tool now and I do recommend buying one if you can afford it as they are very simple to use, they eradicate most of the problems you get stamping and just make life so much easier.

Now this card was quite an ambitious project for me because I tend to make simple cards and this one had not only multi layered stamping but multi layers of card too.

I wanted to do a card where the fish appeared to be under water, so I knew I would need to use acetate and foam layers to achieve this. I started with no real design in mind; it just evolved as I went along.

I started off by stamping the koi carp using the Misti and some Hero Arts layering inks, except I substituted Pumpkin Patch from SU for the orange colour as the neon shade provided was extremely bright, and I wanted a softer look.

Strangely, this proved to be one of the easiest stages because of the Misti. I could ensure the next stamp layer was positioned correctly before printing it. Marvellous!

I also stamped a few waterlily leaves and flowers - not with the Misti - and I think you can see the difference. They were rather hit and miss but I actually quite like the look of slightly adrift stamping sometimes! It reminds me of water colouring.

I should add that I used a couple of pink colours for the water lilies but stamped them off about 3 times to get the soft muted look I was after.

I cut all these elements out with the coordinating dies.

So far so good.

To make the watery background beneath my fishy, I used a piece of SU shimmer white card which has a lovely pearly sheen to it and is good with watercolour. I taped it to a board with artists' masking tape to prevent it warping, and then roughly brushed across it with very well-watered down Pool Party ink from SU, leaving wavy lines.  I speeded up the drying process by using my heat tool and removed it from the board.

It didn't look "watery" enough for me, so I decided to emboss it with the wavelike embossing folder from SU called Seaside.  I actually had to flatten this out a little as it gives quite a deeply embossed finish.

This was where the problems set in and I messed around for a day trying different ways of making a 'watery pool' in the card. In the end, it turned out to be relatively straightforward, as I think I was over complicating things.

I cut a large circle of the ready painted background for the fish to swim in, and cut the same size circle from a sheet of acetate.

I wanted my fish to be lifted from the bottom so he looked like he was swimming, so I cut small double-sided pieces of foam and fixed them to his underside and stuck him down. This created a nice shadow beneath him.

Now, I wanted the water lilies to be above little fishy, so that he appeared to be swimming underneath them (hope you can follow this), so I needed to raise the level of the acetate to accomplish this.

For the uppermost surface of the card, I decided after a lot of trial and error, to use Mint Macaron card from SU and to run it through the same wavy line Seaside embossing folder. This colour toned with the watercolour layer. I cut this mat slightly smaller than the white card base I was using and I lined it up on the card and decided where the 'pool' would go, and correspondingly cut a circle one size smaller than the pool. I cut the circle before I embossed it as I wanted the texture to be crisp this time. If you emboss first and cut afterwards, it slightly flattens the embossing.

I then cut two pieces of fun foam a little smaller than the top mat and glued them together with double-sided tape. I needed extra depth, that's why I doubled it up. Then I very carefully marked where to cut the corresponding size circle to match the top mat.

The next step was to attach the acetate to the back of the top Mint Macaron mat to cover the cut out circle.

I used ordinary Tombow glue to attach the foam, sandwiching the acetate, but being careful not get any on the acetate..

I worked out where the fish pool needed to go on the base card and glued it down.

I had originally thought to make this a shaker card, and I am sure I will make a version like that, but this time I decided to just selectively place a few sequins round the fish, like bubbles in the water. I also thought the fish would look much nicer with a liberal amount of Wink of Stella over him! This really transformed him, making him look silvery and glistening.

Once I was happy with the sequins, I glued the sponge layer down, trapping my little fish in his watery pool.

It only remained to arrange the leaves and flowers and I played around with them for a long time to get this right. I placed one flower over the fish's tail so that it looked as if he was swimming beneath the surface of the water. 

And that was that. I tried to add a sentiment but just felt it spoiled the effect, so I used a couple on the inside of the card.

I'm pretty pleased with the finished card and I plan to make a few more with him. I think he is ideal for masculine cards and makes a nice change from flowers and butterflies.

Hope you like this too and thanks for dropping by.


Non SU products used

Hero Arts Koi Carp Stamp Set with coordinating dies and mini inks
Fun Foam sheets from Hobbycraft
Sequins from various suppliers

Product List

Friday, 24 March 2017

Get me to the Church on time.....

A good crafting friend of mine got married last weekend and I felt it was an ideal opportunity to make a full-on wedding card with all the trimmings.

I wanted it to be elegant, romantic and intricate but without being too schmaltzy and over fussy. Quite a tall order, but this is what I came up with.

So, first and foremost I decided on the beautiful heavy cream colour card by SU called Very Vanilla. This is a gloriously rich colour card and is amazingly smooth, so looks instantly classy. 

I wanted to keep the colour palette subtle and subdued, so I chose a very pretty tiny floral DSP from SU in Sahara Sand which blended with the cream.

Now for the special intricate elements. I love trellis patterned cards that are lifted away from the base and found a beautiful square one called 'wire' by  Amy Designs. I suppose if you look very closely it resembles wire, but it just looked like netting to me, and I cut it out from matching cream pearlescent card.

I painstakingly cut tiny slivers of foam to lift this round the edges and also stuck a few dimensionals under the centre area where I knew it would be covered by embellishments and stuck it onto a square of Very Vanilla card.

I had already decided on a small square die motif from a Spellbinders set for the centre piece and I also cut this from the cream pearlescent card,  but before I adhered this, I wrapped beautiful 1" wide satin ribbon in matching rich cream around the centre of the trellis element, sticking it with tape at the back.

I started to assemble the card. A Very Vanilla square card base with a small floral mat on top. Then the trellis element

The next addition was a central disc which I gold embossed with a sentiment from an SU stamp  set  and punched out the with my SU punch, which was the perfect size. This was placed in the very centre of the card.

I tied a nice generous bow with the satin ribbon and attached it using a hot glue gun and it look ed good, but still needed a little something to make it really special.

I tried rhinestones, but I prefer them with white card, cream seems to cry out for pearls so I found some nice slightly coffee coloured stick on pearls and added them sparingly.

It still looked unfinished and I tried several things and eventually I hit on dazzling diamond cardstock from SU and punched out a cluster of tiny flowers using the retired Itty Bitty punch, but almost any tiny flower would do.  I glued these down here and there and finished them with the same tiny pearls.

It looked great. The glitter paper glimmered with rainbow tones and looked so pretty.

I must say I was thrilled with how the card looked and felt I'd done my friend proud and knew that she was one person who would appreciate all the effort that went into it. I kept all my wedding cards and I hope she will keep this one as one of her memories of her special day.

Hope you like this card too. Thanks for stopping by.


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Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Any colour - as long as it's black and white!

My daughter gave me my orders for her birthday card - "it has to be black and white". Quite tricky if you don't want to end up with something that looks like a funeral card!

Well this is what I came up with and I have to say I think it's one of my most favourite cards I've ever made.  As usual, my poor photography doesn't really show it to its best advantage but it is smart, chic and elegant.

I started with no very clear idea or plan of what to make, but I searched through my paper stash looking for black and white patterned paper. Different size stripes, spots, big patterns, small patterns - I laid them out and made my selection. I used a sheet of paper from a Becky Higgins Project Life paper pack. This is a lovely assortment of black and white papers with some orange thrown for good measure.

I cut and pasted a piece of the large irregular spot paper onto a black base card and decided to keep things simple and dramatic.

I cut a beautiful fancy label from a set of Spellbinder dies - decorative but quite bold - using the beautiful gold foiled paper/card fromStampin' Up!  I've said before, this card is far better than cheaper gold mirror card Ive used before and I wish you could see just how densely golden this card is. 

The label die comes with a corresponding inner die and I used this to cut out the sentiment, which I had previously laser printed and foiled using Heidi Swapp gold foil and my Minc machine. I glued this white strip to the gold label and played around trying it against different papers..  I cut a larger strip of black card and rounded the corners with a corner punch. Something was missing though when I tried this against the spot paper. Eventually I found a narrow black and white striped paper from the same paper pack that looked good, so I cut a strip from this and layered it behind the black card.

I elevated the gold label by backing it with a piece of fun foam and was almost on the point of sticking it down, when I grabbed a bit of gold glitter washi tape and stuck it down on the black card before adding the label.

That bit of washi tape made all the difference. It broke up the straight lines and pulled the whole design together.

I gold embossed a sentiment inside the card and I'm happy to report that my daughter was highly delighted with it! Success! And no mean feat with my daughter (who has a degree in art) let me tell you!

I hope you like this monochromatic card as much as I do. Thanks for stopping by.


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Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Something completely different!

I'm leaving the fussy dies in their packets for the moment and making a bold graphic card to celebrate a birthday.

I absolutely love these word dies - they are snappy and simple - and lots of firms are making different versions of the more popular words like "congratulations" or "thanks" or "love", and I've found them very useful,  particularly for cards for younger people or men! You only have to look in the High Street card shops to see how fashionable cards are featuring different fonts.

This particular die is by a hero of mine - Heidi Swapp - and is a bit larger than most and so it can take centre stage on a card with very little additional elements.

I covered a blank base card with a piece of grey striped paper and then die cut three copies of the word "happy" from bright fuchsia pink pearlescent card from The Paperbox Company. Three copies because I wanted to stick them one on top of each other to create more depth and a greater 3D effect than usual. It's a little tricky but worth it sometimes.

The small flower motif was hand stamped with elements from the Simon Says Stamp set   "Roses for You" and hand coloured with watercolour paints. I tried to keep it simple in line with the modern look of the card.

I laser printed the word "birthday" onto some black Canson paper and foiled it with gold Heidi Swapp foil and a Minc machine. 

Very simple but very effective, I think, and to show you the same die but in a totally different colour, here is one I made for my son's birthday tomorrow.

Basic black card base which I have stamped with versamark and heat embossed with clear transparent embossing powder. I used a wonderful background stamp from Hero Arts called Pearl Strings and when this is embossed, it gives the paper an almost snakeskin look.  I've tried to take another photo to show this but it really doesn't do it justice because it gleams like patent leather.

This time I've cut the same die out of beautiful copper pearlescent card from The Paperbox Company, added a strip of black card laser printed and foiled with gold Heidi Swapp foil and added a punched out gold foil star and gold pearl. It looks very snazzy.

Thanks for dropping by


Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Everything's Coming Up Roses!

Following on from my last blog, here's another card I made using the same All Over Roses background stamp from My Favourite Things. I love this stamp - it offers so much scope; so many different ways you could use it.

So, basic white card blank with a gold mat adhered. This was to connect with the elaborate fancy gold label made with a Spellbinders die. I'm really enjoying trying to combine these intricate dies with more modern components.

I stamped a square of white card with the All Over Roses stamp using Versamark and then heat embossed it with Stampin' Up! White embossing powder.

Next step was to start tinting the card with Pink Pirouette ink. As it was not a large area, I just used a sponge dauber and used the ink straight from the pad. I worked from the left hand corner upwards with a pale first layer, then kept adding layers to intensify the colour but creating an 'ombré ' shaded effect so that the bottom left hand corner was a true pink and the top right hand corner remained white. Add gradually - you can always add more but you can't take it away!

I used double sided tape to fix this patterned mat over the gold mat. I cut the label die from Stampin' Up! Gold paper/card. I must add that I usually use a cheaper brand of gold card but I found the Stampin' Up! Card to be far superior - it was such a marvellously dense gold foil, super lush and well worth the money as it really added something extra to the card

The Spellbinders label die includes the corresponding oval shape, which I cut with Pink Pirouette card and glued to the gold label with a small patch of fun foam between. I printed and gold foiled the sentiment using my Minc machine and Heidi Swapp gold foil and hand cut it to size and trimmed the ends, then threaded it through the label  - the foam gave it a nice lift.

Nearly finished. I then just cut more fun foam and, using double sided tape, I attached it to the back of the label and then onto the card. I only use the little foam pads for sticking flowers or small elements on. I much prefer the effect that a larger piece of fun foam gives. It's more robust for postage and when viewed from the side, looks so much neater.

If you don't have a foiling machine, you could easily stamp or emboss any sentiment on this card - in fact I plan to make it in various colours and make it up to the last stage when I can add any sentiment as appropriate for times when I need a card in a hurry.

I love this card. It's elegant and fancy without being horribly fussy and I hope you like it too.

Thanks for dropping by.


Non SU products

Roses All Over background stamp from My Favourite Things
Spellbinders label dies
Heidi Swapp Minc machine and gold foil

SU Product List

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Grey, but pretty!

My crafting friend Junie hit a milestone birthday last week and I made a little card to congratulate her.  In fact I made three cards, trying to decide which style would suit her! This is the one I eventually sent but I will show the other two in the next couple of blogs.

This is a marriage of Stampin' Up! products and products from other companies but it does demonstrate how you can combine your supplies to achieve the right look.

I used smoky slate SU card for the cardbase but assembled everything else before sticking it down onto this card. I like to try and minimise the opportunities for me to mess things up - as I'm rather prone to do! I try to get the individual elements ready and then build it.

The mat is made using pirouette pink SU cardstock, which I heat embossed with white embossing powder using a super new background stamp I've bought from My Favourite Things.  I can see so much potential for this lovely stamp and you will be seeing my various attempts to use it over the next week or two.

I used a 1" wide strip of white satin ribbon to back the fancy die cuts - I just anchored it with sticky tape on the back - and put it to one side.

The two frilly edged squares were cut with a lovely Spellbinders die. I cut one in silver pearlescent card  and the other in very pale pink pearlescent card - both from the Paperbox Company. I love this card -  it makes anything look special.  I used ordinary Tombow adhesive to attach the pink square to
the silver one and cut a square of fun foam to size and stuck it to the back of the silver shape with double sided tape. I also added double sided tape to the back of these two, but didn't attach it to the base card at this point.

Next, I die cut the word "congrats" using a Stampin' Up! die and smoky slate card and painted over it with a generous amount of Clear Wink of Stella. So pretty. I gently curved the word and fitted it to the fancy squares.

As I hadn't had any of my usual mishaps, I was ready to layer up the card!  The finishing touch was to punch out several little flowers with an old SU punch, but you could use any die that was similar, using the gorgeous Dazzling Diamonds Glimmer card from SU. This is lovely as it has pink and blue glints when it sparkles. I added tiny pale pink pearls to the centre of the flowers to tie everything together.

Sounds long winded but it didn't take too long -  making my mind up is the worst part!

Hope you like this little card and thanks for dropping by.


Products used
My Favourite Things Roses All Over background stamp
Spellbinders dies
Pearlescent card from the Paperboy Company
Pink Pearls from Crafts U Love

Product List for Stampin' Up! products