Advent Challenge: Day 23 – Gatefold Poinsettias

Day 23: Gatefold Poinsettias

20111127-193132.jpg

In the blog post I wrote about the craft fair at the NEC that I went to, I mentioned a lovely paper flower punch and embosser kit that I bought there. You create the flower shape with the punch, then put the flower into the embosser, squish it down, and when you take it out it’s shaped and embossed beautifully. This card was made using that little kit. I’m particularly pleased with the flower centres – once again, I’m glad I never throw away my leftover bits of cross-stitch thread!

To make this card:

  • Punch 6 light red and 6 dark red flowers, and emboss each one.
  • Thread a needle with 6 strands of yellow cross-stitch thread. Tie all the strands into a knot about 1/2 cm from the end. Don’t worry if they’re not all the same length as you can trim them.
  • Use the needle to punch a hole through the centre of a light red flower first, then a dark red one. Pull the thread so that the knot lies at the front of the flower.
  • Cut the threads at about 1/2 cm  behind the flower and use a small strip of double sided tape to secure it.
  • Repeat this for each flower.
  • Once you have 6 flowers, attach them to the front of a small gatefold card using the double sided tape that is also securing the thread. Mount three in the bottom left corner, and three in the top right.
  • Cut two squares of pearlescent card, a dark red one to fit within the gap between the flowers, and a light red one just slightly smaller. Attach together with double sided tape.
  • Again with double sided tape, attach the red square to the left ‘gate’ of the card so that it is central and overlaps the right ‘gate’.
  • Finally, place a gold greeting peel-off in the centre of the red square to finish.

This sounds quite a complicated card to make, but as long as you have the punch & embosser it’s actually very straightforward. It’s also a great one to do whilst watching telly or – *gasp* – conversing with your husband ( 😉 ) as punching and embossing the flowers takes minimal attention, and you can easily get carried away and make loads.

Advent Challenge: Day 16 – Christmas Pups

Day 16: Christmas pups

20111127-193235.jpg

I don’t do a lot of stamping. I’ve never really got into it. As a result, I don’t have very many stamps, and even fewer Christmas stamps. It’s silly really, because stamping is such an easy way to make lots of quick Christmas cards to the same design. So I was excited to see an absolutely gorgeous set of Christmas dog stamps, free with a magazine (again!). I was even more excited because the pups in the stamps look just like my friend Jay’s dog Max (even though he is a Westie, not a Scottie). I bought the mag solely for the stamps, and I’m so glad I did because they have made some beautiful cards. Here are a couple of very straightforward little cards I made with a couple of the stamps in the set.

By the way, the card above has been rubber stamp embossed using a black embossing powder and heat gun which gives it a raised and shiny look, which has a lot of impact. In contrast, the card below was stamped with just brown ink. It gives a much more subtle look to the image.

To make this card:

  • Stamp and emboss an image of a pup in a Santa hat. Use black ink and black embossing powder for impact.
  • Colour in parts of the image using marker pens.
  • Trim to leave a neat and even border around the image, then mount onto dark blue cardstock, leaving a 3 mm border.
  • Stick this onto matt silver cardstock, this time leaving a 7 mm border.
  • Finally, use adhesive foam pads to mount this topper to the centre of a 9 x 11 cm deckle-edge card blank.

20111127-193243.jpg

To make this card:

  • Stamp an image of a pup wearing reindeer antlers onto some plain white cardstock using brown ink.
  • Colour in the image with marker pens
  • Trim the cardstock to leave a neat even border around the stamped image, then mount it onto green card leaving a 3 mm border.
  • Mount this topper onto an iridescent red 10 cm square card blank using adhesive foam pads.
  • Place a black ‘Happy Christmas’ peel-off in the bottom right corner.

20111127-193201.jpg

The card above is very similar to the one I’ve made for Jay – her parents have a black Scottie, and she has her Max, a West Highland White. On her card I’ve made sure I’ve coloured the pups collars to match the colours that they wear in real life. I’ve also coloured it so that the black dog is pulling the white one too – this year Max tragically became paralysed from the waist down (Jay takes him for walks now in a doggie wheelchair), and I love that in this card Max’s friend is giving him a helping hand 🙂

 

Advent Challenge: Day 7 – Embossed Poinsettia

Day 7: Embossed Poinsettia

20111126-211928.jpg

I blogged about embossing in a post I did for last April’s A-Z Challenge – you can read it here. I recently invested in a proper light box (well, invested is hardly the word – it was an absolute bargain!), and a few more brass stencils, one of which was a poinsettia. I found the plain blind embossed image a bit too subtle for my tastes, so I coloured it in carefully with chalks.

To make this card:

  • Blind emboss an image of a poinsettia directly onto the centre of a plain white square card blank.
  • Use coloured chalks to carefully add colour to aspects of the design
  • Add a peel-off greeting in the top left and bottom right corners.

 

20111126-211936.jpg

 

The second card was just as simple, I just embossed the image onto loose card rather than a card blank.

To make this card:

  • Blind emboss the image of a poinsettia onto a square of scalloped white card.
  • Use coloured chalks to carefully add colour to the design, and also around the edges of the scallops.
  • Put a red brad in each corner of the square.
  • Mount this topper onto a square scalloped white card blank, using adhesive foam pads.

I haven’t used a greeting on this one for a change. I like its simplicity as a result.

Craft fair at Birmingham NEC

Shopping time!

For the last few years I have looked forward to November with both excitement and trepidation. Excitement because it is Crafts for Christmas and the Hobbycraft fair at Birmingham NEC, and trepidation as I know that I will inevitably spend too much money. Again.

I first went to the fair in November 2005. My son was barely 4 months old and I was pretty much a crafting novice. Although it was a real experience taking a baby to a very busy show, in the end I was very grateful I had him with me because his buggy became a very handy shopping cart to carry all my purchases!

If you have never had the joy of a Hobbycraft show, let me explain. The November event comprises 3 shows – Crafts for Christmas, Hobbycraft, and Art Materials – Live. It seems to be held over approximately 84 football pitches worth of ground, and attracts about 6 million visitors. Ok, that’s an exaggeration, but that’s what it seems when you walk in!

The gist of it is – if you can craft with it, you’ll find it there. In abundance. The real trick is knowing when to stop buying stuff (usually at the point just before you collapse in an exhausted heap on the floor). For the last few years I have been lucky enough to be treated to the ticket and the travel down there by my mother-in-law. Only fair really, as she was the one to get me into crafting in the first place 😉

This year 5 of us went together. A rather eclectic bunch – myself and my sister-in-law, my mother-in-law and her friend, and my 8 year old neice. We took lunches and and one of those wheeled shopping bags to store our goodies in at half time (a wise move, especially if you’re buying card blanks for example – they get very heavy very quickly).

My usual ploy is to try and decide two things before I go – what I want to buy, and how much I am planning on spending. Taking cash and leaving credit / debit cards at home is a good plan as it ensures you stick to your budget (if you do this though, make sure you pay for the car park at the start of the day so you don’t forget!).

This year, I really had no idea what I wanted. I certainly don’t *need* anything else – I can barely fit what I already own into my broom-cupboard of a craft room. So I went with only the plan of sniffing out a bargain. It has been discovered in previous years that I am very good at that. Last year I spent half what the others in my party spent, but ended up with 3 or 4 times the number of bags! (ok, I know it should be quality, not quantity, but never mind).

This year turned out to be no different. I spent in total just under £40, and £10 of that was on one item. Here’s a photo of the ‘haul’:

20111107-145653.jpg
I’m not sure I’m ever going to use all this stuff up! In summary, this is what you may expect to see on any card you receive from me in the next 3 years…

3 packs of paper flowers

4 packets of buttons

8 packets of brads (2 epoxy, 1 fabric, squares, stars, hearts, and two normal circles)

1 pack of multicoloured Card Candi (I have discovered it is Card Candi *not* Card Candy as I had previously thought)

6 rolls of double sided tape (2 different widths)

3 packets of sticky foams pads

5 gorgeous 12×12 scrapbooking papers, which at 30p each were a steal

1 (only 1!) pot of glitter glue

1 stamp pad

2 packets of stamps (24 stamps in total)

1 pack of 12 patterned card blanks

1 pack of baby boy card toppers

2 sheets of decoupage

An A5 sketch book (this was free for signing up for a competition!)

A craft magazine, with a free quilling kit on the front

And the big spend was on a fabulous paper punch and embosser which makes utterly gorgeous shaped and embossed paper flowers (like I need more paper flowers!). I have hardly stopped playing with it since I got it.

I made a card using the punch and embosser. I was just playing with it and punching flowers out of a craft catalogue I’d got with one of my purchases. I realised that actually, the flowers were really pretty, and I soon got carried away and had made loads (my son helped with this bit too!). I put a dot of my new glitter glue in the centre of each flower, and then went to town sticking them on a card blank. I’m really pleased with the result, and I think I will be using that punch and embosser a lot!

20111107-180140.jpg

More ATCs

Here’s a couple more of my recent ATCs.

Crowning Glory

This was so simple to make. Some torn crown themed backing paper placed over a pink ATC blank, another crown image coloured with gold pen and bordered in red, a chipboard flourish and a gem in each corner is enough to create an effective looking ATC. I had no plan when I started makin this, apart from using the two crown themed items together – the backing paper and the image. I discovered enough matching items in my stash to get it to all work together nicely.

 
20110816-152657.jpg

Button jar

This was made specifically for a button-themed Swap-Bot swap. I chose a selection of different buttons from my button stash, and glued them on to some plain white card. I then cut round them in a jar shape, and covered the whole thing in cellophane, to give the look of a glass jar. The lid was created using some silver mirror card, and embossing some straight lines on it with an embossing tool. I didn’t have any embossing templates with plain straight lines on, so I had to improvise and use the legs of Mr Tall from my Mr Men embossing template! Which is why the lines aren’t perfectly straight. I mounted the ‘lid’ onto the ‘jar’, cut it to shape, and then stuck the whole thing onto an ATC blank.

20110816-152724.jpg

New ATCs

Here’s a couple of random ATCs that I made with no particular theme in mind.

Glitter Flowers

This ATC doesn’t photograph very well unfortunately. It’s actually made of clear acetate and is completely see-through. I drew the flowers on with glitter glue.

20110710-113641.jpg

Friends

I used an embossing template for this one. Once the word ‘friends’ was raised I rubbed over it with a soft nail file to distress it, wrote the word ‘good’ in white pen at the top of the ‘F’, then used Anita’s 3D Clear Gloss Finish over the top. I finished it off with some light blue star embellishments, and rounded the ATC corners with a corner rounder punch.

20110710-113846.jpg

A – Z challenge: E is for…

E is for embossing.

Embossing is the act of raising areas of paper into a design. It can be done ‘blind’, which is where the embossed image stands alone and there is no colour applied to the image, or you can use embossing powders and rubber stamps to create raised, coloured images and lettering.

20110409-224653.jpg

To achieve good blind embossing you really need a light box (simply a white translucent box, with a strong light inside) and a range of embossing dies (thin metal, with shaped holes, like the one above). You lay the paper to be embossed *upside down* (very important if you want the design to be raised, else it will end up being a debossed image) over the die (also upside down, else your image will come out backwards) which is placed on the light box. The purpose of the light box is so you can easily see the shape you’re embossing. You use an embossing tool (really just a stick with a ball-shaped end) to press the paper against the edges of the die shape, creating a ridge.
There are several other ways to blind emboss, including the use of embossing machines similar to yesterdays die-cutting machines, but the light box is a pretty cheap and easy way of doing it. As the embossed images aren’t coloured they give a very subtle effect.

Rubber stamp embossing can give much more intense results as embossing powders come in many colours. The premise is that you stamp an image with a special ink designed for embossing (I think it dries slower than regular stamping inks), then sprinkle embossing powder over the image, pouring the excess back into the pot. Using a small paintbrush is useful for getting any excess powder off the page. Then you use a heat tool (basically a hairdryer that spews out more heat than air) to heat up the embossing powder. You need to keep the heat tool moving, but you can tell when the powder begins to melt as the texture changes. Once it has all melted, it is extremely important to leave it to one side to cool down and set. Do NOT be tempted to touch it! I tell you this from experience – firstly it is VERY hot, and secondly you’ll end up with a lovely fingerprint embossed into your image. Not a good look.
The final result brings a smooth, raised, and often metallic finish to the image, depending on the embossing powder used.
There are two ways of achieving colour with embossing – the first is to stamp a clear image, and cover with coloured embossing powder, the second to stamp with coloured ink and use clear (or sparkly!) powder. Each will give a slightly different look. I have created a guide chart to remind me what different combinations look like. As I have a very limited number of inks and powders (each pad or pot can cost a couple of pounds) I have stamped three inks 5 times each, and embossed each ink with my 5 different embossing powders.

20110409-224754.jpg

And finally, I also have an embossing ink pen, so I can write words, and then emboss my handwriting. This is great if you don’t want to use alphabet stamps, which can be time consuming, but puts a lot of pressure on your handwriting! There’s no chance to rub it out if you go wrong, and as the ink is clear, it’s extremely hard to see where you’ve written! But it does give you greater scope than using rubber stamps, and it’s lovely to see your own writing looking so professional.