Yes, Another Sympathy (a Decoupage One This Time)

A dry decoupage sympathy card using Stampin’ Up for everything but the main image (at last!).

The hits keep coming. Two more sympathies on my to-do list, along with a celebration theme for a blog hop. For these two, at least it’s a celebration of sorts, though sad now. Still, I feel muddled. My heart aches for them, so I went looking for something that spoke to me and seemed to reflect the people I’m thinking of. My “card toppers” bin bailed me out for the one I’m blogging about today. (The other, yet unmade, will focus on Stampin’ Up’s Graceful Glass vellum DSP and alcohol markers, so stay tuned for that.)

My mother used to say that I was “an accident waiting to happen.” She’d probably still say that, given the chance. That phrase came to me as I wrestled with this card. I began to feel like it was one accident after another. I love how it turned out in the end, but my goodness, the process! (This means there’s hope for me, right?) Another case of “when things don’t go well.” Please tell me you’d never know. 😉

One of my husband’s coworkers lost her dear husband last week, and it’s been such a sad thing. I wanted to make a beautiful card – part masculine in remembrance and part feminine for her – but had no idea where to start. Since I often clean or organize when I have a problem to mull over, that’s what I ended up doing, which led me to the main cross piece seen on the front of the card today.

Finding a brown card base to match the topper was easy; Stampin’ Up’s Baked Brown Sugar, a retired color, matched the foiled copper/silver/gold/burgundy/blue cross the best. I only have so many browns, and I usually use SU for my card bases since I like how the 80-lb weight cardstock stands. (I grab premade bases only if I start with the base first rather than the main image. It’s just easier to match it that way rather than working in reverse.)

During my cleaning spree, I was also looking at and putting away some new SU Designer Series Paper. So when I tried to find paper the cross could match, the blue piece was fresh in my mind and looked prettier than any other neutrals I put next to it. The blue paper is from the Tranquil Textures DSP pack in the current Annual Catalog from Stampin’ Up. It’s not a solid blue, but it it hard to tell that with the dry embossing I put on top of it to give the card some texture. I used the “Oxford” Cuttlebug folder for the textured design. I wanted something light and barely textured like Stampin’ Up’s Subtle embossing folder, but I don’t own that particular one yet.

Here’s where things got tricky. The card is a 5×7 because the cross is so tall. But because it’s narrow, there was a lot of “white space” around it. I don’t like white space (even if it’s blue). So I started to wonder what I could do or put next to the cross to take up the width. A sentiment would only be so big, as well as being awkward to work with around the 3D leaf layers toward the bottom, so I wasn’t sure that was the answer. I thought maybe I could make a decorative edge to the card front at the right instead. I could see it in my mind but wasn’t sure how to achieve it (story of my crafting life, btw). That seemed to be the best thing to try…but all my dies were too small to stretch across 7 inches. Nothing felt right. So that night I went to bed frustrated, having made only the card base and embossing the paper.

The next night I attempted to keep going on the card while I was on the phone. I should have known better. I spotted a long Spellbinders die on my die wall and got all excited because it would fit lengthwise. I didn’t think about the fact that ALL of the edges of the die does indeed cut…until I wrapped a card base around a Cuttlebug plate (so that I didn’t cut through the second layer), positioned the die, and wondered why an inch of the card base separated from itself after I ran it through the machine. (*insert facepalm here*) To my defense, I was still on the phone. LOL

So suddenly I have a card base with one side shorter than the other. That’s not what was supposed to happen. Not to mention, the magnetic plate dinged up the middle of the card base, and the B plate left marks on the back side of the base, making it warped and weak. Sigh. Time to rethink. Maybe I needed to make a new card base.

I tried to process where to go next. The decorative edge thing hadn’t worked and I couldn’t think how to make it work other than an edge punch – if I made a new base. I’ve never tried the popsicle sticks I’ve heard about, to keep part of it from cutting, so I wasn’t sure how to do that either (again, on a new base). But I hated to destroy the one I’d just cut. What I did manage to do after thinking was flip the card base around (even though I’d folded it correctly after scoring the first time). That would give me a chance to add paper atop the marked-up part to hide it and also add some stability with the extra paper layers. I hoped. I also took my bone folder and tried to work out the middle bumps and crease it sharply.

Once the base was salvaged, I decided to play with the pieces and arrange them just to see what I could do. I ended up liking a little bit of breathing room between the die cut and the now-shorter edge of the card base, rather than placing the die cut right up against the piece it had just been cut from. And obviously if there’s a peekaboo die, something needed to peek through it underneath. I grabbed more blue DSP and left it as is on the inside of the card rather than embossing it for texture like the front.

I also realized that I needed to run the textured piece through the Cuttlebug again, as one side has trouble with a piece of paper I got stuck in the roller years ago. Part of the paper was hardly embossed, so I realigned it in the folder, flipped it around to the other side that impresses better, and ran it through again. Came out perfectly that time.

The trouble was that when I left that breathing room space between the die cut and the base, it was not centered once the card was opened. I didn’t like that. But it looked like I had enough room to add 1/8″ of ribbon or something else. I chose SU’s gold and white ribbon to match the cross and the browns and loved how it looked.

But then I couldn’t get it adhered. The ribbon is thin enough that the line of Glitter Art liquid glue I laid down soaked right into the ribbon. I wasn’t confident it wouldn’t end up slightly sticking to the inside of the card once it had been closed for a while. But as I told a friend last night, when a person has too much product in her house, she will find a way. I decided to use my Cosmo Cricket Glubers Adhesive Strips. I rarely use them, but sometimes they’re just the best option. They are 1/4″ strips, though, so I took my nonstick microscissors from CutterBee and cut right down one of the strips, eyeballing it to just under 1/8″. And then I placed it with my tweezers and stuck a new piece of ribbon to it. I was much happier with the inside then.

I decided not to stamp a sentiment on the inside yet. I needed to finish up and get to bed and I wanted to really look through my stamps to figure out what I wanted to say on the card. I will probably go back and add one later, but right now it’s blank.

I’ve spoken about dry decoupage in past blog posts. A reader had asked me to do a tutorial on how to do it, and I am working on that currently. I hope to post one soon. For now, here are a couple of closeups to be able to see the decoupage layers that make up the cross. I should have trimmed off the little perforation bumps more as I was making the topper, but it’s probably too late to fix it now.

The cross has several layers of dimension to it in the squares as well as the leaves, which made it interesting to put together. And the leaves are the top layer.

Thanks again for coming to visit my blog! I appreciate your readership!

House Mouse “Musical Mice” Birthday Card

A musical birthday card for a musician celebrating a milestone year.

I took a break from Christmas cards to do up a few birthday cards that I needed to deliver or mail. One of them went to my aunt, who is a supremely talented pianist. I had thought of using this focal image for her ever since I first got my hands on this cute House Mouse stamp. 

I grabbed a premade base that was of a larger size, since the stamp itself is basically the size of an A2 card front. No room for the music note paper I wanted to use behind it. But this larger card size worked well for the idea. 


First I put down a layer of silver foil cardstock (cutting out the inner portion with snowflake and winter-themed word dies that I can use on other projects). The music paper I placed on top is from Echo Park’s “Be Mine” line. I then stamped, colored, and cut the House Mouse image so I would know what size to cut the Silver Glimmer Paper (glittered cardstock) from Stampin’ Up, which I placed behind the image as a mat. 


I think I might need to work on my coloring skills, or at the very least shading, but I’m pleased enough with my creation. 🙂 I used three sets of watercolor pencils, an AquaPainter, and Ranger’s Jet Black Archival Ink to stamp and color the image. I topped it off with some gold Smooch Paint for the knobs on the violin and the lettering of “Mauschen,” the name of the piano. I had looked up the stamp online and found the colored image from House Mouse, so I tried to imitate those color choices. (Each of the mice are named and has their own coloring specifications.) I think next time I might try a black piano, however. 

I had the most trouble finding and placing a sentiment on the card due to limitations in space and supplies. I had to revise my initial idea several times, and the more I hurried to finish it (since I needed to be leaving the house), the worse it got. Isn’t that always the way of it? Eventually something worked, although I realized an hour later that I’d forgotten to include the milestone number she was turning, as I’d intended. But maybe she doesn’t need that advertised. 😉 

So, the tag is from the American Crafts “Everyday” line, the “Just a Note” sentiment is from Rubber Cottage, and I couldn’t read my handwriting on the back of the tiny music notes I added to the tag, so I can’t say who made that. The black lace ribbon is from Stampin’ Up. I stamped the sentiment with Jet Black Staz-On ink because the tag was chipboard with a shiny top and water-based dye inks just wipe right off of those. I used my heat gun to speed up the drying process as well.


The inside of the card finished the thought begun on the front (“Just a Note”) with “Wishing You Happy Birthday.” Again not quite what I’d intended to say, but time really was of the essence, so I made do with the first couple things I found rather than creating a custom sentiment. And I’m the only one who overthinks these things, so it probably doesn’t matter. 🙂 The stamp sets I used for the inside are from Stampin’ Up (“Wrapped in Warmth”) and Close to My Heart (“Gracious Greetings”). I also embossed piano keys for the bottom border. The embossing folder I used is 5×7 and entitled “Keyboard,” from Cuttlebug. 

Coloring always takes a bit of time, and I really do need to perfect some shading skills (here’s wishing I could go back to art class), but I’m generally pleased with the images once I’m done. I always enjoy seeing how the lines swirl and blend together when I’m watercoloring. Perhaps I’m really a Renoir at heart. 😉 

That’s all for this birthday card. The others I created were simpler, of course. But details are my specialty. 🙂 Thanks for reading!