A Polar Bear Christmas

Playing along with a Stamps, Ink, Paper Challenge (128) with a Snowy Polar Bear Christmas card and matching thank-you note.

Here’s another adorable card with matching thank-you note that I created for a custom card order needing to be mailed soon. I think it fits the Stamp Ink Paper 128 challenge, shown below:

http://stampinkpaper.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/SIP-Challenge-128-Let-it-Snow-NEW-800.jpg

So here are my matching cards.


I’ll tackle the main Christmas card first. The embossed snowy background was given to me by a crafty friend, and I flipped it over so that the debossed side was showing. I matted it with some current SU Emerald Envy plain cardstock on a Thick Whisper White card base. The paper-pieced polar bears and trees are 3D stickers from a “Holiday Time” series – I think they might be from Walmart. They’re actually pretty cool, using poms for the tails and the ends of scarves, and the tree is glittered. 

I was having trouble fitting all three on the A2 card base, so I thought if I had one peeking over a snowbank as if he were watching the scene, I could put them a little closer together. My “snowbank” is made out of two strips of shimmery translucent vellum paper, which I cut by tracing a Card Creator Spellbinders die and then cutting it out by hand (hubby was sleeping and I was trying to minimize the noise, plus I wasn’t exactly sure where I wanted the mounds to go, so I traced/cut it especially long and then positioned them where I wanted them). I popped up the vellum in parts for effect and to fit the back polar bear in without squishing him (trying to reduce that whole “translucent” thing). 

I had thought of using white handmade mulberry paper instead of vellum, but I didn’t feel like making a bunch of noise and rooting around in my “specialty paper” drawer since it was late and I was only supposed to be “fiddling” (i.e., going to bed soon) as opposed to outright intentionally creating. 

The “Happy Holidays” sentiment above the scene is from a 2016 Hampton Art stamp and die set (SC0718). It bugs me a little that the font sizes of the two words is not the same, but as the set is either photopolymer or acrylic (read: see-through), it was easier to line up than others. I inked the stamps with Stampin’ Up’s Emerald Envy ink overtop a strip of polka-dotted paper from American Crafts/Dear Lizzy “5th and Frolic.”


I kept the inside of the main card simple with a “Warm Wishes This Holiday Season” sentiment from Close to My Heart’s “Scandinavian Wishes Stamp of the Month,” (SU Emerald Envy ink), punched it out with my retired SU Scallop Oval punch, and matted it with my SU Decorative Label punch in Emerald Envy cardstock. 

The thank-you note, on the other hand, is simply a SU Whisper White notecard size (3.5×4 7/8) with a background of gold snowflakes on vellum from SU’s “Winter Wonderland” Designer Vellum Stack. I laid an Emerald Envy cardstock piece embossed with  the “Thanks Words” Cuttlebug folder (371134) on top (putting the glue for the vellum underneath where the cardstock layer would hide the adhesive) and then cut another “snowbank” out of the gold snowflakes before finally adding the last sticker in the Holiday Time set. (Yay, another thing used up in my stash! I really am trying, hubby dear.)

These cards were ones that were simple, thought-provoking, and yet fun to create – my favorite kind. It was my first time trying to create “snowbanks” even though I’ve seen them used with regularity this season. And I’m fairly pleased with how it all turned out. Unfortunately, they’re another two cards I can’t duplicate unless I find another pack of stickers (thus then adding to my stash). ๐Ÿ™‚

Hope you’ve enjoyed this offering! Thanks for stopping in. 

Masculine mover thank-you cards 2 and 3

In my quest to continue creating the masculine thank-you cards for my newest custom order, I went back to the brown and cream “key” paper I’d taken out of a DCWV 12×12 Stack (I think it came from “Tradewinds,” but I’m not near my supplies to check). I had to use this paper; I wasn’t sure what else to grab to signify the whole “thanks for helping us move” idea. 

My initial thought was to create cards based on one of these sketches turned on the side, using the key paper and three other coordinating papers…


…but I couldn’t get the sizing of the sentiment to work with the key paper and not completely hide it. In the end, since the sentiment stamp had been approved by the sender, I nixed the sketch idea and just went back to the basics: covering the majority of the card with pretty paper and layering something on top. In this case, I layered the key paper and then a retired 5/8″ gold satin ribbon from Stampin’ Up across the center of the card. I did that in the wrong order, but I’ll spare you the details.

I found two cream 5×7 card bases in my premade bases pile, so they were perfect to use with the coloring and the size of the sentiment stamp. I decided to ink up the edges with a dark brown chalk ink from Colorbox (Chestnut Roan?) to balance the brown in the key paper.

I only have a few dies that are large enough to hold the entire stamp and not cut off an edge (it really is big, people), so I chose one that was more decorative than the rest since the rest of the card background was pretty simple. The die is from Spellbinders, but I bought it used and haven’t looked up the name yet. Spellbinders dies allow for both cutting and dry embossing, in subsequent steps. You cut the outside first, then flip over the die with the paper still intact and add a squishy embossing mat and a firm knock-knock plate on top to get the embossing pressed into it. (“Knock-knock” is not my term for how you can tell the difference between some of the plates, but I can’t remember the source right now. However, it’s brilliant and I’ve never forgotten it! I’ll try to update and add the source later after I search for it.)

I found a light brown paper in one of my Martha Stewart 12×12 paper pads – it was a shame to cover up the pretty blue and pink flowers on the opposite side, but there was no helping it. The brown worked better than anything else I had nearby. Once I had chosen the paper I was going to use behind the sentiment, I laid the die on top and cut roughly around it, leaving a little room. (Have to cut down the 12×12 piece to get it into the 6-inch(ish) Cuttlebug for the die cutting and embossing.) Then I started the embossing process. 

Heat embossing used to really frustrate me. It felt like I never got a good clean image when I was done. I’m a perfectionist and hate it when stray flecks of embossing powder attach and then are heated onto the paper where I haven’t placed ink. With practice – and with the Embossing Buddy anti-static bag – I’ve gradually gotten better at it. I keep a paintbrush in my close-at-hand tools to whisk away stray flecks upon inspection before taking the heat gun to it (thank you, Betty!). Well, even with all that perfectionistic practice, sometimes I still forget to use the Embossing Buddy. Of course I forgot once on these two cards. But I remembered on the next one. 

Whether or not you remember to use the anti-static bag/Embossing Buddy, the next step is to take a VersaMark pad or pigment pad or thick craft ink to your intended stamp and stamp onto your paper. The thicker ink doesn’t dry as quickly as the water-based inks, which gives you time to move the image to your embossing powder. Some people keep theirs in separate plastic food containers with lids, which I’d like to try, but I’m already short on space and own an embossing tray with a funnel. I frankly despise using the funnel. The best tip I ever saw about embossing – besides using the anti-static bag – is to use a creased coffee filter on top of your work surface, under the embossing powder. The filter catches the extra powder that is tapped or slid off the card, and the crease allows you to quickly and easily “funnel” it back into your open container for next time. No need to waste it!

So I used the anti-static bag (or didn’t), prepped my new stamp by rubbing it on my inner arm (it rubs off the factory coating and gives the ink a chance to stick to the rubber or acrylic stamp right away – and you don’t want to rub it on your jeans due to lint), figured out the placement of where the stamp should go with the Spellbinders die, inked the stamp with VersaMark, stamped it onto the brown paper,  added the gold embossing powder from Hampton Arts, and then warmed up the heat gun before holding the paper under it. I love to watch it turn from flecks of embossing powder into a creamy, consistent, glossy image. It reminds me of a race – once the image starts to turn, the rest of the image races to catch up. ๐Ÿ™‚ 

Once the big “Thank you” sentiment was done, I took the second sentiment stamp, “for your kindness” (both stamps are from “So Very Much” SAB stamp set, Stampin’ Up, retired), then inked it and repeated the process. I recentered the die over the paper on my magnetic pad (best invention EVER) and cut it with my Cuttlebug. And then I dry embossed it by flipping it over and adding the squishy and knock-knock mats mentioned above. And it was perfect. I added 3D foam dots on the back side of the sentiment piece and stuck it down on top of the gold ribbon. 

I thought about adding a small enamel or epoxy heart or dot off to the side of the Thank You part, but it was late and I needed to go to bed, figuring I’d think about it the next day. The next day came and I wasn’t sure it was necessary, plus it was going to take some time to figure out what, exactly, to put there and I needed to just get the order done. Besides, they’re for guys. They’re going to spend about 2.4 seconds looking at it, say “it’s nice,” and move on. They won’t even notice a missing heart shape. We have to be realistic sometimes. 

Since the inside of the 5×7 cards were so big, I felt I needed to cut down the writing space a little. Nobody needs that much room to write a short, non-effusive thank-you note. I decided to stamp some corners (maker unknown) on the inside in Stampin’ Up’s Soft Suede ink, which matched the keys pretty well. I stamped them freehand without measuring, so they may be a little off. I’m choosing not to find out. 


So cards 2 and 3 didn’t take as long as card 1 did, thankfully, though they are much simpler and not really my preference. I like details…but to move along in the process, simple cards are a necessity sometimes. I’m learning to appreciate them. 

Masculine mover thank-you cards (with card 1)

Well, I’ve fallen a bit behind. A bit. Yeah. Some days I feel like I live my life in the rearview mirror, always chasing my tail and trying to catch the front of the train instead of the back. (I’m sure that’s far too many cliches for one blog post, but it’s the middle of the night and I’m deliberately ignoring editorial preferences.)

So what have I been doing? In a proverbial nutshell, trying to keep up with my health (some days are better than others), traveling to West Virginia, Arkansas, and Georgia and all places in between for family concerns, doing some editorial work, and finishing a very large custom card order for masculine love cards, one shabby chic Mother’s Day card order, a couple of birthday cards, and some grad cards. Some of those cards are on my new Instagram account (AnneGirl77). I’ve managed to keep up with that somehow. Part of my blogging delay was because I needed pics to be able to post. There is always an order to things! The rest of it was because I just had no more time. But I’m back now – at least for tonight, since I fell asleep uncharacteristically early and am now awake. ๐Ÿ˜› 

Tonight’s post is about another custom card order that is in the mail: five masculine thank-you cards for recipients who helped the sender move. I detail my initial process and then focus on the first card at the bottom.

Ask any cardmaker: masculine cards are challenging. Floral, pretty, girly prints are easy to work with; there’s masses of material out there and a lot of designers are women, so they create what appeals to them. (I’m thankful for those who deliberately go in another direction for more options.) So what do we have available for masculine cards? Plaids. Varying fonts. Gender-neutral items. Solids. Strong colors. Bold prints. Fishing or hunting. Cars, bikes, trucks, tractors, all manner of machine… Mustaches. Video games or comp sci/techs stuff. Math…? Okay, that may be stretching it. But you see what I mean. It’s not easy to come up with a lot of variety. And I was supposed to find something for movers. I picked keys, thinking house, and my guy go-to, plaids. Maybe plaids aren’t a normal “guy go-to” but I grew up buying “real” flannels for my dad every other year, so for me, it’s a given. 

I’ll confess, I was really struggling with these cards. Sometimes the simplest ones are the hardest. The thank-you cards that fell together the best were the plaids, which had nothing to do with moving – but the paper had landed on my desk and I couldn’t stop looking at it. And I had a design in my head I wanted to do with the DCWV key paper, but I couldn’t get the sizing to work right with the large stamp I wanted to try (which had been approved by the sender). I also wanted to make them nice and had to make the sentiment show up on the matching darker paper, so heat embossing seemed the way to go. One challenge after another. 

I finally conceded that the sizing just wasn’t working with the usual A2 card base, so I switched to another (smaller) thank-you sentiment for half of them and then grabbed a couple of premade cream 5×7 card bases for the bigger sentiment just so I would make some progress. 

I find I create cards much faster and easier when I’m throwing random bits around – things that happen to be laying on my desk that I need to put away…or I’ll look up at my pegboard spinner and focus on some item hanging there that’s never been a focus before and I suddenly know exactly what I want to use it for. Sometimes when I’m trying to feel my way around a vague idea, I find myself pulling out papers and fun embellishments that seemingly have nothing to do with each other. It’s like a stress relief…or maybe just a perfect stalling technique. But somehow all that creative “mess” often turns into a card, and usually rather quickly once it’s in front of me. 

I’d already pulled five A2 (4.25″ x 5.5″) card bases for the new order. When I was thinking through this key paper/mover problem, I was cleaning up my desk and floor from the love stuff – I work out mental problems best by cleaning – and I stumbled upon that yellow/grey plaid paper (Stampin’ Up brand). I had one 6×6 sheet of it because I had no idea which paper pack I’d pulled it from besides “Christmas.” But it matched one of those card bases perfectly, which isn’t easy to do when you’re not using coordinating products, so I had to either use it or set them both aside for another day, another card. And I really don’t need anything else sitting out to use “later” (I already have another 10-15 cards in pieces that I never got to make for the love order before I ran out of numbers). 

So using it was a given. And then I sat there and stared at it. The key paper (brown/gold) didn’t match. Nothing else matched. How could I do both browns and greys and make it look purposeful? Ugh. I ended up matting the paper with a random lightweight black piece that was also on my desk and went the gold/grey route instead of browns.

The goal was to keep the cards flat (so they would be easily mailable and not cost extra postage) and simple (because simple is the preference of this sender and, well, they’re for a bunch of guys who aren’t going to care anyway). I finally reconciled myself to using the smaller sentiment, and then it was just a matter of filling the space left over. That’s where the rummaging bit comes in. I knew I had some key embellishments, so I started digging in my “fun” drawers. But I needed them to stay flattish. It turned out that the Tim Holtz grungeboard keys worked best for the requirements, though I’d need to change the color of them. I didn’t want to use the only two I had on one card, so I settled for a keyhole plate as a companion piece to the smallest key and grabbed some Distress Inks to dirty them up a bit, as the original grungeboard color was too light to match. 

I’m still pretty new to working with the Distress Inks even though they’ve been around awhile. I only have a handful of colors and half of those are borrowed. I really wasn’t sure what to do with them besides the standard ink-it-up-and-stamp. Enter E, one of my crafty friends who often works at the same time. We’ve spent hours sending chats and pics back and forth for feedback as we craft. She’s an awesome resource on things I’ve been too afraid to try, so she was my first obvious stop. (If she hadn’t been awake, I would have hit YouTube.) 

She gave me a few instructions, so I gulped and tried to do what she said. Got out a little cup of water and a paintbrush beside the two colors I chose (Iced Spruce and Black Soot) and hesitantly started trying to combine them on top of the grungeboard – and the edges, later. I’m not altogether sure I did it the way I was supposed to, and I went back once after it was half dry and added more, but I like the result. And then I bounced over to do some editing while I waited for it to dry fully. I was still thinking through the rest of those thank-you cards. 

After the key/plate set was done, the rest was easy. Candy brad bases, pushed through the paper to hold the sentiments (Stampin’ Up, retired), Dark Chocolate Liquid Pearls (Ranger), double-sided matching paper behind the keyhole (K and Company), and gold embossing powder (Hampton Arts) for the sentiments. I thought about running a ribbon behind everything to tie it together but didn’t like the placement of the key with it, and I worried that it would make things look too congested.

I’d found a miscellaneous round raw chipboard frame (possibly Colorbok?) while I was digging in my embellishments that fit the smaller sentiment perfectly. I covered it with gold metallic paper from DCWV…and I used the flip side of the keyhole paper from K and Company behind the frame and for the small banner that held the second part of the sentiment, “for your kindness” (also previously approved). Plaid again, of course – it matched. 

Both sentiments are from Stampin’ Up (“One Big Meaning,” current, and “So Very Much,” SAB set, retired). I had the perfect ribbon that reminded me of a chain and it even matched – the idea came to me as I was doing the dishes. No idea who makes it, but I love it. I had to pop up the key a bit with a 3D foam dot because of the ribbon (that I also had to cut to lay flat). 

So that was it. After a lot of mental agony, the first one was done. Here you go. ๐Ÿ™‚ The others will come in successive blog posts since I’m sure this one is already too long. (I did say I wasn’t editing, right?)

Aforementioned links: my Instagram account – AnneGirl77