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. πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ˜‰ 

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. πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ˜‰ 

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

Personalized Wedding Card for Carolyn and Matthew

Throwback to a custom wedding card made last year for a couple I’ve never met.

In late 2015 I started accepting orders for custom-made cards. This fact still kind of boggles my mind. I never figured I’d be a cardmaker at all. I’m a scrapbooker–since the mid-nineties. Cards were confusing. Such a small canvas on which to put so much stuff! Give me a 12×12 page any day, thank you. But somehow with the purchase of my friend’s used Cricut, cards suddenly made sense, like that proverbial light bulb over the head. Someday maybe I’ll show those first three cards I made as I attempted to figure out the chirping machine.

So fast-forward a couple of years and suddenly I’m at the point of taking custom card orders…? Um, okay. If you say so. Indeed, it seems that’s what I mostly do now. Instead of creating cards for fun, for friends, for a local church group, for Hospice, etc., like I imagined I might do, family and friends and a particular lady in North Carolina have kept me very busy making cards for them ever since August 2015. And I’m grateful. (Though still boggling.) Here is one of the examples I made for a relative, so she could give it to a couple with a wedding gift. It is a twist on a version I made for my NC lady the year before that (why recreate the wheel if you don’t have to?), but in this version, I personalized it with the recipient couple’s names.

I used a premade, glittered card base from DCWV (5.5×5.5 size), added some light blue/grey patterned paper on top of it as a mat, and then ran some dark blue Recollections paper through my Fiskars handheld (hand-cranked) paper crimper tool. Their wedding color was dark blue, and I thought it would pair well with the Soft Sky color I’d used in the earlier NC version, which was still in my head.

On top of the now-corrugated dark blue paper, I placed a die-cut I’d made from a local friend’s Bloomin’ Heart Thinlits Dies from Stampin’ Up (she and I share supplies so we don’t have to buy as much individually and then have an excuse to get together to craft!). I used Stampin’ Up’s Silver Glimmer Paper for the heart – and found out the hard way (i.e., remembered) that it is best to cut on the back side of that glittered paper rather than trying to get the die to cut through the glitter on the front. (Let’s just say “Lesson learned”!)

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I decided I didn’t like the look of it by itself on the corrugated paper, not to mention that it is a delicate thing and would be hard to glue on top of the corrugation, so I glued the heart die-cut to another piece of the dark blue Recollections paper (that I did not run through the crimper). I then stamped out the little matching flowers of the corresponding Bloomin’ Love photopolymer stamp set in Soft Sky ink, die-cut them with the matching thinlit, and glued them on top in the appropriate places. I actually found it difficult to die-cut those without one edge or the other slipping and not staying centered where I put it. I have a number of rejects I didn’t deem “good enough” for the card. Must need more practice.

Before I glued the heart die-cut down, I laid it out to see where I wanted it, marked it, removed it, and then wrapped some Soft Sky Seam Binding ribbon twice around the corrugated paper and tried to tie a bow off to where the side of the heart would be. This step was trickier than I thought it would be, but I do like the effect. And I used up some of my seam binding ribbon, which pleased me immensely. I think it’s pretty as a whole, but I struggle with using it because it is so delicate. I feel like using the word “fragile,” actually. It catches on things easily, gets holes easily, and is almost see-through. I feel like glue or strip tape can be seen underneath it as well, so I have a hard time finding ways to use it that aren’t simply bows. So this worked. (And after I use up my seam binding stash, I will never buy any again.) I think I actually made the bow separately from the ribbon wrap because I couldn’t get it to lay right. I believe I attached the bow with Zots after gluing down the heart.

Then came the fiddly stuff. I stamped the tag that says “Always” from the retired SU Too Terrific Tags set in Soft Sky, cut it out (I don’t own the matching punch), and set it aside. Next I got out my retired Word Window punch and took it to some white cardstock. I then used some very retired SU Brilliant Blue eyelets from way back when, with my Crop-a-Dile at the tops of the “Always” tag and oval windows. I hand-wrote the couple’s names (more than once) and strung the three tags from the top ribbon with some SU Silver Baker’s Twine. I actually double-strung the “Always” tag to keep it the direction I wanted. And then because it was still not cooperating, I stuck a pop-up dot to the back of it and told it to stay put. The names still dangle sweetly as I imagined.

 

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The inside of the card was simpler. “The best is yet to come” sentiment came from my retired SU “Best Thoughts” Hostess stamp set, which I stamped on white cardstock in SU Night of Navy ink and punched out with my retired SU Decorative Label punch. I edged around the punch with my matching Night of Navy marker to highlight the edges since it was white on white. Then I stamped the “May your love” sentiment from the current SU Floral Phrases stamp set. (Yes, I do have some current items! πŸ™‚ )

All in all, I was pleased with the way this “version 2” card came out. Just for fun, here’s “version 1” that went to NC, in Soft Sky, kraft, white, and Crumb Cake. Version 2 also uses some distressed, stamped-on canvas.

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Thanks for stopping by! Hope I’ve given some inspiration for your own wedding cards. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ˜› 

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. πŸ™‚ 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