Warmth and Cheer with Northern Flurry

It’s time to start making Christmas cards! Okay, it’s probably past time, and I’ve been creating them for a couple of weeks, but here’s my first blog post about one.


It may be October, but for crafters, it’s Christmas card season!

The other day, hubs and I figured out a new way to keep each other company while I remained productive with crafting. The result was the outside of four winter/Christmas cards finished. They’re pretty simple, but simple can be elegant sometimes. Our wedding, for example. (Or at least that’s what I was trying for back then.)

Pardon the mess behind my desk, but this is the only shot of the four together so far.

I have two custom Christmas card orders right now along with the niggle of something bigger in the works (we’ll see if it goes anywhere), so I figured all four would go one place or the other, or I could split them up.

I used all Stampin’ Up materials for these except for the bling – Whisper White cardstock, the retired Northern Flurry embossing folder, paper strips cut into banners from one of their retired 6×6 Christmas paper packs (I didn’t write down which one), Soft Suede and Early Espresso inks with matching cardstock, and the “Wishing you a season filled with warmth and cheer” sentiment from the set “Wrapped in Warmth.” The rhinestone bling is from Michael’s, SU, and CTMH.

I’m still stamping the insides of three of them. So far I have “Merry Christmas to You and Yours” (from SU’s “To You and Yours Too” set) on the inside of the Soft Suede version, shown below.


I love how the embossing just pops off the card. I had originally wanted the snowflakes to come cascading from the upper-left corner but realized after I cut the cardstock that that wasn’t going to be possible because of the direction I’d cut it. And I had thought to only have a smaller 1/4″ strip extending from top to bottom but didn’t like how that interrupted the little snowflake down there…so after some brainstorming with hubby, since he was in the room, this is what we decided looked best. And I’m pleased with it. I think it like it better than my original idea. (Not that I won’t try that original idea again some year. ๐Ÿ™‚ )

Thanks for reading! If I can make Christmas cards for you sometime, send me a note or visit thelittlewhatnotshop.etsy.com. ๐Ÿ™‚

Thank You (Seeds for Your Garden) card

A simple (and overdue) thank-you card using American Crafts, Glitz, and Stampin’ Up products.

Sometimes life gets ahead of me and I get behind on doing the seemingly easy, necessary things in life. One thing I’m really bad about is sending thank-you cards.

It’s not that I’m not grateful or that I don’t think of the sender every time I see or use their gift…I just fail to tell them how much it means to me. I often feel at a loss for words or inadequate when trying to compose all the feels onto a tiny 5-inch card. I could blame my parents (though I won’t), as I never had to write thank-you notes for gifts received. (Maybe because of that, receiving them just isn’t that important to me personally. As long as I know they got my gift, I’m good.) I’ve finally conceded that I’m wholly out of practice and singularly bad at composing them – and 100 percent a procrastinator. I’d rather the words magically flew onto the card and into the mailbox without my fumbling assistance, while I hope they pass muster. Not to mention that writing them out now kills my fibromyalgic hands. A card and a half, give or take a half, and I’m done in with hand cramps. I love the gift; I love the sender; I hate the card that follows.

Well, like other things in life, thank-you notes are apparently necessary and extremely important to (hmm, how do I say this?)…to people who aren’t me. For this particular thank-you note, I’m about two months behind. I’ve known what front piece I was going to use for at least that long, but it was a matter of finding or taking the time to do up a card. (Now that I’m a cardmaker, I feel REALLY funny about sending a store-bought card even if I’m short on time or behind on putting one in the mail, as if I’m secretly saying that I don’t care near enough about them to take the time to handmake a card. Therefore the calendar stretches out before I get the required cards made. Sigh.)

I’ve been having a pretty busy year. I’ve flown a handful of times, once out of the country, been to board meetings twice, made a half-country trek by car once and not-as-long other car trips at least twice, said goodbye to a dear uncle, crammed in editing projects, and continued to take and finish custom card orders through it all. It’s starting to feel as if I can’t stay home long enough to get ahead on anything. Enter the now-very-behind thank-you note, which I had to make and send for the reasons above. I’m just about out of brain cells at this point.

I knew how I wanted to make the card once upon a time. I laid it all out in a heap on my desk, to signify to myself that THIS was how it was going to go. And somewhere along the line other projects joined it and other work also had to get done, and the long and short of it is that by the time I finally had to shake myself out of the procrastination coma and send the blooming thing, I had only a semblance of an idea of what I was supposed to be doing with it. Plus I couldn’t find the burlap piece. Hubs decided to join me in the craft room that night, and we watched a movie on my not-so-used TV while I fiddled with the card, trying to come up with some new design.

The card is pretty simple, or at least it looks it. I grabbed a leftover base from my stash of unused Basic Gray baby-invitation bases, hoping I won’t regret that decision when I work on her baby album next year; I liked how the darkness of the outline of the flowered piece matched. And then I just rearranged card pieces in front of me until something made sense. I think I actually meant to do something else with it, but the sizing on the striped paper was perfect as it was and rather distracted me, so I ended up completely forgetting that I meant to go the other direction. I tried a number of compilations, but in the end, this is what made sense to my boxy self.


The striped paper is from Stampin’ Up. I needed to have some sort of color separation and size difference between the flowered piece (which is from American Crafts, 320490) and the stripes, so I ended up using a yellow remnant from Glitz Design that mostly matches the yellow in the flowers. I had a better color match but didn’t like the pattern or size nearly as well. I added “bling” in the form of something akin to Stampin’ Up’s Candy Dots; these yellow and green dots are from SU’s “Little Moments” Project Life Accessory Pack. It always amazes me how colors across completely different designers can still match. Or maybe it’s more amazing that I actually manage to pull them all together on a card.

At this point I decided the card was too simple or plain. I have this fight regularly with myself. One side of my brain says it’s fine/nice/great/perfect the way it is and shouts at me to leave it alone, and the other side of my brain hesitates and weighs things and just isn’t convinced, thinking it’s not quite right yet – more tinkering needs to be done. The latter won that day. I have a bottle here of SU’s Dazzling Details glitter glue in an iridescent whitish color, and I’m not sure I’ve ever used it much. This became evident when the glitter glue came out in nonspreadable clumps instead of a smooth flow. I did my best at smooshing them out onto the flower centers while I mumbled that I should throw the bottle away, but I persisted. It was better than trying to find a similar color in my Stickles from Ranger.

I finished the centers, leaned back in my chair, put my feet up, and watched some more of the movie before going on to create the inside of the card. And right after I flipped open the card and got glitter on my fingers, I remembered that the glitter glue on the flowers would still be wet. (I like to take an entire day to dry them, if I can.) So I muttered some more, closed the card, got out the bottle of glitter glue from where I’d put it away, and proceeded to redo the flower centers.

Eventually the inside did get finished. I’m just now realizing that I forgot to take a picture of it – the urge to mail the card was finally the foremost thing in my mind, apparently – but it was just a white piece to write on and a couple of leftover strips of paper as bottom borders. And, as usual, I didn’t have enough room to write all the heartfelt thoughts battling in my head for the 5-inch piece of paper. Sigh. At least this one is finally done and gone. I’m relieved that I no longer have to remember to do it. Until next time, that is.

…I really need to get better at this thank-you-note thing. Too bad practice comes with writing them. ๐Ÿ˜›

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! ๐Ÿ™‚ )

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 1 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. ๐Ÿ™‚

Nuts and Bolts about You Birthday Card

I’ve been on book deadline this past week and will be again next week, so I haven’t had much time to play in the craft room even though I have several cards I need to make and send out. I finally HAD to make time to squeeze in one for my nephew’s birthday since the party was tonight.

My day wasn’t going that well, honestly. I’ve felt better physically, I’ve thought more coherently, and it seemed like I had a case of the dropsies, where I couldn’t hang onto things with my fingers. Imagine crafting when you drop every other item. Those are the days I pick up a book or occupy myself otherwise instead of crafting. But for this card. Regardless of how frustrated I was, it wasn’t making itself.

I had heard from his mom that nephew is now interested in robots and how things come apart and fit together, as a budding engineer would. ๐Ÿ™‚ One of my best friends just happened to give me robot stickers for my birthday (surprise gift of 20+ sticker packs?! Yes, please!). So of course they were perfect to use for his card. (They are from Jot, btw.)

I’d been thinking of how I wanted to lay it out all week. I have these awesome gold metal gears that I thought would look great stacked and staggered in a couple of corners, and I couldn’t wait to use them. Well, even though I saw them recently, I still have to wait to use them, because I can’t figure out where I stashed them. And that was just the beginning of the frustration. Alas, some cards go like this.

 
I had to use a bigger card base because I wanted to use both the robot and the robot dog on the front of the card and they weren’t fitting on an A2 OR a horizontal card because of the height of the robot. I also had plaid paper of cream, brown, and teal that I thought would work with the teal and brighter colors of the stickers, along with a tan piece of embossed gears a crafty friend had sent me…but in the end I couldn’t make the sizing work for the plaid. I ended up using a Spellbinders card creator die (that didn’t release all its pieces, so there I was taking my CutterBee scissors to them even though I ran it through the Cuttlebug three times…), and I added in one of my new Spellbinders edge dies that I hadn’t had a chance to use yet. (It had fallen off the wall and when I picked it up, I realized it sort of looked like gears too. Why not use it? I actually tried two of those edge dies, but the one with frosted vellum did not work at all – it kept moving on me and I couldn’t get a whole one. I tossed it out of the running.)

 
I put the die that did work in a metallic foil cardstock, which turned out well. Didn’t fully cut again, but I liked the look even with the additional pieces.

So there I was with my SU Not Quite Navy cardstock mosaic die-cut piece on top of the embossed tan gears, both hovering above the 5×7 green Moroccan-patterned card base. NOT what I had imagined for this card. (I only have ten types of premade card bases. I often make my own, but whatever was the shorter route to finishing the card had my vote today.) I decided to fill in some of the mosaic holes I’d already taken out, thinking it would look better. I really wanted to add in a red color to the mosaic but didn’t want to fight that die again, so I went on. Looking at the combination of those four elements almost made me nauseated, but I’d taken too long at that point to reverse direction. It was time for robot stickers. And then to look for a balloon so the robot didn’t appear empty-handed – plus I wanted to fill in some of the space below the sentiment but above the dog. The brand-new sticker pack that held my balloon then stuck to the inside of its plastic, so I’m not sure how many of those are even useable any longer. But at least the balloon didn’t suffer.

The sentiments were the easiest part. Finally, something going right! I stamped four different ones and didn’t mess up at all, even with my cloudy thinking and growling stomach. So that tells me I’ve actually improved on my stamping. Practice makes perfect! I used SU Basic Gray Archival ink and the SU Sunburst Sayings stamp set for the “It’s your day” stamp inside the stitched wonky square Sizzix die journaling box in the “Frames” strip of three dies, adding in the red color there and hoping the ink would be dark enough to cover it. It worked! All that was left was a number on the balloon and a metal photo holder with brad for decoration.ย 

It’s hard to see, but the robot and dog are actually popped up, as is the wonky square sentiment. And the balloon is a puffy sticker from SandyLion (PFOM10). I was thankful I wasn’t mailing the card.

I moved on quickly to the inside, since I was supposed to be leaving my house for the party right about then. Stamped all three correctly in Basic Gray Archival ink and SU Lost Lagoon ink (hooray! No wasted time or covering up mistakes!). The “Happy Birthday” stamp is from Stampin’ Up’s “Birthday Blast.” “I’m Nuts and Bolts about You!” and the random nuts and bolts pattern I used as a border are from Stampendous/Fran’s (SSC1033). This is the second time I’ve used the Fran’s set and I like it very much.


(As usual, I forgot to take the picture BEFORE writing something on the inside.)

Sometimes I create well under stress and deadline. Not so today. I think parts of this card are really cute. I would rather have the chance to redo some of it, though. But I must move on. I am not perfect and neither is my work, and I have other cards I must do. After next week’s deadline. (Dottie, if you’re reading this, your very overdue thank-you note IS coming!)

Thanks for reading. Time to “hit the hay.”

Here are pics of some of the supplies I used.

Dreaming of Butterflies

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve written. Still trying to get into a rhythm of making, photoing, and then posting. Thanks to technology and a busy schedule, there is usually a breakdown before the “posting” part. I’m working on it. 

It seems the thing I do best is blog when I’ve woken up in the middle of the night. But I’m often most creative at night or when I should be sleeping, so I suppose it all works out. Tonight was yet another one of those. Three hours of sleep after three hours of editing and, boom, I’m awake again. So I got up and made a card. (And now I’m posting because the picture is still on my phone.)

I had some free time last week, so I took a few minutes to do some rearranging and organizing in my craft room. My poor pegboard spinner is someday going to come crashing down from all the weight hanging off it. To alleviate a bit of its suffering, I decided to move my dry decoupage and peel-offs to a new three-drawer Sterilite storage container I got this summer. And, as usual, when I start organizing stuff, I find things to play with and get all distracted. I was good about setting them aside this time, so they were waiting for me on my desk when I woke up early and wandered in. 

What I found then were some strangely colored butterflies, a page of white grid peel-offs, and a gold sheet of beautiful butterfly and flower peel-offs from StickerKing. I have way too many butterflies, so I’m always looking for a way to use them up. On my desk, unrelated to this card forming in my head, was a piece of orange, flowery paper that I hadn’t put away. This morning they all fell into the same card, which turned out about halfway like I’d imagined. Designs always morph into something I haven’t intended. 

I pulled the light green color in the butterflies into my card base by using Stampin’ Up’s Certainly Celery cardstock (very retired). The orange flowery (maybe K and Co?) paper decided to become the background mat. I positioned three of the white grid peel-offs on top of it because they had reminded me of latticework initially. 

At this point everything was glued down. And then I couldn’t decide where to put the butterflies or how many to use. I thought I’d had it figured out, but then I didn’t like it. The three big ones felt too crowded and overwhelming on the paper (the card is only an A2 – 4.25 x 5.5), but we’re generally supposed to use the “rule of three” in triangles when we create so it’s more pleasing to the eye. I turned the base and the attached paper every other direction looking for something that felt right. I needed a place to put a sentiment too. I ended up tearing off the orange paper and grids (gently) so I could flip the direction of the card opening. Then I placed the punched sentiment piece onto the third grid and planned to add a smaller gold butterfly above it to use that “rule of three” technique. 

I really didn’t have a sentiment in mind when I first started mentally creating this card, but I have a custom order for thank-you cards to do soon, so I figured if she liked this one, I could add it to her pile; otherwise it’ll go on the Etsy shop unless I need to use it sooner than that. ๐Ÿ™‚

I added a tiny rhinestone gem underneath the words “Thank You” because I didn’t like the white space. The rhinestone is from CTMH (“Bitty Sparkles”) and they are probably my all-time favorite gem. They’re just so delicate and pretty. The “Thank You” stamp is from the “What I Love” Sale-a-bration set from Stampin’ Up (now retired). And I used Certainly Celery ink that matched the card base. 

By the time I got to the inside, I was getting tired and lazy, so I didn’t feel like hunting down and cutting up a whole sheet of paper. I found a white scrap on my desk that was almost big enough to become the part you write your message on. Coupled with the leftover orange flowery paper from the front (which I’d intended for a different card front), the white scrap was now the perfect size. Then another sentiment popped into my head – “You raise kindness to an art” from SU’s “Vintage Vogue” set (retired) – and it didn’t take long to find it and stamp it on the inside. Certainly Celery ink again. Another gold butterfly on the inside and an identifying stamp on the back completed the card. 

Now that I’ve been creative AND blogged, it’s time to sleep again. Hope you like this little card offering for today. It’s just something quirky out of my own brain. Have a wonderful day!
Connie

Masculine mover thank-you card 4

Card 4 in my series of five masculine thank-you cards for movers.

Continuing in my set of five masculine thank-you cards (to be sent to people who helped my client move), this “Card 4” is another one where I couldn’t get the brown-and-white DCWV “key” paper to work with the plaid and metallic silver-toned base. The colors just weren’t compatible enough. But I thought it would still be simple and masculine, two other requirements for the order, so I continued.

At this point in the order, it was just about keeping things consistent (like the gold embossing powder)…and I’d already used the plaid once on a different card anyway (in my “Card 1” post here). This section was the remnant of the 6×6 piece. I like to use up my scraps when I can to keep my scraps box under control, so there wasn’t much question as to whether I’d use it now. (It was “either use it now” or throw it on the desk to be used soon, since I couldn’t really take the time to look up which Stampin’ Up paper pack I’d taken it from. The scraps box wasn’t an option. I’m fussy about my SU paper and always put the scraps back with their pads since I have matching inks and embellishments in my supplies.)

I wish I knew what company this base is from. I was given a number of thick metallic bases in a craft swap, and they’ve been great to work with. They feel thicker than the usual Stampin’ Up cardstock I typically use for my bases (those are an 80-lb card weight, I think). A good base is key to the card not falling over or flattening instead of standing up.

The mechanics of how I did this card are simple. I’ve already mailed the cards, so I’m not sure of the precise measurements of the individual pieces, but I think the remnant plaid piece is just over 2 inches. I believe the squarish one in the middle was the back side of the grey plaid paper I used in “Card 1” (K and Company). I already had a chunk cut out of it for the other card, so one side had already been shortened. I measured where I wanted it to fall on one of the strips of the yellow-and-grey piece and lopped off the other side with my Fiskars trimmer.

(Confession: I don’t do a lot of measuring or precutting. It’s more annoying to store the paper as pieces get cut out of it, but I’m always afraid of limiting myself to certain sizes or creativity if I “only” have so much of something because I’ve cut it down. I do both scrapbooking and cards, so I can be pretty random in my sizing of card fronts, mats, and journaling boxes. Usually I just take the large piece of paper and a pencil straight to my project and mark where I want to cut it for that specific purpose and then file the rest away to use later. I probably ought to rethink this as I try to streamline my process for card making, since precut pieces would make it faster, but I’ve been loathe to change.)

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Once I had the grey square piece cut, I took my anti-static bag to the front (I remembered!) to prepare it for heat embossing. I already had my embossing tray, coffee filter, embossing powder, and heat gun out (and just typing that sentence shows why it’s easier to do multiple cards with the same supplies at once), so I stamped the thank-you stamp (“One Big Meaning,” Stampin’ Up, current) with my VersaMark pad, pressed it onto the grey piece (don’t wiggle it!), sprinkled it with the gold embossing powder (Hampton Arts), and took my (very old) Marvy Uchida heat gun to it. (See this post about why I use a coffee filter with my embossing powder.)

It actually turned out well! Though I am beginning to wonder whether my powder is too old – or maybe it’s just the brand. I don’t think my Stampin’ Up powders dimple like that, but they’re newer. And I don’t heat emboss all that much, so I haven’t really compared it to my others yet. The dimpled look is fine for these masculine cards and during other times as well, but occasionally I do want a smoother look, which seems possible with other powders. Or companies. This is something I need to research. (If anybody has any knowledge or tips, feel free to leave me a comment!) After I glued the square piece onto the plaid one with my ATG gun, I repeated the embossing process with the “for your kindness” stamp (“So Very Much, Stampin’ Up SAB set, retired). Then I sat back and took a look at it to see if the card “needed” anything else.

It wasn’t very long before the empty spaces in the square bugged me. This is why I have trouble doing simple cards. I apparently despise “white space.” My husband is forever telling me to leave things alone and not fill every little area. I’m not very good at that. But sometimes something actually needs to be filled and looks better once it is. I think that’s the case with this one. It would have been fine on its own, but the little added touches make it more special. I used a gold peel-off from Dazzles for the top swoosh and heart doodads – not sure which exact one, since I’m still not near my supplies as I write this. (I’ve figured out how to blog ahead of time and schedule posts!) After I was done with the center, I adhered my Crushed Curry Enamel Dots (Stampin’ Up, retired) at the edges of the plaid piece. I probably could have left those off entirely, but I had pulled them when I was looking for something to finish off the grey square, so they were in front of me. And I don’t “leave well enough alone” very well either. ๐Ÿ™‚

I was pleased with how this one turned out. It fit the requirements and didn’t take overly long.

Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

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.