Friday, November 21, 2014

Fall Into Autumn

Fall is my favorite season of the year.  I love pumpkin spice lattes, caramel apple cider, and the crisp bite to the air.  For this week at Color My Heart, we are working with the colors from the new Pathfinding paper.  I also wanted to see if I could take the "No Ink" Challenge over at Heart2Heart.  Here's what I came up with:

I don't think it needs much explanation except to say that the sentiment came from one of the zip strips included in the paper.  So easy!

Until next time,

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Clean and Simple Yuletide Cards

For my design team duties at Stampin Buds this week, I wanted to take you inside the anatomy of a Clean and Simple (CAS) card.  Please understand, I am by no means a CAS expert.  I just like the style and have picked up a few things from the masters.

Tip #1:  Let you white space shine.

There are a several things that go into a good white space.  First, your work is clean, no least no unintentional ones. Second, use good quality cardstock. It needs to fold well, cut without leaving jagged edges, and take ink well.  White Daisy cardstock, baby.  As much as you can get your hands on!  And finally, the importance of the Score Board can't be overstated.  Folds are crisper with no breakage, plus you can create top folding cards which not only photograph better, they are different from what you get in a store which makes your card stand out from the crowd.

Tip #2:  Add detail without adding bulk. 

On this card, I trimmed the edge of the card base to 3.75 along the open edge.  This allowed me to hang the tag off the edge.  Any time you can go literally "out of the box" of your card base, it adds interest.

I also angled the tag as opposed to leaving it straight.   The juxtaposition of a straight line against an angle adds another touch of interest.

I was able to do the two colors around the edge and in the middle by using pigment inks.  Their cube shape is small enough to do this technique without having to mask off parts of the stamp.  I took the extra time to sponge around the edges of the tag with Olive ink (dye based) for two reasons: 1) it deepened the color around the edge creating a more definitive edge, and 2) any time you add shading it gives your project extra depth. (I used Cranberry and Olive because they happened to be on my work table.  They are in two different ink stacks so I included the link for both below, but you could easily get by with just one ink stack.)

Use foam tape to create depth.  You aren't adding anything of "weight" to your card in terms of design, but you give what's there more impact.

To get the embroidery floss to stay in place, I placed a dab of Liquid Glass on my index fingertip and smooshed it flat against my thumb. I pinched the floss at the points I wanted to adhere to the tag, and pressed them down lightly making sure to leave a little curve.

Tip #3:  Use design principles to full advantage.

Because there isn't much to a CAS card, what's there must make a big impact.

Here I used several principles when putting together my cluster.

First, I created a cluster. Within that cluster, I placed the two gold sequins and the Dec 25 circle in a triangle.  I used variety in the sizes of the sequins, neither of which is the size of the Dec 25 circle. (My original plan didn't call for the sequins, but I ended up with a smudge.  Small sequins to the then I had to add the larger sequins.  Then I had to add the Dec 25 to complete the triangle.  So, you see, covering that smudge led to better things.)

Second, I used contrasting colors.  Red and green are opposites on the color wheel.  One brings out the best in the other.

Third, I used the principle of thirds.  (See how I did that...made the "thirds" principle third on my list.  I'm so clever...and humble, too. LOL!)  If you were to pick the center point of the cluster and draw a line horizontally and another one vertically, those two lines would be one third of the way up from the bottom and one third of the way from the right edge of the card base.

I then went back to Tip #2 and used the Piercing Tool and Stitch Guide to create a type of border that adds interest without adding bulk, I sponged Olive ink around the Cranberry tag, and I foam mounted the red tag and the Dec 25 dot to add depth to my layers.

Tip #4:  Create a CAS background using good design principles, then throw something bold over the top.

I'm going to be honest, this card took forever to come together.  I had the idea in my head but couldn't get it to come out on paper.  I was losing sleep over it.  Really, I was!

Anyway...look at the background and the ticket for a moment.  They follow good design principles.

The greenery in the background is at an angle and covers about a third of the center panel.  Instead of dotting the berries with red, I used brown to create a contrast without drawing the eye too much.

The ticket is placed about a third of the way up the card and a little less than a third away from the right edge.  If you were to take the tag out, the background and ticket would be a well designed card.  But then you throw that bold tag on it, move the ticket over a smidge because the eye is drawn to the point where ticket and tag intersect, and voila!

The tag was cut out of Yuletide paper in the exact shape of the first card because I took the clear stamp, laid it on the paper so the design would border the left side, and then cut around the stamp with my Micro-tip Scissors being very careful to not nick my stamp.  To create the "string," I folded the Washi Tape over on itself lining up the gold dots and trimming off any excess.  I then folded it in half again and looped it through the top of the tag.  I used the excess trimmings of Washi to wrap around the ties.

To finish, I sponged around the ticket, tag, and bottom/right corner of the inner panel with Olive ink.  Also, note that the sequins (two different sizes) and the Washi tape "strings" are placed in a triangular shape with the similarly colored ticket.  The stitching around the edges is another example of adding interest without adding bulk, as is a white on white border.

In the interest of full-disclosure, that center panel was giving me fits.  I tried it on a green background, a Kraft background, a sponged background, a sponged background with stamping over it, with sponged edges to match the sponged background, with another mat between the white on white of various colors.  Aaaaaack!!  But I kept fussing and trimming and trying until it worked.  I knew my design principles were good, I just couldn't get the background right.

All of these cards can be recreated once the Yuletide paper is gone.  The bold tag can be cut from plain cardstock and run through an embossing folder, stamped, or cut from a different patterned paper. But those tickets...Oh!  I love those tickets.

On Thanksgiving Day, I'll show you how to stretch this very Christmassy set into all sorts of occasions using those wonderful little tickets!!  You can leave the men to their turkey coma football frenzy and come play.

Until next time,

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Writer's World Wednesday - Playing the "What If" Game

Yesterday Gina Welborn and I spent ten hours brainstorming the subplot for the first story of a three book series we want to pitch to publishing houses.  All told, she and I probably have forty hours a piece invested in putting a proposal together with no guarantee anyone will want to buy it.  But before we can pitch it to a publisher, we have to know what's going to happen in the story, and before we know what's going to happen, we have to play the "What If?" game.  A lot!

Gina and I play "What If?" almost every week.  We meet for coffee, tea, and hours of hashing out characters and plots.  What if a character did this; what if she had to deal with that; and what if everything in his world changed when something else happened?  Some are for her stories exclusively, some are for mine, but lately it's for the joint venture.

The more I play the "What if?" game, the greater sense I have of how God deals with me.  The first rule of the game is this: Know your Character.  The point of this is to be able to predict how she'll respond to a given situation, because her response dictates the next plot point.  As an author, you need to know her strengths and weaknesses, but mostly you need to know which character flaw you are going to force her to change over the course of the story.  People don't change easily; it takes a great deal of pressure to force them out of the rut they are in onto the rocky ground of new territory.

God works with me the same way.  He knows me better than I know myself and what flaw needs pressure.  His goal isn't to put me through the wringer for the sake of watching me squirm, there is a specific purpose in mind.  He wants to shape me into someone who more closely reflects His image into this world.

What is your situation today?  Are you in the midst of a trial that's putting pressure on you to change?  Do you trust the "author and finisher" of your faith (Heb. 12:2)?

Until next time,

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Yuletide Scrapbook Page

Over the past several years, I have gravitated to cards as opposed to scrapbooking, but I still love to put a layout together once in a while.  For my design team duties at Stampin' Buds, I put this Yuletide Workshop of the Go layout together in no time flat using the coordinating Cricut Artbooking cartridge.  And since it uses nothing but paper and ink, I'm linking it up to the Heart2Heart "No Embellishments" challenge.

I love how this turned out.  I have very few pictures from this particular Christmas.  (BTW, the baby my son is holding is a college freshman, and my son is 28 so...yeah...I'm a little behind.)  Having paper that is busy enough to be interesting without stealing the show from my photo is something of a Christmas miracle.

Here's what this looked like as I planned it out in Design Space (or Cricut Craft Room).  I used the mini album on page 57 of Artbooking.  Design Space doesn't let you choose each item individually.  You grab the whole kit and kaboodle and drop it into your work space.  By pressing the eye symbol, I removed any items I didn't want to use.  Next, I highlighted everything left on my work space and right clicked to be able to "ungroup" them all.  That gave me the ability to size things the way I wanted. 

I sized the postage stamp and ticket border as suggested on the carrier sheet of the WOTG stamps.  Then I started fussing.  In the end, the rest of the items ended up as follows:
  • red"december": H=5.7, W=5.28 (I turned it sideways)
  • tree: H=5.73, W=5.57
  • deer: H=3.89, W=2.47
  • black "christmas": H=5.98, W=8.09
The reason for the wonky measurements is because I used the diagonal stretch feature in Design Space until things looked right on my screen.  You can use the "edit" button in Design Space or the height/width boxes in CCR to put these exact measurements in, or you can just put one measurement in and let the software do the rest.  The only one you'll need to play with is the black "christmas" one because I stretched horizontally it to make it fit what I wanted to do with it.  (If you want to put the measurements in by hand, you'll have to use the "unlock" feature.)

You'll notice that the idea I had on my screen called for the postage symbol to be down by the deer.  Once I got everything cut and stamped with Black ink, it didn't look right so I moved it to the top left.  What did make me happy was how the various elements layered just right so holes on the "december" and "christmas" mats (which are actually the base pages for a mini album) were covered. 

And talk about quick!!  It took me more time to put this post together than the entire page--Design Space fussing included.  You gotta love the coordination between CTMH stamps and Cricut cartidges!!

Until next time,

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Writer's World Wednesday - The Power of a Single Sentence

My husband and I have a pact...neither one of us is going to die before the other.  And we aren't the only ones to make such an agreement.  Unfortunately, life rarely accommodates that particular request.

This morning at Bible study, a woman who's been married over fifty years said she read something about loving your spouse enough to be willing to be the one left behind to deal with the grief.  It rocked her world.  And do you know where she read it?  In a fiction book by Dee Henderson.

A few years ago, I read "Words" by Ginny Yttrup.  She has an interesting twist on "the truth shall set you free."  It impacted me so much I remember it still.  And she revealed it in a single sentence.

Same thing happened in Susan Meissner's "The Girl in the Glass".  One sentence stood out and forever changed how I look at things.

But you might read the same books and get a very different sentence that stands out to you.  As an author, I write the lessons God is teaching me.  It's the equivalent of Ernest Hemingway's famous quote: "There is nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."  What I'm going through might not resonate with you.  Maybe it will in another year or two or ten, but not at this particular moment.  Or maybe it never will.  That has to be okay...with both you and me.

When Waiting on a Promise comes out in February, most of you will read it and think it's a nice little story, at least I hope so.  Some of you will think it's a pile of drivel.  But somewhere out there is a person who needs to hear what my story has to say.  God will take the words I've written, drive them into a heart softened by disappointments or experience, and use them to change a life.

I write for that one.

Until next time,

Friday, November 7, 2014

Merry (Color My Heart) Christmas

This week at Color My Heart, we are working with Honey, Smoothie, and Olive.  I'm still on my Christmas card kick, so I came up with this:

Lately, the blogs I visit have had a number of cards with what I call "peek-a-boo" features.  I decided to do an easy one.  The stripes of colored paper are .25" wide and of various lengths because I used up scraps. I glued them to another scrap piece of paper until I had a length of 5.5".  I did make sure they were all at least 1.5 inches tall, though, because that helped when it came time to assemble the top panels over the stripes.

My top, white panel was originally cut at 5.25 x 3.75".  I then cut it into two pieces at the .75" mark so I had two strips measuring 5.25 x 3" and 5.25 x .75".  Using one of my top panel pieces as a guide, I trimmed the edges of my colored paper strip until I had an even fit.  I really wanted my two end pieces of Smoothie cardstock to be the same size, so it required some centering and eyeballing before cutting. 

When I had the striped panel and the two white panels of the same length, I glued the stripes to my card base so it was centered at about 1" from the bottom of the card base.  I then foam mounted my two white panels so they lined up with the stripes and were evenly bordered by the card base.

To add a little extra flourish to my sentiment, I used some Liquid Glass on the inside and outer ring.  I like the way the shine and dimension makes this look more like a puffy sticker.  I'm still debating over whether or not I should have added glitter to the outer ring. Or maybe, now that the inside and outer ring have dried, I could add glitter to the crisscross part of the frame.

Too much?

Good idea?

What do you think?

Anyway...I was looking at the finished card and thought, "Hmmm, it could use a little something more, but not too much." So I grabbed some ribbon, tied it in a knot, and secured it with another dot of Liquid Glass.

You will likely see more "peek-a-boo" types of cards in the future because I love how they add dimension without adding lots of bulk.

Now I just need to figure out how to take better pictures with my fancy-schmancy new light box the hubs got me.

Until next time,

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Merriest (Easiest) Christmas

November means Christmas card frenzy at my work table, so I got the party started for this week's Stampin' Buds post.  I send about 75 cards myself, plus I have a set to make as a belated wedding gift.  I always promise myself that I'll get started in January making one Christmas card per week, but I never follow through.

Close to my Heart's new Artfully Sent Cricut cartridge to the rescue!!  By shamelessly stealing this idea from the catalog...

I came up with this:

I set my Cricut to cut the reindeer shape from p. 47 and let it run page after page after page.  Now, I'm not only a sucker for "quick," I want to get the best use of my supplies possible.  By sizing the reindeer panel to 3.75" tall, I was able to get 12 images per 12x12 piece of Crystal Blue cardstock without much wasted.

Notice the tag.  It was cut using the Art Philosophy Cricut cartridge (p. 50), but I sized it to more closely match the stamp image.  By using the sizing tools available in Cricut Craft Room (or Design Space for a Cricut Explore machine), I squished the length to about 2" while leaving the width at 1.5".

If you look at the actual stamp set shown in the catalog, you'll see that the sentiment is all one image.  To get two colors easily, I cut my stamp into three separate pieces. I then arranged the three pieces together on the square block to get the spacing correct, peeled the center piece out and mounted it on its own block, then stamped in the two separate colors.

I'll be honest, the first time I cut a stamp apart it scared the bejeebers out of me.  Not so much anymore.  These are my stamps.  I paid for them. There's no "stamp police" that's going to come to my house to see if I've maintained the integrity of the image as originally purchased. I didn't get the "MERRIEST" lined up perfectly, but again, no stamp police!!

And if anyone dares to complain to me when they get their Christmas card, I won't send them one next year.  Who says Santa is the only one who can have a "Naughty & Nice" list?

Last but not least, the glittery reindeer was made by coloring the cut out reindeer with a red pen, covering it with glue, then pouring extra fine red glitter over the top. I adhered my blue panel with the black shimmer trim, glued the back side of my red reindeer, and lined up the blue panel image with the red one before gluing the red one to the card base.  (If that's too much trouble, you can very easily get away with leaving that part off.  I did most of this "fussy" work while watching football, so it didn't seem like too much effort to me.)

Oh, yeah!  Check the box beside "Get Christmas Cards Done"!

Until next time,