Friday, August 21, 2009

Image Swap Card Exchange

I recently participated in a fun and challenging swap hosted by Faith at the Stamp-Shack, which is a terrific site for stampers who enjoy card making.

In this challenge, swappers submitted multiple copies of an image stamped on card stock to the swap hostess and she sent each participant an image from each of the other players to make a card -- any kind of card.

The completed cards were returned to the hostess who sorted them and sent each player the cards that were made from her image. Here are some of the cards I made for that swap. I also made a coordinated envelope for each card.

I originally planned a black, gray and brown palette for Captain Jack but when I painted his bandana, the mica paint had a greenish patina to it, and I picked up on that with the celadon colors of this patterned paper from
Wild Asparagus (Me and my Big Ideas). The twine gives a rustic finish to the image.

I punched holes with my tiniest hand punch and used fine, stiff twine (Wal-Mart) to overcast the edges of the image panel, which I distressed.

I used two coordinating papers, also from the Wild Asparagus collection, for this card and the coordinating envelope.

After painting with watercolors, I cut the image out and matted it on ovals.

The dark rose petals on the scalloped border are a part of the print that just happened to be in the perfect spot.

The headband was embellished with Ruby Slipper Stickles and gold microbeads. Larger gold beads and jump rings made wonderful jewelry. I adhere them with Diamond Glaze.

This adorable House Mouse image was watercolored and then mounted on a striped lavender and kraft patterned paper. The background I chose has lavender flowers on a kraft background. I embellished with die cut corners and punched flowers.

The image provided for this card was the largest butterfly. which I painted with Winsor and Newton Iridescent Watercolor Medium. I kept the color theme to black and white with a tiny punch of navy in the punched butterflies. The larger punched butterflies were stamped and embossed in black on navy.

Here is the inside of the card and a stamped embellishment on the envelope.

After watercoloring, I added some gold ink to the robes, then matted the image. I used scraps of the paper from the card front and border to embellish an inside panel that was stamped with a holiday greeting.

This card started out as a happy accident and ended up being my personal favorite of the lot.

When I first saw the image, I was stumped. I decided to paint first and let my muse take it from there. I intended to paint the beach ball in primary colors but grabbed the wrong green (olive instead of grass green). Seeing my mistake, I searched through my patterned papers and found
Mellow, a lovely Basic Grey collection in a small (6" by 6") pad.

The "solid" blue has clouds and shading and made a perfect mat for the image, which I cut out and mounted on it. The water was treated with irridescent medium and stickles for shimmer.

The sun was stamped, painted, and embellished with

The red and green panels are from the same paper pad and coordinate perfectly with the floral background.

The tiny flowers and buttons came in a tiny bag of embellishments as a freebie with a stamp set I bought ages ago. Punched leaves and vines, brads for flower centers, and a tiny bit of twine finished it off. I hated to return it! Doesn't that pup look like he's having fun?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hats, Handbags, and Shoes... and Chinese Peonies

Artist Trading Cards (ATC's) have become one of my favorite ways to "doodle" with paper. I just love creating these tiny masterpieces and they also feed right into one of my passions - finding a use for even the smallest scrap of "pretty" paper.

ATC's are very small artisitic creations that can be used to adorn card fronts, altered projects, and scrap book pages, or just enjoyed for their beauty and creativity. Some people use them as business or calling cards.

When it comes to ATC's, there are only three rules:

- ATC's are always 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches;

- a foundation of quality material - card stock (two layers is considered the minimum), cardboard, grungeboard, watercolor paper, even fabric - as a canvas for your personal best work.

- They are art for art's sake, traded or given away but never, ever sold. In fact, once an ATC is sold, it is no longer an "Artist Trading Card"; it becomes an "ACEO", or Art Cards, Editions and Originals.

This monochromatic collection of fashion accessories used scraps of four different patterned card stock and design papers in addition to a solid textured card stock and watercolor paper foundation. For this card, I stamped the images in dye ink and clear embossed on the patterned card stock and used detail scissors and a craft knife to cut out the images.

These Chinese Peonies are a free clip art sample provided by Dover Publications. You can subscribe to their weekly free clip art samples here.

This card is an example of Paper Tole - using multiple layers of the same image to create a three dimensional picture.

I cropped and printed multiple images of the peonies and then cut out three layers for each blossom, trimming off a few petals with each successive layer so the center of the flower is increasingly prominent.

The flowers on the card were painted with Mod Podge and allowed to dry briefly. More Mod Podge was added to the bottom central area of the flower and the next layer of petals was applied and that layer was also painted with Mod Podge.

When adding additional layers, I used my fine tweezers to curl each petal forward slightly. It's important to then carefully coat both sides of the petal with Mod Podge. After all three layers were attached and coated, I let the cards dry thoroughly - several hours in the humidity we're having now. Then I painted them with Diamond Glaze. After they were again dry, I added a tiny drop of Diamond Glaze to the center of each bloom and sprinkled them with copper microbeads.

ATC's are a great way to use up those small bits of leftover punched borders, scraps, and extra images from larger projects. While many swaps require that you make 8 or more cards for a "swap", more and more, I am finding swaps involving 3 or 4 cards.

Pick a Theme swaps provide another one of my favorite ways to use leftover scraps of punched lace, extra images, and scraps of pretty paper. These swaps involve making one-of-a kind for participant's chosen themes. PAT swaps are available on several card swapping sites. You can read more about them here at a the newest PAT Swap posted in the Swap Forum at Splitcoast Stampers.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sad news....

Well, I am very sad to report that a neighborhood cat discovered our babies and their nest. We had penned the area off to protect it from the dogs, never thinking that a cat might somehow find them. We don't even know who owns the cat, but early this morning, Toughie, one of our Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, gave an alert that there was an animal in the yard and seemed to be chasing something.

In the early morning dim light, we didn't immediately see what had attracted his attention but a short time later, a very large orange tiger cat sat licking his chops just outside the fence and a quick look showed that the nest had been destroyed, our babies and the remaining eggs, gone.

Several times this morning, Toughie has alerted and has raced to the trellis where the cat was stalking the bird feeder.

I know that this is part of the natural world we live in, And I know that this is what cats "do". But I am sad that we didn't get the chance to see these little ones take flight and join the rest of the birds who favor us with their wonderful song in our garden.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Baby Sparrows Now Have Feathers!

Our baby sparrows are four days old now and they now have some feathers. It's amazing how much they have grown in just four days.

When they were born on Wednesday morning, their eyes were so huge, they literally bulged from their tiny faces. They have grown so much, their eyes now appear normal in size in proportion. We caught them napping here, while Mama is out getting food.

We are now leaving some sunflower seeds under the plant for Mama Sparrow, and since they are disappearing, I am guessing she's eating them. Best of all, none of the other birds who come to our feeders seem to be aware. We are still keeping the area barricaded with a puppy pen, but even when she hops down the walk to the butterfly garden, the dogs ignore her. The other two eggs still haven't hatched yet.... I wonder if they will. Perhaps she laid them at different times?

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Baby Birds are Doing Well

I finally was able to photograph the mama bird in her nest. She's a sparrow! Here she is, sitting on the two remaining eggs and her two little chicks. The babies are still so tiny and fragile looking!

Pleated Ribbon Border

Both Splitcoast Stampers and Scrapbook Dreamer recently issued challenges to incorporate pleats into a design.

I incorporated a pleated border using a wide wire-edged ribbon in this two page scrap book lay out.

I used several papers from Basic Grey's Porcelain Collection which were a perfect color choice for the pictures I wanted to display. Prima flowers and large copper brads added another decorative touch.

On the companion page, I carried the zigzag theme through with a zigzag edged border cut from coordinating papers in the collection.

The text box is from the embellishment page included with the collection.


Cut a strip of plain ivory card stock 12 inches long and 1/8 inch narrower than the ribbon. Secure the cut edge of the ribbon over one end of the card stock, then fan-fold the ribbon in 1/2 inch wide pleats. Secure pleats in place with plastic clothespins on one side. Finger press the wire edge on each side to keep the pleats in place.

Working on 3-4 inch segments, lift up the unpinned edge and lay down roller adhesive onto the card stock and press the pleats into the adhesive.

Remove the pins from the opposite and fasten the pleats to the card stock with adhesive. Continue working along the length, then cut a short length of ribbon and fold it over and adhere it to the back of the panel.
Secure the border to the page with roller, adhesive. Insert two brads on each end. Run a thin bead of tacky glue over the upper edge of the ribbon pleats. Add coordinating braid. Using a miniature needle nose glue bottle, squeeze a thin bead of glue under the edge of the ribbon and braid to secure the pleats and the braid in place.

: Rosenthal, Chatworth, Silver Birch, from the Basic Grey Porcelain Collection; Brown card stock (K&Co.); Scrap of sage green card stock

Zigzag edging punch (Martha Stewart); 1-½” wide polyester-nylon blend wired sage green ribbon (Kirkland, from Costco); Pink braid (Wyla, Joann Fabrics); Copper brads (Making Memories); Large decorative copper brads (Making Memories); Prima flowers; Cricut font cartridge (Storybook)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

We Have Babies!!!!

Several weeks ago we noticed that a bird had built a nest in the middle of a large and sprawling clump of cranesbill in one of our perennial beds. I thought that was odd, since another bird has built a nest in the climbing roses on one of our trellises and there is no shortage of trees in our yard. But there is was, barely a few inches off the ground, nestled in among the stems and branches of the plant.

I've checked on the nest regularly and occasionally I've seen a nondescript brown and white bird sitting on the eggs in the nest. When I get too close for comfort, she hops out of the nest and under the leaves onto the garden floor.

Today when I was gardening, I saw her hop out of the garden and down the entire length of the walk to the butterfly garden, where she disappeared among the butterfly bushes. It occurred to me that perhaps she had been injured at some point and can no longer fly. Checking on the nest, I was delighted to find that two of the four eggs had just hatched! The pink, downy covered babes were opening their mouths for food but not making a sound.

We've cordoned off the area from the dogs and if the violent thunderstorms that are predicted for this evening come to pass, we'll shelter them with an umbrella. What a joy to see new life spring from the garden! I can hardly wait for the other two to hatch!

Shirred Ribbon and Fancy Bows

I {Heart} Papers at Papercraft Planet challenged crafters to use wide ribbon in a card or project. I love using wide ribbon. (I define
wide as anything wider than 1 inch.) I think a generous length of luxurious ribbon adds elegance and sophistication to a card in a way that nothing else can match.

For this card, I started with a watercolored rose and ribbon painted to coordinate with this beautiful patterned paper from Amy Butler's Tea Box Collection (K&Co.). The image was stamped and embossed in gold on Strathmore watercolor paper, painted with watercolors, and then carefully cut out and mounted on a double mat of ivory and gray card stock.

I chose a soft pink wired satin ribbon. Cutting a length twice the width of the card, I shirred the ribbon on the wires, knotting the wires on each end and folding the ends of the ribbon and wires under at each edge. After gluing the shirred ribbon strip onto an ivory panel with punched lace edges, I tacked each side of the ribbon strip with an embellished button (K&Co.) and attached a separate bow.

Finishing touches include a double matted oval with a sentiment for the inside of the card, and green glitter brads to anchor the corners of the design paper.

Another simple technique for adding elegance to a card is the use of multiple mats. For this card, I started with a dark gray card stock foundation and then layered first an ivory mat and then the patterned paper card front. The intermediate layer defines the patterned paper and pulls the eye toward the ivory lace on the print.

The extra mat also serves the added purpose of providing an extra layer in which to conceal the ends of brads and ribbons. The button brads and green corner brads are secured through the patterned and ivory layers only; once the card front is attached to the base, the brad ends are hidden and the inside of the card is clean and intact.

Adding an ivory panel with punched lace edges under the shirred ribbon strip gives a finishing touch to the ribbon trim that also coordinates with the overall scalloped lacy design of the print.


Stamps: #96614 Expressions (inside greeting) and #90438X Roses and ribbon (both by Inkadinkadoo)
Paper: “Tea Box Collection” (K&Co. Specialty Paper Pack by Amy Butler); ivory card stock; Gray card stock (K&Co.)
Ink: Antique Pewter (ColorBox); Versamark; Detail Gold embossing powder (Ranger)
Accessories: 1.5 inch wired satin ribbon (SewEssentials, JoAnn Fabrics); decorative buttons (K&Co.); green glitter brads (Karen Foster); lace edge punch (Martha Stewart); Pink rhinestones (Darice); Watercolor pencils

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Thinking of you....

When friends or family members are struggling with personal or family issues or health problems, a card is a tangeible reminder of your love and concern. This card is a non-traditional size (6 inches high and 8 inches wide) which means either a handmade envelope or a bubble wrap mailer. I chose the latter when I mailed this card out, and I wrapped the card in a piece of tissue paper before inserting it into the mailer. Little touches like that add so much to the presentation.

Silk flowers can be used in place of paper flowers for a stunning effect. I used one blossom from this cluster of chrysanthemums to create the flowers on this page.

Separated into layers and then reassembled into individual blooms with ornate centers (brads) gave me the opportunity to use flowers in a color that was a perfect match to the other elements of the card.

Simply pull a flower off the stem, then separate the plastic pieces that hold the petals in place. In the case of these chrysanthemums, it was easy to just snip the little plastic ring and pull it away and then the petals slid right off. I layered two of the individual petal segments and used large vintage brads as flower centers.

The leaves can also be pulled off the wire stems and the little plastic stem sections that hold them in place can be trimmed off. In this cluster of flowers, there are many small leaves, but you can also trim and shape the larger leaves as well.

I love using dark card stock as a foundation for my cards but if you do, you really need to layer a panel for the inside of the card to make it easy to add a handwritten greeting.

I used scraps of card stock and patterned paper to stamp an encouraging message, trimmed with a small piece of punched lace edging, and mounted it on one side of the lighter card stock panel so that I could add a handwritten note as well.

Materials Needed for This Card:
Ink: Versamark; Amethyst Pearlustre embossing powder (Stampendous)
Paper: Card Stock, lavender/gray and purple (Core’Dinations); Patterned Paper, "Wisteria" (Basic Grey)
Stamps: I Care (Daisy Bucket); Shine on You #N035 (Stampendous)
Accessories: Sheer purple ribbon (Morex, from Michael’s); Purple silk flowers (on clearance at JoAnn Fabrics); Vintage brads (Making Memories); Lace edge punch (Martha Stewart)

Another Vintage Scrap Book Page

This scrap book page is another of the series of pages I made following our trip to Ellis Island. This photograph of my husband's mother as an infant had sustained water damage and is extremely brittle, so scanning it allowed me to preserve it and correct some background defects.

Lacking a current Photoshop program (can you believe it, and with all the photographs I take!), I was able to successfully use the Microsoft "Paint" program to copy a tiny section of the background and paste it over the adjacent section of background to hide several flaws. Although it is painstaking, the results were amazing and well worth the investment of time. I did the same thing with the family group photograph in the previous post to cover over some handwriting that was done in ballpoint ink on the front of the picture.

Looking for a different way to display the photograph, which was much smaller than the other family portrait, I framed it with a mat that I cut from a panel embossed with the Cuttlebug Textile folder and matted it on several mats that were ultimately edged with a vintage style paper lace that was punched with one of the EKSuccess border punches.

I used the largest Nestabilities "Labels Four" die to cut out the center opening in the mat, and then used that scrap as the base to mat a small journal box. To get a slightly larger mat to mat the black label panel, I flipped the die over onto the tan card stock and traced around the outside edge to give me a tan mat to carry the color theme through. The embellishments on the top and bottom arches are two of the flourishes that remain from the punched lace that were glued in place and fastened with copper brads.

The hinges are from Tim Holtz Grungeboard Elements collection. I used Martha Stewart copper ink (darker and more subdued than ColorBox's copper) and clear embossing powder to emboss the entire front surface and sides of the hinges. I then painted them with Folk Art's Acrylic Crackle Medium and after drying, used Folk Art's Antiquing Polish #590 Brown. Although I didn't get as much crackling as I'd hoped for, the antiquing polish darkened the hinges enough to give them a truly vintage appearance. I was pleased that the color matched nicely with Making Memories copper brads. (Click on the pictures for a larger view.)

If you look closely at the lower right corner of the background design paper panel, you can see an image of the Statue of Liberty. I was delighted to find this piece in my scrap bin, a remnant from a very old DCWV travel themed paper stack. I could not have asked for a more appropriate image for the background of this page. I distressed and sponged the edges to keep a vintage feel.

To identify the family members in the portraits, I created small text boxes in a Word document and typed names and dates using the Monotype Corsiva font. As much as I preferred something more elaborate, Monotype Corsiva is decorative as well as readable. After printing and cutting, I sponged with Frayed Burlap Distress Ink and mounted each on scraps of tan card stock.

Vintage Scrap Book Pages

Recently, my husband, brother- and sister-in-law and I visited my husband's elderly aunt and uncle in New York. My husband has been putting together a family tree and researching his family's genealogy using a program offered through

A visit to Ellis Island was an important and moving part of our trip. Touring the museum was enlightening and provided us with a wealth of information about what our immigrant family members experienced on their voyage to America. We found the names of family members of both of our families on the Memorial Wall. And with some nudging from Scrapbook Dreamer, one of my favorite sites for scrap book inspiration, I put together several scrap book pages featuring vintage family photographs and images of documents we were able to acquire through the Ellis Island Data Base.

If your family came through Ellis Island, you should be able to locate such critical documents as ship manifests and even some naturalization documents. Be sure to check alternate spellings since many families names were anglicized after they arrived to make them easier to pronounce and spell in English.

I scanned and was able to enhance and correct scratches and flaws in the original pictures, as well as preserve a copy that I can share with other family members.

I used lace edge punches, store bought crocheted lace, and multiple layers of matting to display the cherished photographs. Distress Ink (Frayed Burlap) was used to "age" documents that were printed out on white matte photo paper. The wide lace border on the wedding photograph is actually a row of narrow lace with scallops of pearls glued over a length of wide saw tooth crocheted lace. I used some brown wooden buttons and large pearls (Kaiser) to embellish the flowers.

The flourishes are from Tim Holtz Grungeboard "Elements". I painted them with off white acrylic paint and then smudged them with patina colored Stickles. Although they look bright and glittery in the photograph, in real life, the patina is a soft green blush on the off-white that picks up the green in the background panel.