Saturday, 5 August 2017

Tropical Christmas

Our new Christmas Card Throwdown is here! The challenge is "Tropical Christmas".

I am very frustrated as I got most of the way through a card last weekend, but when I came to finish it today I couldn't find it! We're having a massive sort out for building work, so it must have got caught up in something we've tidied away - it'll turn up eventually. Here's the photo of where I'd got to.

So I found myself this evening with a card to make from scratch!

Fortunately, I received a happy parcel in the post yesterday - 6 distress oxides! So I've had a play with those.

Using watercolour card, I applied cracked pistachio, broken china, fossilised amber and fired brick directly to the card, then spritzed with water to move it around - it really is amazing how they change and react to water. I dried with the heat gun, then applied the colour to an acrylic block, spritzed, and applied over the card. I dried again, and repeated. As the colours are opaque, they build up nicely.

(No photos of the stages I'm afraid, I was trying to be quick!)

I cut the card down to size for a 6x6 card blank, and added more red in a pale area. I stamped a lily into one corner - a very tropical flower! - using archival black ink. This is a wooden block stamp I've had for ages. I painted the lily with wilted violet, then added a bit of fired brick, mixing the two on a craft sheet. Once dried, I added fossilised amber in the centre.

I stamped the Clarity ribbon Merry Christmas above the lily, and painted the letters with fired brick and wilted violet. This is where I found how forgiving the distress oxides are. Where I went outside the lines, they lift off easily with water, and once dry I could paint outside the letters with the background colour and the opacity disguised the overshoot.

To finish off, I went over the lily with a permanent black pen, as I wasn't happy with the stamping, edged in black sharpie, and added clear sparkle pen to the centre of the lily and the letters.

So, a quick and simple card, hopefully the tropical colours (which the camera has bleached a little) and lily meet the challenge criteria!

I was having so much fun with the oxides I decided to keep going, and made a thank you card for some friends who we'd seen while they were visiting from the states in May, and who'd subsequently sent a far too generous parcel for our daughter.

I made two more backgrounds in the same way as above, adding the wilted violet into the mix.

I stamped the Clarity ribbon Thank you onto one piece (using the Tim Holtz stamping platform, which is as well as it didn't stamp well on the first go). I painted in the letters as before, then trimmed it down to a small square. I trimmed the other piece to a larger square to back it. One side of the larger piece was a little plain, so I added more of the wilted violet with an acrylic block. I edged both pieces with the black sharpie and mounted. I added the sparkle pen to the letters again.

It looked a little flat at this point, so I got a small amount of white gesso and painted a tiny amount around the letters, to the right and underneath, and smudged it in. It added a bit of dimension and just lifted the letters a touch.

Inside the card, I stamped the Thank You again, using a mixture of the oxides.

I realised as soon as I'd done it, that using the stamp platform would have made this a lot easier and by doing multiple stampings I would have avoided risking contaminating my ink pads. Ah well, live and learn, I'll remember next time I hope!

To join in with our Tropical Christmas challenge, head over to the Christmas Card Throwdown. You have until midnight BST on Friday 18th August to enter. I look forward to seeing your interpretations of our theme.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Rainbow bright

Our new challenge at the Christmas Card Throwdown is colours - and we're looking for a rainbow! (Or at least five colours.)

I've been seeing lots of videos on making gorgeous painty backgrounds recently, so wanted to try for myself. I pulled out acrylic paint in the seven colours, along with a small brush and card cut to size for a 6x6 card blank.

Working from top left, I dry brushed the paint on, horizontally and vertically. I managed to get several blurry photos of the result, this is the best one!

Using the same paint from the palette, I sponged it onto my favourite old holly stamp, and over stamped the background. I started with first generation in the red area, but that was too blotchy, second generation was better. So I painted over the offending holly with the red, then with white as it had become too solid, then more red until I was happy. The joy of using acrylic rather than ink!

At this point I wasn't in love with how it looked, it was a bit messy and wasn't working particularly well. So I added some white lines to lighten it, applied using the side of a piece of cardboard.

That was better - the mess is starting to look more grungy.

To go onto the background, I die cut a Spellbinders Christmas tree, and a "Seasons Greetings" sentiment, from hint of silver Centura Pearl.

I also blended round the edge of the background with vintage photo distress ink, and then edged in brown sharpie pen.

I cut a mount layer from the same Centura Pearl card, and constructed with a tape pen and a zig glue pen.

For something I was unsure about all the way through, I'm really pleased with the final result. Just shows that sometimes you have to keep going!

To join in with our rainbow card challenge head over to the Christmas Card Throwdown. You have until Midnight BST on Friday 4th August (slightly longer than usual!) to enter. We'd love to see what colourful creations you come up with.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

A chance to play with my new modelling cream

We have a lot going on at the moment, get ready for building work to start in a couple of weeks. So my card for the Christmas Card Throwdown sketch challenge missed the first post - fortunately I've just got in for the "still time to play" post.

Here is the sketch we have to work with:

My card borrows heavily from a canvas I watched Maria Simms making at the Clarity Open Day last month (such a great day down in Crowborough). I think she did something similar on the TV too.

Using Clarity stencil card cut to size for a 6x6 card base, I brayered on the champagne Viva Decor modelling cream. I was lucky enough to win a raffle at the Open Day, and got three pots of this cream (amongst other things). The other colours are bronze and gold.

I then started random stamping over the top with a script stamp and expresso adirondack ink, second generation. Confession time, I meant to use archival but pulled out the wrong ink pad and didn't notice! But this one seems to have dried okay, and is a better colour, darker and less orangey.

I added my favourite old holly stamp for a more Christmassy touch.

For more texture and interest, I ran one side through a Tattered Lace embossing folder.

I positioned a snowflake stencil (from Stamps Away) over the background, and masked off around a row of three snowflakes. 

This allowed me to spread the bronze modelling cream through to give my three focal points.

While the cream was still wet, I sprinkled Autumn Leaves gliding flakes over the top, then left to dry.

Unfortunately, the lightness of the cream lulled me into a false sense of security, and I also left my blending mat, stencil and tools to dry - they took some scrubbing later! Lesson learnt - this is a texture paste and needs to be washed off immediately!

Once dry, I gently rubbed away the excess flake, to leave a touch of sparkle on my snowflakes.

I decided to do something similar for the sentiment area, so used the Clarity stripes stencil and a bit more of the bronze modelling cream. Again, the gilding flakes went on when wet.

While that dried I die cut my sentiment from black card - I can't remember where these dies came from.

I thought about using bronze or glitter card, but actually like the plainness of the black, I think it looks better.

I also cut a matt to go behind, from a patterned bronze paper I've had a pack of for ages and rarely use.

Once dry, I rubbed away the gilding flakes again. I'd been a bit heavy handed and smudged the modelling cream, so the sentiment has been strategically placed to conceal that bit.

I added a bit more stamping, and blended the espresso ink around the edge to give a vignette. 

Then it was just a case of putting it together on the card blank, using a tape pen, and a zig glue pen for the sentiment.

This has been my first chance to play with the modelling creams, they're a lovely consistency and give a great shine. I've only used the cream from the lid so far, so hopefully they'll last well too.

To join in with the sketch challenge, go to the Christmas Card Throwdown, you have until Friday 14th July at midnight BST to enter.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Green Man

Our June theme at the Berkhamsted Creative Challenge is "All about the boys".

We're having a month celebrating all things masculine, in honour of Fathers Day. I thought I'd take a different approach, and pulled out a Green Man stamp I got from the Clarity stamp club last year, and have never used. (I planned to use this for the "Spring" challenge back in April but ran out of time.)

I started by stamping onto kraft card, for a natural look.

I used black archival ink. I then put distress inks onto my blending mat, in shades of green - pine needles, crushed olive, mowed lawn, old paper. With a paint brush I added a little water, then flicked each colour onto the stamped image.

Looking back at the photo, I like this effect with the splats, but for this purpose I had another plan. I fussy cut out the various leaves around the face. I stamped in olive green stazon onto another scrap of kraft card, and fussy cut that out too.

I then coated each piece with exterior mod podge, front and back, a few coats. I also coated a gorgeously shaped piece of wood I found while out on the park with Bethany -she's at the age where she collects all kinds of sticks, stones, daisies, feathers etc when we're out, I think she liked Mummy joining in.

I used 3d silicon glue to add the green pieces to the face, giving dimension, and then to attach it to the wood. A final coat of mod podge over it all, and a D ring in the back to hang it.

I had hoped to get outside to take a photo of him in a more natural setting, but the weather has not co-operated today. However, in a few days when the mod podge has fully set, our Green Man will take his place in our garden.

There are a couple of days left to enter the June challenge, then we'll have a brand new theme for you to play with on the 1st July. Come over and see what's going on.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

The lone soldier

I wasn't going to do a second card for our current theme challenge at the Christmas Card Throwdown, but then I had a thought for a really simple card, and was curious about how quick it would really be!

I only have the one stamp that works for this theme, a drummer from a "Twelve Days of Christmas" set, so he came out again.

I stamped him once, in cobalt archival ink, onto stencil card I had cut to size for a 6x6 card.

I painted him with pebeo drawing gum, to mask him, then used masking tape to create a panel.

I stamped into the panel using the circle outline from Sam's shapes from Clarity, with iced spruce and weathered wood distress inks. For smaller circles, I used the lid and top of a small pill bottle.

They stamped pretty well!

I then brushed over lightly with iced spruce. With hindsight I wish I'd used weathered wood, so it was more blue than green, but I was going for quick, so wasn't about to start again!

This is the panel with the mask removed.
I rubbed the drawing gum away from the soldier.

I coloured him with distress markers, stormy sky and faded jeans.

Pencils may have given a better result, hindsight again!

I stamped a Merry Christams sentiment in the cobalt archival ink. The panel was edged with wiggly lines in the stormy sky distress marker (fine nib).

The final touch was stormy sky around the edge, and mount onto a 6x6 card blank.

I added an insert, and decorated this and the envelope with the stamped circles.

A simple, cool (colours) card. I'm not sure how long it took altogether, but certainly less work than some! I really like panel cards, they're a great go-to if I'm struggling for an idea.

If you'd like to join in with the fun, go to the Christmas Card Throwdown. You have until midnight BST on Friday 30th June to enter. 

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Toy Soldiers

I'm getting behind with my blogs a bit, only getting the Christmas Card Throwdown ones posted at the moment - I'll have to have a catch up at some point, there's a really big project I want to share!

In the meantime, here's the new Christmas Card Throwdown challenge:

I don't have anything that would pass as a nutcracker, but in my "12 days of Christmas" set I have a drummer, who makes a lovely Toy Soldier.

I started by stamping him four times onto scraps of card. The outline isn't particularly clear, he needs to be coloured. I used distress markers in barn door, stormy sky, black soot and mustard seed.

I cut them all out with different dies, in different sizes.

To get started with the background, I cut stencil card to size and placed it under the Clarity harlequin stencil. I brushed over fired brick first, then moved the card and used salty ocean. For the final layer I used antique linen.

My camera doesn't focus well on the pattern!

As I liked the waste piece so much last time I did this type of pattern, I made sure to use a clean paper underneath!

For a sentiment I cut another piece of card with a die, and added "Happy Christmas" with a Clarity stamp.

I used a Sheena texture stamp and watering can archival ink to add detail to the soldiers and sentiment.

I used the same on the background, and added red around the edge.

At this point I got a bit stuck! Some cards just come together, others make me work for it! My mum is staying with me at the moment, and we were both standing over it at 11pm, trying different ribbons, colours, arrangements.

Having slept on it, we came up with some ideas! This is where we went.

I added a Clarity holly corner stamp to the background, with salty ocean.

I then used an embossing folder as well - I'm not sure where I got this one, it may have been from a magazine.

The background is now much more interesting!

I added antique linen round the soldiers.

I also added little holly leaves on the sentiment, in blue and red, to tie it in.

I added ribbons on the background. I've just sorted out my ribbons, I got a ribbon organiser from Stamps Away last year, and I finally put it together. My ribbons are now all neatly wound onto the hangers, it's very pleasing!

I mounted the soldiers and sentiment with 3d glue gel. I made a matt layer, with salty ocean distress ink, and mounted onto a 5x7 card blank.

It took a bit of trial and error to get this to card to work, but I'm pleased with the final result.

To join in with the challenge, go to the Christmas Card Throwdown. You have until midnight BST on Friday 30th June to enter. I look forward to seeing what you do with our theme.