Thursday, December 29, 2011

Crafty Resolutions?

Got em'?  I've got a few but the biggest is getting more organized!  How do you organize your holiday cards?  I am terribly disorganized.  I try to send my handmade ones but a) I get bored of the same design and b) I have so many retail ones from the charities to which I donate.  Because I get bored of the same design, I change it up now and then.  Unfortunately, then I cannot remember who got what design each year, so I’m afraid of sending a repeat design!

I really think I need to make a cookie-cutter design per year.  I can vary the colours, maybe also the main embellishment but I should stick to one pattern.  I try to send handmade to only those who would appreciate them because of the large time investment.  I have to say, my track record for sending handmade holiday cards is terrible.  Birthday, I’ve done fairly well, but not holiday.

How do you keep track of who you have sent to?  I really need to make a master list that I can re-use year over year.  I think I will make a small ring-bound book.  I will make pocket pages where each pocket is big enough for a card and the front of the pocket will have a label.  That way, I can label who is getting what card and see how many I’ve made and how far I have to go.  I can always add more pages as more people enter my list and I can also replace labels as people leave my list.

I also have this dream of making an event calendar for birthdays and anniversaries.  The front page would be a picture of the person(s) and the date.  The back of the page would have a pocket for the card I plan to send.  That way, I can make a card when I feel like it, store it for when it is needed and also not forget that I made it.  Each event would be displayed until its date passes.  Then you turn the page of the event calendar and the next event is displayed until its date passes and so on.  (The plan might fall down if there are many events all bunched closely together though.  Meh – nothing’s perfect.)

There you have it.  Those are my two main organizational goals.  One day, I might actually carry them out.  What works for you?  Advice is welcome!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Snails and Smiles

Two Peas in the Bucket is an online scrapbooking and stamping store.  They have an extensive user gallery and forums.  I like to go there for inspiration or, sometimes, to discuss products and learn new techniques.  During the summer, a mother posted on the forums about her son having gone through rehab.  She was (rightfully) very proud and also very sensitive to his fragile state.  She asked the Two Peas members to send handmade cards in a card drive.  Harnessing the “Power of the Peas” happens frequently on that board and it is nice to see total strangers helping each other.

Now, making cards for teenage boys is not easy.  Luckily, I have my three nephews, so I am frequently picking up “boy appropriate” paper goodies.  To send some encouragement to this boy, I made this card with a digital image from A Day for Daisies:

It’s called “snail ride”.  I bought it to use on a future card for a nephew’s birthday with the planned sentiment of “Enjoy the Ride”.  However, it worked beautifully for this teenage boy who is turning his life around with only great effort and personal struggle.  “Slow and Steady” is the message.  After all, all things worth having are worth the effort!

I used the manliest colours I could find (I really need to get some more Copics!) and I tried to make the snail’s shell look like stone (along the “rock steady” theme).  The thing with A Day for Daisies snails is that the shell has such a lovely swirl.  They can look like little roses when coloured.  A more expert inker could probably make them look like speckled sea shells.  Not being so expert, I went with stone for this masculine card.  I think it turned out okay.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Getting my fairy fix

I loved this "extra cream fairy" digital image from "A Day for Daisies" as soon as I saw it, but I was having trouble coming up with a sentiment.  Then I married it with the Etsy for Animals December challenge to create something that is a treat.  That's when I thought of the "enjoy a little extra cream" birthday sentiment.

Sentiment woes, however, was not my only problem.  The first fairies I made were big.  I had planned to make them the dominant element of my card.  Unfortunately, the sentiment is long winded, so it had to be bigger than I intended.  I made both pieces and then laid them out how planned and they were too big for the card!  Eeek!

I first wanted to use my damask embossing folder on some metallic brown cardstock I had.  That cardstock is a deep rich brown, like black coffee.  I thought it was the perfect fit.  So, I embossed a fancy square die cut to mat the fairy's and I choose a patterned paper to match it and then..... it was too busy.  Way too busy.  The fairy's sweetness was drowned out by the competing patterns.

So, I removed the patterned paper and I used a monochrome glittered paper.  Still too busy - glitter versus metallic mat.  Remove the glitter.  I tried a different embossing folder on the card front to serve as a stand-in for patterned paper then.  Still too busy!!  Argh!

Then, the sky opened and light shone down on the box that finally arrived: my wholesale order.  I was completely out of white cardstock for the last three weeks.  I had made emergency runs to the local scrapbook store to buy some at retail to finish some custom orders.  In my wholesale order of cardstock, I also had some patterned papers for my newest die cut fairy birthday cards custom order.  (I desperately needed some double sided patterned papers to go with that too.)

In there was some paper by Basic Grey that was perfect for these digital image fairies!  (Plus a stamp: Magical Birthday Wishes.  YES!  This will be showing up on some future fairies.)  Here's how I finally got the fairy to fit on a card.

See how the paper is still somewhat plain but not totally boring?  That's the perfect way to make the fairy be the focal image.  What a life saver!  Since the bigger fairy was made as part of an Etsy for Animals challenge, 10% of it's proceeds will be donated to the Southern Ontario Animal Rescue.

I made sure the next round of fairies were printed a little smaller.

If you click on the next picture, you will see the metallic of the brown mats and the glitter I used to outline the wings.  In my earlier attempts at this card, I tried to colour the whole wings in with the glitter gel pen, but it was too big of an area to cover.  I was getting hideous streak marks everywhere.  So, I tried my very lightest yellow on the larger fairy card and outlined with glitter to give an illusion of colour.  Then, I decided to just outline the plain white and I like that better.  I considered trying to draw spider lines like a dragonfly wing, but decided against it.  If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

I really like this image.  With my new "Magical Birthday Wishes" stamp, I also decided to spring for a dragon stamp from A Day for Daisies.  That will give me the "boy" version of this card.  Woohoo!  All these fairies were coloured with my copic markers and cut out by hand.  I don't have the patience to superblend, so I only used two colours per area instead of the recommended three.  For the pink dress, I used only one pink marker and I used my colourless blender to make the highlights.  The coffee cream was hard to blend because the paper I used seemed to go transparent if I wet it too much.  I might have to investigate some more copic friendly papers.  (Know any?)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Here comes the snow

Here's a set of quick custom Holiday cards I made.  I had a set in my iCraft shop with cool tones: blue and aqua.  My customer requested red and blue.  I had trouble picturing ANYthing that would work.  Mix a warm tone and a cool tone for a winter card?  It just would not compute.

I got the message just before bed one night.  I laid awake thinking about it, trying to figure out how to combine them.  I spent the next day at work thinking about it off and on too and nothing was coming to me.  I was stressing a little bit.  I finally put it from my mind and decided I would have to wait until I was home and could see what kind of paper was in my stash.  (Then, I had to think if I even had enough red for the quantity of cards requested as I don't work with red much at all, actually!  I quickly squashed that thought too so I could do my work.)

After supper came the test.  What does the Fairy Cardmaker have in her tickle trunk (dating myself, but I really liked Mr. Dress Up as a child.)    I pulled two reds and started to play match maker.  I looked at my sample design my customer had pointed out and thought about layering.  I thought, well, I'll just make the red have a little wee border.  Then it will be mostly blue with a red highlight.  (I'm biased - my favourite colour is blue!)

Turned out differently.  Red is front and centre.  And I like it.  I am surprised: both that I was able to put blue and red together and that I like it.  Wonderful thing: my customer liked it too!  It just served to remind me that getting pushed out of your comfort zone can have surprisingly pleasing results!

I'm still behind in my cards though - I have a large custom order with a delivery schedule.  I am only 1/4 of the way through the first delivery.  Plus I have a personal 65th birthday that needs a card super fast.  I have an idea for that one, so I'm off to it!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Custom Frenzy

Challenge is good.  I've been a little ambivalent about some changes happening at work.  Half of my job is going to be removed from me over the next five years - the half that I fought for and wrote the job description for.  I'm going to regress back to what I was doing before.  I'm also going to have to re-prove my skills for my old function now that I'm returning to it full-time.  On the other hand, the opportunities and the ceiling for me at work just sky-rocketted a whole lot higher.

So, while I see the next 5 years are a setback for me, it's a temporary set back.  It has made me realize that, new growth is found through challenge.  I fear change.  I accept that life is about change - from year to year, from day to day, from moment to moment even.  I face it, but I'm allowed to still fear it.  So long as I face it.  If you don't, you go the way of the dinosaur.

Which brings me to my first custom order: a die cut dinosaur.

So, I've gotten a frenzy of custom orders this month.  It's a challenge for sure.  These orders make me smile and fret at the same time.  The day job comes first and it has its own host of challenges right now (and for the next foreseeable five years).  With that going on, will I be able to get enough supplies in for these custom orders?  Will I meet the deadlines?  Will I even be able to create what is desired?

Well, I had to say no to a couple designs.  I knew I didn't have the talent to make them.  If I can't draw it, I can't break it down to basic shapes and, therefore, can't reproduce it on my computer.  Lucky for me, the customer gave me choices.  As soon as I saw the choices - one stood out.  An image immediately came to my mind and I sketched it down:

At first, I planned to cut the dinosaur body separate from the spikes because the body is one colour and the spikes are another. Then, I realized I could cut the dinosaur FULL in silhouette - body, spikes and all.  I could then cut the body without the spikes and just layer it on top of the full silhouette.  The spikes will stick out and be placed perfectly every time.  I won't have to place each spike by hand.  (Nor will I have to place that itty bitty eyeball.  It can be the same colour as the spikes if I just cut it as a window through the body layer.)

Here's what it looks like on my computer screen.

And here is is all finished as a Christmas ornament.  The names are too small to make with die cut letters.  I put a gel pen in my machine and drew them.  Then I just coloured them in.

I like that this ornament doesn't have to be an ornament.  It can be a door hanger!  One day, I will have time to make some plain ones, but not until my other custom orders are happily on their way.  I'll tell you about the others later!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

It's a keeper!

I made my first match box treasure box a little while back.  I've been meaning to make more ever since and have also been thinking about artist collaboration but I have only brainstormed and not much more than that.  Yes, it takes me a LOOOOONG time to execute an idea.  But, as I said, I've been wanting to make room for a new machine and that means cranking out old project ideas.

This is my baby boy keepsake box.  I upgraded the box pulls from my awkward button knobs on my first box to ribbon pulls.  I think this is much better!

I found a little poem on a quote site and used it for the outside of the box.  I completed it to suit my box with the inside poem.

(Click to Enlarge)

I'm happy with how it turned out.  My brainstorming is leading me towards smaller themed boxes.  At my pace, I'm sure I'll get to it in a year or two!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Little Quilled Angels

I snagged a big table for my paper studio from my favourite local scrapbook store's closing sale.  I bought it to hold the big honkin' machine I've been drooling over for nearly a year.  However, to make room for it, I had to move one of my microwave carts out.  Until I can buy the wall unit I want, I can't abandon the cart, so it's in the hallway.

Plus, my new table is just littered with unfinished projects.  I tried to tell myself that if I finished these projects, then I could buy my machine.  No toys if I don't sit myself down to use them!

Some of my unfinished bits are these quilling strips I cut from cardstock.  I think I'm going to try real quilling strips on my next round of goods to buy.  However, I had cut these for a class, so they were all the right size to make little paper quilled angels.

When I was pulling out some Christmas paper to donate to Creating for a Cure (which I talked about a couple weeks ago), I realized just how much Holiday paper I have.  Put two and two together, and I have some more paper quilled angels!

I love the colours in this paper combo (from Die Cuts with a View). It reminds me of snowflakes on a calm day.  When the wind is still, that is when winter is beautiful.

It's a small start, but it's a start!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Are you a Beanie or a Bonnet?

This weekend, my workshop gals and I are making beanie hat gift card holders!  We are using the tutorial posted by Carolina Buchting on Splitcoast Stampers.  I provide guidance and pre-cut materials and workshop fee covers materials and a donation to the Southern Ontario Animal Rescue.

Our kits use this teal-green, white polka-dotted paper.  Depending how you dress the brim, you can make it a birthday bonnet or a boyish beanie!  I was so impressed with how easy it was to put together.  I had to alter the instructions a little because I don't have a handheld Crop-a-Dile.  I have the Crop-A-Dile II Big Bite, so I could not easily slip it between the layers to punch my hole and set my eyelet.

I like my revised way better anyway.  It's easier to work with flat pieces.  The other revision I made was to round the corners of the brim at the top.  I think it makes it look more like the brim is going around the hat instead of the sharp edges in the original samples.

I made whole bunch of these, they were so easy (and fun!)

On some I used buttons and a straight-bottomed brim.  I think that style lends itself better towards males.  I also created a Naked Baby Beanie!  Now, before you all report me to the authorities, the "naked" applies to the BEANIE.  These beanies aren't dressed in any patterned paper.  I simply embossed the cardstock, added ribbon and didn't even dress up the eyelet hinge.

I used a Stampin' Up! punch for the brim lace on them.  On the others, I used decorative scalloped scissors.  Any border punch or border die would work though!

This one is my best attempt at a male winter hat.  The reveal is in the next photo.  The gift card sits under the cap!  The cap is hinged and tucks behind the brim.  Open it up and reveal your gift card!  (It would work as a money holder too.)

Of course, I had to make some that were holiday themed

I think it's going to be a VERY fast class but oh so fun!

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Holidays Are IN!

Now that October is gone, it is time to turn my brain on to the idea of Christmas.  Yes!  I feel the holiday spirit weaving its way in to my thoughts.

On Saturday, I went to the "Made by Hand" show at the International Centre in Mississauga.  I think it was the first ever.  It featured only local Ontario artists.  I saw many shops that I recognized from iCraft and Etsy.  Among them, I met:
  • Ahkriti, a jewellery maker on iCraft - a hardworking, inspiring lady with a great eye for colours
  • Thunderpeep, a digital artist selling stationery and other papercraft both on iCraft and Etsy, an artist with fabulously crisp and out-of-the-box designs
  • Sewlutionsbyamo, a handmade leather accessories shop on Etsy (including wallets and cuffs), one I have long looked at on Etsy for seamlessly practical AND fashionable items
I went to the show originally just to check it out.  It was larger than I thought it would be.  I also noticed on the flyer that the door proceeds sponsored Crafting for a Cure.  Door tickets were amazingly low for an International Centre event (only $1 or $2).  My entry was free because I brought the flyer.  I went to their site (WARNING: Some pages launch video immediately.)  I found that they take product donations.  So, since I wasn't contributing to door proceeds, I rummaged through my scraproom and donated: a whole bunch of Christmas paper, two unopened Tombow Aqua glues, one opened and one unopened Scotch photo splits, a bunch of stickers, some cardstock alphabets (punch outs) and some ribbons.  It was probably a 2 inch thick stack of stuff plus the ribbons and glues on top.

Dropping off my donation at the entrance put me in a warm fuzzy mood.  I wandered for a bit first, not really looking hard because I hadn't intended to buy anything in particular.  I saw some hand painted ornaments that I really liked though.  There was a deal to buy 5, so I made a little set out of them.  Once I bought that, then I remembered I needed a tree topper too.  I found a couple but I bought the smaller one because our tree is not super tall.  The topper is pictured at the top of this post.  I LOVE the contrast of the jingle bell colours against the neutrals of the angel.  Plus, the jingle bells are such a happy sound!  The other things I bought were gifts, so I'm not going to mention them here.  All in all, I was very happy with my purchases.

It was a good kick off to the Holidays!  We had a family skate that night.  We rented an indoor ice rink.  When you split the cost between a few families, it was quite affordable and less intimidating for the little ones than a public skate.  Our nephews started out shaky and nervous but were having fun by the end.  We let them take it slow and their confidence kept building over the hour.  Skating was another happy holiday feeling!

Sunday, I worked on my workshop samples and instructions.  The item was much easier to make than I imagined!  I made a whole bunch of samples AND all the kits too.  (I'll post those soon.)

There's something in the air, I tell you.  Something good.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Mousy Birthday

I finished my Grammie's custom order of cards for this year.  I included 10 holiday cards, a handful of Thank-you cards and two birthday cards.  Here's a peek at one of the holiday cards:

It's a snowflake holiday card.  I used a BossKut snowflake die and an Quickutz snowflake embossing folder.  I love the look of embossing.  The die cut seemed to match the style of the embossing folder, so I went with it.

I also made these mousy birthday cards.  I tried to keep them masculine, but the mouse is a girl.  So, I think it makes this card gender neutral.  Since Grammie is a girl and she is the sender, the mouse can be her and it can be sent to girls or boys.

I coloured them with my copics.  I also used a sparkle gel pen on the flower centres for a touch of glitz.  The digital image is from Di's Digi Downloads.  She has some really cute critters.

These ones are larger than normal cards.  I had some 4.5 by 7 inch envelopes that I wanted to use up.  However, I don't like making cards larger than 6 inches.  At 6 inches I can get 2 from a 12 x 12 inch page of cardstock.  So, I cut these envelopes down and added a patterned paper flap.  I got the idea from the tailored envelope tutorial on Splitcoast Stampers.

Next on the to-do list: Make the sample for my upcoming workshop!  This one is going to be finished just under the wire.  That seems to be the trend as of late!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fall Auction Date for Dog Rescue

The date of the Speaking of Dogs online auction has been announced!  They will have over 200 items available, including my dog mini-album.  My album is one of the less expensive donations but a lot of supporters have donated BIG ticket items too.  Please remember to check out the offerings from FRIDAY NOVEMBER 4th, 9am to SUNDAY NOVEMBER 13th, 9 pm EST.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Handmade Journals - Kards for Kids

Some time ago, I mentioned the Kards for Kids blog where a working mom volunteer gathers cards donated by cardmakers to take to Toronto's Sick Kids Hospital.  The nurses there had requested some notebooks too for the parents to keep track of appointments and medications and such.  So, I decided to try altering some notebooks.
(Click for larger picture.)
I tried to make the blue ones as masculine options for the dads.  All these stamps are from Hampton Art.  I really like the elegance of the leaves.  Speaking of stamps, I originally heard about this card drive from High Hopes Rubber Stamps, a stamp shop out in the prairies of Canada.  They sponsored one of the drives.  Bela, the drive organizer, is a stamper too.  She is a Close to My Heart Hostess, which is a home-based stamping business (like Stampin' Up! and others).

The red journals are embossed with the raised part of the design inked in red.  I mailed these off on the weekend.  Bela is in Oshawa, a city north of Toronto.  She makes regular drop offs to Sick Kids Hospital throughout the year.  She has a dedicated crew of cardmakers, and I have been watching for almost a year.  It feels good to have finally made something to contribute!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Gray is still Foxy!

My husband complains that the grey sneaking in to his hair ages him.  I say it makes him more distinguished and, no, I’m not just saying it.  I mean it!  If you think back to caveman days, men who were brash, irresponsible, unskilled or just plain stupid died young.  It makes sense that, in the eyes of women, men ripen with age.  Besides, being upset over grey hair is better than being upset over no hair!  Despite his silver streaks, my husband’s hair is still thick and soft.  My fingers don’t care what colour it is!

I made this card for him.  His birthday is Halloween.  He saw the card already (somehow), so it's not a surprise anymore.  It's still blank inside, so the poem I'll have to come up with will be the surprise.

Now, is it the same for women?  Not really.  Even using caveman logic: younger women bear children; older women don’t.  Greying on a lady is not as acceptable in our society (thanks a lot, media!).  Grey on a lady can still look good in my books if the hair still has a smooth texture, although the more uniform the colour, the better.  It’s the transition period between gray and vibrant colour that is tough.  Just like growing out your bangs: the in-between stage is horrific.  Bangs or no bangs is okay.  All grey or no gray is okay.  In-between looks frazzled.  Sigh, what’s a girl to do?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Dog Mini Album for Charity Auction

Speaking of Dogs animal rescue (in Toronto) will be hosting it's online charity auction in November 2011.  I have created a new mini album this year to donate to the auction.  (You can see some of last year's donated album in an older post.) This mini album has a total of 24-26 spaces for photos and journaling.

I started with the chipboard cover using a digital stamp that I hand coloured.  The dog stamp is "Rustic Kolar" from K'n K Designs and the papers are largely from the American Crafts "City Park" collection plus some scraps I had around.

There are two pull out tags which can have a photo on one side and journaling on the back.

There is also an accordion page (my first!).  I had trouble figuring out how to close it.  I wanted to use this paw print ribbon I snagged from the closing of Scrapalicious (my local scrapbook store), but it's too thick to tie.  I dug around my crafty stuff and found some Velcro dots, so I cut them down and used those.  It worked fairly well, I think.

Since the album is bound by jump rings, owners can add their own pages at any time or re-arrange the page order.

I'm no mini-album expert.  I may try to simplify the process by choosing a few layouts and repeating them with different papers or by choosing a uniform colour scheme.  I still have a lot of room to experiment!

I hope my album helps generate some well-deserved funds for the canines and their volunteers!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Calico Kitty

Just a very quick post today.  Someone had commented on my kitty in the window card post about seeing my die cut kitty in calico colours.  I thought I had one, but I couldn't find it.  So, I made a new one.  I made this one a wee bit smaller than the one I had before.  The original size was large for scrapbook pages but this one would do well on a card.  (That's where it's likely going to end up anyway!)

Hope you like it!  (His snout almost looks like a big bushy moustache!)

Plus, since it's Halloween month, here's a version of just the silhouette on a pumpking that I made last year:

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Big Impacts from Small Things

My mother-in-law, who is truly a shining example of a mother (I’m so lucky to have such wonderful in-laws!), received some unpleasant health news.  Not knowing things is just as stressful as receiving concrete bad news.  I’m a firm believer that stress does physically manifest itself.  Similarly, positivity can improve physical health.  (My 90-year-old grandmother is proof of that!)

So, I made an encouragement card to remind her to keep her chin up.  There is no point on dwelling things that you cannot change or undo.  We can only keep going forward and aiming for the stars.  One of my favourite quotes is: “Aim for the moon.  Even if you miss, you will still land amongst the stars.”

I didn’t have a starry sky image (although I’ve been eyeing some nice ones!) but I did have this image from A Day for Daisies of a wee little snail perched high up on a flower.  (Yes, I have some strange obsession with these snails.  I love how they look like little travelling rosebuds!)  The digital stamp is named “Hang in There” but I liked it better to convey the message “Look how Far You’ve Come”.  I wrote on the inside: “Keep Looking Up.  You’ll be surprised how high you can climb.”  I thought it was a nice form of encouragement.  (In fact, it might make for a nice graduation card too – if only there was an itty bitty graduation cap for that snail!)

Turns out the health news has been dealt with and we are expecting no further tests or treatments!  Hooray!
Happy thoughts for everyone!

If you find yourself in need of an encouragement card, I put a blue one in my Etsy Shop and a brown one in my iCraft shop.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Thank Goodness for Little Boys & give a poem a home

It's very hard to craft for boys.  Lucky for me, I have three nephews and no nieces so I am constantly trying to come up with cards for little boys.  A co-worker of mine was going off for maternity leave at the end of August.  She and her husband had their third child and they knew it was going to be a boy.  She has two little girls already, so a boy is going to be a brand new experience for them!

When I saw this digital stamp image from A Day for Daisies, I knew this was the perfect one for her!

I also composed a little poem for her.  (It can be for any baby: girl or boy.)

(Click photo to enlarge.)

Their son was born on labour day 2011!  Here's a picture of the little sprite.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Take Note

Yesterday I held a workshop for my creative crew.  We learned how to make easel cards.  On one of the cards, we inked an embossed pattern which really makes it pop.

I also showed my crew how cookie-cutter dies work.  They are see though so that you can see where you are placing the cut.  We used my cookie-cutter dies to cut out the F and the Friend sentiments.  What I like about inking plain white embossed paper is that you can use the same colour as your stamped image to create a perfect match.  There is no guess work about ink colours and cardstock colours.

I also showed my girls how this technique can be applied to other projects like these composition notebooks.

I made some of these with the red flowers and will be donating them to the Kards for Kids drive for the Toronto Sick Kids Hospital.  They have asked for some notebooks to give the parents to keep track of appointments and other important medical information.

I might even make a batch of these for the Executive Administrators at work this year for Christmas.