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!