Monday, October 29, 2012

Snowman Card for Kards for Kids Christmas 2012

The next card drive for the children at Toronto's Sick Kids Hospital is the 2012 Holiday Card Drive!  For every 5 Snowman Themed cards you send to Kards for Kids for the 2012 Holiday Card Drive, you will be entered to win one of five $20 stamp prizes!

Since I have discovered the youtuber, AuroraInBag, I have been obsessed with using some scraps.  She makes amazing scrapbook layouts from scraps!  When I saw the sketch from Clean and Simple Cards, I knew this was one for me.  I have SO many strips of patterned paper (and ribbon, come to think of it) that would fit this design.  So, here it is: my entry to the Clean and Simple Cards "Fall-To Layout" #213!  Here is the sketch:

And here is my version:

I used my Lifestyle Crafts snowflake embossing folder on the card front and then pulled some strips from my stash.  I used a square punch to nick the ends of the strips into a ribbon cut.  The scalloped circle is also a Lifestyle Crafts die.  I left the die cut in the die and inked the inner circle.  The sentiment is from Stampin' Up!  The epoxy sticker is from the Sandylion outlet store.  I got a whole sheet of them, so I made 5 snowman cards just like this for the Kards for Kids drive.

This is a great way to use scraps!  I have finally started experimenting with shaker cards and I used a variation of this layout to make one, but that's for sharing another day!  I'm going to make some birthday cards with this layout too. SO versatile and so easy.  Thanks to the Clean and Simple blog contributors for sharing their ideas and giving us all some inspiration!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Dog Album for Speaking of Dogs Auction October 2012

The Speaking of Dogs online Charity auction starts today!  Just log on to and you will be directed to the auction site. Check the website daily, place your bids, and know that you are helping
a needy dog find that second chance at love and life. All funds raised go directly to veterinary costs and care.

My item in the auction this year is a stitch-bound dog-themed mini album for scrapbooking.  I have previously posted pictures of my dog-themed mini album and also a video of the donated dog scrapbook.

Happy bidding!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Halloween Cards for Toronto's Sick Kids Hospital

At my last workshop, I accepted donations of cards for the children at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children as my class fee.  I'm on the Smiley Team for Kards for Kids and that's where all the cards went.  I'd like to showcase what my Creative Crew was able to come up with.  Claire created the most, with 5 cards total.

Witch Hat Halloween Card

This witch hat Halloween card is make with stickers.  How fun is that?  There's a hat on the envelope and some on the inside too with a big orange "Happy Halloween!"  The sentiment on this card is a fancy, iridescent glitter.
Iridescent glitter sentiment
Click for larger view.

On the next pair, Claire used a cool witch stamp and some black cats!

Handmade Halloween cards by Claire 2012

And, one of my favourites, is this embossed jack'o'lantern handmade Halloween card.
Jack'o'lanterns Handmade Halloween Card
Awesome, huh?  A tweensy bit spooky, maybe.  Claire decorated all the insides of her cards too, with a piece of white for writing and a stamped sentiment and stickers.

The last card by Claire is a birthday card.

Handmade Birthday Card

It is bright and bold and beautiful!  I am very grateful for the time and effort Claire has donated to create smiles for the kids!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Charmed Life with Jewellery by Kat

From my last post, we learned that there are many styles of handmade designer jewellery for many moods, occasions, and outfits.  We, as people, are diverse and our accessories tend to reflect that.  Do you ever wonder, however, what our accessories reflect about us?

Jewellery by Kat on iCraft makes a lot of beaded charm bracelets.  (See them at  What is the attraction to charms, I wonder? defines charm, the trait, as “the power of pleasing” and charm, the object, as “something worn or carried on one’s person for its supposed magical effect”.

Silver Clover Leaf Necklace
Silver Clover Leaf Necklace by DistinQue
Apparently, the earliest known charms were carried to ward off evil back in the Neolithic era when hunters would carry interesting stones and trinkets for good luck. The Egyptian Age popularized the wearing of charms around the wrist or neck.  Some charms were protective and woven in to their religious beliefs for the power of pleasing the gods.  Others were status symbols and symbols of social belonging.  Others yet were meant to be used in the afterlife to help identify who you were and guide you safely onward.

Beaded Cross Necklace in Garnet
One of the most recognized “charms” of the modern age is the cross, as seen in Kat's Beaded Cross Necklace in Garnet.  Me calling it a charm might sound offensive to some, but the cross of Christian religions is a symbol of belonging to a certain group, is it not?  It is worn to show your faith: your belief in something extra-sensory that may bring you good fortune like the strength to carry on through hard times or the nobility to do the right thing, for example.

Charms, in fact, have played very prominent roles throughout the ages.  Over a great period of time, however, the primary use of charms has changed.  Queen Victoria is credited with re-popularizing charms as status symbols and aesthetic trinkets.

Eventually, charms became widely commercialized from the elaborate to the plastic gumball machine kind.  In the 1940’s, plastic charms for children were greatly popular.  Children collected ones that came with candy, coveting the rare ones that were pop culture symbols like Disney characters.  Kat, from Jewellery by Kat, believes that children’s attraction to charms stems from the fact that the charms are small and represent things in our world.
Little Girls Red Beaded Charm Bracelet
An example of a Little Girl's Red Beaded Charm Bracelet with lots of little charms of familiar objects.
I argue, however, that wearing those symbols shows where you place your favour.  Even in adulthood, this beaded charm bracelet with dragonfly charm by Kat shows outwardly that you like dragonflies or that dragonflies signify something of meaning to you.

Beaded Charm Bracelet with Dragonfly Charm

So then, back to the original question: what do our accessories reflect about us?  Kat finds that each charm is unique.  “They all have something to say. Put them all together on charm bracelet and they have a story to tell.”

(Indeed. The popularity of commercialized charms with children soon evolved into bracelets that served as a record of a girl’s rite of passage from birth, to marriage, to motherhood.)

Kat thinks that the charms we choose do reflect our likes, just like colours and food.  If our mood plays a role in our choice of daily accessory, then that accessory also serves as a sign board of how we are feeling that day.  I’d bet this “cha cha bracelet” (found at in Kat’s jewellery shop reflects your flare.  This beaded bracelet is popping with colour and shimmies and jingles like a dancer on your wrist.  Surely, it is a symbol of extroversion?  What do you think?

Beaded Cha Cha Bracelet with Green and Aqua Beads
Beaded Cha Cha Bracelet with Green and Aqua Beads
I know that, when I was younger, I was drawn to charm bracelets because it felt like I had a lot even though I had only one bracelet.  I grew out of the over-stuffed charm bracelet phase.  I do still like charms, though, only in smaller doses.  I like them hanging from a bookmark or on the front of a photo album for example.  Kat thinks that we never out-grow our love of charms, we only grow up.

Looking back now, perhaps some of the ancient belief in the charm as an object of good luck or protection is subconsciously ingrained in us from our Neolithic days and that extra sensory value of the charm rings truest with us as children.  As we grow and mature, we are still attracted to charms but our deep seeded intuition becomes only a distant whisper.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Holiday Style Boost with Seaglass Jewellery by JaJeJems!

Learn how to pair jewellery with your own style just in time for all the holiday parties!  If you are like me, you are in dire need of jewellery advice!  I’ve enlisted us some help: Janis and Jessica from JaJeJems on iCraft specialize in seaglass jewellery and wire-wrapped necklaces, bracelets and earrings, and also dabble in lampwork beads.  I think this mother-daughter team has got our bases covered!  Read on for insight on choosing the right handmade designer jewellery to accessorize ourselves and all our friends this holiday season!

A little about our experts:
After her retirement, Janis started to dabble in deconstructing different pieces of jewelry and designing completely new pieces from them.  She has been creating her own designer handmade jewellery for about three years now.  Janis loves pioneering her pieces by experimenting with many techniques and materials, including leather and ribbons.  She even makes her own lampwork glass beads to use in her handmade necklaces, bracelets and earrings.  Janis’ favourite style of jewellery includes simple pieces with a few interesting beads at the neckline or slightly lower to be visible at the top of a sweater or in the neckline of an open blouse.  She adores bracelets and prefers small earrings that don't dangle.  The designer in her, however, likes to play.  Many of her handmade necklaces hang in multiple strands, the bracelets jangle and many little dangling earrings adorn the shop.  Her pioneering spirit is why some of her pieces are asymmetrical or multi-layered!

Jessica studied fashion design at Fanshawe College and spent years of her life working in the Fashion Retail Industry with many of those years being at accessories stores.  Even with two active children, a home sewing and alterations business and being heavily involved with the Home and School Association, Jessica has been designing her own style of handmade jewelry for the past year, including some wire-wrapped seaglass pieces that her mother, Janis, works in to new creations.  Although Jessica credits her mother for her inspiration, the seaglass jewellery collection of JaJeJems was born out of a love of walking the beaches of eastern Canada looking for beautiful pieces of beach glass, each uniquely etched by the waters beyond the shores.

I posed a series of questions to our experts to help me understand the nuances of choosing the right jewellery in the right situation.  When asked about the perfect mix of jewelry to have, whether you need different sets for different occasions or whether any handmade bracelets, necklaces and earrings are truly “jack of all trade” pieces, this is the insight they had to share:

Janis: "I think that depends very much on the individual.  We often have customers approach us looking for something special just for a certain outfit or occasion.  Others are looking for more versatile pieces that can be worn with many outfits or on different occasions.  I think wearing the same piece of jewellery for dressing up as you do for casual wear is a lot more common than used to be."

Jessica: "I truly believe that people buy jewellery based on mood more than anything. Maybe an outfit plays into it for special occasions but in my experience the more flexible the piece, the better. I think you really need to have an overflowing jewellery box and keep adding pieces so you always have the right one to suit the day and the outfit."


I asked if buying jewelry in a set, as with their crocheted bead bracelet and drop earrings or mixing and matching separates is the way to go.

Janis is not as convinced that people really want matching sets anymore.   She reports, “I often hear customers say that they love bracelets but never wear necklaces or prefer wearing the same understated earrings with every outfit.  Others are looking for big bright earrings and that's all they are interested in buying to accessorize their wardrobe.  For our business we are leaning towards giving customers the option of choosing pieces from our collection that have similar beads or complimentary colours to other pieces.”

Makes sense to me.  When you apply make-up, the general rule is to play up one thing and make the others more demure like having smoky eyes and subtle lipstick, or bold lipstick and subtle eyes.  Why would it be any different for accessories?

What about putting it all together with an outfit though?  I gave a few examples of holiday party wear possibilities: a little black dress, a sparkly red one or a demure smooth satin gown.  I was pleased to learn that JajeJems has a set that would work for all of them!  Their sophisticated lady beaded choker necklace and earrings set pictured above is a classic fit for any occasion or get together!

On the other hand, their black and white lampwork bead necklace that captures the tug and sway of windy shores is perfect for the little black dress but less suitable for the others.  I suppose the lesson is to wear what suits YOU first and your outfit after.  If you feel like being bold and sparkly, go for it!  If you feel like being seductively understated, go for that!

Well, how about buying for someone else?  How do you know what to get someone?

Janis has this advice to offer: “Buying jewellery for someone else can be a tricky business. You will want to observe the style of jewellery that the person usually wears, their favourite colours, whether they like big, chunky jewellery or smaller pieces.  Are they tall or short?  A 24 inch necklace may hang perfectly on a tall person but be too long for a short person. Do they have a large wrist or small? Looking for pieces that are adjustable to a variety of lengths can help with this problem.”

As examples, the lampwork necklace mentioned earlier is great for casual wear, the office or a little black dress whereas this soft and cool seaglass bracelet in green and white might better suit someone who wears jewellery with anything from blue jeans to a sundress but, as Janis points, out, "... of course, it has to be someone who likes bracelets!"

It may be easier than you think to get cues from women now that you know what to look for.  Make a mental note of their favourite colours, the most frequent styles (open neck, high neck, jeans, skirts, dangling earrings or studs) from their everyday wear.  Men, on the other hand, may be harder to get cues.  What do we do about those ever-so-hard-to-buy-for men?  When asked this question, here is what they had to say:

Jessica: “Men are a tough one. On the East Coast it is pretty much unheard of (even mocked) for a man to wear jewellery. I did a craft show with my mom here and more than one women giggled at the idea of her “man” wearing a bracelet. In Central Ontario, it wasn’t at all unusual to see men with necklaces or bracelets.  I’m not sure if it is regional and/or cultural?”

Janis: “They either love jewellery or wouldn't be caught dead in it!  And most of the time they surprise us with what they like.  I do believe that men are much pickier than women about the accessories that they choose.  On the other hand they are more likely to purchase a handmade jewellery item for themselves on impulse, especially when they find a piece that they really like.  It isn't that they put less thought into a purchase but they are not as likely to go away to think it over once they see something that they like.”

JajeJems has been working on a some jewellery designs for men this season, using stone, bone and metal beads, strung on leather cord. So far, they have focused on masculine colour schemes and pieces with more substance.  The man’s beaded leather bracelet in the seafarer collection pictured here is an example.  I love the blue in this bracelet!  It's rich and mature.  So far, the designers have had a positive response from several male family members and friends!

I guess this is why there are so many choices for jewellery in the world.  There isn’t any single factor that defines what necklace or what bracelet or earrings *must* be worn with particular styles or fashions.  It’s more of a “right time and right place” sort of thing.  The piece must fit the person, the mood, the occasion and the general flow or feel of the outfit of the day.  I suppose the lesson is that buying handmade jewellery this holiday season almost *can’t* go wrong!  There will be a time and place for everything, so go ahead and buy it and its day will come!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Lara's Non-Traditional Christmas Cards

My sister, Lara, likes to do her own thing when we get together to craft.  She is always trying to find a way to be individual.  She really enjoys colouring the stamps so she spent most of the time at our craft retreat experimenting with colours and techniques.

By the end of our weekend, she had four cards and a scrapbook page completed.

She stamped the little elephant and coloured it with her Promarker Aquapainters.  She had made a couple of elephants and a dinosaur for me too a while ago.  I used the photo in the bottom right in my album too and I used one of her stamped images as well!  Great minds think alike!

Here's an example of how my sister likes to think outside the box.  She has a cute little dragon valentine stamp (we both have it, actually).  The dragon's smoke tendrils in the stamp come out in the shape of a heart.  She changed it up to make it work as a Christmas card:

(Click photo for larger view.)

Here are the rest of her hand stamped cards.  One of them has a unicorn.  The colours of the unicorn matched the paper really well.  The paper design looks like Christmas ornaments, so the card works as a non-traditional Christmas card.  (Sorry the photo is crummy - it was the last one taken before everything got taken out the door to the waiting cars!)
(Click photo for larger view.)

Even on the card we made in our Stampin' Up! class with Jodi, she changed the ornaments she used to make it a double instead of a single like the class sample.

I think she enjoyed her chance to pull out all the supplies and experiment without the worry of little hands getting in and making a mess.  Over all, everyone had a fabulous, relaxing time at the retreat and each made it what they wanted to!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Red and White Christmas

Here is a red and white Christmas Tree Card that I made for the Kards for Kids Christmas Card Challenge.  I got this new Memory Box Christmas Tree die and have been meaning to try it out.  BOY, is this tree ever finicky to work with.  The one pictured on this card is actually not how it is supposed to look.  However, I could not get the die to cut through the mylar paper.  (Mylar is more like a plastic than a paper.)  I bought this red mylar with the intention of embossing it for cards, but I wanted to try it with the tree.  Since the tree did not cut it, it looks embossed.  I still thought it was a pretty pattern, so I used it on my handmade Christmas card!

Since the challenge is red and white, I wanted to use a white layered background.  I have some oval shapes on my custom locket die, so I decided to use one of those to make a halo behind the Christmas tree.  The oval has some debossed criss-crosses in it.

I am still experimenting with this tree.  Below, you can see it cut from silver foil paper.  The outlined version of the tree on the right is the way the die is supposed to cut.  I've had some trouble getting it to cut though, possibly because the foil paper is adhesive backed.  (I've had no trouble with cardstock.)  When it does cut, wow, is it ever painstaking to pop out all those little pieces and apply adhesive on the back!  (I know I said it's adhesive backed, but those lines are so skinny, the adhesive doesn't work well so I have to apply glue.)  The patience it takes is worth it, though, for such a pretty effect.  The sentiment is from my new set of Stampin' Up! holiday sentiments (More Merry Messages).
The two on the left, I made a mask from my locket die oval and inked the halo.  The one in the centre is decorated with teeny flower punches.  These are the discard from a border punch that my mother-in-law has.  I used it on a scrapbook page and saved these little bits with this Christmas Tree Card in mind.

Some version of this tree is going to end up in my Christmas card making class later this month.  Which one, however, will be decided when I have finished playing with the Christmas Tree die.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

World Card Making Day - Halloween Boy

I still have some projects to share from the crafting retreat I went to with my creative crew in September, however, today I'm showing you something I made for World Card Making Day.  As part of the Smiley Team for Kards for Kids at Toronto's Sick Kids Hospital, I won a couple of stamps for participating in the challenges.  One of them was this spider boy from Your Next Stamp.  So, I decided to drum up a Halloween card for the kids.
(click picture for larger view)

I coloured the stamped image with my Copic Markers and cut him out by hand.  I made the wooden plank background from a tutorial on Stamp TV.  (Click here to watch the tutorial yourself!)  I was quite jazzed to find a way to make a masculine background.  It is so fast and easy too!

I added cardstock paper buttons to my card which is one of my Accucut Craft dies.  The sentiment (which came with the stamp) is cut from some Lifesytle Crafts die cut frames.

In honour of World Card Making Day, The Kards for Kids team has some challenges posted: a fall themed card, a red and white Christmas card and a snowman card.  Check out the challenges there and enter today!