“Easy-Peasy” Christmas cards inspired by Spike

I’ve been telling myself for months that I’m going to take a page from the awesome “Blog that Spike Built” and start making Christmas cards early this year.  http://spikescreativeside.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/easy-peasy-christmas-cards-63-many-merry-christmas/.  She is totally cool and a major inspiration- from her Drunken Stampers stuff to her Art Journal pages to this here “Easy-Peasy Christmas Card Pinterest Board” http://pinterest.com/spikescreative/easy-peasy-christmas-cards/.

And I finally did!!!  Here are my first 2:

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And they were totally “Easy Peasy”.  I made a Christmas tree stencil with a piece of heavy paper and then used a stamp I made out of an eraser with 4 circles.  I stamped a bunch of circles in different colors to fill in the template.  For red and green one, I used a Season’s Greetings rub-in and for the multi-colored one I used a “Joy” stamp with Tim Holtz Distress Ink.  The colors for the “Joy” one are actually from the Stampotique Designers Challenge this month: purple, orange, and yellow.  http://stampotiquedesignerschallenge.blogspot.com/2013/08/sdc111-color-challenge.html  I love the color combo!

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My favorite part is the “star” at the top of the tree, which I did with my boy’s borrowed pinky finger.  I used a Sharpie to put a little starburst in it.

I felt like I’m on a roll, so I made a few more today.  I’m actually not really thrilled with the first 2, but the last one totally floats my boat:

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I got my first Paper Pumpkin Kit from Stamping the Moon yesterday and it was like opening a treasure chest!  http://stampingthemoon.wordpress.com/2013/08/09/paper-pumpkin-limited-time-offer/  It came with a little stamp pad, an acrylic block (which I’ve wanted for forever), a bunch of charcoal gray cards and yellow-polkadotted papers that fit, envelopes, a sheet of flag and accent stickers, and 2 stamps.  There were instructions on how to make a sample card, but I hate following instructions so I pretty much did my own thing.  For the top one, I used a Stampsmith “H” stamp (which I love) with the new acrylic block and then stamped the rest of the letters to spell “Happy Holidays”.  I kind of blew it with the snowflake stamp using a bingo dauber.  Oh well, can’t win ’em all.  The Christmas tree one is the innards of the stencil I used in the first batch of cards.  I used another Bingo dauber to stamp around it.  Then I used a couple gift stamps, which I colored with my handy dandy Sharpies, a star stamp (that I made with an eraser), and a “Happy Holidays” stamp that came with the above-mentioned snowflake.  Like I said, those aren’t my favorite.  This one, however, is:

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I don’t know why I like this one so much, but I do.  I made the Gingerbread Man stamp with one of my boy’s old erasers.  It had a Buzz Lightyear sticker on it, so it was kind of shaped like a man, and I just carved this little guy.  Here’s my first test page with him:

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Then, I stamped the circles with the circle eraser stamp that I had used previously to fill in the Christmas tree.  I traced the little guy and drew swirls in the circles and then, just because, I stamped a similar swirl in the corner.  I wrote the little phrase on the card and Voila!

I’m going to submit the second batch, that one in particular, to the this month’s Stampotique Designers Challenge: Polka Dots.  http://stampotiquedesignerschallenge.blogspot.com/2013/08/sdc112-polka-dots.html

I originally made the first one for their color challenge but you can only submit one and I really like that one best.  “Run, run, as fast as you can.  You can’t catch me I’m the Gingerbread Man.”  🙂  Christmas, here I come!

My first commission!

Well… in all honesty, I was talking with a friend at work whose employee’s last day was coming up.  She said that she was going to get a special card and gift for her (she’d been with us for 4 years, which is a long time for our program).  So I said “I know!  I’ll make you a card.”  She didn’t really protest so I assumed she was good with it.  And here it is:

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Our coworker’s favorite color is orange and I asked my friend what she wanted me to write on the card.  She suggested “Shining stars never fade” on the outside and “Twinkle on” on the inside.  I love that!

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I already had the wooden star and I made the stamp out of an eraser (my new favorite hobby).  I’m doing it very low tech, with just an X-acto knife which I use to cut around whatever I want the design to be (after drawing it on with a trusty Sharpie).  Then, I cut the rest of the background out, slicing horizontally through the eraser about 1/8 of an inch down.  I do a couple practice stamps to see if there’s anything I want to change on the image and if there’s any of the background that’s not deep enough, and I’m good to go.  I’ve made about 5 of them so far. I also put a button on the front because when our coworker was pregnant a couple of years ago she didn’t find out the gender of her baby so we all called it “Button”.  And, I have to admit, she really is as cute as a button.

I also found a challenge using die-cuts on the Simon Says Stamps Monday Challenge blog:  http://www.simonsaysstampblog.com/mondaychallenge/challenge-make-the-cut/.  The Design Team’s samples are amazing- many of them are so intricate and the die-cuts really make them “pop” (literally).  I don’t actually have any die-cuts myself, but I made a banner for the text on the front of the card kind of looked like one.  One of the Design Team members for the challenge used cardboard in her die cutter and I loved the effect, so I tried to mimic it using my handy-dandy X-acto knife again and origami paper.  I also used a paper punch (which is the same principle as a die) to make the little swirls on the inside.

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I love the dimension from the button, star, and cardboard.  And gluing them on with silver glitter glue gave it a fun twinkle (which I kept going by using it as the tale of the shooting star, as well).  I used pastels in yellow and orange to color around the edge, having cut the orange background paper a little smaller than the card on purpose.  As a side note, the orange paper was a gift from another work friend.  She was cleaning out her childhood home and came across a whole box of this really beautiful, heavy, colored artists’ paper which she gave me.  I love it!

I used my Tim Holtz‘ Distress Ink pad for the text (with my stamp press) and stars but then had to go over the letters on front with a black Sharpie because they were a little too “distressed” to be able to read them clearly.  I have to get a plain black ink pad for things like this.  I sprayed the whole thing with  a high-gloss spray fixative to make it shiny and keep the pastels from smudging.  Also, the spray adhesive I used on the origami paper was still a little sticky around the edges so that helped cover the sticky up.

All in all, it was a lot of fun to make and my friend loved it.

Birthday Card Ministry

So… I’ve been loving making these cards.  I keep thinking I’m going to stockpile cards so I have a bunch to choose from whenever an occasion comes up, but as soon as I make one I want to give it to someone.  I just so happen to go to a church with a huge congregation and every month the “Carillon” (kind of like a newsletter) lists all the congregants’ birthdays for the month.  So I decided to start sending them to people in the church.  I can do them for other occasions, too, like weddings and funerals.  There will always be some occasion to make a card for.

Here are the ones I made today:

ImageI went with this theme specifically for the Drunken Stampers’ challenge this week: Beaches.  http://drunkenstampers.wordpress.com/2013/08/10/place-beach-drunken-stampers-challenge-136/  This “term” their themes are People, Places, and Things, so there are tons of possibilities.  I had so much fun with the 3 cards I made for their movie-themed last term.  I love the way these ladies think.

Anyway, the “Life’s a beach” is kind of a play on “Life’s a (some other word that begins with ‘b’ and ends with ‘ch’)”.  Unintentionally, but perfectly enough, I stamped the “e” upside-down on my first one.

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I used a couple stamps from a cheap set that I just got at a local discount store for the “Have a Great Day” and palm tree (with this challenge in mind).  It didn’t stamp very well (I guess I know why it was at the discount store) so I went over it a bit with my trusty Sharpies and also added a couple coconuts while I was at it.  I used my awesome stamp-press to put down the letters for “Life’s a Beach”.  I used Distress Ink for the black, hence the “distressed” look, and combinations of stamp-pads, magic markers, and Bingo daubers for the tree and sun.  The sun is one I made recently and am still pretty proud of it.  (Here’s my post about that, if you’re interested: https://craftymadre.com/2013/08/08/i-made-a-stamp/)

I’m also going to enter it into Our Creative Corner’s “Words, Words, Words” challenge: http://ourcreativecorner6.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/words-words-words.html.  This will be my second entry for that challenge (they allow a max of 3) and my first entry also had a little mistake in it.  I hope they don’t think I mess up everything but if they do, that’s okay, too.

Art Journal Sketch Challenge

I made my first art journal page in a long time last night and now I’m hooked.  I used to do art journaling therapeutically, but it’s not something that I’ve felt I needed recently.  I’ve found so many beautiful art journaling blogs that have inspired me to start again.  I found this challenge on a blog that I like and thought it would be fun to enter:  http://liftsummercrafts.blogspot.com/2013/08/challenge7-art-journal.html?m=1

It’s a sketch challenge, and the sketch in this one is a work of art in and of itself.  It has so much interest and detail that the only thing that really makes it a “sketch” is that it’s gray-scale.  Nonetheless, it was really fun to work from.  Here’s what I made:

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I made the background with watercolors and a stamp using yellow ink.  Then I used some random papers from a scrapbook pack I’ve had for ages and some washi tape to make the rectangles.  I still didn’t know what I wanted to put in the “frames” but in looking through my magazines, I found some words that really spoke to me in a catalogue for a spiritual retreat center, Genesis, that I’m going to a workshop at this September.

The photo is of a statue on the retreat grounds and I used pencils to color it in a bit.  I started out with just light blue wings on the angel but then started adding more color, turning them into butterfly wings.  Butterflies are such a spiritual symbol for me- representing beauty, serenity, and resurrection.  I also did some doodles with Sharpies to add some of the dimension that the sketch had.

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I really can’t wait for the retreat.  It is with Jan Richardson and her husband, Garrison Doles.  They’re a poet/artist and musician, respectively, and lead spiritual retreats throughout the country.  This one is called “Mapping the Mystery” (where the work “mystery” comes from).  They are able to approach spiritual life through creativity, which really speaks to me (for obvious reasons).  This is one of Jan’s blogs:  http://www.janrichardson.com/.

I made a stamp!

I’ve been seeing so many people making their own stamps lately and have been dying to try… so here goes!  I don’t have any fancy carving tools and am not quite willing to invest in them yet.  I also saw a warning on a blog not to waste time with the cheap ones (http://thegiftshed.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/wednesday-wip-26/).  I tried potato stamps recently with my VBC kids, and Dawn gave me the last bit of encouragement I needed with the beautiful eraser stamps she posted yesterday (http://girlunwinding.wordpress.com/2013/08/06/t-tuesday-and-some-art/).

I saw Aaron at Imperfect Impulses make a stamp out of foam using a die cutter (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoIiFTjDYzs&list=UUjU04ybwhaF0OyvQp-4Y1Eg).  Have I mentioned how much I love his YouTube tutorials?  Be sure to check out his blog, too: http://imperfectimpulses.wordpress.com/.  I don’t have a die cutter but I do have an X-acto knife and I’m not afraid to use it.  🙂

I also happened to have saved the spool from my weed whacker last time I changed it (have I mentioned I save everything?) and it seemed like the perfect size for a stamp.  I traced it onto a piece of foam and got to stamp cutting.  I figured I’d start with a sun, because it’s a pretty versatile image to have and seemed easy enough.  On the other side of the spool, I used the scraps from the sun to make a couple little flying birds.  And Ta da!

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A recent tutorial from The Frugal Crafter showed me some neat ways to use markers to stamp different colors at once and then color them in.  She used chalk for color, which I don’t have, but colored pencils worked well.  (http://thefrugalcrafter.wordpress.com/2013/08/06/old-office-labels-and-osa-challenge-235/)

I used my new creations on an art journal page.  I used to do art journaling pretty regularly but haven’t in so long.  I broke out an old journal and decided to use it for experimenting, the way I’ve been using index cards for the past couple months.  And here it is:

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I’m going to submit it to the Artists in Blogland “Color this Quote” Challenge: http://artistsinblogland.blogspot.com/2013/08/color-this-quote-august-challenge.html  

“Seize the Day” seemed like a pretty perfect quote for my jumping into stamp making.  I’ve been thinking about it for a while and there’s no time like the present to start.  I used my stamp press to lay out the words and branches and the “S” is from a new sheet of letters stamps I got from The Stampsmith (http://www.stampsmith.net/).  I watercolored around the stamps for a little background.  Of course, as soon as I finished it, I realized that I spelled “seize” wrong.  What happened to “‘i’ before ‘e’ except after ‘c'”?  Oh well, that’s what my Photostamper app is for.

I’m also going to submit this to Our Creative Corner’s “Words, Words, Words” challenge.  It seems kind of strangely appropriate, given my spelling mistake.  Ha!  http://ourcreativecorner6.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/words-words-words.html

All in all, I’m pretty excited about my new handmade stamp and even more excited to have started art journaling again.

A card for a sad occasion

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A woman I used to work with on our local psychiatric crisis and trauma response teams died in a car accident last weekend.  She was just a little older than me (late 40s, maybe).  It was so sudden it’s still hard to believe.  I continue to work closely with the crisis team, which is part of the agency I work with, and remember from having spent about a year with them what a close, tight-knit family they are.  I think you have to be to do that kind of work.

I made this card to send the team, and am also going to enter it in a couple challenges.  I think the clean and simple look works well for sympathy cards (and for crisis teams, for that matter), but it’s something that I’m not necessarily used to doing.  I’m finding that I really do like it, even though it can be a real challenge not to overdo it.  Here are the challenges where I’m submitting it to:

http://cleanandsimpleonsunday.blogspot.com/2013/08/challenge-14-tag-it.html – This was the one I was originally planning to contribute to, and their clean and simple motif fit perfectly.

http://stampotiquedesignerschallenge.blogspot.com/2013/07/sdc109-clean-simple.html – Clean and simple is not the typical style for this blog, but I’m glad they’re trying it.  The contributions to this challenge are amazing and it’s so cool to see people playing “outside of their comfort zones” a bit.  (Oops!  I missed this one by a few minutes.  Maybe next month.)

http://thedynamicduoschallenge.blogspot.com/2013/08/dynamic-duos-64-strawberry-slush-and.html – This challenge was a somewhat interesting choice for this card, as the colors this week are “Strawberry Slush and Daffodil Delight”.  They’re described as a “bright and cheerful color duo”.  I’ve found that when making (and receiving) sympathy cards, the use of color can really be a nice way to add some light and brightness into what can be a really dark time.

I used unmounted stamps on my new stamp-press, and liked that they could be laid out so precisely around the tag I had already secured to the card and then pressed on all at once.  However, I couldn’t figure out how to get the ink on the stamps once they were stuck on without getting ink all over the press, as well.  I tried to wipe it off, but I was worried about the ink on the stamps drying.  Some of the excess ink got on the card, so I covered up the smudges with a couple more little leaf stamps.  Any ideas on how to make this work better?

Mandala Monday and a Stampotique Challenge card

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Happy Mandala Monday!  It’s been a couple weeks since I’ve made a mandala, and a busy couple weeks at that, but here’s my contribution for today.  I opened up my flower press today and look at the beauties!  I made my design on a piece of scrapbook paper with a doily-like edge and used Instagram to keep the square shape.

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Here’s a close-up of the center.  There are three leaves forming a kind of a Celtic knot shape with two flowers (back to back) on top and a stamen placed, askew, in the center.  I can’t wait to find permanent pieces to uses some of these flowers and leaves in.  They really dried beautifully.

The Challenge

And then I had to make a card for a good friend of mine who is celebrating 17 years of sobriety this week.  It’s an amazing accomplishment that deserves way more than a card, but that’s what she’s getting from me.  So, I checked out some challenges I’ve found recently and picked this one:  the  Scrapotique July Challenge with the “Recycle It” theme http://stampotiquedesignerschallenge.blogspot.com/2013/07/sdc107-recycle-it.html

Here’s my contribution:

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Basically, this theme was created for me.  As you may have noticed, I hate throwing anything away if I think I can use it sometime in the future, especially as something other than what it was originally intended.  For the background, I used a couple of gel pens that I never could get to write very well, cracked them open, and dumped the ink on the card.  I used the pen liner to blow, stamp, scratch, roll, and otherwise manipulate the ink.  It’s hard to tell from the photo, but the ink has a little bit of glitter in it which gives it a beautiful sheen.  I’m so glad I didn’t throw them away!

Then, because it’s a stamping blog challenge, I stamped it up.  Unfortunately, I don’t have any stamps from the Stampotique Originals collection yet (and I mean “yet”), but they’ve opened up their rules to no longer require that you use their stamps yet.  Trust me, though, it will just be a matter of time before I get some.  Their shop is amazing:  http://www.stampotique.com/.  The coolest part is that they work with many different designers so there’s a really wide variety of styles from which to choose- from cute emo chicks to abstract graphic designs.  And the competition for this challenge is stiff.  There are some amazing cards and mixed media pieces from not only the design team but in the submissions.  You have to check it out.

I used a number stamp with black “Distress Ink” and then a yellow ink pad a few times on top.  Then I used the diamond pattern for a kind of a frame.  I stamped the number “seventeen” on a burlap sticker and then stamped the message on the inside.  The inside stamping is pretty messy, partially to match the messiness of the cover and partially because I haven’t gotten really good at lining up the wood block stamps I have yet.  I hope she likes it.