December 21, 2016

Coloring Book Cards


I don't know about you, but I've been a fan of coloring books since I was a kid!  Even before the current adult coloring book craze, I have always had a few coloring books and some good old Crayola crayons on-hand.  But the variety of amazing adult coloring books available these days is pure heaven!  I have a huge collection, but my favorites always seem to be the ones with mandala, and repeating geometric or floral patterns.  I've been building up quite a collection of finished pages, but wasn't sure what to do with them... DUH... card fronts!   

Below I've shown several examples of finished coloring book pages, paired with simple sentiments from various stamp sets from Concord & 9th.  Loving this new stamp company!  Links to all stamp sets below.

Once you have a finished coloring book page, just tear it out (carefully!) and trim it down to whatever size card you need.  I always work with standard A2 size cards of 4.25"x5.5" and I can usually get 4 card fronts out of each page.  I like to leave a border, so the coloring book pieces don't have to be the full size of the finished card.

I like using colored pencils best, but any medium would work - markers, crayons, watercolor paint (if your coloring book is printed on good heavyweight stock). These pages were done using Prismacolor colored pencils.

... and on the inside....

For each of these cards, I traced around the border with a black paint pen, matted onto white card stock, and adhered to a coordinating standard top-folding card. With such busy backgrounds, all you need is a very simple sentiment and you have a finished card!  

... and on the inside...

My linky list was giving me trouble for some of the Concord & 9th stamp sets, so here are some old-school links for you:

Happy coloring!

~ ellen.

December 18, 2016

My Christmas Card 2016


I've been dying to share my Christmas card for this year, but wanted to wait until I had mailed them out so I wouldn't ruin the surprise for those who received them.  I've given it about a week, so I think it's safe to share... I have included links to most of the products used below.

As soon as I saw this "Merry" frame die by Memory Box, I just fell in love!  It's so intricate and detailed - beautiful!  It took me several attempts to find the perfect stamp to use in the background, and I was lucky to find this beauty in my stash.  I've searched and searched for a current source for you, but since it's about NINE years old, I was not able to find one.  It's a gorgeous snowy cabin scene by Inkadinkado.

The first task was to die cut the "Merry" frame 60 times.  Wow.  I learned very quickly the value of a dryer sheet with intricate dies.  If you die cut the dryer sheet, it puts a thin non-cling/stick film onto the cutting areas so your dies just pop right out.  This lasts for about 8-10 die cuts, and then they start sticking again.

Then, I used post-it tape to mask off the border of the die-cut frame, and blended tumbled glass distress ink over the snowflakes, and festive berries over the word "Merry".

Now it was time to work on the background.  I started by creating the blended blue sky, using tumbled glass first, then blue lagoon, then blueprint sketch, and finally chipped sapphire.  It took a lot of blending over 60 card fronts, but it was so worth the effort!

Once the sky was finished, I stamped the snowy cabin scene across the front of the card.  I used the merry frame die cut to assist with placement.

Then I stamped santa and his sleigh in the sky.  This stamp came from the Hero Arts My Monthly Hero card kit for October 2016.  This was the exclusive stamp set from that month, and it is sadly sold out, and the stamp set is no longer available.   I used my Mini MISTI to place the sleigh in the sky and was able to easily stamp it onto the card fronts 60 times in exactly the same place using versafine onyx black ink.  I also used the Mini MISTI to stamp "Christmas" under the word "Merry" from the die cut frame.

I used 1/8" Scor Tape to adhere the frame to the card front, and then spritzed the entire card front with Shimmer Spritz.  I misted each card front 3-4 times from about two feet above to give a very fine mist with no big drips.  This stuff is just magical - it gives the most gorgeous shimmer - like a bank of snow in the sunshine - tiny little diamonds.  LOVE.

I stamped a sentiment on the inside of the card, and "Handmade Holiday Wishes" on the back of the card.  Both stamps are from the Hero Arts Christmas Messages stamp set.

Still with me???

Finishing touch... I used the new Perfectly Penned stamp set by Concord & 9th to hand-stamp the names on the front of all 60 envelopes.  I had used this set the day before with some black ink and ran out of stamp cleaner - I apologize for the wonky color - looks way better when all the letters are pure Christmas RED.)  I hand addressed each card in neat printing for a truly old-school handmade card. (Obviously this isn't my real address.... LOL...)

I haven't sent out handmade cards in several years, and I so enjoyed making them this year.  One lesson I learned... when you're making 60 cards, keep the design as simple as possible... this was a labor of love!  Next year... simplify!  :)

Hope you are all ready for Christmas - have a wonderful celebration with your family and friends.  I'll be posting some other cards over the coming weeks, so I'll see you soon.

~ ellen.

November 13, 2016

Birthday Cards - Clean and Simple

Hello friends,

Today I wanted to share a couple of cute birthday cards I made yesterday, using 3 different stamp sets, some bold patterned paper, and some simple coloring.  

I started with this cute mini stamp set by Art Impressions, which I found at my local craft store.  They come with matching dies.  How can you look at this little guy and not smile?!   I stamped him on some white card stock and used my watercolor pencils and blending pen to color him in, but any coloring medium would work.  I wasn't sure how I would be using him when I started - I could have stamped him directly onto the card panel, but in this case I cut him out and adhered to the panel, which I die cut using the Inside & Out Stitched Rectangle Stax die from My Favorite Things.

Then I stamped out a bunch of these balloons from the Simon Says Stamp Birthday Bits stamp set, and colored them in using various colors of distress ink and a waterbrush, using a couple shades of each color to create a little bit of dimension.  And my new favorite thing (I know it's been around for quite a while, but it's relatively new to me)... the clear Wink of Stella glitter pen!  Love!  It adds just the right amount of shimmer without going over the top, and there's no mess!  

The Happy Birthday sentiment is from Hero Arts Many Everyday Messages, and was stamped using Onyx Black Versamark ink.  I added a glitter heart using a confetti heart punch (Martha Stewart) with glitter craft foam, and adhered the whole panel to some bold patterned card stock (American Crafts - Marine paper pad 6x6), using white craft foam to add some dimension to the card.

I repeated the same design below, but used different patterned paper (American Crafts - #Summer paper pad 6x6) for some variety.  This card would be super easy to mass produce.

I just love how the sun catches the wink of stella shimmer!  Looks like little diamonds.

Hope you enjoyed these two simple birthday cards.  

Thanks for stopping by!

~ ellen.

November 7, 2016

Ranger Altered Mailbox

Hello again friends!

Thanks so much for the warm welcome back to blog land - it was so very nice to be back in touch and hear from some dear old friends.  

During my blog break, I did do a few creative projects, and today I wanted to share one of my favorites.  I made this about a year ago at one of my art retreat ("stamp camp") weekends.  Since moving in to our house 3 years ago, I had wanted to replace the mailbox with one that was easier to get mail in/out.  

We had this style mailbox at our old house and loved it.  I altered that one, too, with some Dylusions stamps and Tim Holtz letters.  Click HERE to see that post.  

This time, I decided to use Ranger's Foil Tape Sheets, some embossing folders, and Ranger's Patina Glazes to create a metal patchwork mailbox.  It was super easy and super fun!  

I started with several sheets of 6 x 12  Foil Tape Sheets and several different embossing folders.  It took a little experimenting to find the right amount of "shim" needed to give a good embossed impression without tearing the thin metal sheets.  I found that two layers of heavy card stock was the perfect amount.  

After embossing LOTS of different patterns, I pulled out my Ranger Patinas in a variety of colors, and started painting on the glazes, setting each sheet aside to dry as I went along.  Once they were all dry, I used black paint to "age" the colors a bit, and wiped back the black paint right away before it dried, leaving a small amount of black in the recessed areas of the pattern.

Then it was time to fit the colors and patterns together on all the external surfaces of the mailbox.  It took a lot of dry fitting, but the results were amazing!  The foil tape sheets have a strong adhesive backing, which made things so much easier.

After all the foil pieces were adhered to the mailbox, I decided that a thin border between each piece would help to further define each pattern, and would make the mailbox more cohesive.  I used a Ten Seconds Studio texture wheel to impress thin strips of the foil sheets and then pressed them between each section. 

I used one pattern on each side of the mailbox, and I have to say, this is my absolute favorite embossing folder, maybe *ever*!  It's by Spellbinders and I have used it SO many times!  

After all the metal was adhered, I sealed the mailbox with Patina Glaze.  This stuff is amazing!  It dries pretty quickly and leaves a super smooth finish without any tackiness at all.  Love it!

If you noticed the clear spinning organizer on my craft desk, you may have seen that all my pen/pencil/brush containers were made using recycled aluminum cans and this embossing folder - I did a rainbow of colors in the same pattern.

I hope this gives you some inspiration for a foil tape sheet project.  I love the look of textured metal and it can be applied to almost any surface.  Cigar boxes, soup cans, art journal or sketchbook covers, and yes... even as the background for a card!  Hmmmmm.... need to explore that a little more! 

Take care 'til next time and thanks for stopping by!

~ ellen.

November 3, 2016

Long time no see.... Studio Pix and Cards to Share

Hello old friends... hope some of you are still out there and haven't given up on me... This has turned into a long post, so get some coffee... 

.. it has been *quite* some time!  My "little" break from blog land lasted so much longer than I ever thought it would.  Suffice to say that life threw me for quite a loop and I just needed to retreat from crafting for a while to figure out what I wanted from it.   

Since my last post, so much has happened... I lost 30 pounds... had to say goodbye to some people I loved, gained 30 pounds back, stayed pretty much out my studio for almost a year, and in the process did a major studio purge, getting rid of an insane amount of stamps, dies, ribbons and embellishments, had an "awakening" health-wise, lost 50 pounds over 8 months, trying very hard to make this a permanent change in lifestyle, and slowly... very slowly... got the urge to start creating again.  I would like to give a big shout out to Jennifer McGuire.  I have been following her for YEARS and she has served as a constant inspiration, especially during my "down time".  It is largely due to her that I am back to crafting again.

I rearranged my studio and got a few new storage units - here are some pix of the new space...

After re-organizing my supplies, old and new, I felt even more inspired.  I spent a lot of time in my former craft life trying to ignore my tendency to like things neat and crisp and precise, which is my natural inclination in most things (I'm an accountant after all!).  One of the things I decided during my time off is that I need to embrace my own style and my own way of doing things, rather than trying to embrace someone else's style, which often times was in direct conflict with how I would do things.   Not that there's anything wrong with a different style... it's just not "me".  So... 

... the funny thing is... I've come full circle.  My paper crafting journey began with card making.  My good friend Connie used to be a demonstrator for Stampin Up! and she would hold small workshops after work to teach us about stamping, and heat embossing (still magic!), and paper trimmers, and brads and eyelets, and dye inks and pigment inks, and ... the list goes on and on.  And that card-making bug has bitten me again!  I have slowly been re-building my stamp collection, slowly adding all the latest gadgets and gizmos that have come along since I left the card making world... and I'm actually having fun with it again!

Here are some pix of my first cards... made with whatever I had on hand... I'll list the basic elements under each card.  Eventually I'll figure out how to do a product list with links, but for now... keeping it simple.   Hope you enjoy.

Bumble Bee patterned paper (OLD!), flower and sentiment stamps by PaperArtsy Eclectica Ellen Vargo (EEV10) stamped with Onyx Black Versafine ink and clear heat-embossed, Memory Box ticket die, distress ink watercoloring for the flower, and clear Wink of Stella shimmer pen over the flower.

OLD (but beautiful!) patterned paper,  flower by PaperArtsy Eclectica Ellen Vargo (EEV10), sentiment by Art Gone Wild - Catherine Scanlon Designs, distress ink watercoloring.

K & Company patterned paper,  flower by PaperArtsy Eclectica Ellen Vargo (EEV10), sentiment by Fiskars, watercolor pencil coloring, blended with Stampin' Up blending marker. 

Distress card stock, flower stamp by Art Gone Wild - Catherine Scanlon Designs, watercolor pencil coloring.

Distress card stock, leaf background stamps by Tim Holtz - several distress inks used on each stamp, then spritzed with water before stamping.  Center leaf by Tim Holtz - gold heat embossed, sentiment stamp by Wendy Vecchi.

Made a set of these cards for a good friend who works with a cat rescue organization.  Cat and sentiment stamps by Fiskars.  OLD patterned paper, Distress card stock base, purple metal: Ranger foil sheet, embossing folder by Spellbinders, colored with Ranger Patina glaze and aged with black paint then lightly sanded.

Same techniques and products as above.

This card is completely inspired by (copied from) Jennifer McGuire blog - click HERE.  Hydrangea stamp by Wendy Vecchi - white heat-embossed, saturated paper with blueprint sketch distress ink and then "lifted" the blue color off with water brush, then added mowed lawn distress ink to leaves, and picked raspberry distress ink to flower.  Sentiment stamp by Jillibean Soup.

Patterned paper is from the "Old World" stack.  Fine glitter paper by DCWV, flower stamp by Fiskars, flower stem is a border stamp by Fiskars, flowers colored with watercolor pencils and blending pen by Stampin' Up!, sentiment by Wendy Vecchi.

And there have been so many more since these were made, but I have to leave something to share in the future.  I don't have any specific plan on how often I will do blog posts, but this is a first step.  I hope any of you reading this are doing well, and thanks so much for stopping by.

~ ellen.