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Monday, 16 March 2015

Letraset Promarkers Attempt No. 1

I was rather lucky last week and won myself a set of 18 Letraset Promarker pens by liking and sharing the "Winning Wednesday" link over at Papercraft Magazine's Facebook page. I won the prize on Wednesday and by Friday they arrived :) Happy me! A couple of days before that my latest subscription issue of Papercraft Essentials arrived Issue 118 and it had a free paper stack and some adorable Riverbank Revels stamps designed by Helz Cuppleditch for Trimcraft, the stamps were begging to be turned into an Easter card, but I did my usual panic about colouring in!


Once the pens arrived I didn't have an excuse as I needed to put them to good use, I was really delighted to win as I generally don't have much luck when it comes to prizes. The Letraset pens I won are 6 pink shades, 6 purple shades and 6 yellow shades, so to complete my design I used some of my spectrum noir markers for the blues and greens. I'm so impressed with the promarkers though that I've ordered a set with other colours like orange, red, blues and greens, I love the way they evenly colour and it an extent prefer them to the Spectrum Noir markers.

The coloured image on the card is the first time I've coloured a stamped image with alcohol. markers, its all new to me so the nuances of shading and detail are not all there, but its a learning curve. I was happy enough with the end result to actually use it to make a card, part of my success is due to the fact that I'm no using card stock that is designed to work with alcohol markers, and Memento ink which when dry doesn't smudge, so it keeps a crisp clear outline.


My other project this weekend is a cute bear birthday card, the topper comes from a Kanban 'Birthday Gifts' design that I got from Gill at Foilplay, I used an Xcut Filigree Circle embossing folder to create the raised edge and then used a Tim Holtz Distress Ink in 'Shaded Lilac' on the embossed area it went quite dark which is how I wanted it, the rest of the card I rubbed the distress ink over fairly unevenly in the attempt of creating a sky effect it worked! The only other items were a ribbon rose from my craft stash and a piece of ribbon on the edge and a final stamped sentiment from free Bebunni set of stamps I got a few months back.

This card making lark is very addictive, so many techniques to try and so many ideas, I have a feeling I'll be busy for quite some time, its March now and already my head is having ideas for making Christmas cards, this year they'll be more sparkly and embossed with some perfect pearl elements thrown in for good measure!

Butterflies & Roses


Finally all my bits and bobs turned up so this weekend I could play at making resin style embellishments, I used 'WOW Melt It!' powder and 'WOW Embossing Powder' in Earthtone: Pomegranate to make the roses, it's really very straight forward. WOW sell silicon moulds as well like the rose one in the photo below, but I also picked up a selection of silicon moulds on Amazon that are designed for making embellishments for cakes, these work like a charm!

Take a small aluminium pie dish and shape part of it to resemble a pouring spout like on a jug, then put 2-4 teaspoons of the melt it powder into the dish, add a small amount of your embossing powder, a little goes a long way, for the dusky pink roses I used about a 1/4 teaspoon and stir both powders together until evenly mixed.

Next flatten off the side of the pie dish opposite to the 'spout' and clip a plastic or wooden peg in place, the pie tin will get very hot so this helps you to hold it whilst melting the powders.


Using a heat gun put heat on the underside of the pie dish, don't put the heat gun on top of the dish, if you do you'll blow the powder everywhere! It takes a while but eventually you'll see the powder begin to melt, the more it melts and becomes liquid you can swirl the tin to help mix, if you have bits that won't melt, pop the tin down and stir with a lolly stick or similar item.

Once everything is melted and liquid, pour the mix into your silicon mould, through trail and error I've learnt that putting the heat gun just to the side of your mould as you pour keeps the resin liquid and helps it to melt into all the areas of the mould. The resin sets very quickly, so you have to work fast, if a shape doesn't work out, its no biggy because you can put the mishap back in the pie dish reheat it to melt it again and try again, and again until you get it right :)

If the mould level is over poured and you have rough edges they can be broken off with a finger nail, tougher bits you can use a craft knife or scissors on. Once cool you can add gliding wax, mica powder or perfect pearls to your embellishments to give them a sheen or use them as is. I made the roses for a card I saw in Cardmaking & Papercraft a few weeks ago, I'll post a photo of the finished card when its done.

After making the roses I thought I'd try one of the moulds from Amazon, so I decided to make butterflies, I used Papermania embossing powder in Lilac, the butterflies came out translucent for some reason, which was no really a bad thing as they wound up looking glass like. I dusted one of them with perfect pearls powder to give it a lovely shimmer, and like the roses the butterflies will be going on a card project soon.


The second project of the weekend was to make a frame for an idea I've had since I found square frame stamp from the Papermania Bellissima range, in my head I saw a golden frame being used to frame a centre piece, be that a photo or an embellishment I hadn't decided.

I set to using my new 'Big Emboss It' embossing ink pad and some Darice 'Whispers' Embossing powder in Mirror Gold to form the stamped frame, it came out perfectly if I do say so myself. Next I used my craft knife and ruler and cut out most of the centre, cutting around the flowers with scissors. Then I used scissors to cut around the frame, whilst not perfect it doesn't look half bad :) the final step was to use alcohol markers to colour the flowers and the frame was finished. I think that it would look lovely with some gliding wax on the frame or even some gold ink rubbed in to the cream area. Suffice to say I'll be playing using different embossing powder and card colours to make frames for cards over the next few weeks and also keeping my eye out for other frames that can be used this way. All in all not a bad weekend, I did make a few cards and lay down an idea for my young nephews birthday card that will have a lego batman theme! More on that soon :)

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Glittery Butterfly


Hubby took me to "The Range" this morning, to pick up some gold ribbon for the gold owl card I've been working on all week. I've been a bit stressed out for a little while and I find that card making helps me to relax and it smooths away the edges, and the stress levels become able to cope with. I wandered over to the craft aisles and there was a lady sat at a table doing a card making demo for some of the new Docrafts range for spring.

To say I came away inspired is an understatement, I also came away with more card making goodies, but we'll move swiftly on for now lol! I got chatting to one of the other ladies who was watching the demonstration and we had a chat about rubber stamping and embossing and we swapped email addresses. I have oodles of embossing folders but I'd never thought about embossing the envelopes my cards are going in until Kathleen (the lady doing the demo) mentioned it. She also showed me a technique using two of the same die cut shapes to make die cut shape look like it has a shadow and several other things that I'll be trying soon.

The card above is the result of the demo, I bought the new Xcut 'Floral Filigree Butterfly' die and that's what is used on the card above. I cut it out in some purple glittery card I found in the stash, the butterfly paper is from a  6" x 6" 'Everyday With Barkley' doubled sided pad I got in the January sales. The ribbon I used in the card I made earlier in the week with the free Sheena Douglass Silhouette stamp pad I got free with Quick Cards Made Easy issue 137 (see below).

I just changed things slightly for the glitter butterfly card and layered a piece of spotted lilac ribbon on top of the darker purple stitched ribbon, to make it look a bit different. I picked up a pack of Dovecraft 'Back to Basics III' paper flowers and I used two layered on each other and finished it off with a purple sparkly gemstone. The sentiment is cut using an xcut die from the reverse side of the butterfly backing paper and stamped with a sentiment from the Clearly Besotted stamp set that came free with Simply Cards & Papercraft issue 133.

The edge is the result of the DIY glitter tape adventure I had the other week, I concluded that "The only way I can see the technique working is to lay the tape on the card in situ and add glitter", I was right and it worked like a charm, although I still managed to get glitter everywhere lol! Basically you place your double sided tape where you want your border to be, remove the top paper and add your glitter, I've found that superfine glitter works best. You then rub the glitter into the double sided tape making sure all of it is covered and the texture is as smooth as you can get it. Remove the loose glitter and use a brush to brush away any glitter that isn't supposed to be there. Finally I added a few purple sticky gem stones to the butterfly and the sentiment. I was really pleased with the way this one came out.


The above card I made to test out the freebie stamps mentioned above, I decided to use the flower I made earlier in the week and I think it works rather well. I want to try using some of the other background papers and the stamps and black ink this time with a clear gloss emboss.  When we got back from the Range the postman had delivered my copy of Papercraft Essentials it has some free and very cute 'Riverbank Revels' papers and stamps of some adorable ducks. I wanted to make some Easter cards so these will be useful. I also have to make a birthday card for my young nephew and start thinking about a 50th birthday card for my hubby!

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Crafty Bargains, Ideas and Inspiration

The postman brought me a new set of stamps today, these are rubber background stamps which I intend to use for embossing and for creating pearlescent effect backgrounds for cards. They were a bargain from Craft Clearance, I've ordered from them a few times before but I'm always amazed at how speedily they get your order to you. I ordered at 18:30 on Wednesday evening and my order arrived at 11am today (Friday), super speedy or what? The stamps are all around 4.5" x 5.75" with really deep patterns on them, I'm looking forward to playing with them this weekend, they're made by an American copy called JustRite who seem to have a really good range, that I can see myself acquiring more of over the next 12 months!

Remember the gold embossed card I wrote about last weekend and said I didn't have an idea what to put on it at the time? Well a little more inspiration hit me this afternoon and I played with some die cuts and alcohol markers and added some sticky gems and made the above topper. The cards not finished yet, I'm waiting for some mirror gold embossing powder to arrive so that I can add the sentiment, but its getting there :)

I've actually blown my monthly allowance this month on card making stuff, but I don't care, I'm becoming more engrossed in the hobby and I really can't wait to get on making things with all the ideas I've had, I'm learning new techniques all the time and experimenting. Tonight I made my first attempt at distressing the edges of a topper using ink. I used a pigment ink pad because my distress ink pads still haven't arrived, so the ink was a little thicker than I think it should be. But I think for a first attempt it 'smooshed' really well and I can't believe the difference it made to the edge of the die cut shape.


I was testing out inks earlier and stamping sentiments, I have lots of the 'Pretty Color' pigment ink stamp pads, they were in my craft stash leftover from the years when all I did was collect card-making stuff, because I was scared that I'd mess things up, sometimes I do and sometimes things work out really well :) I was looking for the right words for my card, its a thank you card for a friend, I found it on one of the stamp sets by Clearly Besotted that came free with Simply Cards & Papercraft issue 133. I tried using the Pretty Colour inks, but figured that I was just rubbish at stamping because none of them worked, they were smudged, smeared or didn't have enough ink on them.

I started to beat myself up and told myself that actually I was pretty rubbish at this stamping lark and I decided it would be better to go down the printed sentiment on the computer route, when I remembered I had a last month bought a 'Memento' ink pad in Tuxedo Black. Some of the YouTube tutorials and blogs I've looked at recently recommended this kind of ink for stamping, so I cleaned the 'Pretty Color' ink off the stamp pad, dried it off and inked up with the Memento. You can see the results in the photo above, crisp, clear and well perfect if I do say so myself :) I did some more ink 'smooshing' and finished it off with a couple of sprays of Perfect Pearls Mist in Heirloom Gold. This test was on a piece of ordinary printer paper, so its not being used, although it could be :)

Suffice to say over the next few months I'll be adding a selection of Memento inks to my stash in an array of colours that I'll use often and a couple of other high quality inks. I also need to take in to account the type of paper I'm using and make sure I match it with the ink I choose to use. I'm still waiting for some fairy die-cuts, more embossing powders, some blending tools, satin effect printer paper, a bargain 'Everyday in Mulberry Wood' CD of cute characters I can print out on the computer to make toppers, card stock designed for alcohol markers, a 5" x 7" acrylic stamping block and of course the distress inks to arrive. Once that little lot gets here there will be no stopping me, I'm sure there will be some mishaps and good ideas that go badly wrong, but I can't wait to get stuck in. The CD was reduced from £15 to £4.75 at Crafters Companion and as I'm trying to build up my digital crafting source material it was a good item to add.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

DIY Heat Embossed Toppers


Rather chuffed with tonight's little experiment, I'd seen a video on YouTube that I now can't find grrrr, in essence you take a paper or cardboard cut out cover it in embossing ink, then clear embossing powder and heat until the powder is melted. Whilst its still warm you coat it again and heat it, and then a third time to give a good hard glossy coat.

Whilst my test pieces aren't perfect, the process worked, above is a photo of the printed piece of paper and to the left the piece embossed. The colours are changed and a little smudged but the result is very shiny and glossy which makes up for it. A little research and I may find ultra clear embossing powder or a true transparent look. If the technique is used on paper that has a random pattern on it like the flower, it works very well.

Both examples were printed on A4 white printer paper using an inkjet printer, nothing special, so using 240g card and other weights of paper may have different results? Using laser jet images or items stamped with archival ink may also give different results. I'll do some more experiments over the next few weeks an blog about things that work and things that don't.

I did try the method at weekend but burnt my finger because I couldn't hold the piece I wanted to emboss very well. So my clever hubster came to my aid and used the 3D printed he's built to design and print me a handle to hold the pieces, there is some blutak involved until I can come up with a better way of fixing the piece I want to coat to the handle. All went well with the 'Happy Birthday' piece but the flower I had problems with, it embossed it self to the base lol! No worries, the hubster is going to make a couple of other handles in different diameters to take the different sizes of embellishment I'm working on.

I used a stick on gem in the centre of my flower which I think finishes it off, just need to make a few more and I'll be able to attach them to a card and show the full effect. It means that I can make any kind of glossy toppers, tomorrow I'll experiment with shop bought die-cut sentiments and see what a bit of shine does to them. I love this learning curve, looking forward to the melt it powder and silicon moulds arriving any day now so I can use the heat gun to make 3D roses :)

Monday, 2 March 2015

Gluten Free - First Ever Breadmaker GF Loaf


I've not been doing much blogging recently I know, life has been a tad strange for a few weeks, I thought I'd dip my toe back in the blogosphere water by sharing my latest culinary effort. Back in January for health reasons we decided to try and go wheat and dairy free, the dairy part happened but the wheat/gluten until this week didn't.

My hubby has been totally dairy free now since the end of January and there has been a huge difference in his energy levels, prior to quitting dairy, when he came home from work he had to have a 20-30 minute nap before he felt human, since ditching dairy the naps have STOPPED! He does get a little fatigued on the odd day, but not enough to need to nap, his coughing fits have all but stopped, but we discovered that sucralose was also making him cough, he'd been dairy free but still coughing and we couldn't understand it, until we had a mental leap and realised it only happened after sugar free drinks, ditched the sugar free items and he's virtually stopped coughing!

I gave up dairy until the 2nd week in April and I decided that as he was definitely benefiting from dairy free hubby could stay on it, and I'd go back to dairy to save money, BIG mistake! I first added yogurt back in to my diet and felt some nausea, no biggie, then I introduced skimmed milk and within a day WHAM I had a sinus problem, the awful smell, congestion and nasal drip. So I went back to coconut milk and no yogurt and the sinus problem went away! I've found I can tolerate a little mozzarella cheese with no problems, so I do that every now and again but on the whole I'm dairy free and back to being able to breathe again.

I do think that I may have a problem with wheat and possible gluten, some of my siblings were born not being able to tolerate gluten, and although I love bread, pizza, pasta, cake etc, they don't love me, I don't seem to be able to lose weight when I have those foods even reduced calorie versions, I'm bloated, gassy and on days when I've eaten gluten based items I end up tired and lethargic like you wouldn't believe. I'd already tried supermarket gluten free bread and found it horrid, like cardboard and VERY dry. Same with anything I made using GF flour, so I went back to wheat based flours and all the problems.

After losing the weekend to tiredness and fatigue and having zero energy, I decided enough was enough and I'm now on day 3 of gluten free, which is turning out to be easier than I thought it would be. Yesterday I baked some Buckwheat Scones out of Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall's book "Light & Easy", but they were not my idea of a scone, I made his sweet version, although his recipe gives the wrong amount of liquid saying to use 200ml instead of 100ml eeek! For the scones I found the buckwheat flavour too strong and chewy, so I need to do some experimenting, they scones were very heavy as well which I think was due to the buckwheat flour and the ground almonds.

Today I had a success, although not perfect the result was edible, I made my very first Gluten Free Brown Loaf in my Breadmaker, its not bread as I knew it, but it is edible and it would make great beans on toast or an accompaniment with soup, I think it may be a little heavy for sandwiches but we'll see. I found the recipe on the Doves Farm website it was for a Gluten Free White Bread for Bread Machines I followed the recipe to the letter save for the fact that I used their Gluten Free Brown Bread Flour instead of the white GF flour. Although not perfect its way nicer than the shop bought GF bread, its well worth persevering with until I get the perfect loaf, and I will, love my bread too much!

It's too soon to say whether ditching gluten will make a difference to me, and it will probably take my body a while to get over what years of wheat and gluten has done to it. I do know that I have a list of things that I want to make gluten free, decent scones, pizza dough, coconut cake and biscuits that aren't like cardboard or full of nasty additives like the supermarket 'free from' ranges are. If I can just stop feeling so tired and get some energy back it'll be worth it. I'm hoping that ditching the gluten and wheat is also going to help me lose weight, fingers crossed!

All That Glitters


This weekend I've been playing with glitter and shimmer and I think the 'Fairy Wishes' card above has to be the favourite card I've made to date. I know these cards aren't as professional as some of the card makers out there can make them, but I've only been doing this for just over 5 months now and I'm still learning. I've mentioned in other posts my reluctance to rubber stamp after the lack of success I had years ago when I tried to take up card making and failed at the first hurdle. I did try again a few times over the years and was unsuccessful again, so all the stamping stuff got put in a box, and shoved under the bed and forgotten about.

Last month the stamps came out from under the bed and I gathered together all the new stamp sets and put them in a drawer with the rest of my craft stash, progress of a sort. To help give me some inspiration I've taken out subscriptions for a few card making magazines, and picked up one off mags that have had some lovely stamping sets in them, with the wistful 'one day' idea. One of my favourites to date is "The Fairy Collection" that came with issue 138 of Cardmaking & Papercraft, it went in the stamp drawer and I've admired the cards published in C&P that other people have made using them.

To put the 'Fairy Wishes' card together this is what I used: - A free paper download from the Love Hunkydory Collection, you have to be a member of Club Hunkydory to download it, but once you are there are lots of freebies to download that make useful backgrounds and toppers. I used purple card and purple pearlescent paper from my stash to matt the layers. The dark floral iridescent coloured  border between the papers was done using Perfect Pearls 'Interference' colours on black card. Then after I'd set the pearl powder with water, I embossed the coated card and cut it to size. The tree scene-scape came from a free download from Papercraft Essentials, back in issue 107 they gave away a fairy stamp set, mirror card and the papers. I wasn't getting the magazine then so I don't have that fairy stamp sadly, but I could download the free papers, so I printed them off, the orange paper is still to be used.

Next I got my fairy collection cling stamp and stamped the fairy on to my background page and was amazed when it came out perfect. I did stamp the sentiment in black but it smudged, so I cut a small piece of leftover purple card and tried again, the inking was successful so I added some silver embossing powder to finish it off, it worked well I think. Finally I put it all together and finished it with a few purple sticky gems. When I look at the photo it seems to be missing something, dark purple or lilac ribbon trim methinks, so when I make another one I'll try that.



Something else I played with this weekend is colouring embossed areas on cards, my first attempt using Papermania tinsel gold embossing powder was a bit hit and miss, but it did add sparkle to the card. So I got bold and tried a larger card and embossing folder.  Once I'd embossing the card I took a foam pad and gently rubbed ink from a Hobbycraft gold 'Ink Pad' on it and dried it off with my heat gun. Once dry I added some clear embossing ink and some of the tinsel gold embossing powder and set it with the heat gun.

The final stage was to dust the card with gold coloured Perfect Pearls and set it with water. When it dried it has a lovely antiqued shimmery effect, the photo makes it look grubby but its a lot more sparkly and I was going for the distressed look. I added some gold coloured sticky back foam to the top and bottom using a fleur-de-lys die cut, I'm now waiting for inspiration to hit for the topper. I'm thinking maybe a sepia photo and gold frame or maybe a Parisian inspired design? I do like this technique though and will be making more use of it in the future.


Finally for now, the above is made from the leftovers! I had a small rectangle of black card and the pearl powder that was shaken off the paper for the Fairy Wishes card became mixed so it couldn't go back in the pot, instead I put it in a small clean pot to use to add sparkle, the feather die was free with Simply Cards & Papercraft a few months ago, the sparkle on them is different in real life but mimics the sparkle found on black bird feathers. The butterfly stamp came free with 'Docrafts Creativity' magazine and the dragonfly is from a Joanna Sheen Signature Die called Butterflies and Dragonfly that I got as a free gift when I subscribed to Papercraft Essentials last year. The butterfly and dragonfly were die cut from a piece of the card left over from the frame piece hence being a bit more colourful. Again I love this technique and will be using it a lot more in the future, although I don't have a use for the above elements yet, they'll go in a box until the write project comes along.