Thursday, 14 December 2017

Altenew Build A Flower - Poinsettia

Back in April I raved about the Altenew Build A Flower stamp and die sets that the company began releasing then, in fact I did a post on the first set which was the Camellia Build A Flower and I haven't posted anything since on these fabulous collections. They've so far done 9 releases and of those I've purchased 5, I intend to buy 3 of the remaining 9, but the Coral Charm BAF just didn't sing to me so I'm not getting that one.

Amazingly though despite having bought 5 of these sets, prior to making these cards above I've only used the Camellia set, the rest are sat in my stuff to be used box! Something I intend to rectify over the next couple of weeks, as soon as the Xmas cards are done. By then I should get the latest release which is the Carnation BAF, the carnation being my birth month flower and also one of my favourite flowers.

When they began releasing the BAF collections I hoped that they would do a Christmas set and the Poinsettia was top of my list, but I wasn't sure they would as they had already released a poinsettia stamp.

Like all the other Altenew layering stamp sets the poinsettia is very easy to stamp, a job made even easier if you have a stamping platform. Because I wanted to make a batch of cards I cut several sheets of card so that I could stamp one image and rotate 90 degrees to stamp another and repeated this process on 3 pieces of card to give me 6 read images.

The process was repeated using green shades of ink to give me a batch of green leaves to use. For both the red and green images I used Altenew inks Red: Crimson, Velvet & Grapevine and Green: Frayed Leaf, Forest Glades and Evergreen, the yellow centre was stamped with a couple of Memento shades Dandelion and Toffee Crunch and I used Jet Black Altenew ink for the stamen tips.

I decided to give the outline a gold embossed treatment and finished off the flowers with some sparkle pen. Once I'd finished the images I started to put together the cards, I wanted to keep them fairly flat because of postage, so all I did was die cut the scalloped base and the stitched top panel from my Tonic Beautiful Day Sew Pretty set, I embossed the white stitched panel with a poinsettia embossing folder I got free last year with one of the card making magazines, although I can't remember which one now.

Next I randomly cut in to the green leaves and after placing the red flower I added the green leaves behind stuck direct to the embossed panel with Nuvo Deluxe Adhesive. I then added a coating of Clear Spectrum Noir Sparkle Pen and attached the panel to my card base, I used gold metallic effect cards that came with matching envelopes that I got from 'The Works' in the January sales. Finally I added a "Warmest Wishes" sentiment in the same gold foil card I Cut the scalloped circle from using a Sue Wilson die and glued that direct to the front of the card.

The process was fast and before I knew it I had 6 cards ready to send to friends, with a few green leaf bits left over for another batch, I glued a few white panels inside the cards with a pre-stamped sentiment and they are now ready to write. I can see this set having a lot of use over the years, I've already started another batch and will add some of them to my charity card pile.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Sizzix Meadowcat

Hello crafty blog land lovelies :) I'm frantically trying to finish off all my Christmas cards, make a couple of birthday cards, some gifts and do the usual wrap presents and write card thing that some of us do at this time of year. I'm winning on some counts, but where the xmas cards are concerned I keep getting distracted...

Like when the crazy cat lady in me stretched out her virtual paw after seeing this shiny new Sizzix Meadow Cat die and knew I had to play with it as soon as I saw it for sale on the Craft Stash website.  So order it I did and as soon as it arrived yesterday I dropped the xmas cards I was working on and had a quick play with Miss Meadow Cat and this is what I created in no time at all.

Like all Sizzix dies it cut like a dream and it made a simple almost 1 layer card very quickly. I die cut the image from black card stock and then using Arteza metallic marker pens to colour the various bits of flora on the die.

Sadly the photo doesn't show the shine of the pens on the black card as well as I'd like, I need a better camera or a light box! The Arteza pens I used are water based, I want to try colouring the die cut with my Promarker metallic's and also my Spectrum Noir Metallic Pencils as I'm sure they will give totally different effects. I made this card to put in my box for the future, I sure hope that I don't have to use it though. I thought I'd make some for giving to my local Cats Protection to sell.

I think that this die can work for lots of different occasions, paper piece the flora in lots of bright colours and add a stamped tiny butterfly to the nose and suitable sentiment for a summer birthday, colouring in red, green and gold could also make an Xmas card for a cat friend and autumn colours will produce a thanksgiving/halloween card. So the die has a lot of versatility and not just a use for sad occasions.

I wanted to keep the card pretty simple focusing mainly on the image so all I added to the white card blank were a couple of rows of pawprints from my Justrite 'Pet Sympathy Sentiments' stamp set and the sentiment comes from the Newton's Nook 'Furr-ever Friends' stamp set and both are stamped in Onyx Black Versafine ink. I added a few gems from my stash to the flowers, but in hindsight may have been a touch too much?

Before I go I thought I'd mention the affliate links that have started to pop up on my blog, I've joined an affliate scheme which means if you click on one of the links on my blog and then you make a purchase at the store I get a small commission. It's a way of earning some extra crafting pennies for me and it doesn't cost you anything, so if you happen to click and buy thank you :)

Friday, 1 December 2017

Step Into An Enchanted Wood

Back in June I became aware a company called Craftwork Cards thanks to the massively talented and creative wonder of a woman Jennifer Kray, she designs for CWC and Tonic Studios, if you haven't checked out her blog I urge you to do so, I checked out the wealth of projects made with CWC products and I fell in love with the 'Enchanted Wood', 'Hedgerow', 'Pampered Pets' and 'Potting shed' designs to name a few. Suffice to say, I acquired a couple of the pads, but some of them are no longer available I found to my chagrin, I missed the chance to play with the Botanica collection sadly.

The first collection to turn up was the 'Enchanted Wood' paper pad and I got a set of the toppers off Ebay of all places, as the Enchanted Wood set is no longer available on the CWC website. The designs that resonate with me most are the ones that appeal to my inner gardening, herb and wild flower loving crazy cat lady, so naturally I wanted to play with these beautiful papers. I was so happy to raid my 'Maybe Someday' box for bits of water colour paper scraps I've kept that were perfect for die cutting ferns to echo the ferns on the papers.

The papers are fabulous, I've since bought the 'Winter Woodland', 'Pampered Pets' and the 'Festive' USB stick which is cram full of lovely papers and toppers, so far I've drafted out a couple of cards that need to be put together mostly for Christmas, I just need to get round to finishing them.

Both the cards I made in the photo above use the 'Enchanted Wood' collection and were very simple to put together, I made a stepper card and an oval easel card and used the backing papers from the set. The flowers are made from cheap craft foam that I added some Nuvo Drops to the centre of. I used a selection of Tattered Lace (fern), Tonic Studios (scalloped circle), Spellbinders (white oval frames) and Crafters Companion (flower and leaf) dies.

The hardest part about putting these cards together was deciding which of the lovely papers to use, I have a problem with collection paper pads, once I buy them I then struggle to use them, because when I do I don't have it anymore!? Ironic as I buy them to use them, but some papers are just so lovely it seems wrong to rip them out of the pad to use them! That's why designs on USB sticks are brilliant because you can print them off as often as you like and never use them all up!

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Newton's Nook - Sweater Weather Card

I've not been doing a lot of card making lately, I'm rewriting a course to teach youngsters about the history of robots and been off visiting Oxford and doing the Christmas present shopping lark.

It hit me the other day that I was VERY behind on making all the cards I need to send to friends and relatives for Xmas, so I started yesterday making cards in earnest. I have 60 cards left to make and some gifts also eeek!

I'm entering this card in to the Newton's Nook Inky Paws Challenge #60 'Add Some Sparkle' it was fairly quick to put together, the easel card I'd made last year and never used, so lay in my 'Maybe Someday' box. It seemed like the ideal backdrop for using with the Newton's Nook Sweater Weather stamps and dies.

My colouring still leaves a lot to be desired in terms of shading, these images are coloured simply with Zig Waterbrush Pens and then given a layer of Clear Sparkle Pen, I added more sparkly touches with Tonic Craft Perfect glitter card which I used to cut the snow bank and all the snowflakes. I also used gold metallic cardas the base for the easel layers, to cut the frilled edge to go behind the main image and for the sentiment stopper for the card and the gems are very sparkly as well, but sadly the photo doesn't show them at their best.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

DIY ATC/Gift Card Decorative Folders

These little folders are really easy to make if you have a paper trimmer, a scoring board or a means of scoring the paper and some basic supplies like glue, scissors and ribbon. I can’t take the credit for the idea however, I received my first ATC from the swap I’m taking part in and the lady that sent me the ATC sent it in one of these little folders that she had made, so thank you Carolynne for giving me the inspiration!

I think these folders make the sent ATC’s look nicer than just popping them in an envelope, and they add something to the ‘Happy Mail’ factor of sending an ATC. Plus if you keep the sentiment neutral, the recipient can reuse the folders to put a gift card in, or for sending another ATC to someone else. You can also use them yourself for gift cards which is what I've started to do, decorating the folders to reflect the hobbies/interests of the recipient.

To make my folders I used both 200gsm and 160gsm, of the two weights I prefer the 160gsm mainly because I discovered that 200gsm card or thicker cracked along the folded edge, which made the folder look rough and messy.It's also good if your chosen paper has a pattern either side, but this is not essential, if your card/paper only has a pattern on one side make sure you have the right side facing out when you make your fold.

To create a folder cut a piece of card stock or thick paper to the following measurements: -

Width = 20cm
Height = 10cm

Score and fold the piece in the middle at the 10cm point, then fold and run the back of a bone folder/scoring tool on the fold to make it nice and defined. Round off the corners of left and right side opening edges, front and back, you can skip this step if you want straight edges - I used my Xcut 5mm (S) Corner Punch. Put this piece to one side for the minute and create the inside pocket.

To create the pocket, take a piece of card stock or paper that matches the outside of the folder or contrasts with it and cut it to 10cm wide by 6.5cm tall. Score a 1cm border along 3 sides (bottom, left and right) crease and fold, open the fold up again and trim the corners away.

Glue the 2 sides and fold the bottom piece up so it becomes attached to the sides, hold it in place whilst the glue dries. Once dry add some glue to the bottom folded in piece and the two sides, line the pocket up with the centre and bottom of the inside panel, and press down, apply pressure and leave to dry.

Once the glue has dried you’re ready to decorative your folder, you can stamp on the front or add a label or any embellishments you desire, I added a die cut that I stamped a sentiment on. You can close the folder in the way you would a card and call it finished, or do like I do and punch holes in both sides of the folder and put a little ribbon through and tie it to close. I've also made some small envelopes big enough to take ATC's and some 4" x 4" envelopes that fit these folders perfectly.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Breakout The Stash, It's Time For A Swing Out Sister Card!

Greetings from Warts n All HQ, its been a busy few weeks so I've not been doing much crafting or blogging, we've been away on holiday to France and I've also been organising the cupboards and trying to de-clutter rooms, well every room but the craft room, although really I should try to tackle that room lol!

Over the past few weeks I've acquired lots of jolly new stamps and dies from Lawn Fawn and Newton's Nook and some of the new Tonic Halloween range, so now I have some time on my hands I can Breakout the stash and play, you see where this is going from the title, right?

I've decided this year I'll be making pop up box cards for close friends and family, so I've been cutting the panels to create them like a trooper. I've also cut a few halloween themed panels and some for get well and birthday.

The boxes are quick to put together and I'll show a few examples soon in another post, but I couldn't help but want to try my hand at a new card type, I bought some dies from China off Ebay that were purportedly like the My Favorite Things Die-Namics Flip Flop dies. Only to be disappointed to discover that then don't score and cut like they should, they just cut, grrr!

I'm sure they'll have some kind of use in the future, but they aren't any good as flip flop card cutters. So I had to put my thinking cap on and find an alternative way of making a flip flop card, also known as a Swing Out card. It's really a lot easier than I thought, and you can use any die shape you care to, there are other versions of the swing out cards as well to try in the future that are more complicated than my simple design.

For my first ever attempt at creating a Swing Out Card I used some free papers and toppers from Making Cards magazine (October 2017), a set called 'Christmas Puppy', such cute images and I love the bright festive chevron striped papers, that accompanied the toppers. The toppers were so cute that I decided to add another on the reverse side of the swing out panel.

I finished the card off with a stamped sentiment panel that I stamped with 'silvery Shimmer' Tsukineko 'Delicata' Pigment Ink. It's a fabulous metallic ink which dries really quickly and unlike other metallic pigment inks, it doesn't smudge and smear once completely dried. A couple of snowflakes cut from white glitter card with some crystal diamanté gems in the centre added a finishing touch. In hindsight, I should have put paper on both sides of the Z fold, a point to note for next time.

As the first card went well, I wanted to make another, I have lots of the red metallic pearl card that I got last year but haven't used it yet, and its great for making card bases like these, so what better excuse?

I stamped and coloured the image on the second card whilst on holiday using my Altenew 'Poinsettia & Pine' set.

I gold heat embossed the corner decoration and the inside panels have sentiments on stamped in 'Delicata' Ink again, this time in the 'Golden Glitz' colour.

Whilst I was putting the card together I kept finding myself humming a tune, it took me a while to realise that the tune I was humming was from my early twenties by a band called Swing Out Sister, for all you youngsters who have no idea what I'm talking about, I've added a Vevo video of the song below. Music or not I think there will be a few Swing Out cards on my crafting horizon and using different shapes. Now back to chilling with tunes and putting the box cards together :)

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Bookmark Gift Cards

I recently took out a subscription to Making Cards magazine and this morning my first subscription issue arrived, the free papers this time were adorable and I decided to make a couple of book themed gift cards with them. I decided a few months back that I wanted to start including something on or in my cards that could have a use outside of the occasion I was sending the card for, and book marks are the obvious choice, and partnered with a National Book Token they make an easy all occasion gift as well.

When my subscription issue arrived on my door mat this morning I fell in love with the "Barry the Book Owl" papers that came with it and quickly made 3 book marks and 2 cards, I still have some toppers and backing papers to put to use as well.

As the papers were in shades of red and green, they gave me the perfect opportunity to use up some of the 'Christmas' red and green card blanks that I'd amassed over the past couple of years, having found them buried in a box of card stash recently.

As you can see on the main image for the green card I created a pocket from the papers trimmed from the card to put the bookmark in. All the bookmarks are cut with an Avery Elle Bookmark Elle-Ment die that I got from Seven Hills Crafts recently. I decided to take the white of the bookmark down and used 'Vintage Photo' Distress Ink to age the paper and the edges of the bookmark. I added a suitable sentiment embossed in gold to this book mark, tied a little piece of organza ribbon to the bottom and tucked it in to its pocket.

The leaves are supposed to represent leafs of a book, I cut them from some paper with words on but when I stamped on to it it looked to 'busy' so I flipped the leaves and stamped on to the more muted pattern on the reverse and added some more distress ink to the edges and added them to the card with 3D foam squares. If anyone is interested the leaves were cut with dies from the Crafters Companion 'Scattered Leaves' die set and the wording comes from a set of stamps by Justrite called 'Antique Autumn Tags One'.

The second card I wanted to send a surprise to someone who has just done very well in their exams and I'm proud of them and wanted to send them a congrats for all their hard work.

I managed to disguise the fact that the card holds a gift by cutting two 6cm lines into the card front on my glass cutting mat which were just a little wider than the book mark (5cm) and used the piece it created to slot the bookmark in to the card, in hindsight it would have been better to place the slits a little higher up but I'll correct that next card. From the front you could see the bookmark because I'd used the same paper to back the bookmark with so it blended in nicely, but still I wanted to add a sentiment. So I decided to add a piece that was wider than the slot cut and attach it either side of the slot with 3D foam squares, so from the front you can't see what the card contains.

When you open the card on the inside you can see the bookmark, no adhesive or anything is necessary to hold the bookmark in place as the slot holds it firmly to the card. On the other side of the card I added another pocket that is as wide as a gift card and will pop the book token in there when I buy it later. I have already written the card for the recipient hence not showing that part of the card. I think these kind of cards are going to become a new addiction, they can be made for so many different occasions. By the way, the congratulations sentiment comes from a set of stamps called "Everyday Sentiments" that came free with Making Cards, if you missed that issue, the stamp sets are available to buy via their online shop. I'll add a post on how I made the pocket in the next few weeks, I just need to take some photos.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

What Bank Holiday Weekend?

I've filed this under not craft related, but as I wound up making something crafty, I guess it is, but its not one of my usual crafting activities so it can stay in this section for now lol!

Apparently we've just had a bank holiday weekend, not that you would have noticed it in this house! Aside from trips to local DIY and paint supply places we didn't venture out much at all. We are at T-minus 4 days now to a Dr Who event that hubby wants to take his replica K9 to, only his replica K9 isn't finished yet!

I think some women would panic, but I'm used to it, Simon's robot projects are always last minute, it seems like a tradition to still be sticking holographic plastic on to Chompalot's panels the night before we go off to film Robot Wars. I admit that this weekend though I got a little peeved, I'd spent all Friday cleaning, in the event that we had any weekend visitors (we never do have any to be fair), but by the time he went back to work this morning the whole of downstairs looks like a bomb has gone off in it. His project has spread all over the front room and he's trod fibreglass bits all through the kitchen and hall, its a good job I love him lol!

I had a weekend of card making and reading planned, but things didn't go according to plan, what with the trips to get supplies, food shopping and getting roped in to making a collar for K9, still its nice to be able to contribute something to the robot projects, my role is generally cosmetic, I do the finishing touches and have a say on design elements/materials used.

The construction was easy enough, I covered a strip of leather with some tartan fabric and added some velcro to the edges to fasten it.  The D ring that the tag hangs from I took off a collar that once belonged to my dog Mitzie, she died 17 years ago now, but I've kept her puppy and adult collars in a pets memory box, I've done that with all my cats as well. It just seemed fitting to use a part of my beloved dogs collar on Si's beloved dog project.

Simon 3D printed the tag, but he wanted the words to stand out, he was going to use a felt tip but I thought it would look better gilded, so I spirited the tag away in to my craft room and applied a couple of layers of 'Empire Gold' Pebeo Gilding Wax to the raised areas. I so wish they did more colours of this wax, because its the easiest gilding wax to apply that I've found and I've tried a few, I think also my application technique has much improved because I managed to get this on just the raised areas and nowhere else.

That's thanks to watching a Sara Davies (Crafters Companion) video on applying the wax I think, I'd been using the tip of my finger, she said its better using the ball of your finger rather than the tip and it is! Fingers crossed that Simon manages to get the K9 finished, he's wanted to make one since he was a youngster, he wrote to the BBC asking for plans when he was about 8 and they sent him back a postcard of Tom Baker, not what he had in mind lol! When he was in his teens he made some small models from balsa wood and even a K9 head (about half scale ) but no full scale K9 materialised, he bought one of Ebay in 2007, paid £100 for it and when he collected it... Well lets just say that the photos of the K9 left a lot to be desired, so much so the K9 went to the tip a couple of years ago.

This one though will not be going to the tip, I really can't wait for him to finish this, he's put so much work in to it, I'm so very proud of him, for this build he's had to learn to master fibre glassing and so much else, my fella really is a robot making genius. Once K9 is finished maybe I can get him to finish the R2-D2 he's been toying with and the Wall-E he promised to build me! But first we have to have a robot free holiday and he has some house stuff to do, I've been making a list lol!

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Ken Oliver Tree of Life Cards

I just realised that I made these cards a few months ago now and totally forgot to post about them! I saw this Ken Oliver Tree of Life Die and Stamp Set on the cover of Simply Cards & Papercraft Issue 160 back in February and loved it.

At the time I couldn't find it in the UK so I ordered it from Amazon via a USA supplier and waited patiently for it to arrive.

When it did I couldn't wait to get started, I stamped the first image on to white card stock and coloured it in with my Zig Real Color Brush Markers and added a little sparkle with Spectrum Noir Sparkle Pen and finished the centre of the flowers off with some Nuvo Drops.

The beauty of the die set is it not only cuts the fine detail of the tree, it also cuts the shaped background panel, and its really easy to line up so you cut it accurately. I folded a piece of white card and used the die to create a card blank by over shooting the fold of the card with the die. See this step by step Papercraft Inspirations video on How to Die Cut A Shaped Aperture Card if you're unsure how to do it.

Once I'd cut the card blank I used Mowed Lawn and Broken China Distress inks to colour the background and added the tree to the base with small foam pads.
I decided to experiment with a different medium on black card stock, my inner would be Goth seems to favour black card to white when making cards, in everyday life I tend to go for black, purple, dark blues and browns, my 'invisible' colours.

I made another shaped card blank to attach the finished tree to using black card and coloured that with a layer of Broken China Oxide Ink which gave the card base a look of a black board which I loved.

This time instead of stamping in black ink, I elected to stamp in Versamark ink and heat emboss the image with some WOW Rich Gold embossing powder. I then coloured the tree with some Metallic Gel Sticks which are primarily aimed at children and are a little cheaper than a set of Metallic Gelatos.

Both products are made by Faber Castell and I have both sets but when using the metallics, I actually prefer the kids Gel Sticks because they seem to have more pigment in them and thus give a richer, more vibrant colour. If you're on a budget, the Gel Sticks also offer better value for money in that although they are about £1 more than the Gelatos, you get 6 Gel Sticks, the same colours as the Gelatos, plus a gold and silver gel stick.

Once I finished the darker tree of life card, I added a gold and black sentiment using the Avery Elle Hugs Elle-Ments dies, in my head there was a reference to tree hugging but it didn't translate as well on the card lol! I love this stamp and die set so much, I've been working on some seasonal versions.

If I could change the set in anyway I would have left off the flowers and added more leaves. Whilst the flowers are pretty it would have been nice to colour just leaves for an autumn tree of life.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Playing With Oxide Inks

Greetings lovely blog land people, I've been playing a lot with my Distress Oxide inks lately, I love how they blend together and with the release of 12 new colours and the promise of 12 more colours come October - please have Squeezed Lemonade amongst them - crafting playtime is a lot of fun.

I've also finally got the hang of creating droplets of water to help lift the colour, no expensive gadget, and to my delight I discovered that the failed attempts prior to now were down to spray bottles not right for the job and not down to my being useless. I bought 3 spray bottle misters - the kind that gardeners use - from my local supermarket, the trigger on them is much better than small pump bottles and they are perfect for the job, a short little squeeze makes big droplets, a full squeeze and we get a light mist.

I've been having a lot of fun creating panels to turn in to cards with the oxide inks that I have and adding water drops and splashes, and I'm loving the results. The top creation isn't a card but a panel that I'm going to frame for my wall. I fell in love with the Visible Image 'Curious Cats' stamp set when I saw it and had to acquire it, not sure the 3 bands of colour works well, but I'll experiment with this set for sure.

The set arrived on Friday morning and I had to play, my first attempt at using the set is a tad basic compared to some of the creations I've seen for this stamp, but not bad for 30 minutes work. I have a lot of ideas for using the set. There are a lot of other Visible Image stamps I'd like to add to my collection in the future as well. The stamps are fabulous quality and stamp like a dream.

Another oxide ink play card creation this week was a card for my nephews 16th birthday, how the years have flown, hard to believe that it was 16 years ago that I moved to Derby but it is and this year will mark 15 years of being married, it doesn't feel that long though! Mind you it doesn't feel like 16 years since my nephew was born. I can post the card now as his birthday has been and gone and I'm so glad that he loved it.

I started by heating embossing in white some of the "We Love Music" stamps that came free with issue 31 of Creative Stamping on to water colour card, I then used rainbow shades of distress oxide inks to create a rainbow effect on the card, spritzed with water and blotted off and allowed the card to dry. I heat embossed the 16 and Happy Birthday sentiment in WOW gold embossing powder using stamps from the "Timeless Moments" set that came with issue 44 of Creative Stamping.

The headphones die is by Fuzzy Lemon and I cut it twice in red and black card and paper pieced the image and used a silver Sharpie to colour the inside of the ear cones once I'd attached the headphones to the card. I decided to add a banner on the same black card I made the base card out of and finished the card off with a few star gems from my stash.

I've been playing with the oxide inks a lot recently, I love the creamy look they give and the texture that looks like chalk with shades of velvet but it isn't either. I don't know if its a new thing syndrome, but I'm finding that I'm reaching for the oxide inks more than the standard distress inks, although I do think that original distress ink colours are a lot more vibrant.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Newton's Nook - Autumn Newton

It's no secret that I'm a crazy cat lady, nor that I acquire cat themed stamps and dies when ever I get the opportunity, so when a set comes along that pairs cats with Autumn, my favourite season, I just can't resist. I bought the new Newton's Nook "Autumn Newton" set from Seven Hills Crafts on Thursday evening and they arrived yesterday morning.

So after a lovely day out with my hubby walking around the grounds of an old, but still working water powered flour mill at Caudwells Crafts & Cafe in Rowsley, and eating a lovely lunch there, followed by a trip to my favourite book store (Brierlow Bar Bookstore) which now has a cafe that sells lovely food and gorgeous cake. I came home and whilst Simon works on his Dr Who K9 project, I stamped and coloured the images and cut them out.

Today I selected the backing papers and put the cards together, the first card I assembled used a backing paper that was a free download with Quick Cards Made Easy a couple of years ago, I'd been wanting to use it for a while but the right project didn't come along.

When I stamped the image and started colouring it in I knew that I wanted to use that paper as a background, funny how my mind stores paper images waiting for the right project lol! I added the image to a white card circle die cut from my Tonic Sew Pretty "Have a Beautiful Day" die set, the pierced circle and scalloped edge dies are becoming my most used dies this year I think. It's very versatile and I used it as a base for so many different kinds of cards from get well soon to birthday and even Christmas cards, and I can see it being used a lot for a long time to come. I know we don't get blue leaves naturally in autumn, but I wanted to bring in the blues on the backing paper so chose to colour some of the leaf pile blue. The sentiment I heat embossed with WOW Rich Gold embossing powder.

I coloured the next image but wasn't really happy with my shading, its a work in progress and I will get there eventually, trying to believe that you get better with practice, but I admit to getting frustrated. I decided to use one of the free papers I got from a free download from the amazingly talented Harper Finch, she has an Etsy shop and also generously gives free downloads.

The pumpkin backing paper on this card is from Harper's "Spookable" collection. I decided to simply layer this all together with a piece of white card that I die cut with one of my My Favorite Things Stitched Scallop Basic Edges Die-namics, the sentiment was again done with the same WOW embossing powder. All of the sentiments on these three cards are from the Autumn Newton Stamp set and you get an extra one that says "Fall Breeze, Autumn Leaves".

The final card I decided to make a card blank using Kraft Card, the backing paper is from another Harper Finch collection called "Woodland Tea Party" and is available via her website.

Again I used one of the dies from the MFT Stitched Scallop Basic Edges Die-namics collection and the same WOW embossing powder. I coloured all the images with my Zig Real Color Brush Pens and on some of the images I used some Sparkle pen to add some shimmer and shine.

I have a couple of other Newton's Nook sets that I haven't used yet, so I'll be playing with them over the next few weeks. I'm going to stamp the images and try colouring with my Ink Tense pencils and some with Gelatos, some images I'll stamp and heat emboss as well. 

I'm really pleased with the way all three cards turned out, even if I feel like my colouring isn't right, I have a couple of other cat stamp sets to play with as well over the next few days, including a new Avery Elle Halloween cat set and I'll add a post to the blog when I've finished playing, that's all for now, I hope life is treating you well. Stop by again soon :)

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Sometimes Size Really Does Matter...

Cute little pop up box isn't it? This is one of my 'bargain' China dies that turns out to not be that much of a bargain, insomuch as the die itself isn't the same size as the true Lawn Fawn die. So when I thought I was getting a bargain at £2.70 and saving myself around £25.00, I wasn't. Not if I want to make actual Lawn Fawn Scalloped Box Card Pop Up to add my Lawn Fawn stamps to, so that everything is to scale.

It's a shame really as the die cuts really well and all the bits are included but sadly the width of the box is supposed to be 3½ inches it's only 2½ inches. It's usable if you want to make a small pop up and the dies that come with it will be useful like the hello die and the small hearts and stars, even the little banner dies will be useful but size wise its not big enough. Hubby took pity on me and treated me to the full size one so I  can proceed with my Xmas card pop up ideas and I've chalked it up to experience, at least I was only £2.70 out of pocket.

I had the same problem with the Lawn Fawn Fancy Box set, this one is supposed to be 3½ inches by 2¼ inches but in actual fact its 3 inches by 2 inches, it makes a cute little treat box but it isn't big enough to fit a gift card in. Its about the size of 2 match boxes side by side to give you an idea, just a fraction too small to take a gift card 3⅜ inches by 2⅛

This time the size wasn't as big a problem because I'd bought the die set to hold sweets and small gifts like jewellery which will fit comfortably and the word sentiments 'Thanks' and 'Yay' and the label dies will be very useful, so worth the £3.80 paid for this one, but if you are expecting to get the full size die you'd be disappointed.  The quality of both dies is really good for the price, its just a shame that the scale is wrong, but for the price I guess it would be daft to expect it to be the same.

I also picked up a Lawn Fawn Leafy Tree Backdrop: Portrait and also Landscape for less that £3 each, again a big saving and whilst the die is the same quality as the Lawn Fawn one and even the right size and has all the right additional bits (stitched hill or tree background and leaves), it cuts to put the tree on the right hand side of the die cut, whereas the Lawn Fawn cuts with the tree on the left, unless all the card examples I've seen are turning the die cut about.

Again though its something I can live with, the Landscape clone version of the die is the same, the tree is on the opposite side of the original. I have tried die cutting and flipping the cut image over, but sadly the back is dull and the edges look as crisp. It's something to be mindful of though and I'm wondering what will happen with the other dies I've ordered will look like, will they be reversed as well? The Lawn Fawn 'Little Town Border' die certainly appears to be, again its not the end of the world, but its worth noting that the images are reversed? It's probably how they manage to get away with looking so much like the real deal dies?

Sunday, 30 July 2017

A Halloween Luminaire

I had the tree die for making this because it arrived from China yesterday, the rest of the dies are Halloween dies I already had. The Witch and Haunted House dies are by Impression Obsession and the bats are from some mini dies by Xcut called 'bats' believe it or not lol!

The Luminaire is constructed from 2 pieces of card stock that are 6" tall and 10" wide,scored at 4½" and then again 1" to create the flap that you will use to glue the two panels together. I used black card, but you can make your luminaire in any colour. Making the whole project was easy, at least it was after I found the vellum that had somehow gone AWOL in my room! I finally found it in a box with some A4 embossing folders and dies, no idea why it was in there but I was relieved to find it.

I originally saw a luminaire similar to this one on YouTube where Chari Moss demonstrated how to make one using Lawn Fawn dies. (See the video below).  Missing dies aside, its always nice to be able to see a project you want to make and be able to make it straight away because you have all you need to hand.

When I first started card making, almost every project I saw required me to buy a piece of equipment, some form of media or a die or stamp. These days I have a good supply of items that I can make just about anything, and I'm learning that if I don't have something specific that is required for the project, then I can substitute it for something else.

I'd coloured acetate and gloss card stock with alcohol inks before, but never vellum, but it was so, so easy to do and in no time at all I had four panels of vellum inked and dry ready for the next stage. I won't go in to detail with all the steps, instead I'm adding Chari's brilliant video for her Spooky Halloween Lantern project she did for Lawn Fawn, which gives all the measurements needed and she talks you through the steps to make the project.

I made some changes to the construction compared to Chari's design, I added strips of black card stock to the inside of the luminaire to cover where the insert 'tree' panel met the frame, this stops light coming out of the gap when the seams don't line up you can see what I mean in the video example.

On the next one I make I'll put strips of black glitter card on to the inside top panels of the luminaire to hide the glued vellum lines so that it looks neater and more decorative. I'm also going to make a card stock base for it to sit on, again it will stop unwanted light getting out at the base and will finish the project off nicely. My base will be separate from the rest of the luminaire though because if I permanently attach it, 1 won't be able to fold the luminiare flat when not in use.

I already have ideas for making a couple of different luminaire's, one with purple and blue alcohol ink backgrounds and an assortment of fairy dies and stamps. Plus I have a few more halloween dies I'd like to use, I think they will look good on the window ledge come Halloween to help decorate the house, won't need a pumpkin that way 😉

I think a 'falling leaves' autumn version may well be on the cards and I also want to make some for Christmas, I have a small flying Santa and Reindeer die and some of houses and village scenes, so I'm going to play with those. I dare say you could make one for every season of the year. I think I may even have a play with some of the silhouette cat dies I have and make a cat themed luminaire.

The top photos were taken without a flash so didn't show up the black glitter frames I added to the panels, so I used the flash on my camera to take a photo that does show the frame, sadly though the flash made the black card look a lot paler than it is lol!

Friday, 28 July 2017

Love Cats To The Moon And Back Card

A quickie card made last night inbetween making Christmas cards, 2 of the 3 dies used for this card are 'China' dies the cross stitched circle I used to cut the moon is the medium sized die from a clone Lawn Fawn Small Cross-Stitched Circle Stackables set. There is no stamping on the moon, its another piece of the Faux Mother of Pearl card that I made and posted about earlier in July. The technique is fabulous for die cutting pieces to use as embellishments as well as for making backgrounds.

One point to note though is where the acrylic paint is, its a little hard to stamp on to the image as the acrylic acts as a resist. I stamped several times in black hybrid ink, then added Versamark and clear embossing powder and heat embossed it and finally stamped over the embossed letters with more black ink. Looks lots better but sadly the photo got shine on the glossy lettering.

The 'Love Cats' die is adorable and will be getting lots of use over the next few months, my head is holding a ton of ideas for making a selection of cards with these dies and a couple of other cats dies picked up off Ebay for my local Cats Protection. I have no idea who the actual manufacturer of the original of this die is, it does have a look of Marianne Designs, but its not a die I've seen before to be able to identify it sadly, if you know then please leave me a comment. I simply die cut this out of some black cardstock and added it to the front of the card with foam pads and then used some black shimmer pen to add some sparkle. The black frame is from my Avery Elle die set called 'Scalloped Pierced Rectangles'.

Whilst I'd love to be able to say that I made the galaxy background with inks, paints and sparkles, I didn't, I haven't perfected the art of balance when attempting to make a starry galaxy background yet. So I used a printable paper from a digital collection simply called 'Galaxy' that I found on Etsy by Lunabludesign. I've purchased a few digital background papers from Ana over the past couple of years and love her designs. That's a wrap for me for today, I'm away to do some domestic goddess style stuff, then back to my craft desk to work on some more Chrimbo cards. Take card everyone and I'll 'see' you soon :)

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Playing With Paper Patchwork

Hey everyone in blogland, I hope life is treating you well and your finding time to get your craft on? Life seems to be getting back to normal for me, my head is back in the craft zone and I've made a couple of life changes that have made my life a lot better on the mental level. So much so that I've been finding that I'm thinking more clearly and its easy to craft again :)

Which is a good thing as I have so many goodies to play with and I confess that I may just becoming a little addicted to making patchwork style cards, so much quicker to put together than fabric patchwork quilts, and yes I've tried lol!

The die I've used for the Halloween card in this post is one of my China die bargains and is a a clone of the My Favorite Things 'Die-namics Diagonal Quilt Square Cover-Up' die. It cuts beautifully, is made from carbon steel and is very sturdy, I got it from Ebay and for £3.99 including postage and not the £25 that I'd have to pay for the MFT die, it is indeed a bargain.

The pumpkin, lime green and purple 'Halloween Crackle' papers are a free printables from Free Digital Crafting,the site has other halloween papers and papers suitable for other occasions, all free to download. The patterned papers are from another free to download collection called 'Retro Halloween', be aware though that the downloading of this file takes ages if you don't 'pay' to download it quickly. I used a Crafts Too (Presscut) Stepper Card die to cut the card blank, I use this die often to make cards that are a little different. The pumpkin was a purchase from Lidl a couple of years ago, it came as a pair with two little autumn bedecked hedgehogs, but loitered in one of my drawers. Sentiment and banner come from my Tim Holtz Sizzix 'Cobweb Blueprints' stamp and die set.

I'd just got done cutting lots of bits for my clone 'Die-namics Diagonal Quilt Square Cover-Up' die when the clone 'Die-namics Quilt Square Cover-Up' die arrived, I knew when I first saw it that it would be fabulous for making cards for the festive season and I wasn't wrong. It's very therapeutic sticking all the little pieces in to the frame, the die puts little 'stitched' lines around all the pieces which adds a lovely touch I think.

I used a pad of papers that I got for £1 a while back, I picked up about 4 pads of this design and 6 of another, so I have lots to use and they are perfect for working on designs like this. The 'Postage Stamp' frame dies are also China die bargains, although I'm not sure if they are clone dies or not as I don't recognise the die, but it cuts wonderfully every time and leaves a stitched edge as well as the stamp 'perforations' edge. I was so please to discover that the quilt dies fir inside the large postage stamp die perfectly leaving just a little edge, so you can see the stitched edge :)

As you can see I spent a morning cutting lots of pieces from lots of different patterned papers, enough to make 12 'Festive Quilt' dies, the blue coloured papers come from a Bloc Deco Winter Games pad of papers by Toga that I picked up in the sales in France last year. The pads are 15cm x 20cm and come in some beautiful colours and designs. I also made lots of the faux mother of pearl paper I posted about recently and started to turn the pieces in to embossed panels for cards. Ohhh and I used some white pigment ink to do some woodgrain effect letter press panels for more festive card ideas I have in my head. So many ideas and things to play with, plus I'm currently waiting for more clone dies to arrive, these are mainly Lawn Fawn with some My Favorite Things and Mama Elephant clones thrown in for good measure.

Friday, 7 July 2017

An Owl For All Seasons

Hello dear blog world friend, I hope that life is treating you well? All is good here at Warts n All Towers, aside from the fact that I'm developing new product launch fatigue, not sure I'm liking the Christmas in July rush that all the card making companies seem to be doing right now. Too much pressure to buy and when I sat and thought about it, I still have "MUST HAVE" dies, stamps and papers that I bought last year that I still haven't used?!

So do I really want to add to my already bonkers stash with even more things that may not get used for a year or more? Especially when the things I bought this time last year still haven't been used, and are now turning up half price or less in the same places I bought them from? The answer is no, for me anyway, I want to concentrate on using what I already have with the exception of the Altenew Build-A-Flower sets and new colours of Distress Oxides and save some money for a Scan & Cut that I really want come the January Sales.

So with that thought in mind I went through my stash and I've sorted out lots of lovely new things to play with, previously unused, that will not cost me anything but time and effort to make. I found so many things that I'd forgotten I'd bought, one of which I bought again in the sales and now have two of, whoops! I discovered that I have a drawer full of glitter and foiled card that I forgot I had and paints and lots of other things I still haven't played with.

One of the die sets I found, was a cute Sizzix 'Owl & Fox Box' die set by Jen Long, I picked it up in a sale for £6 in December last year and its currently retailing at £11.00 to £14.99 depending where you buy it. When it arrived it went in to a 'to be used soon' box and has only surfaced this week to be played with! It took me 6 months to get around to doing anything with it, and there are so many other things I have that have been around for longer and still lay unused, like my Tim Holtz House Dies!

As far as the owl and fox dies go, I've decided to make some to hang on our tree this year with an assortment of human and cat treats in. I'm also going to make them in colours of the season as a stand by for putting small gifts in for friends and family. The boxes aren't big enough for a gift card sadly, but they will take small gifts of jewellery, a few scented tealight candles, sweets, and small hair accessories. I also thought about making 25 of them with numbers on their tummy and hanging on the tree with some gifts in as an alternative advent calender.

The finished boxes measure 9cm at their highest point (corner tip of face) and 7.5cm across at the top, base is approx 5cm, the die cuts and scores the area that needs to be folded to make the flaps to glue together.  I had a lot of fun picking contrasting papers for my 4 seasons owls and decided to colour their eyes and beaks to match colours in the papers.

I coloured the eyes and beak with Zig Clean Color brush pens and added a pupil of Tonic Nuvo Crystal Drops in 'Ebony Black' to the centre. The finished beaks I covered with Glossy Accents to give some shine. The die packaging shows using just one wing per side, but I cut more and did some with 3 per side and 2 per side to give the owl more wing span.

These are the parts required for the owl, you need to cut 2 of the main pieces for the front and back, and 1 head piece, 2 - 6 wings depending on how many you want to use and two of the eye pieces, which will cut you an extra beak, which you can either put on top of the first to give some added dimension or save it for another owl.

The pads I have used for the Winter season owl are out of a First Edition 'Christmas Wishes' 6" x 6" Paper Pad, I have loads of them, I bought 4 of them earlier this year from Every Crafts A Pound when they were £1 each, cheapest I've seen them new since is £5.49. I picked up 3 of the 'Jingle All The Way' pads as well, and need to use them up. Note to self, stop buying paper pads, cheap or not because you have too many already!

Now I need to play with the fox die, and also the 'Owl Fold-A-Long' die that I bought at the same time as the Owl & Fox dies, I have it in my mind to get the Tim Holtz House dies out as well and create something for Halloween and something for Xmas with lights inside. I really do need to concentrate on using what I have and stop buying the latest stuff. Recent, and so far unused purchases include the Tonic Buildables the first wave with the Hedgehog, fox, bunny and owl, the Tonic Oxford Box die set and all its accompanying items. I bought it to make boxes for notelet cards to give to friends and family for Xmas, its still in its packaging! Out of the 4 Altenew Build-A-Flower sets at £28 a set I've bought so far, I've used just 1 of them! I've already un-subscribed from emails from some of the companies that keep tempting me. I just have to learn to be stronger, and buy less new items, wait until they are in the sale.

What's the worst that can happen? They become discontinued and I don't get to play with them, will my world really end if that happens? The other thing is to keep an eye out on Aliexpress and Ebay for clone dies, £2.99 for a die instead of £24.00 makes things sitting being unused give me less of a guilt complex. That said, so far as soon as the dies from China arrive, I play with them, I know not all the companies have cheaper clones, but if you look you can find dies from 'My Favorite Things', 'Mama Elephant' and 'Lawn Fawn' to name a few, in the meantime I have lots of lovely things to play with and create things with, what can I make next?.....

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Faux Mother of Pearl Paper

Greetings dear bloggers, I saw a technique in Papercraft Essentials this week for creating faux mother of pearl paper for backgrounds and embellishments and I thought I'd give it a try. I had to pick up some pearly acrylic paint first, once I had some I started to play.

I'm really pleased with how this card turned out and I've made lots of other backgrounds that I'll be using over the next few days. The finished card is for a challenge over in a Facebook group I belong to the theme is "Things That Fly", I chose butterflies, mainly because the layering stamp set I ordered from China arrived and I wanted to try it out. Most of the card is made with things I've got cheaper than the named brand products. The stamp set is a clone of a set by a company called Studio Light that retails for around £10.99, my cheap set is identical and cost me £1.79 it lines up and stamps really well, I stamped the butterflies with some Altenew Crisp Ink in 'Puffy Heart' and 'Purple Wine' and did the top layer in Versamark and Silver WOW embossing powder.

I decided to turn the finished card in to a shaker card and use another new die set that arrived this week from China its an almost clone of the Mama elephant 'Union Square Framed Tags' set, the original of which would set me back £23.95, I got the set off Ebay for £2.83 saving over £22! The clone die isn't 100% the same, one of the dies used to cut a flap on the tag has a cut edge on 4 sides not 3 like the Mama Elephant die so it cuts a full square out and not a flap. A detail I can live with because I wanted the set for the frame mainly , and if I want to make the tag with a flap I can create a paper hinge :) The frame cuts beautifully and just over 11.5cm square you can use it with the inner frame or just as a thin frame edge, see the photo below.

Back to the faux pearl paper, I loved playing with the pearl acrylic paint, I'll be using it to create lots of inky backgrounds for christmas cards more starry backgrounds and some snowflakes and snowy scenes. The stencils were a bargain China purchase they measure 13cm square and cost £1.28 each, I picked up a star, dots, waves and honeycomb to make inky mess backgrounds with.

To create the starry background and the dotty background I used on the card in the main image I put the stencil on to a piece of water colour card that I'd cut to the same size of the stencil and held it in place with some masking tape, then I used a stencil brush to apply the acrylic paint to the paper through the stencil. Once I've finished I removed the stencil and cleaned it under the tap with warm water, a little rub with my fingers and all the paint came off the stencil. If I'd left it to dry though that would have been a different matter.

I left the paint to dry on the two stencilled pieces and followed the instruction from Papercraft Essentials issue 148, page 75 to create the faux mother of pearl effect. All I did was scrunch up a piece of plastic bag, dab it in the paint I'd put on my craft matt and then randomly dabbed the water colour card with the paint. I left the pieces to dry whilst I created the butterflies, then once the acrylic paint was dry, I added a selection of Distress Inks to each piece. I decided to use the dotty panel to make my card and save the starry sky for a Christmas card I'll be making this week.

I can't believe how effective this technique was,  I'll certainly be making more faux mother of pearl card and using the pearl acrylic paint to create stencilled backgrounds, I've bought some blue, pink, lilac and minty green pearl paint as well as the white, so I foresee lots of pastel pearly backgrounds in my crafting future :) I think the Union Square dies are going to get a lot of use as well for Christmas cards, some will be shakers other will be simple framed windows. I discovered a drawer full of glitter card and paper and foiled card in my stash which I'd forgotten about, so it needs putting to use, as do all those Christmas pads I have.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

In The Garden Challenge

Hi there, I hope you're all in fine fettle and getting your individual craft on? Things have been a tad mish mash here at Warts n All Towers, I'll just say menopause pffft and leave it at that lol! I recently joined a rather fun group on Facebook via a new card making friend, they run weekly challenges and this was my entry for last week. I played with distress inks and some new cheap dies from China, I'm building up a good collection of them now and can't believe how brilliantly they cut. In all the ones I've bought so far, I've only had one that didn't cut very well and on closer inspection it wasn't finished correctly, but its not that noticeable and the other 3 dies in the set all work brilliantly.

Sadly the photo doesn't do the colours in the inky backgrounds justice, I was really pleased with the colours, the bird card was a blend of Wild Honey, Spiced Marmalade and Seedless Preserves one of my favourite colour combinations for making morning sky style backgrounds. The evening twilight cat card was a combination of Mermaid Lagoon, Blueprint Sketch and Wilted Violet with a spritz of homemade silvery shimmer.

I first die cut the cross stitched dome pieces first using one of my dies from China, I loved how the ink didn't go into the stitched edge which added to the panel I think. After adding the Distress Inks to the panels I then stamped them using a selection of stamps I've collected over the past few years that came free with magazines using My Favorite Things Hybrid Ink Pad in 'Black Licorice', I did stamp a few times to get a deeper intensity of colour as the first stamping sank in to the water colour paper. I used my new Tim Holtz Stamping Platform, which I love because it has a larger area to stamp in than the MISTI.

I wanted to keep these cards as flat as possible, so I glued the panel direct to the card blank, I was pleasantly surprised to discover when I added some clear sparkle pen to the inside of the butterflies on the twilight card, it had a lightening effect which made the butterflies stand out a little more. I stamped the sentiment from an Imagination Crafts set that I got at the NEC craft show last year and used Black Onyx Versafine ink, then added the die cuts, again both cheap China dies to the card on some 3D foam pads and then gave them a coat of shimmer using my clear sparkle pen again.

These were really quick to make and I loved the way the dies looked after they'd been cut, I plan on making lots more colour variations and to give them a variety of sentiments like 'Just A Note' and 'Thinking of You'. I also need to bolster my stash of birthday cards and congrats cards, so I need to get my thinking cap on.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Baby Die Cutting Machine

I'm really getting in to making ATC's and I'm finding that its a perfect thing to craft with scraps and things from my Maybe Someday Box late at night when I can't sleep, but my Big Shot takes up a lot of space on my craft desk and by using it I make noise as the floorboards that side of the room make a noise, which wakes the hubby up and makes him grumpy. So I wanted a smaller machine that I could use on my computer desk the other side of the room and a size specifically for making ATC's.

As I already have a Big Shot Plus and a Big Shot, my criteria for getting a new machine was it had to be universal. What I mean by that is it had to take any make of dies and embossing folders of the size that can be used to make ATC's. It had to fit on my computer desk, be light weight but sturdy and enable me to die cut shapes up to 3.5" and emboss folders up to 5" wide - the size of the majority of my most used embossing folders.

If it couldn't take those it required me to buy smaller folders and meant I couldn't use my favourite embossing folders late at night. If I had to buy smaller ones, it would be more expense and the mini machine starts to become a niche rather than universal machine. I asked people on a Facebook group I belong to what they thought of the top 2 best selling mini die-cutting machines and took their comments on board. I did some research myself and decided then to go along to Hobbycraft and get a feel for the machines on offer that were in my price range.

I ruled out the Tattered Lace 'Baby Blue' machine almost straight away, as soon as I encountered its flimsy plastic handle and when I realised that actually it wasn't wide enough for some of the dies I wanted to use and felt not very stable. I didn't appreciate how small it was to be honest and it just didn't fit my criteria. So I'm glad I went to check the machines out, I struggle with sizes, when something is described as being 3" for example, I don't always register how big it actually is until I see it and I'm often disappointed and moan that I expected it to be bigger/smaller.

Next I looked at the Spellbinders Prizm machine, a little sturdier than the Baby Blue but still a very narrow slot to run things through and my small embossing folders wouldn't fit. I didn't even seriously consider the Crafters Companion Diamond Press because, well it was just too damn small. It looks good for kiddies to make small shapes but not what I would pay £25 for, yes I know you can get it for around £15 in some places, but its still not something I want to play with.

I was about to give up when a display caught my eye in the store, Hobbycraft do their own small Die Cutting Machine and it came with accessories, it was more than I wanted to pay at £50, but it was sturdy and ticked all my boxes, in actual fact I didn't buy it, hubby treated me to it, I know I'm a lucky girl :)

These are the specifications of the machine: -
  • Machine Size: 29 x 24.5 x 16 cm (11.4 x 9.6 x 6.3 inches).
  • Maximum Cutting width: 14.9 cm (5.9 inches).
  • Maximum Cutting GSM: 220 gsm.
  • Included in the box - Die-cutting machine, an A Base Plate and B & C Plates for embossing and die cutting, two 15 x 10.5cm embossing folders, six 5 x 5 cm dies, a pack of 9 15 x 10.5cm sheets of cardstock (3 x red, 3 x white and 3 x black) and instruction booklet.
  • The machine is compatible with X-cut, Cuttlebug and most other manufacturer's dies. In Fact I've tried lots of dies in it and so far I haven't encountered any it wouldn't cut, although some are harder to cut see below.
  • The machine cuts cardstock and paper, and will also cut fabric with the addition of a metal shim, although one isn't supplied and I haven't tried to cut fabric with my machine.
To sum up, I LOVE this little machine, I use it all the time now in place of both of my Big Shots, only using them if I want to work with a die or embossing folder that won't fit in the Hobbycraft machine. It cuts almost almost all the dies I have that fit the machine, there have been some problems with very intricate dies like lace borders, but I've found if you run the die through a few times and use a paper shim the die will cut. I've successfully cut paper, cardstock so far up to 280 gsm, craft foam and felt with it and also cut thicker card around 2mm thick.

I got this machine for ATC making purposes, but its now my go to machine for most things I do, I don't think I've used my Big Shot's since I got this machine. I'm happy with the way the machine embosses and cuts and the real bonus is its small enough to fit on my desk so I can work all in the same space without having to move everything to accommodate the larger machine.

The dies that come with the machine are rather jolly as well and are all perfect for ATC making as well as for adding to cards and projects. You can get replacement A & B plates from Hobbycraft, I would like to see them offer more accessories like a metal shim and maybe a crease plate in the future.

The machine is lovely and solid and has metal rollers and the handle is rather sturdy, not flimsy at all like the Baby Blue machines handle, on the whole for what you get in the box, its super value for money and would make a great beginners machine if you only want to start off making ATC's or cards up to 5" x 7".

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Father's Day Fishy Cards

Hello lovely blogger peeps, its past the middle of June already and I haven't blogged for over a month, I've still been crafting to keep me sane, but life things have happened and I kind of reverted in to my shell whilst I processed the events. I'm all processed now and have got over the hump so feel like I can embrace the world again, just avoid one little piece of it, lesson learned.

So time to get my happy on and check out what everyone else has been creating lately and to also  share a couple of projects I've made recently.If you've been following my blog for a while you may recall the "Just Keep Swimming" easel card I did last year using a stamp and die set by Hero Arts? No worries if not, I've linked to it above, I mention it because in that post I said I'd seen the Lawn Fawn "Fintastic Friends" stamp and die set and wanted to use it to make cards for my Dad for his birthday and father's day this year.

Well I bought the set and these are the resulting cards, I used some of the cheap dies from China to cut the white card bases, I stamped the images on to water colour card then coloured with my Zig Clean Color pens. After colouring I die cut the images out, then I layered up the elements, I decided to colour the edges of the die cut images to blend with the nearest colour background rather than leave then white and I think it looks better that way.

I stamped the sentiments, the DAD and happy Birthday came from freebie stamp sets and the fishy puns sentiments are part of the Fintastic Friends set. I stamped the images and sentiments with My Favorite Things 'Black Licorice' Hybrid Ink Pad, its perfect for using with Zig pens and doesn't bleed or smudge :) I used 3D foam pads to add the tanks to the white card bases when everything was layered up and then added some dabs of glossy accents to the bubbles and eyes to give some extra dimension to the cards. I added both of them to some Craft perfect Kraft card from Tonic Studios.

Both cards took me about 3 hours to make from start to finish, I did colour a couple of extra tanks and fishes for future use, developing that habit, if you have bits ready it makes having to make a card in double quick time infinitely easier . The cards I made for my Dad actually came out better than I thought they would, but they didn't look like I originally envisioned if that makes sense? Now I want to use the fish and elements to create an underwater scene card, although I think it would look kind of cute as a framed picture.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

ATC Watery Inspiration

I haven't made any ATC's for a while, but I joined a facebook group set up by the wonderful Jodie Johnson and she recently set up an ATC Swap with Jodie group after the success of the Tonic Studios ATC die launch, although you don't have to use the dies to be part of the group.

The theme for the first swap was anything goes, its really about getting people new to the medium playing and sharing their creations, so without a theme and having elected to send 2 ladies an ATC I sat for ages scratching my head and no clue what to make, then I had a brain wave (yes gentle reader it does happen sometimes lol!) I decided to get out all my 'small' stamps, dies and bits that would be perfect for ATC making and went through my Maybe Someday box and found scraps of paper I'd coloured the background on the 'Dancing in the Rain' ATC and the ferny seaweed on the 'Mermazing' ATC were left over scraps of pieces I'd coloured for other projects.

As I went through my stamps I came across an Altenew set called 'Dancing in the Rain' that I "just had to have" last year and shamefully until this ATC I'd never used it! As an aside this ATC group has made me take a look at my stash and also do a little bit of a clear out as a result.

For the first of my two ATC creations I knew that I wanted to use the little girl dancing, raindrops and "Happy Rainy Day" sentiment stamps from that set, the images in it and the sentiments are perfect for ATC and will be appearing on other ATC's in the future.

The background is a remnant from a cat in the window autumn card I did last year. The scrap wasn't big enough to be a full ATC on its own, hence backing it on to silver foiled card the correct size which for those not familiar with ATC is 2.5" x 3.5" or 64 mm × 89 mm if you do metric.

From what I can gather some people don't mind a little over hang, others keep strictly to the standard ATC size so they will fit in plastic folder pockets in an album, for the same reason lots of people don't like too much dimension and height on the ATC as they won't fit in an ATC plastic pocket. That said, there are only 2 official rules for ATC's that they are 2.5" x 3.5" and that they are only ever swapped/traded and never sold.

For those interested my background scrap was done with distress inks on a piece of Neenah Solar White cardstock which was then spritzed with some gold shimmer mist. To make the ATC, I inked up the rain drop stamp with Versamark and stamped on to the piece, having first used my powder tool to prevent any sticky finger marks, then I covered the stamped raindrops with silver detail embossing powder and heat set it. I put the panel in my MISTI again and positioned the little girl where I wanted to be then inked up the stamp with My favorite Things 'Black Licorice' Hybrid ink and stamped the girl where I wanted her.

I'd forgotten that an embossed image would resist the ink, but in this case it was a happy accident because I found I liked the raindrops being visible over the girl, looking more realistic in my humble opinion :) I covered the black ink with clear embossing powder to seal the ink and created a raised shine. The final touches were to heat emboss the sentiment with the same silver embossing powder on to a piece of powder blue vellum and attach that to the back of the panel. I rounded the corners of both the stamped panel and the silver backing piece and glued them together. I decided to add the swirls which I cut from the same silver cardstock using some small Xcut dies that came free with 'Creativity' magazine called 'Flourishes'. I was a happy bunny with the finished result and it was time to move on to the next one.

If I'm honest this one was hard to part with, when I finished it I was happy with the result and I'm chuffed to report the lady I sent it to really liked it as well :) I didn't manage to capture gold mirror card or embossing very well on this one due to the rubbish lighting in my room. I really must make a light box!

The image was in my MSD box and comes from my Crafters Companion 'Flights of Fantasy' CD, I use this one a lot as it has some lovely fairy and enchanted images. The sentiment was done with Versamark again and WOW Metallic Rich Gold Super Fine embossing powder using the sentiment from my Hero Arts 'Color Layering Goldfish' set. The gold embossed 'rocks' are also from that set and after die cutting them out I went over the piece with some 'Gathered Twigs' Distress Ink to colour the background like sand.

I found scraps for the 'seaweed' also in my MSD left over from some distress ink backgrounds I used to make the herbal cards last year and a scrap from some green pixie powdered papers I used for the background on the leaves on my Pixie Powdered Roses cards. Pleased I kept them now, and there are more where they came from!

I used 2 of the dies from my Tattered Lace Paradise Ferns set that I got for £5 earlier this year because I don't have any seaweed dies and I wanted to add some greenery to the ATC. After attaching the image to the mirror card, I glued down the 'seaweed' and trimmed off any over hang.

The final touch for this 'Mermazing' ATC was to use a couple of small 3D foam pads to raise the height of the 'rocks' slightly and to glue on a couple of clear Nuvo Crystal Drops that I'd made previously. I'm finding it better to make the drops ahead of time in different sizes and store for future use, that way you can get the right size and you just glue them on, and you don't have to wait several hours for the crystal drops to dry if your impatient like me lol!

I now have a set of drawers full of ATC bits and bobs and a notebook where I've started writing down ideas, I may have already added a few ideas to a board on Pinterest as well. I'm looking forward to making more and taking part in more swaps in the future, just need to finish sorting the stash and then I can get cracking making new ATC's to my hearts content.