Watercolor backgrounds

Also known as using leftover paint.

I add color mediums to waterproof surfaces often to allow me to pick up the color easily with paintbrushes. There is always color leftover when I’m done using it. So I spray extra water over the color and basically mop it up with a scrap of watercolor paper. I learned this a while ago from someone. And I’m glad I did. The results are always different and unique. I save these pieces to create other items out of, like punched or die-cut shapes. Often my scraps are small. But this time I found a couple of pieces large enough to be card front layers for some birthday party invitations I made. They gave a perfect dreamy background to go with the floating balloon card.



Make sure you use every last bit of color


CASEd Chritmas cards

I subscribe to the Splitcoast Stampers YouTube channel. Most of the time the projects over there are not my cup of tea. But this recent video had me so excited. Mix watercoloring + technique tips. And bam. I’ve just CASEd (Copy And Share Everything) my Christmas cards for this year. The presenting artist’s skills are certainly more advanced than mine, but I think I I’m learning quite a bit as I go. Check it out.



I used twinkling H2O’s watercolor paints for the ornaments to add some sparkle. Picking up glimmer on camera can be tough and my photography skills aren’t at that level anyway. So just imagine the subtle shine these ornaments have!

Check out the video and see if you can level up your watercolor painting skills.

Teacher Thanks in bulk

Remember when I posted my teacher thanks cards? As a reminder here is what I did.


This card was a challenge entry but it was also intended for my middle kid to give to her teacher. Only problem? She wanted 5 exactly like them to give to all her teachers. I didn’t have 5 more apple wood pieces or more leaves or more…

What to do? Adapt the idea to something duplicatable (and this original card gets saved for another time). Here is how we made cards in bulk.


We kept the circle atop a green vertical strip. But we scaled our card to fit a single circle with the die cut leaves (Tim Holtz tattered leaves) and apple stamp (older Stampi’ Up image). Ink was added to the cork leaves to add some color and dimension. Simple adaptations to satisfy a little perfectionist tendency!


Go thank the teachers in your life!

Caring Hearts Card Drive

Last year I started sending in card donations to the Caring Hearts Card Drive. This event is put on in part by Jennifer McGuire. She and some other lovely ladies collect holiday cards and organize their distribution to nursing homes in the U.S., Canada and Australia. These cards are used to bring cheer to the elderly in nursing homes who don’t have any family to visit for the holidays. I can’t imagine being so lonely and my heart aches. I’m glad that I can do just a little bit of something for someone else. I know when my kids are grown I will spend more time volunteering in person, but for now this is what I (and the kids!) can do.

My students from the card making class I teach helped out with this project too. Together we made 22 cards to send in. Take a look at the lovelies that I just put in the box.




I used the wonderful Lawn Fawn Winter Fox stamp set. This is one of their small format (read affordable!) stamp sets and it is so friggin’ cute. I went with a watercolor technique for this. I inked up the stamp using markers of various colors and with a water brush I started softening the outline and pulling the color into the image. I scribbled a bit of extra ink onto a plastic sheet and picked up that extra color with my brush when needed. I used that extra color to add dimension to her nose, inside her left ear and under her chin. I also added more color to the rim of the coffee mug to make it pop a bit more. I got it a little too wet and my brown coffee color bled a little. But oh well. That is life with watercoloring.  Notice the white around her mouth and each eye, next to her scarf and in between her legs? That white space actually adds dimension and makes the image less flat looking. When going with watercolor, less can sometimes be more. And just to show you what I mean, here is the original cutie.

See how one dimensional it is by itself. But adding water color is like magic! Plus adding some sparkle. That is like magic too. Did you notice in the last photo there is just a hint of sparkle in the steam? I used a Wink of Stella clear glitter brush pen to add that little touch. It is hard to photograph but in person is is just a little detail that adds so much fun.

And now for a serious message…

I encourage you to make some crafty goodness to brighten someone else’s day. You don’t have to donate here, but some ideas include: your local nursing homes, Meals on Wheels program, senior center, homeless programs, Ronald McDonald House (they provide cards to families while children are in the hospital), Boys and Girls club and many more. Take a look around and see where some happy mail can make a little difference in someone’s life. Cards are certainly great, but go one step further. Cards don’t fund these programs to provide all the help these folks need. When you drop off some craftiness also consider making a cash donation. Even just $5. These programs can’t do all they do without good old fashioned money.

I hope you all are surrounded by love and family, warmth and safety as the holidays approach!

Thanksgiving cards

I really liked this month’s DCWV card sketch challenge. I’ve used it for a couple of different projects so far. As a refresher, here is the sketch.

When the sketch came out I first made a teacher thank you card. Then I moved on to Thanksgiving cards. I put together cards to send of to friends and family with some little Christmas ornaments tucked in the package to kick of the winter holiday season. So here is how those came out.

turkey card

I pulled out more DCWV papers and went to work. I took the idea of the three circles and lined them up. The design included a vertical strip to ground the circles and I just turned my strip horizontally. The original sketch had the sentiment stamped on a small banner flag. I made my banner jumbo size. I used a subtle pattern to keep it from overwhelming the card while still letting the small sentiment shine.

Aren’t those turkey’s cute? They are a Lawn Fawn stamp and die set. I’ve been playing with copics again and went to work on those turkeys. I wanted them to have color, not just brown turkeys. In looking at photos on Google Images I was reminded that some turkeys actually have blue heads that lend nice contrast to their bright red snoods (that long flappy skin coming off their faces). I tried to capture that here using tip to tip blending between the red and blue markers. Some of them came out better than others with more distinct colors and less purple over blending. I’m still learning and it was sure fun.

In playing with colors I stamped plenty of turkeys to try different color schemes. I drew the colors from the head into the tail for balance. In blending out these colors it was hard to decide if I should blend them more and make them more subtle or keep them bold. I ended up going with somewhere in the middle of that top left turkey and the bottom right turkey. Doing lots of turkeys gave me the chance to choose my favorites when die cutting them all out.



I hope you can go play with some color blending and turkey snoods. It’s fun to say and fun to color 😉

Teacher Thanks

My kids’ alternative school runs on a trimester system. We are wrapping up our first term before the holidays. I like to give tokens of appreciation to their teachers at the end of each term. Because  their school is run like college for kids, where learners pick and choose from a large listing of classes, they have multiple teachers to say thanks to. I keep term thanks to simple cards and make a bigger thank you at the end of the year to simplify things. Of course thanking our teachers fits perfectly in with Jennifer McGuire’s week 2 of her Share Handmade Kindness campaign. In thinking about design, the sketch challenge from DCWV for November was a perfect fit for one of my cards.

And my take. The first photo shows a bit of my process as I plan a project, laying out items, and even dies as placeholders, to get a sense of scale and color and flow.



I knew I wanted to use an apple image, because it’s just so classic. I wanted to keep the colors simple so the apple would pop. So I used the DCWV La Blanc stack, which as the name suggests is mostly white, and just added subtle hints of color. One tip for you. Notice how my arrow strip points down on the top and up from the bottom? Just take the strip, cut it in half in the middle where the other elements will cover it and rotate each strip to point into the design.




All papers from DCWV, card base is Neenah, wood veneers are from Scraptastic. Stamps are Stampin’ Up (small thank you) and Lawn Fawn.

I’ll be back in a few days with some more cards altering this sketch for Thanksgiving cards. In the meantime go check out DCWV’s challenge and Jennifer McGuire’s campaign!

Share Handmade Kindess

Perhaps you have heard of Jennifer McGuire. She is a crafter who is very active on YouTube and on her blog. She is a very sweet and generous crafter. In order to encourage us to use our own crafty generosity, she is hosting a project called Share Handmade Kindness. Each week of November Jennifer will provide a challenge to share something homemade/handmade with people in our lives. And of course she is offering prizes! I would play along even if there were no prizes because I love to craft, I love to share and I love to send a little joy off the others. Perfect.

For this first week she challenged us toShare Handmade Kindness with “friends and family.” Easy, easy. I’ve got birthday cards that needed mailed out, so those are off on their way now. I also sent the flower/hello card that I made last week off to a friend who I haven’t been seeing very much anymore.

Here is a photo of the three items I sent in the mail today.

2015-11-04 22.22.01

I’ve been very into watercoloring. (Who hasn’t?) My favorite way to use watercolors is with a wet on wet technique. See those HB letters on the birthday card? First I used clean clear water to draw the letters on watercolor paper. Then using a brush dipped in liquid ink I touch my brush to the bottom of each of the letter and let the color flow naturally onto the wetted paper. With a different color on top, the water naturally allows the colors to blend in the middle. You never know what you are going to get exactly but it is fun. And the tension of the water molecules holds everything into the shape you originally drew, in this case the letters HB so the colors don’t just bleed all over your project. So lovely.

I hope you can give this watercolor technique a try and also send some handmade kindness. If I win any of the prizes I will be sharing them with a card making class I teach at my kids’ school. Just more ways to share!

October sketch challenges

I’m having fun playing with the DCWV October Sketch challenges for layouts and cards. Take a look.

October Layout Sketch

My take:

I used one of the Premium Paper Collections available from JoAnn.com. This stack contains 5 specialty papers. The background is a chalkboard paper. I added white stamping for my title to give a nod to the style of paper without going to a full chalk-board look. The printed paper has the gorgeous gold foiling print which I used to add glitz and contrast to the layout. The floral paper is actually a glittered paper that I think is perfect is small doses, as accent embellishments, and used with a die to cut title lettering. The little banners accompanying the floral embellishments were cut with another die using the kit’s cream colored fabric “paper”. With a slight translucent quality, this fabric adds a pretty touch. Finally, the solid pink paper has a slight shimmer to it and worked very well for photo mating, journaling tags and as a third lettering style for my title. Add in a little more bling with some Doodle Bug sequins and I have a lovely page! (Dies: Technique Tuesday, banners, title word; Lawn Fawn, title letters; Die-namics, circles.)

And the card sketch:
card sketch

And my take:

Using another Premium Paper Collections available from JoAnn.com, plus a bit of leftover cream fabric “paper” from the previous kit, I came up with this card. I think the textures of these papers together make for a very touchable card!

Check out these lines of papers from DCWV. They add a lot of pizzaz to projects!

Here we go again

So I was featured again by the DCWV challenge entry for February. I entered both the layout sketch challenge (10th photo down) and the card sketch challenge (7th photo down) and was chosen as a top 10 for each category. From those top 10’s, prize winners were chosen. And guess who won a prize again? Yep, me. Woot! Check this cool prize out…

Premium Paper Collections from DCWV

I won eight Premium Paper Collections as well as a mini album this go around. Each collection contains 5 sheets of specialty paper, from glitter to gloss to laser cut. These collections really are very beautiful with wonderful textures and finishes included. I only wish there was less packaging involved as each sheet was individually wrapped.

I wanted to put this prize to use right away on this month’s sketch challenges! I used the same Premium Collection Pack for both the card and the layout.

Layout Sketch…

And my take…

Then the card sketch…

And my take…

Wish me luck on another top 10 (and who knows, maybe another prize?).

Now YOU go enter. It’s fun!


Normally I don’t go for the really cutsie images (read: inanimate objects with smiley faces). But the Lawn Fawn hedgehogs really spoke to me for some reason. I think they are really cute creatures in life so the stamp set felt more realistic and less over the top cute. I have to admit that it made me squee, which I don’t usually do over stamp sets. Plus, the low price point and the matching die makes the set really a great deal.

When I saw the DCWV stack-a-holic card sketch challenge for March, I knew I had the perfect idea for combining the sketch, the stamp and a needed get-well card.

First up the sketch…

And my take…

I used the DCWV Glitzy Glitter 6×6 paper pad. This paper is not simply a glitter glued down to cardstock. I’m not sure how this is manufactured, but the “glitter” is really fine and embedded/printed in a way that it does not come off. When you rub a hand over the glitter you can’t feel flakes, just a rougher texture. I love, love this paper since I can’t stand loose glitter flakes everywhere. I knew I wanted to use this paper since it had color gradient that worked well for the ground, grass and sky, plus pink for the hearts. And the card is a get-well card for a lovely little girl who had to spend a few days in the hospital. I wanted something very sweet and sparkly to cheer her up.

At first I tried stamping the images in regular dye ink on the glitter paper and that did not work well. The image was really faint. I could have tried Staz-On next but I decided to go straight for heat embossing to give it extra pop. When I heated the glitzy paper I soon realized something: there is a plastic quality to the paper that does not react well to heat. The paper curled quite badly very quickly. I was able to ease out some of the curling but didn’t get an entirely flat piece again. This made it harder to die cut since I had to tape the die down well to the cutting plate to get it to stay in place in the die machine. Once I got it cut, the continued curling didn’t matter to me as it gave the banner and little animals additional texture which I found I actually liked. However if you need something really flat this may be a problem. I may try to experiment with the heat more or squashing the pieces under heavy books for a while. If I don’t come up with more tips, just know for now, that you will run into this issue.

Once the embossing and die cutting was done, I added color to the hedgehogs (stamped on the same silver paper as the banner) using Copic markers. The paper did take well to the ink and I was able to add just a little shading and detail. Since it is such a small image, I don’t know how well true Copic blending would work on this surface, but I’d say give it a try and see what happens. I may try it with some floral images to test it out. I will let you know if I do.

(Note: The little hearts I ended up die cutting came from another lawn fawn set that had just a slightly larger heart die that cut in multiple.)