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!

Working a backlog

With holidays, illness and injury I have a backlog of Scraptastic Kits sitting on my desk. I started the club in September of ’13 as I talked about here and here. I’ve been really pleased with the usability, trendiness and quality of the kits that have come in the mail, even though I haven’t touched most of them. Well, the past two weeks have changed that! I worked a little bit from each of the backlogged kits and I have to say that I’ve loved most of what I used. Let me show you a sampling.

This one cam from the December Just Breathe kit + extra wood veneer + extra cut apart sheet. I used the sketch featured in Scraptastic’s blog about teaming up with Page Maps to provide a sketch challenge. I really enjoyed using the sketch. My process usually involves drawing up my own sketch before I start a page. But for these photos I had a really lackluster idea. This Page Maps sketch fit my two small photos perfectly and added some pizzazz to my layout that I don’t think I would have come up with on my own.

Then from the October Never Tear Us Apart kit, I made two layouts using the same basic sketch (my own). I don’t mind making very duplicate layouts when they are stored in separate albums. I’ve done this before and I’m sure I will do it over and over again. It saves me energy and I can get more scrapped! I just made slight adjustment to accommodate different numbers and sizes of photos. When I use lots of pictures I keep the layout very simple to let the photos and story stay central.

Here is one more set of duplicate layouts using the October Never Tear Us Apart kit. I was running low on the large alpha stickers for titles in this kit so I used them to emphasize the date and made a more detailed title on the Cricut and cut it from some of the colorful chevron paper for more interest. On the second layout I added in scraps of pattern paper on the left hand side to add more detail and to fill in the “gap” that was used for extra journaling on the first layout. Plus using bits of pattern paper helped me use a sheet of pattern paper (the blue and pink stripes, reverse side is pink and white scottie dogs) that I really didn’t like at all, neither a nor b sides. I can throw in bits of my less favorite items to still use up the whole kit without feeling like the “ugly” product is ruining my page. (I have to say this is the ONLY thing so far I have really disliked in a kit.)

Hope you enjoy.

Scraptastic Club introduction

In my last post I talked a bit about joining this new monthly kit club. Today I would like to fill in some of the details.

I chose the Scraptastic kit club on it’s price point, flexibility and a review of their previous kit contents. I was looking for something affordable, something to give me just a taste of new goodies and something that had a social aspect to it. Here is how this club works…

  1. You can choose from 2 different membership options. The first is a Project Llife style kit and the second is a standard scrapbooking kit.
  2. The standard scrapbooking kit has 2 kits to choose from every month. At this point, you get a preview of items via email then email back your specific kit choice.
  3. The PL kit is $28/month and the standard kit is $25/month.
  4. Shipping is $7 and can include extras that you order for the month.
  5. This is a no commitment club and you can cancel at any time. If you want to skip a month, you can cancel and rejoin the following month. However, each time you order back-to-back kits you get a goodie in the 2nd month’s kit. For example if you order October’s kit, then order November’s kit, you will get a freebie in the November kit.
  6. There are extras available each month including add-ons for each main kit as well as extra embellishments that can be purchased to include in your shipment.
  7. There is a blog with challenges, design team inspiration and a social forum all as part of this club.

So I have used their kits for one whole month now–the month of September–and here are my first impressions…

  1. The kit is really reasonably priced.
  2. I like being able to add on a couple of extra little items, such as wood veneer (a favorite of mine!) when I like what I see in the email preview.
  3. My first kit (September 2013) came with a tiny Basic Grey alphabet. While there were plenty of letters to work with I found it a challenge to make titles with such a small font. This challenge was both a positive and negative experience in that I liked having to think outside the box and also in that I didn’t like having to come up with a new way to do eye-catching titles for each layout. Also I didn’t like the quality of the BG letters. Many of them peeled off their sticky backing as I was working with them. This was especially true when I recolored the stickers to fit my layout, though letting them dry longer may have helped solve this a bit.
  4. I have lots of little tags leftover to make cards or to tuck in my stash for later. I like having these little bits as extras. The meant I felt like I had enough pieces to work with.
  5. I made 8 layouts with this kit! That is more than I thought I would get. Some of them are very very light in embellishments but that isn’t bothering me. Like I said I had plenty of pieces to work with so it was a color and design choice to make these layouts sparse.
  6. I got tired of seeing the same colors over and over again in the embellishment supply (mainly tags)… red, blue and pink. I found it hard to mix up layouts enough to feel like they had their own color scheme.

I’m already noticing differences in the October kit as I start to work with it. So I can compare and contrast the two kits as I draw to a close with the October kit.

CKC: Copics

I took two Copic marker (pronounced coe-pick, not cop-pick) classes at a Creating Keepsakes Convention in my area. I’ve had Copics on my wishlist since seeing them on Scrap Time. Since then I’ve seen and heard much about them. I thought I would share with you what I know and some resources to learn more.

Copics are alcohol based markers and…

  • Come in 4 body styles: Copic (original), Wide, Sketch and Cio. Differences between these include marker size, ink volume and marker convenience. Sketch and Cio are most popular with stampers and scrappers due to the brush tips. Ciao are slightly less expensive because they are smaller, hold less ink and do not have the nice marker design features. Sketch are nicer in that they are a rectangular body to prevent them from rolling around on the table. They also have caps that have the color printed directly on the cap. This is a HUGE time saver when looking for markers.
  • They are refillable and have very durable nibs. And if your nib is damaged somehow, then the nibs are replaceable. This makes these markers a life-time purchase! Never throw away another marker!
  • They are guaranteed not to dry out for 3 years. And if they do dry out they can be refreshed. Did I mention, never throw away another marker?
  • They can color on paper, cardstock, chipboard and other paper products
  • But unlike other markers they can also color on plastics, metal and other non-porous surfaces including buttons, brads, ribbon, glass, transparencies and much more. Since Copics are alcohol based they color on paper better in many ways than water based markers. The colors can be blended seamlessly and without leaving heavy streak lines like water based markers.
  • Due to the alcohol based nature they blend more smoothly than water-based markers (depending on your surface!)

You can see some info on Copic techniques from Scrap time. I love Christine over there and think you should check out her Copic and other videos.

  • How to start inexpensively with Copics by using a palette blending method. Episode 98.
  • How to use Copic to blend colors for shading & dimension. Episode 371.
  • Another blending and shading technique using a palette. Episode 612.

I took my class from Clear and Simple Stamps. You can find their basic photo color blending tutorial on their site. They do have a video tutorial but I found the sound quality poor and couldn’t finish watching it. Also, search YouTube. There are dozens of videos.

My initial thoughts after taking the class

  • Like them way better than water based markers and bought a full range of colors.
  • Love the fact that they will last forever. I won’t ever throw away another marker!
  • I think they are more versatile since they can color on many more surfaces.
  • It will take some experimenting to find just the right paper and stamp ink to use for color stamped images. The marker ink can cause some stamping inks to bleed. Never use them with StazOn which is also alcohol based.
  • Different cardstocks will absorb the ink in different ways causing the ink to feather outside of your intended images. This is especially frustrating if you are coloring in stamped images. My Stampin’ Up cardstock is “not recommended” by some resources, yet I had the best luck with it not feathering/bleeding. Go figure. (I heard that it absorbs more ink so it will run your markers dry faster. Who cares if it actually works!)
  • Don’t trust the plastic cap colors. The actual marker color can be quite different. It is best to buy them in person or in coordinated color sets (like Clear and Simple Stamp Trios) until you know what colors you actually want.

I am planning a bunch of sample swatches to test different stamp inks and papers. I plan on showing it in a video since it would take way to many photos to go over all the details. When I finish it I will share it with you.

Unexpected Scrap supplies

So I found a source of unexpected craft supplies. My kids got gift certificates for Christmas for American Science & Surplus. While my kids were browsing their catalog I noticed a link that said “Arts & Crafts”. Ooh that looked interesting. And boy was it. I explored the arts and crafts section as well as several other sections. I came away with typical craft supplies such as paint brushes and buttons. But I also found some interesting supplies. I discovered a large roll of magnet strip for all those magnet projects. There was a baggy of ball-chain both for storing items and for hanging displays. I was also excited to find mini bristle burshes that I hope to use to unclog Glimmer Mist bottles.

But there were tow real scores for me. I found a roll of cork 12″ x 36″ for just $3. This sheet is perfect for punches, dies or even the cricut! And did you notice that little easel and all those little canvases? How dang cool is that. The package came with 10 small canvases in varying sizes and that easel for $9.50. I see my future full of paint!

Go ahead and check out American Science & Surplus you just may find something you can’t live without.

Anti-trendy?

I usually go through this gut reaction to the latest trends. I get annoyed and then bored of seeing project after project with the latest trend. Then something clicks inside me and I give in. I go for it. I use that almost-cliche trend on a page. Well it is that time again for me. That click happened and I used that trend. This time it is banners.

First I did this card several posts ago.

And now… (notice I’m a krafty kinda gal?)

Recipe:
cardstock: The Paper Company
pattern papers: Stampin’ Up, Scenic Route, stash
stamp: Technique Tuesday
ink, punch: Stampin’ Up
pen: Ranger
buttons: Buttons Galore
ribbon: Cream City Ribbon
paper tape: 7 gypsies

Did you see those little ribbon curls through the buttons. I had this fabulous ribbon in my stash from a few years ago. I really loved it back then but for some reason it went missing in my stash and has been hiding. When I made this party page I knew I wanted some curled ribbon in there. And it dawned on me that I had this ribbon in my stash. Bingo! Oh this ribbon is so fabulous. It was originally provided by a company called Little Black Dress Designs. I’ve been looking for them but can’t seem to find them anymore. Must have disappeared in the economy bubble. The lucky thing is that I noticed on the packaging that the ribbon is produced by Cream City Ribbon.

The world is a small small place. Let me explain. In my quest to find wonderful scrappy products made in the USA (an obsession of mine) I found Cream City Ribbon. I book marked it in my favorites right away. And then I notice that this cool ribbon from my stash was made by the very same company I had found only weeks ago! Sweet! The cool things about their ribbon is that

  • it is made in the USA
  • it is made with cotton responsibly grown and dyed
  • it is individual threads that are adhered together so you can strip it, fray it and more
  • it is stiff so you can print on it, fold it, curl it and more

It is just fabulous stuff. I mean just look at these colors and projects

Go get yourselves some Cream City Ribbon and cook up some crafty soup!

New-to-me Cricut shop

My daughter wants a Sponge Bob birthday party for her fourth birthday. So I sat debating whether or not I wanted to buy a Sponge Bob Circut cartridge to decorate up the house for the party. I looked around to see what deals I could find. And at the cheapest — $40 I decided to skip it. Then that evening I came across a blog announcing a Cricut cartridge sale at CricutMachine.com. I’ve never shopped there so I didn’t know what to expect. The cartridges were $16.95 apiece on sale and they had all of the ones on my wish list on sale too. So I ordered Sponge Bob (and a few others). I placed my order on the 4th and it arrived on the 11th. So that was 7 days (only 5 business days). I was happy with shipping speed, happy with cartridge prices and happy with shipping cost. All in all I will recommend this shop and plan on heading there first for my next Cricut purchase.

(P.S. Rumor has it that this shop and one or two others are actually run by Provo Craft and operate on Ebay under yet other names. With the prices they have on cartridges I can’t imagine a separate business being able to pull a profit. After doing a little research, I’ve seen the “they definitely are Provo Craft” and “they definitely are NOT Provo Craft.” So, who knows.)

Gypsy Newbie

I have been playing with my Gypsy and I am loving it the more I play with it.I still have some questions, but so far I am finding it fantastic. I am learning a great deal from YouTube videos posted by other Gypsy users. Just look at the bottom of this post to see what newbie Gypsy videos I found very helpful!

Now the good things about my toy…

  • I love being able to weld images together to create my very own image; this is especially true for making my own phrases.
  • I love that I can spread individual images out over the virtual mat so I can see exactly how much space each item will need to cut. I am finding that this is saving me time and paper because I know exactly how big it will be before I cut. That means no trial and error when cutting my actual paper and having to toss out images that are the wrong size!
  • I love that I can save projects to come back and work on later.
  • I love that I can set up templates for things I might use over and over. For example I set up one file with different card fronts sized at .25″ smaller than the A2 size card. I have a scallop, rectangle, oval and marquee shape.

Okay, so with all the things I love there are still some downsides. I am finding that the search feature is not very complete. For example there may be an image that is a tag that has a butterfly cut in the middle of it. This image in NOT listed in the butterfly category in the search. And if this image is not categorized, how many other images am I missing when I do a word search? Plus, the word I would use to describe a shape, such a flourish or scroll, may not be the word that the Gypsy know the shape to be called. This is some human/computer interface challenge that I mostly knew would be a problem. I was just hoping Provo Craft would have had a more detailed oriented mindset when creating their labels. And a final note on naming shapes… I am not sure how to see what a shape is names once I have seen it and want to use it. It would be nice to see what an item is called so that I could get a better sense of how things actually are labeled so I can adjust my own search style. To solve all this, I wish they had more of a tag feature so that each image could be labeled by the user with different tags. Then they could further the flexibility by allowing users to share tag files so that we could get the benefit of a community of tagger’s data!

*******************************

As I learn more about my Gypsy I will let you all know. In the meantime, I have compiled a listing of very useful YouTube videos for the newbie Gypsy user and a couple of videos for when you are ready to take it to the next level. Enjoy!

What to know when you first open your Gypsy is explained by these videos

Once you are comfortable moving around you will want to get to work using all the cool features. This next set of videos goes over all the main features.

  • Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of How to Design with the Gypsy is provided by Cropoholicblog. She covers a little of everything. [TIP: Note that in order to see larger images from the cartridge… push the top left button (top right for lefties) while tapping on an image. I didn’t know how to do this one and it was one of my complaints about the Gypsy until I saw part one of this video.]
  • The above video did not explain the “real dial” size button. However, the Cutting Layers video by Scrapperbug2002 does a nice job of it. She gets to this at about the 2:40 minute mark if you just want to jump straight to it. She has quite a few other nice videos as well. Check out her stuff. Try this feature with lower case text (both on and off) to see the difference it really makes.

Here are some more tips that will make using your Gypsy much more convenient…

  • Using and naming layers is a great feature explained by http://www.JoysLife. Layers are important for cutting different types of paper. Remember the Gypsy will cut one complete layer at a time. You cannot change pressure, speed or blade depth settings during this process. If you are cutting two very different papers, say cardstock and thin pattern paper, for the same project, put each image on it’s own layer!
  • Coping and pasting images between layers is shown by ScrappinGrandma. Note: She has an older version of the Gypsy and so your layer interface will look different.
  • The hide contour feature was explained in another video but I think it is worth repeating here since it can give you much more flexibility with your images. It allows you to tell the Cricut NOT to cut certain portions of the image! Nice explanation by CreativeLadyBug. Remember to use this feature BEFORE you group images. Once there in a group this feature in unavailable.

And now for some more advanced projects…

Stitching!

So I managed to sit down and create this weekend! It did feel good to get some things done. I haven’t really worked on much in a couple of weeks. I have some things to share with you over the next few days (and some things I won’t be sharing since I plan on submitting them!). What I found myself working on yesterday was LOTS of stitching. I had the sewing machine going for almost every project I made. The funniest thing about that is years ago I swore I’d never sew on a layout. I guess the old saying “never say never” is a good one!

So I have got the happy sewing going on here. But you know what else makes me happy with this page? Those alphabets! I am so in love with the tiny type alphabet from Cosmo Cricket and the smokey gray alphabet from American Crafts. The Cosmo Cricket letters come with a full row of each letter. Yes that means you will have a million z’s left over but it also means you’ll have plenty of e’s and t’s to spell out whole messages. I can’t get enough of them. I think I am going to have to restock soon because I am using them up too fast.

Speaking of using things up to fast, want to know another secret about me? I used to buy product and then not be able to use it because then it would be ALL GONE. So it would just sit in my stash and I would admire it. You know, I think I like admiring it much better when it is ON projects! So I don’t feel bad about using it all up. Besides I know where to buy more 🙂

Recipe:

CS, PP: Stampin’ Up
punches: EK Success
marker: Marvy
alpha: Cosmo Cricket (tiny type), American Crafts

More stitching layouts to come…

New Kit Club details

Okay, so I already showed you the first project I made with the Scrapbook Chicks June kit club kit. Here are some more details. The kit is one of two offered for the month of June. These are smaller kits than typical clubs offer, but still jammed with great stuff. There were 4 sheets of pattern paper (October Afternoon), 4 sheets of cardstock, journaling cards (October Afternoon), a cardstock sticker sheet (October Afternoon), a thickers alphabet set and a mini alphabet. The kit also had full color layout examples. But that is not all. The kit included this box of goodness…

The box is what the company calls Chick N’ Scratch. This little take-out box was stuffed with tons of buttons, various flowers, three fibers and some miscellaneous brads, bling and extras. The number of embellishments is amazing in a kit that retailed for $14.99! Yes. $14.99 (plus shipping).

I’m very excited by what I received in this kit. The only problem I had was that their website isn’t the easiest to find things. I found out that if things are sold out, the drop off the website as if they never existed. As a new customer I didn’t see the item that I had just heard about. Not reassuring. I contacted customer service and got a message that they just added more kits to the site. I looked and I ordered right away fearing they would disappear again. I’m really glad I did! The kit was well worth it. I might have signed up for an ongoing membership (avilable in 1month, 3month or 6month terms according to the order form drop down menu) except that I could not find any information on how the kit club worked! Would I have  a choice of the two offered kits? Any skipping options? When would the new kits be out? Sneak previews, full reveals etc? No info that I could easily find. I’ll have to contact customer service again it seems.

Now I’m curious to see what comes out for July. So far the website doesn’t seem to have the same offering. Are they sold out already just from membership? Are they not posted yet? The website is unclear. The kits are great and I will keep an eye on the website to see what I can learn about how they run things. If I find out anything new, I’ll keep you posted!