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.

h2oinvitation

 

Make sure you use every last bit of color

 

Painting Christmas gift

Watercolor, watercolor, watercolor. I think I am obsessed.

My husband likes lighthouses, so instead of buying him a Christmas gift, I made one instead. I wanted to play with a freehand drawing, which quite honestly scares me. I don’t consider myself a “fine” artist, meaning I can’t do representational drawing very well. I’ve done a little practicing here and there with different things but I still have a long way to go. And you know what. That is okay. Everyone starts somewhere. Here I am at 41 starting something new. You can too!

lighthouse

I used a pencil to sketch out the drawing first. Erasers are your friend, let me tell you. I used markers to go over the pencil once I was happy with the composition. Double ended markers made this job easier. I used the broad tip for larger areas like the rocks, and the fine tip for details like the roof tiles, railing and grass. The fine tip left enough detail to give the hint of structure without leaving harsh lines. Once the color is in place, use a wet brush to pull and move the color. Don’t work two different colors near each other while they are still wet as this will cause colors to bleed into each other. Luckily, this simple marker technique drys fairly quickly and you can just move around the piece working here and there.

I wasn’t sure how to achieve a nighttime sky for the lighthouse so I skipped it and went with daytime. That presented another challenge. Blue for the ocean and blue for the sky. I just played with the markers I had and made a decision. I was happy with the cool blue ocean water (I did touch in a hint of violet also for some depth on the crests of the waves). The warmer more vibrant blue of the sky I think is too much of a mismatch in tone. But it is what it is and I learned plenty.

If you want to learn more about watercoloring (aimed at card makers) I highly recommend the Online Card Classes website. They have 2 self-paced workshops (for card makers and exploring mediums) on their site as well as an upcoming intermediate watercoloring class beginning at the end of January. I’ve taken the first two and will be in class for the third. Maybe I will see you there.

Teacher Thanks in bulk

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

card

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.

teacher2

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!

teacher1

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.

foxcards

foxclose

foxextraclose

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!

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!

Hedgehugs

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.)

Final CKC

The last class I’m showing you about the CKC convention is Home Grown Cards with Basic Grey. Check out the YouTube video on the class presentation. For the most part I just followed right along with the instructions. There were a few techniques like using glue dots with micro beads (far right pear card), using stencils with mist and pen-work (direct middle, back; hard to see). The techniques were nothing very new to me. Also the colors of the collection felt to grunge for my current color taste. Most of the sentiments were not wording I would use for everyday cards. All in all, it was not my favorite class, but I think it was really taste dependent. If you like Basic Grey or this color pallet, I would say go for it.

My favorite card was the front one that I made inspired by one of the design layouts but I mixed it up since I had accidentally cut apart the intended greeting image. I like the brighter pink/yellow/green pallet with brown just for contrast. Plus the four color-blocked design works really well I think. I don’t know why I’ve not tried the color-blocking on cards before.

Final thoughts, look over the instructions and projects first to make sure you have all the parts you need for making the projects you want to follow step by step. Then feel free to mix, match and even change entirely the things you want to change.

Homemade ink pad

I’ve seen this done a million times and have tried it a couple of times but wanted to try again.

Task: Use a baby wipe and re-inkers to create your own ink pad.
My take: Tried to use colors to get a rainbow effect.
Results: The inks didn’t mix as well as I thought they would to get color blending and the lines of ink that I squired onto the pad showed up in the stamping. Not my favorite and I won’t likely do this one much. But it is different and colorful. I just threw together a whole batch of simple thank you cards to have on hand when needed.

Fun foam stamping part 2

A few days ago I showed how I was doing a challenge to die cut some materials to use as stamps. Fun foam was the example and I didn’t have any at the time. But a trip to the craft store, for something entirely different, lead me past the fun foam isle! Plus, my first try at this technique ended up way to busy and I wanted a cleaner look. So here is what I did.

Task: Die cut fun foam to use a stamp. Then use the foam shape as an accent piece.
My take: I used fun foam as well the other materials I had tried and liked (cork & rubber shelf liner). I gave each heart a shadow using one of the other materials as a stamp.
Results: I like it. The fun foam stamped very nicely and worked well as a bonus embellishment. The only issue I had with this card was the stitching. The rubber shelf liner caused the presser foot on my machine to drag. I may have use a piece of was paper over it to get it to flow smoothly through the machine and then torn away the paper later.

Velveteen Stamping

I’ve never done this technique before and wasn’t sure how it would work.

Task: Stamp a background stamp using white pigment ink on white cardstock then overstamp with images to get the background stamp to “bleed through” the images.
My take: I did just that.
Results: Interesting. I wonder how different it would look if the background stamp where done right over the top of the image. Right now the impression this technique gives is that the images is in the background. It may be different with different backgrounds and/or images. And on a technical note,  my background stamp was not completely clean when I stamped with it so my white ink had a slight pink tinge to it.