For the love of kits

It is no secret that I am a fan of crafty kits. I have subscribed to various kits over the years, largely scrapbooking. But I always end up cancelling. This is often for three reasons:

  1. On ongoing spending commitment. Many scrapbooking kits clock in anywhere from &25-40 per month.
  2. Stash overwhelm. I found I wasn’t using everything from those big kits every month.
  3. Shipping. Many boxes containing 12×12 papers cost $8-10 to ship. Imagine what I could by with the money spent on shipping.

And yet I still WANT the kits. I want the surprise. I want to try new things. I love getting goodies in the mail. I love digging into a fresh set of supplies and the inspiration that sparks excitement.

So what is a crafter to do when the pros and cons collide? I went on a search for smaller scrappy kits and couldn’t find what I was looking. Then somehow I realized that the SCT Sampler kit, put out by Scrapbook and Cards Today Magazine, was right under my nose. (And just to get this clear right now I do not in any way work for SCT. I simply use their kits and am happy to share my love of them.) The kits are packed with fun at a fair price point, between $14-17 per month including shipping. Longer commitment = lowers price. Yes there is still a commitment but that is why I like to show these kits off so you can decide if they are right for you.

Look at the goodies that come in a typical kit! Like the name implies these are samples of supplies. You get 6×6 papers cut down from 12×12 (no shipping fee on the “large” item boxes!). You get partial packs of die cuts, stickers enamel dots and other items from two different paper collections. You get a theme word embellishment (currently a chunky acrylic word). Plus there is a long-term reusable item that is often a stamp set but may otherwise be a stencil, storage pouch or other item to keep.

You can see the full unboxing on my YouTube channel. I even have a playlist of previous kits so you can see the things to expect from these kits.

When you watch my unboxing I also do a project to show you that these kits can pack plenty of possibilities. For this episode I created a Christmas layout using summer products!

CKC challenge #1

CKC helps you build pretty scrapbook kits, and we also help you use them! We give you challenges to kick start your crafting. Today’s challenge is about diagonal design. It just so happens that a pattern paper from the inspiration kit that I re-created in a forgery has a diagonal design. So I used that as the foundation for my project. If you struggle with the idea of diagonal design, why not start with a diagonal product! You can watch the full process or keep reading for the simplified version.

I started with this diagonal paper that I painted. It has a strong diagonal design already.

I laid out my photos in story order along that diagonal line.

I then used a variety of embellishments, matching their color up with the background color. This process is called color blocking and it can help you use embellishments up that you were having a hard time making work.

Multicolored embellishments like the cupcake down below can be color blocked in different ways. I chose to match it up with the color of the frosting.

How do you feel about diagonal designs? How about color blocking your embellishments? Leave me your thoughts!

Central Embellishment Collage

I am finally busting into my CKC kit for this month. You can always check out my kit build over on my YouTube channel. But this kit is inspired by some bright colors balanced with pops of rich color and themes of travel. While we have not been traveling (still) due to Covid, I’m putting that travel theme to use on an educational layout.

Notice how the words “adventure”, “seek”, and “go, see, do” all can play into my daughters college bound days. Just because a them “says” one thing doesn’t mean you can’t find commonalities to other themes. There are other good tips in the video so be sure to check out all the ideas there.

10 Ways to Use Nuvo Drops

I love to play and experiment with products. Sometimes it goes terribly wrong and sometimes I am super surprised at the results. Once a month I share one particular product that I’ve played with and at least 10 ideas for putting it to use. I don’t share the disasters of course. Of what I do share some of the ideas are more inviting than others. See which ideas you like! (Keep reading for the quick photo version.)

  1. While you can do all the enamel style dots your heart desires, why not try other shapes? Go ahead and mix and match colors while you are drawing. And don’t forget you can draw fun things too. I once drew a fork and knife as embellishments to a scrapbook layout.
  2. If you just draw a rectangle around an items like a photo or embellishment cluster, then you have a frame. Or doodle it up for fun borders.
  3. Two important things to note here. First did you know you can draw with Nuvo drops on a non-stick craft mat (or sheet of plastic packaging, or a glass mat) and then pop the pieces off the mat for a stand-alone embellishment. Second some of the drops dry clear or translucent. You can put these to use for a stained glass look or for mimicking actual glass.
  4. Have you ever thought about writing with your drops? You can do titles, greetings or word embellishments. You can just free draw or you can use this tip: Cover a printed sheet of words with clear plastic. Then trace the words onto the plastic. Let dry 24-48 hours (more is better). And then you can add these words to your projects. You could also write with a pencil or stamp in a light colored ink directly on your project and then trace over with an opaque style drops (most of them ARE opaque. Jewel drops are an exception, as well as clear colors. Glitter drops have a clear base with colored glitter so you may be able to see through parts of the image is you use the glitter drops.)
  5. Likewise you can create your own puffy alphas in the same way. I prefer tracing for this so that my letters are consistently shaped and sized.
  6. You can make your own flair-badge type embellishments. Punch out an image from some patterned paper and top with Morning Dew (clear!) Crystal drops for an epoxy-like finish.
  7. If you do the same thing with very small punches then you get a “fancy” style enamel dot look. Just be sure to put temporary adhesive down on a craft mat. Stick your punches to the adhesive and THEN cover with your drops. This will prevent your pieces from sliding around and requiring you to touch them. That just ruins the drop’s finish.
  8. A further idea here is to replicate acrylic pieces. You need to punch or die cut three layers of cardstock. Glue the layers together and then top with your clear drops. The added thickness of the multiple layers makes it look more like acrylic.
  9. Go ahead and use your drops through various stencils. You can mix and match colors of drops, use a mask under the stencil to keep an open portion and even combine multiple ideas for added interest. Just don’t forget to wash your stencil immediately. If the Nuvo drops have a chance to dry and your stencils it will “clog” them up and ruin your stencil.
  10. Have you ever done a heat-embossing and ink resist technique? This is the same thing, only easier. Just draw/stencil/write an image onto your project. Let dry overnight and then apply water-based inks the next day. Be sure to buff your Nuvo shapes with a tissue just a bit to remove any excess ink. Then you are left with pretty, colorful designs.
  11. I know this is titled 10 ways, but here is a bonus 11th way. Just smear your products onto projects. This is much more mixed media vibe, but it can be oh so pretty. Here I’ve got a beach scene using opaque drops, glitter drops, and there at the bottom, stone drops. The stone drops have a sandy texture and when inked with brown will hold the color a little and actually look like sand.

Remember how I talked about disasters in the beginning? This is one of them. I know I said I don’t share disasters, but this is a cautionary tale when trying these techniques. Let them dry ALL THE WAY before you mess with them. Otherwise they can stick to each other becoming inseparable blobs or they can stick to other things like the table and then pull themselves apart.

So other than that one precaution, go play with Nuvo drops! Were any of these a favorite? Do you have interesting ways you’ve used these drops? Leave me a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

Forgery time!

One of the projects I love over at CKC is the Forgery on the 4th. This lets us get creative and really see what we can make happen with our supplies. The more we create the simpler our crafty room stash can become as we turn back to some basic supplies.

Today I’m recreating a sheeter of pattern paper with flowing bursts of rich color.

And here is how it came out? What do you think? Personally I’m super pleased. I will tell you honestly when things aren’t working and this time around I am just plain happy with how things came out!

It really is hard to capture this process in words, so watching the video is going to give you the most helpful tips.

CKC kit build, Aug ’21

Welcome to August. The summer seems to be slipping away quickly despite not having done any of the things we thought we would do this summer. That has meant that I’ve had more time in my scraproom though, so that is a good thing. I did manage to use up most of my kit from last month. So this month I have a bigger kit again. I seem to waffle between to big and too small. Some day I’ll find that Goldilocks spot with my kits! For now, too big is better since it gives me more options for storytelling.

Let’s talk about Counterfeit Kit Challenge for August. It is full of a mix of rich and subtle colors, a bit of a vacation vibe, and plenty of embellies to pull ideas from. I’ll have a process video for you later, but let’s take a peek at things first. Our inspiration is from a German kit company called https which may be impractical for non-Germans to order from. That is a good excuse to counterfeit a kit! So, here is the inspiration. The first three images are of the various add-ons and the final three images show the main kit.

Be sure to head over to the CKC blog to get the entire scoop, including info on our Guest Designer Sara Rice. She is active in the group and always shares lovely projects.

For the pattern papers I picked up on elements of sky, rainbows, and water in a color palette of aqua, navy, light and dark pink and golden yellow. I also threw in a few woodgrains and that open book paper (from Vicki Boutin) because I just love them ūüėČ

Turning to embellishments I’ve got plenty of die cut ephemera, photo-frame style journal cards, and motifs that work for summer and vacations. I thought I would make more use of the vacation items this month but like I said we didn’t do what we thought we would this summer. Oh well. I can always re-file things away in my stash if they don’t get used.

So that is the quick overview. If you want to see more of my thought process you can check out the video.

Here is our hop list for this month. Don’t forget to check out CKC’s blog for all future August inspiration and be sure to head over to the Facebook group for community chatter & sharing.

Watercoloring with stencils

I played along with the Mixed Media Frenzy group YouTube hop again this month. I’ve shared the whole process over on my channel. But if you want some quick tips on using stencils to get a watercolor look I can set you up with some photos here.

First off, my paper was prepped with gesso. This helps ink release and allows these effects to work to the fullest. For the coloring, I used layering stencils from Pink Fresh studio (available for purchase here). For each layer I used simple, different tips to create watercolor effects.

Layer One. Lightest color. Stencil on color. Give a hearty mist of water and tip paper to drip. This will eliminate most of the form of your stenciling and just leave a haze. You can always add detail back in with more stenciling. It is hard to see but there is a haze of color in the background.

Layer Two. Mid tone color. Stencil and give a gentle spritz with water. This will just fuzz out the images. Notice the largest leaf is all blurry?

Layer Three. First flowers. Stencil. Use a watercolor brush to paint over the image with just a little clean water. Stroke outside the lines of the image just a little. This gives a flowy watercolor look. I did add back more detail and depth with a light re-stenciling exactly over the same spots. Can you see the back layer of the flower has jagged edges and a lighter color? The front layer has crisper edges and richer color from the extra stencil work. When you know these little tricks you can get LOTS of dimension and interest.

Layer Four. Accent flowers. Stencil. Use paintbrush to just touch a spot of water to center. This pushes pigment out towards the edge of the image for a gradient look. Really look at those yellow flowers to see how the color changes across the image.

Layer Five. Final foliage layer in darkest shade. Stencil. Wet entire image with a watercolor brush, much like for the flowers. Except this time dab up excess water and ink with a tissue to really tone back the image. Don’t dab up all the water and ink or it’ll be like you didn’t do anything at all. Just a quick tap with the tissue will leave a “splotchy” image that adds texture more than anything. See how only parts of the leaves are fully clear? That adds a lot of texture.

Top off your new painting with some pen work to give just a touch of details and you now have a pretty watercolored background painting and you don’t have to know how to draw a single thing!

Sketchy Wenesday

I love sketches. They are a great way to start a layout. The are great if you are feeling stuck. They are great for giving you ideas you may not have thought of. So, once a month I offer free sketches for download here on my blog and share what I do with them over on YouTube.

This month I have a double page layout sketch for you.

And I’ve got two takes on this sketch, both with process videos.

Take #1 is a birthday layout using some bold color.

And the process video to go with it.

Here is layout #2. This takes the sketch in a Christmas direction.

And the process video for this one.

You can download this sketch in pdf format for printing or in psd format for editing in Photoshop products. You can also head to the Freebies tab here on the blog to find these files and much more.

DIY Thickers

I have a love/hate relationship with alphabet stickers. I love the texture and style that a good thick alphabet sticker can bring to a layout. But I am constantly running out of the most popular letters and then I’m left with 50% of the product (or more) as unusable. While I have come up with a few ideas on recycling and upcycling these items, I’m just a bit tired of the whole process.

So for the next few months I am on a quest to make all my own alphabet stickers. Since I like the dimension of foam letters I’m using that material for now. I’ll use die sets and my Cricut Maker1 to create my alphas and spruce then up with various techniques to get a variety of styles. Yes I will still have all the bits of foam left over from cutting out the letters. My plan for that is to use it to replace my foam dot usage. That way the material does double duty and hopefully I’ll have little to no waste to throw away. You can see what I have in mind with my latest video.

Since filming this episode I’ve decided on one more style I want to try. If I cover a foam sheet with double sticky adhesive and then lay a white sheet of cardstock over that I’ll have a surface that should be easily alterable in more ways that the plain foam is. That way the dye ink techniques I talk about in the video will work. This style will cut easily with die sets. But will my Cricut blade be able to handle the stickiness of the adhesive without gumming up my blade? I’ll let you know when I know!


Footnote 1: I do have to specifically use the Cricut Maker model for this and here is why. I have not had any luck using the fine point or deep point blade cutting foam simply because Cricut’s pre-set cutting features move too fast and the blades drag the material. When I use my Maker with the special knife blade and the Thin Garment Leather setting I can get the machine to slow down and cut very well. But that setting has it’s own drawback, which I won’t go into now. Instead, I’ll be brining a video on this topic soon!

CKC July Challenge #2

It is the 18th, which means it is time for scrappy challenge number two over at the Counterfeit Kit Challenge blog. Todays challenge is to use foreign language somehow on your page. I took that prompt and just rolled with it! I used it as the main focus of my page to talk about how I tried at three different times to learn foreign languages and none of them really stuck.

Notice that there are no photos on this page? Well I didn’t have any photos about this story. But I didn’t let that stop me. The pattern papers and the design is enough visual to help tell the story.

You can see my whole process over in YouTube.