Wednesday, 21 March 2018

CAS Christmas March Challenge

Loll and Bonnie have started off a brilliant challenge called 'CAS Christmas'. They have a great Design Team and there's loads of inspiration for CAS Christmas cards - this month's theme is 'Holly' - a perfect choice!

But for some reason, even though we've recently had our fair share of snow here, I just couldn't summon up the enthusiasm for making Christmas cards until just the other day. Indeed, the monthly 'production target' is in danger of slipping unless I get cracking. So, some batch baking was called for and six of these little cards is the result, and I can play along in the CAS Christmas Challenge:

I used:

- 4" x 4" square white card blank

- square panel of silver mirri card just slightly smaller than the card front

- square panel of Neenah 'Desert Storm' card, cut very slightly smaller than the silver layer

- then die cut the Memory Box 'Cabrini Ornament' directly out of the 'Desert Storm' panel ready to inlay the details - and backed the aperture with medium strength double sided adhesive sheet. Hint, when working like this is pays to keep the piece of waxed paper you'll have peeled off to add the adhesive sheet - it can be used to cover and protect the front of the aperture area in between building up the inlays

- then die cut the ornament outline from silver mirri card, the holly leaves from a snippet of glossy green card, the berries and ornament itself were cut from snippets of XCut red and white adhesive glitter sheet

- assembled all the pieces and then added the image panel to the silver backing and then onto the card front

- it was just a bit too CAS so I die cut the 'noel' part of the Poppystamps 'Noel Snowflake' out of snippets of red XCut glitter sheet and added those to the top right hand corner of the card

- I didn't want to risk spoiling the fully assembled card by running it through the Cuttlebug so I just used the flat part of a bone folder to press firmly onto the die cut 'noel' - it worked a treat!

So that's the total pushed up to 37 Christmas cards - really should make a further 11 before the end of March to hit 12 per month but can't see that happening.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Pixie's Snippets Playground - Challenge #322

And 'The Beast From The East' is trying to hit us once again here in the UK. So far we've just had snow flurries but we did plan ahead and stocked up with food in Friday just in case. So at least we can stay at home warm and cosy if we do get a huge fall of snow.

I had great fun making my snippets card for the coming fortnight's challenge, so much so that I ended up making three cards at the same time. Here's the first one, at his insistence. It's little Parsnip!
And here's two more:
I used:

- small white card blanks, size 3.25" x 3.25" square

- plenty of snippets, not one fresh piece of card was cut into for the bears and the backing layers

- a terrific set of dies by Mama Elephant called 'Favour Bag Accessory - Bear'

- I planned out the colour combinations and then die cut out the main die which was the bear faces

- then cut a contrasting background in a 3.25" x 3.25" square, which is exactly the same size as the width of the bear's face

- glued the bear faces to the backing squares, and in two instances then backed those squares with a further narrow 'frame' of contrasting card

- then cut out all the pieces needed for the features, ears and hats - keeping them in little pots as I went, one for each bear (I use the upturned clear plastic lids from those round tubs of cotton buds - so useful for all sorts of things!)

- and it was just a matter of sticking the little contrasting bands into the  apertures in the top hats (tiny piece of red line tape behind worked a treat) and using a medium, as well as a very fine, glue pen to adhere the rest of the features in place

- I didn't run the bears through the Cuttlebug as I would normally do - lest I ended up with a crease across the top hats as they overlap a layer of card, plus I'd used glue rather than Stick-It sheet

- glued the bear panels to the card fronts - three sweet little cards, all done!

First of all, this set of dies is made with the Mama Elephant 'Favour Bag' in mind - it's a lovely die but quite expensive at £36. It was unavailable for ages, and in a way that's as well 'cos I decided that I really wouldn't be making loads of favour bags anytime soon. But, I so loved the matching sets of dies, which work well on cards - make a taller card and you can add a sentiment of course.

I chose the bear set, because of little Parsnip - and I do like the fact that it also comes with dies to make a panda face, different mouths, a muzzle and eyes - and even a very splendid handlebar moustache! I cut some round pink eye shapes to add as 'cheeks' as I'd seen that on line as an idea and thought it looked cute! I really can see this set being used for little cards from the Playground/Parsnip, Christmas (add a little die cut of holly to the hat), Valentine's Day (add a little heart to the hat), same for St. Patricks's Day (make a shamrock using tiny hearts) - the list goes on.

There are other die sets available as well - the favour bag of course (which will go through a Cuttlebug), a bunny, a cat (which I know lots of you cat lovers would adore) and Halloween - all with the straight sides. Plus other sets without the straight sides for Christmas, a dog, Valentine's Day and so on. Just take a look over at Mama Elephant HERE. And I have no connection to Mama Elephant - I just think they came up with a cracking idea!

So, here's this week's Snippets Playground prize:
I know! You might be gawping at this Mama Elephant 'Favour Bag Accessory - Bear' die set - just like I used for my cards above - and be thinking it's way too fiddly and complicated to use. Not at all I promise - it's quite therapeutic. I used my craft wire clippers to separate all the pieces and they're now stored as usual on a magnetic sheet in a file. The A4 magnetic sheets are stored inside heavy duty plastic pockets - and, behind the magnetic sheet (which holds several other dies and die sets) I slipped a copy of this little guide, which can be found on the Mama Elephant website:
Favor Bag Accessory - Bear
It shows which piece is which and also some samples of the ways they can be used to create your very own little bears :) I've printed off a further copy, which will be enclosed with the prize when it's sent to whoever is the winner this fortnight.

As always, the Snippets Challenge will run for two weeks and the Playground gates will close at 11am UK time on Saturday 31st March. The gates will open again at midnight UK time on the same day.

It's a maximum of ONE entry and please say in a comment if you wish to play and be a possible winner of the prize. Please also link back to the Playground in your blog post to be eligible for the draw.

Remember, if you link into the Playground and don't say clearly that you're wanting to be in the draw then you will be bypassed if your name comes out of Mr Linky. I'm sure you all know I ask for a positive 'yes' - just in case you're playing only for fun. Thanks!

Mr Linky is below - please let me know if you have any problems linking, it's easy for me to sort out so don't struggle on alone :)

Be sure to call back next week to see the winners of last fortnight's 'Concord and 9th 'Sprinkles' Turnabout stamp set. Plus a Guest Designer and fortnightly picks of course.

Love from Parsnip - who quite openly says the card depicting him is the best of the lot! He's very glad he didn't end up with the slightly serious mouth of the panda and to be too 'smiley' reduces the enigmatic cloak he likes to keep around himself - he really is a vain little toad at times :) And love of course from me,

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Has anyone seen this idea yet -

- the new Gina K 'Wreath Builder' bundle of stamps and templates - as demonstrated by Jennifer McGuire HERE? If not, then do take a quick look before going much further with this blog post as Jennifer's video explains how such a simple, yet brilliant, idea works.

Quick word of warning, this is a long and fairly detailed post. I took as many photos as I could and (as usual) added a lot of words as well!

My interest in stamping wreaths using the Misti was triggered by the card I made HERE for Darnell's first Twofer Card Challenge. I used a feather stamp and the Misti to create a Christmas wreath by turning the card by 90 degrees to get four equal stampings on each side and then moving the stamp before repeating the process a further couple of times so that I ended up with a full circle.

But, Gina K has come out with a template which gives eight stampings in a circle, very much geared to the Misti, to make this even simpler. So, being me, I hopped around looking to see if I could buy this wonderful 'bundle' to try out. No such luck - it only seems to be available on the Gina K website or Simon Says Stamp so far and is selling out as fast as new stock arrives. It's $29.95 for two different sized star shaped plastic templates and quite a few stamps, a mix of small floral and leaves, some circles and a few sentiments. In the great scheme of things, the price isn't too bad considering all the stuff that's included in the bundle - but it's not available, even in the USA. Plus in the UK we get stung for import duty by Customs and $29.95 plus postage would take it into that level I suspect. It seems very unfair that we even have to pay duty on the postage we pay to the seller ............... as well as Royal Mail adding a further charge of around £8 to actually process the import duty! So, that could ramp up the cost to something like approaching $50 or $60.

Then I got to thinking that I have tons of sentiment stamps, some small photopolymer floral stamps and am not unduly bothered about the circle stamps (circular dies would always do to add more focus to the centre of a wreath if necessary). That left the template(s) to make - I only made the one size for now and it was an absolute walk in the park to be honest!

First of all, this is the card I made:
I used:

- 4" x 4" square white card blank

- a square of white card measuring 3 and 5/8ths of an inch square - using the same die that I created the template with (details are below). Mine happens to be from The Works 'Stitched Squares' set of dies

- an Inkylicious set of 'Mini Flowers' stamps plus a selection of ink pads (Memento dye 'Rhubarb Stalk', and 'Teal Zeal' plus VersaMagic chalks 'Pink Petunia' and Aloe Vera' )

- I just followed the process of stamping, rotating and stamping each one in turn, using the Misti and my homemade template - to be honest I could feel my right shoulder complaining at the end, gonna have to give Parsnip lessons in using the Misti!

- then stamped the word 'hugs' in the centre of the wreath using a stamp from the Paper Smooches 'Sentiment Sampler' set and Memento 'Teal Zeal' ink pad

- added the image panel to a square of blue card from the snippets folder and glued it onto the card front

- final touch - eight teeny pearls in the centres of the 'Teal Zeal' flowers


Here's the secret of how to make your very own 'star-shaped' template for mere pennies. I used 300gsm card and it works perfectly. It won't last as long as a plastic template but it's easy as pie to just make another one, and you can vary the sizes of course, within the limitations of your die cutting plates. This is my template partway through being used for the card above:
You just slot your square card panel into the template, stamp using the Misti, leave the stamp in place on the lid and re-ink it, turn the square panel by one eighth to the next slot and stamp again, all the way round. Then peel that stamp off and use a second one in a different design and colour - etc.

This is how I made my template:

- first of all, cut an exact square of card - mine is 6" x 6" - precision is absolutely key when making the template

- then, using a ruler, draw lines across the centre (at the 3" point) and from corner to corner - like this:
- then, take a square cutting die and place the corners onto the diagonal lines like this:
- I used a stitched die from a set made by The Works - it's a 3 and 5/8ths of an inch cutting size and of course the stitched lines are on the cut-out square piece of 'waste', which can be kept for future use. I've shown it with the cutting side uppermost here as I was playing around finding the maximum sized square die I could use within the confines of the Cuttlebug width

- flip the die over, hold it in place with low-tack or washi tape and run it through your die cutting machine

- then, turn the die so that the corners are positioned on the diagonal lines to help with the positioning you'll see that the little white triangles of card to be cut in the next action all look the same size as a double check. Excuse the grubby pieces of low-tack tape - I re-use them and just stick them on the handle of my Cuttlebug - but these were certainly ready to be replaced!
- run the card through your die cutting machine again - and you will end up with this, once you rub the pencil lines out:
One star shaped template, all ready to play with. As a reminder, I wrote the size of the square die I'd used onto the template 'cos the piece of card you stamp onto and keep turning when making your wreath has to be that size of course. And I just keep the template stored in the Misti for now.

I also found through trial and error that it's best to use the same square die that you created the star with to cut your 'stamping square' when you're ready to play - it slots into the apertures perfectly. You don't want the square to be able do move about within the template needless to say.

After I'd made and used this template, I was writing up the post and checked out YouTube to see if anyone else has had a similar idea. One video wasn't loading for some reason and another video showed the same process but using pencil and a ruler plus a sharp knife to cut out the shape, Very enterprising but waaay too dangerous for me to tackle - given my accident track record!

There you have it - for a bit of time I saved a small fortune. There are lots of other companies selling smaller sized 'wreath builder' stamp sets as I'm sure many of you already know - particularly those designed to go onto clear cylindrical 'pegs'. Ha, I wonder what they make of this idea?

I was limited by the platform width on my Cuttlebug plus a bigger size in the set of dies I used would have left such a narrow piece of card at the edge of the template I was afraid it would tear easily. That's one of the advantages of a plastic template of course, as well as it being washable if you go for stamping over the edge.

Jennifer has a great idea on her video where she positioned a die cut heart shape in the centre of her piece of card before doing the stamping process so she could overlap her stamping onto the masked area and also leave a nice clear shaped space to stamp a sentiment. Another idea I really like is where she sliced the finished wreath across the centre so she could position the two halves about half an inch or so apart on the card front and then add a straight sentiment across the centre. Loads of possibilites to think about!

Of course, the 'Real Gina K/McCoy' template and matching stamps would still be lovely to have, if a UK company decides to stock it - but for now, this is keeping me happy.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Pixie's Snippets Playground - Challenge # 320 - results

Hi there! Thank goodness (at least in the Playground) the snow has all gone. In truth it disappeared really fast once the temperature went up a bit - along with some good old English rain of course. I know lots of folk are still having issues - both with snow and also flooding. Sending you every hope for better weather, wherever you live, really soon!

At last I'm more organised and have started to line up some Guest Designers. 

Our lovely Kathy K is first up and, bless her, did her GD card in double quick time:
What a stunning card - and so perfect for a chap! Kathy used a technique that's totally new to me called 'The Black Ice Technique' - which is pretty appropriate given our recent weather! I'm adding the link to one tutorial here as a reminder for myself - and would love if you could hop over to Kathy's blog to find out more about her card and how she made it - as well as to say 'Hi' of course.

I just watched a couple of 'Black Ice' You Tube videos again and can't wait to try this technique out. I think it's possibly the closest look you'll get to Dufex foiled images (remember those?) although I haven't yet seen results in real life, and the technique would be totally fabulous to try on Christmas cards. You don't need to rush out and buy lots of special supplies either - I think you only need some silver/gold/copper etc. foiled card (your choice), black archival ink, a clear Versamark pad, clear embossing powder and a heat gun. 

Here's a photo of the lady herself:
Beautiful eyes Kathy! And here's a few words from me about Kathy. First of all, in her profile she says that she'll try most crafty things, and she sure isn't kidding. Not only that, she really does persevere with techniques (whereas I confess to giving up on a few in my time!). Her output continues to amaze me - so much beautiful work and always with the right finishing touch (I certainly don't think to stamp my envelopes to match cards, it's a brilliant idea though!). As I already said, Kathy is always keen to try new techniques - and share them with her followers - as well as being one of my big-time shopping enablers! She has a real knack of finding that stamp that you really had no idea you desperately needed :)

Thank you once again for being our Guest Designer for this fortnight Kathy - Parsnip sends a special hug!

Onto this last fortnight's picks now - one Gold Star and three picks:
I really love this woodland scene, so beautifully made by Lia! Every little detail is so carefully thought out - plus the dimension is stunning. An added extra is the fact that it's also a rocker card of course. Lia - you really are so worthy of a Gold Star this week - do please feel free to take the Gold Star badge from the right hand side panel for your blog. Gorgeous work!

This is a really fun card, made by Carol L! It certainly made me smile here and such brilliant use of several little snippets in different colours. I don't really like garden creepy crawlies but this little chap with his body of hearts could stay for sure - love those little dangly legs :)
Jenny L always makes such beautiful cards, packed with loads of detail and also very tactile. This one really is a delight, I'm sure you'll agree. And, Jenny used so many varied snippets as well - love it! And, have I been hiding under a rock? There are some fabulous inks around called Izink - inks pads and bottles - only sayin'!

My hands are staying firmly in my pockets, although the colours look gorgeous. Too many items here have just one outing or so - Brushos and the Tim Holtz Distress Oxides are a case in point, sigh.

I chose this final pick as Lynn (Linby) had struggled long and hard with the die set to make this work. Lots of snippets used of course and I love the fresh and modern result, which shows that patchwork doesn't always need a traditional look. For sheer Percy Veerance, as well as a great outcome, I'm sure you'll agree that this really had to be included here.

We had some discussion about patchwork pieces of card not always sitting together perfectly - and I agree with Lynn that it might be different weights and thicknesses of card to blame. Also, when you butt pieces together there just may be a minute little gap (which will really make your teeth itch!). This is very much the case when you use those 'card front' patchwork panel dies - the cut of the die does mean a miniscule gap. The closest I've come to resolving this is to use backing card behind the patchwork which is as close as possible to the colour(s) of the pieces in the middle of the range of colours I've chosen to use. You can trim it to the size of the patchwork and then carry on and mat and layer as you wish. It's not a perfect solution - but then, a hand made card is special regardless. Sometimes we really are too hard on ourselves aren't we?!

I can't say it enough times, it's so hard choosing the weekly picks as all your entries are little works of art and very special.

We had no new Playmates this fortnight but we hit 69 entries for the 2nd challenge running!

Prize draw time now and our winner of the Sugar Pea 'HOME' die and a set of co-ordinating 'Home' sentiments is:
Well done Susan! Do please send me your address, with full name at the top so I can copy and paste please. I'll be off to the Post Office ASAP once I have your details - you're gonna just love this die and set of stamps!

Please put Playground Winner or similar in the subject line of your email in case it drops into my junk mail. Email address is on RH sidebar as always.

Remember folks, there's still almost another week to run on Challenge #321 HERE. The prize is a Concord and 9th 'Sprinkles' Turnaround stamp set.

Love from the little white peril Parsnip (he's been waaaay too quiet this past few days so I'm wondering just what he's plotting!) - and of course me,

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

To stamp or not to stamp?

I totally love the sentiments in one of Stampin Up's quirky stamp sets - and turned to it recently when making a Birthday card for a lovely blogging buddy. I know that the card has now been opened, so it's safe to post this:
I used:

- 4.25" x 5.5" white card blank, tent style

- using the Misti stamped the image and split sentiment (from SU's 'Just Kidding' set) onto a snippet of white card stock - using Memento 'Tuxedo Black' ink

- then selected the spotted backing paper (it's from Dovecrafts Back to Basics 'Bright Spark' paper pack) and also the plain mustard card (from the snippets folder) for 'frames' - before going any further

- next coloured the image using Faber Castell Polychromos pencils - picking out colours from the spotted backing paper

- die cut the image/sentiments panel using a Creative Dies 'Wonky Stitches - Nesting Rectangles' die

- trimmed all the additional layers to suit and just glued them all together before adding them to the card front

- finally added a strip of spotted paper along the bottom of the inside of the card - just for fun

Ha, my in-house critic liked the image but thought the spotted paper was 'too busy'. He really IS very much Less is More :)

There's one thing I would probably do differently in future - it took me several stampings, although the stamps are poly/clear ones plus using the Misti with graph acetate, to get the split sentiment as level as possible. When I'm unsure I always stamp onto spare paper first - too mean to risk wasting decent card stock! Got there in the end, albeit a tad to the right!

Another time, I'll try using an elongated speech bubble die for the first part of the sentiment and then adding it later - which means it's only the lower wording and the image that need to be in line/level. As they say, hindsight is 20/20 vision!

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Pixie's Snippets Playground - Challenge #321

Well, what a week for weather here in the UK! Some of you suffered quite badly, some were just middle of the road like us and others barely saw more than just a sprinkling of snow. We were pretty much locked in here for a couple of days as we live quite high up in Hampshire and also on a sloping and reasonably steep road. Of course, there will always be those who venture out regardless (perhaps through need rather than desire I must admit) and quite a few cars were literally just sliding back down the hill.

Anyhow, today (Saturday) has seen a dramatic lift in temperature and thankfully the snow is rapidly melting.

Enough of the weather - let's move onto Playground stuff.

I'd been eyeing up the Concord and 9th 'Turnabout' stamps for ages and finally took the plunge a few weeks ago. Of course, then it was a case of choosing which design to go for. I figured that the new 'Sprinkles' set of stamps would be good fun and it could also be used at Christmas time to make card backgrounds in Christmassy colours.

Here's my snippets card, using the set: 
I used:

- 5.5" x 4.25" white card blank, tent style

- snippets of SU's lavender coloured 'Wisteria Wonder' card and also snippets of white card from the box where I keep card for stamping (it's categorised between brands and uses so I know the white shades will be the same)

- the first thing was to stamp the 'Sprinkles' background using the main 'Turnaround' stamp. I subsequently found several videos about using these stamp sets and, IMHO, this is the best one so far, produced by Hedgehog Hollow. Even better than Jennifer McGuire's videos about using the Turnabout stamps and that's really saying something as I'm a huge fan of hers! I think the Hedgehog Hollow video scored higher marks for its clarity rather than galloping a bit - as well as the idea of laminating the 'grid'. That isn't essential but I like that it would then make it wipe clean

- of course, if you haven't come across these stamp sets then you'll be wondering what on earth I'm on about. It's too complicated to explain quickly - but suffice it to say that the principle is generally the same - using a background stamp you stamp in one colour (using the Misti for ease), then do a quarter turn of the piece of card leaving the stamp on the lid. Clean the stamp and ink it using a different colour before stamping again. You can do this for all four 'turns' and build up as busy a background as you wish - or just do it twice for 'less is more'. The really important part is finding and marking the centre of the stamp itself before placing it onto the Misti - my card isn't absolutely right but it's very close and next time I now know (from the Hedgehog Hollow video) exactly how to set the stamp up. So easy ....... when you know how!

- I stamped the 'Sprinkles' background using four colours of Dewdrops Brilliance Pearlescent ink pad - Yellow, Orchid, Lavender and Sky Blue and set it aside

- next stamped the sentiment onto a snippet of white card and the cupcake outlines onto another little snippet of white card - using Memento 'Tuxedo Black' ink

- then stamped the cupcake cases onto another little snippet of white card using some of the ink pads from the background

- also stamped some sprinkles onto the frosted topping on the cupcakes before fussy cutting around the cupcakes and the cases

- layered the cupcake cases onto the cupcake outlines using a glue pen - and also checked that they would fit onto the sentiment panel once it was trimmed down!

- ready now to do the final trimming and layering of the 'Sprinkles' background and the SU 'Wisteria Wonder' backing 'frame' and glue both pieces together and then add them to the card front

- trimmed the sentiment panel to suit and backed it with some SU 'Wisteria Wonder' just enough to peek out on either side and glued those together before adding it to the card front

- lastly, added the little cupcakes to the sentiment panel using this sticky pads to add some dimension

This stamp set was such fun to use and such a clever idea by Concord and 9th as well. The designs are growing and many of you will have at least spotted the triangles stamp on your travels around Blogland. I would certainly buy more stamps in the series now that I know all the little hints and tips :)

There are a few sentiments and various combinations of cupcakes - another reason I chose the set as it's pretty good value for money due to the additional stamps

So, here's this week's Snippets Playground prize:
Of course, it's a set exactly the same as the Concord and 9th 'Sprinkles' Turnaround stamp set I used today! Ha, if you like I'll also add in some white snippets :)

As always, the Snippets Challenge will run for two weeks and the Playground gates will close at 11am UK time on Saturday 17th March. The gates will open again at midnight UK time on the same day.

It's a maximum of ONE entry and please say in a comment if you wish to play and be a possible winner of the prize. Please also link back to the Playground in your blog post to be eligible for the draw.

Remember, if you link into the Playground and don't say clearly that you're wanting to be in the draw then you will be bypassed if your name comes out of Mr Linky. I'm sure you all know I ask for a positive 'yes' - just in case you're playing only for fun. Thanks!

Mr Linky is below - please let me know if you have any problems linking, it's easy for me to sort out so don't struggle on alone :)

Be sure to call back next week to see the winners of last fortnight's 'Sugar Pea 'Home Sweet Home' die and the matching Sweet Pea Sweet Sentiments 'Home' stamp set.

Parsnip's latest calamity adventure was helping me to clean the different stamps as I was making this card - thank goodness for the Shammy as there is a fair bit of stamp cleaning to do along the way. Of course, he demanded payment in choklit! However, I have absolutely no idea how a little white bear could end up with yellow ink inside his ear as well as sky blue underneath his chin. I think he must have had a couple of itches and forgotten the dangers of scratching oneself whilst having inky paws. I didn't look any further, for fear of where else on his fluffy little white body he might have been spreading the stuff - I shudder to think!

Love from Parsnip and of course from me,

Friday, 2 March 2018

Card for Luke

This is just a reminder for me - for the record. Len, as he often does now, helped me out by pulling together the image and wording:
He figured that most little boys will still be keen on Super Heroes so he designed this, using free Clip Art, in the space of about 15 minutes at the very most.

All I had to do was to resize it a bit in GIMP, trim it to suit, round the corners, add the blue backing layer and then glue it to a 5" x 7" card blank.

Quick and easy, especially when cards for chaps of any age are always such a struggle for yours truly!

Hope everyone is keeping safe and warm in the extreme weather conditions we're having in the UK just now!