Arm-ageddon

This whole arm problem is really starting to get to me now.  The constant pain is just exhausting.  Whilst the physiotherapy and acupuncture have improved the tennis elbow symptoms, it seems those symptoms were disguising other elbow pain.  It feels like I’m taking one step forward and two steps back.  On the plus side, I am getting to be a dab hand at ‘mousing’ with my left hand.  To avoid having a similar problem with my left arm, I’ve purchased an ergonomic left-handed mouse.  Aside from having to switch around the left and right buttons to be the same as a right-handed mouse, it’s been really easy and comfortable to use.

Anyway, I’ve really been missing crafting and crafting is one of the things I would do to de-stress.  I figured that not crafting hasn’t improved my arm situation so I may as well do a bit and de-stress myself.  A large box of Stampin’ Up! goodies was delivered this week and I was keen to get playing with some new stuff.  I was conscious that I didn’t want to be doing too much and making my arm lots worse so I went for a simple, quick festive project – a Christmas tree garland.

I used a new set from the Autumn/Winter catalogue, Perfectly Plaid with the matching tree punch.

I cut a 2½” strip each of real red, old olive and thick whisper white card.  This was enough for 6 trees of each colour.  After using my Embossing Buddy, I stamped one of the trees with Versamark, applied gold embossing powder and heat set it.  I then punched the trees out.

Using glue dots, I attached each tree to a length of ribbon, spacing the trees about 2½” apart.

The finished garland is about 1.1m long but could easily be extended either by increasing the spacing or making more trees.  I’ve attached this one to our mantlepiece but it’d also look great in place of ribbon on a gift.  This was a quick little project which took me about 20 minutes and it satisfied my crafting mojo.

 

 

Images © 2019 Stampin’ Up!

 

 

Botanical Bliss Tags

Still no real improvement in my arm this week so, yet again, no crafting but here’s a little project I did a few weeks ago. 

Romantic themes aren’t usually my crafting style but I seem to have inadvertently gone all romantic with these tags this week! The Botanical Bliss tags dies consist of 3 tag toppers, 2 edge cutters and a leafy branch.  There’s also a coordinating stamp set which has some useful sentiments.  I was immediately drawn to the birds, thinking they’d look great silhouetted against an inked sky.  However, since I’ve done a lot of silhouettes lately, I decided to challenge myself with the flower instead.

Rather than a straight forward strung tag, I wanted to try a folded tag.  The dies are designed to be used on 2” wide strips of card for tags or bookmarks.  As I wanted my card to fold, I needed the card to extend either side of the die so my card was 3” x 5½” in Bushing Bride.  I marked a pencil line at 2¾” and also marked the edges of the cutting lines on the die.  The lines on the die were lined up with the pencil line and the whole thing was run through the Big Shot.

I scored along the pencil line to the edge of the cut out and then erased the pencil line.

The card was then folded at the edges, making the cut area stand up.

I wanted the flower to stand out and also have a little more strength so I cut another flower from Very Vanilla.  The bottom edge of this flower was then cut out using one of the edge dies in the set.

My cutting plates had marked the card quite badly so I ran it through the Scripty EF before sticking the VV flower on the front.

I decorated the front with a sentiment, some hessian ribbon and a branch cut from gold glimmer paper.

This is how the back looks, with the cut out.  I used an old background stamp for the writing on the right-hand tag.  I think this one would make lovely place name settings for a wedding or party.  You could write guest’s menu choices on the inside.

For my second design with this flower die, I thought I’d just do a normal strung tag.  I cut the design out of a 2” strip of Crumb Cake card and then drew around the top on a piece of Very Vanilla and fussy cut the shape.  I marked in pencil where the edges of the flower and leaves were and added a little colour with sponge daubers.

The tag was finished by using the Scripty EF again, some gold branches and Old Olive ribbon.

Lastly, I wondered how the flower would look with inlaid pieces.  The flower was cut out of Blushing Bride, inlaid with Very Vanilla petals and Old Olive leaves and mounted on Crumb Cake folded tag base.  Gold branches and hessian ribbon complete the look.

So there you have it –  3 different looks from one die.  My next challenge will be to use this die to make some cards.  Watch this space!

 

Images © 2019 Stampin’ Up!

 

 

 

Left-Handed Crafting!

I’m happy to report that I’m out of the sling this week although nowhere near back to normal yet ☹ The few days in the sling allowed my muscles to calm down enough so that the weight of my arm was bearable again.  This week I’ve had some physio and acupuncture and I’ve got this really jazzy strapping helping me out.

However, I still can’t use my right hand for very long until my arm starts to hurt so I thought I’d challenge my left hand to some everyday tasks!  The first was writing.  Well, I struggled to even hold the pen to begin with! My pages of alphabet look like they were written by a 6-year old but at least they look like letters.  My blog posts and photo editing is also all being done left handed, albeit slowly, but I have learned some useful keyboard shortcuts.

So, then I turned my attention to crafting and what I could make that would be simple, forgiving and hopefully not too frustrating.  I had some 2” strips of card left over from another project that I’d saved for tags, so tags it was! My coordination with my left-hand, when operating solo, is a bit sketchy so I used my Stamparatus to help with the stamping.  The bare trees from Winter Woods were mounted on one side of the door and the greeting on the other.  I stamped them onto the lining paper so I could line up my tags with the images.

Using Versamark ink and clear embossing powder, I stamped and heat set the trees on each tag.  Then I cut a wavy edge to the top of a Post-it note for the mask and used the overhangs of the mask to hold the tag in position.  I used a sponge brayer to colour the sky.  The ink is applied so gradually, it’s a very forgiving method so handy for my non-dominant hand.

The embossing resists the ink and any residue was easily removed with a tissue.  To give more texture to the sky, I spritzed some water on and dabbed it off with a tissue.

Next, the door of the Stamparatus was turned over so I could stamp the greeting.  I then punched the tops with the Scalloped Tag Topper punch.

Since they were Christmas tags, I wanted a bit of sparkle so I put them into my ‘spraying box’ and sprayed with Champagne Shimmer Mist/isopropyl alcohol mix.

The last job was to attach some ribbon, for which I did have to bring my right hand out of retirement!  The whole project probably took me twice as long as usual but at least I was crafting.  It must have given my brain quite a workout too as I had to have a nap afterwards!

 

 

Images © 2019 Stampin’ Up!

Brilliant Brusho!

Brusho is a watercolour pigment which is supplied in small drums of crystalline powder.  The powder is very vivid and a little goes a long way – often beyond your project and half way across your desk!!  The powder can be mixed with water to use as a traditional watercolour medium or can be used with sprayers and brushes to create a unique mix of hues and patterns.  This second use interested me for making backgrounds for my cards.

Warning! It’s quite a messy business.  Cover your desk with some scrap paper and if you don’t want multi-coloured fingers for a few hours, wear gloves.

I had chosen mainly blues with a purple and black as I wanted to create night sky inspired works.  The pots arrived and were identical in their anonymity!  The colour names were written on the pots but I thought it would make life easier if the actual colours were displayed on the pots.  I mixed up a tiny amount of each powder with a little cold water and painted a patch of each colour onto some sticky labels.  When dry, I cut out a circle (my 1” punch is the perfect size for the pot lid) and a couple of small strips for the sides of the pot.  I pushed a pin into each lid to make the pots into shakers to save taking the lids off each time.

I also cut out a smaller circle for my index card and also had a little calligraphy fun with this too.

Using shimmer paper (as I would be using a lot of water, watercolour paper would also work), I taped the pieces to a board to keep them flat.  It was more successful than not taping – the pieces still buckled but not as much.  For these four pieces, I either spritzed – powdered – spritzed or just powdered -spritzed.  Here you can see

1. the powder on dry paper;

2. the crystals starting to burst when the water is applied;

3. the patterns changing as more water is added making more colour release.  I used a mix of 3 or 4 colours on each piece.

When I was happy with the coverage and patterns, I left them overnight to dry.  I’ll warn you – it’ll probably look a hot mess at this stage.  The colours are lighter when they’re dry so wait until then before you decide whether to chuck it away!!  You may be surprised…

Remember the Friendly Silhouette dies from a few weeks ago? I wanted to use these again but using white rather than black card and the dramatic backgrounds created using Brusho are perfect for this.

What’s lovely about Shimmer White card is that it has a light glittery effect which shines through the Brusho and adds a bit of interest to the sky.

I tried a sentiment in a smaller font on this card but it looked a bit lost so instead I decided to make the most of the dark background and heat emboss the sentiment there instead.

This panel looked more like a galaxy so I added the star flourish and the star cut outs from Stitched Stars dies (to be released in the 2019 Autumn/Winter Catalogue on 4th Sept).  The coordinating So Many Stars stamp set has only Christmas sentiments so I used another star-themed one from my stash.

I had chosen these colours for making snowy night skies for Christmas cards and these two were made using only Prussian Blue.  The top one was sprayed first then had crystals sprinkled on.  The bottom one had crystals sprinkled onto dry paper and then brushed with a paintbrush and lots of clean water.  A little mist of spray created the blue haze at the bottom. I heat embossed the trees from Waterfront and Snowfront (another A/W 2019 catalogue release) stamp sets and stars from So Many Stars using white embossing powder.

This card also featured only Prussian Blue.  This time, I painted plenty of clean water where I wanted my sky and left the bottom white for the snow.  I then sprikled the pigment onto the wet area.  As the card bent with the added water, it allowed the paint to run and create that brilliant Northern Lights type of pattern.  Bet I can’t recreate that!

As the paper got quite warped, I used wet glue to adhere the panel to the card base and placed it under a weight until dry.  It emerged perfectly flat.

Here’s another galaxy style with a large cut out star with the new Mercury Acetate (A/W Catalogue) behind and some silver heat embossing.

Stampin’ Up! Have now released Pigment Sprinkles, their own version of Brusho in colours to match some of their card and inks.  The colours are mainly pinks, oranges and greens so will give a completely different look. I think I’ll be purchasing some of those in the not too distant future!

p.s. You remember at the beginning how I said the crystals go a long way?  This is what I cleaned off my desk afterwards despite having protective sheets of paper down…

 

 

Images © 2019 Stampin’ Up!

 

 

Ice, Ice Baby!

I was first introduced to the Black Ice technique at Team Training back in January this year.  One of the other demos, Stella, did a demonstration of this and I thought it looked quite intriguing.  I made a note of it, thinking I’d try it out soon and then promptly forgot all about it!

Sadly, Stella passed away earlier this month but thinking of her reminded me that I hadn’t given the technique a go.  I didn’t know Stella well but first met her a few years ago at a card making class and subsequently met her a few times at demonstrator events.  She was always very friendly, so full of life and had a great sense of humour.  She will be missed and I dedicate this post to her.

The technique was ‘invented’ by an American demonstrator called Melissa Kerman.  She has lots of great videos on YouTube, not only on this technique but lots of other cool ideas too.  Anyhow, here’s my first crafting journey onto Black Ice!

First of all, shiny card is needed for this technique: foil sheets are perfect.  I used silver foil and Grapefruit Grove foil (from Sale-A-Bration earlier this year).  I hadn’t used any of this foil as I had no idea what to do with I, it’s not really one of my colours.  It seems it was crying out for this technique.

A sheet of scrap paper is needed to work on.  I applied a small amount of temporary adhesive to the back of the foil piece and stuck it to the scrap paper. It is possible to do this without sticking the pieces down but it does make life easier.  Using a black Stazon ink pad, I started off the edge of the card and lightly dragged the ink pad down the foil, pressing harder at the beginning and end to get a black edge.  The aim is to get a streaked, antiqued kind of look.  It took a couple of passes as the card was wider than the ink pad.

Next, again using black Stazon, I stamped my design.  I used a selection of sets; Best Catch, Beautiful You and Lilypad Lake.  My fisherman looked a bit lost, floating in mid-air so I masked him and stamped the water from Lilypad Lake, after wiping off some ink as the fisherman image is quite fine.

Once the ink was completely dry (if in doubt wait a bit longer or dry with a heat tool) it was time for stage 2.  This time, I took a Versamark pad and using just the weight of the pad, dragged it down the foil piece in the same direction as the Stazon.  Again, it took a couple of passes.

I then applied clear embossing powder and heat set it.

The aim is to get a streaky look with the embossing powder, looking like lines of ice crystals, hence the name!  Here’s a close up once mine had been heat embossed.

I messed up the edge of this one as my temporary adhesive was rather more temporary than intended and came loose as I was applying the Stazon!  This resulted in the two heavy lines of ink on the left, which isn’t a good look.  I used an Inkylicious Picture Perfect stamp that I’ve had for years which has its own frame so at least the foil piece wasn’t wasted.

So, here are my finished cards.  I didn’t do much with the backgrounds as I wanted the focal image to be the star of the show.  (My photograpic prop this week is a kestrel feather.  We are lucky enough to have kestrels nesting just down the lane each year and I found this feather on our driveway.)

Best Catch fisherman with the other fishing images stamped for the background and sentiment from the same set. I used Basic Black and Always Artichoke as I love khaki and have stacks of that card.  It is retired now but Mossy Meadow is almost the same.

The yachts and water from Lilypad Lake with Pacific Point background embossed with retired Seaside embossing folder (there’s a High Seas folder now that would work for this theme).

The next two are my Beautiful You cards.  As I wrote earlier, Grapefruit Grove is not my kind of colour scheme so I didn’t have any coordinating card stock for my card base.  I found that the copper embossing powder worked well with the iced panel and Blackberry Bliss and Rich Razzleberry offered a good supporting role together with the Scripty embossing folder.  The other card used some very old DSP that had a vaguely pinky-peach coloured design on it.

Lastly, here’s the ‘rescued’ panel. I used a strip from an iced panel that I completely messed up in place of ribbon under the sentiment.

I hope you’ll give this technique a go.  It does involve a little trial and error but is great fun and gives stunning results.

 

Images © 2019 Stampin’ Up!