Posted in Card Engineering, Copic Coloring, Die Cutting, Heat Embossing, My Favorite Things, Tim Holtz

Two Stained Glass Window Cards, Plus Bonus Masculine Thanks Card from One Die Cut

Today’s card will give the impression of stained glass.

Our card panel is 4″x 5-1/4″ Neenah Solar White, which will allow me to mount it onto a card base later with an allowance for an edge decoration. I cut two of them for each card. Then, I use my grid mat to help me to center a round circle die with a 2-1/4″ interior diameter about a quarter of an inch below the top of the panel, attach the die to the cardstock with micro-pore tape, attach the two white cardstock panels together with another piece of micro-pore tape, and run it through my Big Shot. Even if your die cutting machine doesn’t go through both pieces of cardstock, you’ll at least have an impression that will give you perfect alignment. This will form the arched portion of our stained glass window, and the second panel that will cover our glue work.

Once this is cut, you’ll use a pencil to lightly mark 4″ from the top of the circle down towards the bottom of the page; this will be the bottom of the rectangular panel of your window. Draw a horizontal line across your paper at that point. Now, cut a vertical slice along each side of the circle from the widest point of the circle down to the drawn line, using either a slide-type paper trimmer or a metal-edged ruler–I really like the well-designed one from Tim Holtz– and a sharp craft knife (I use the Fiskars fingertip model). Finally, cut along the drawn line at the bottom to complete cutting the shape of the window. If you haven’t kept your two panels together, use this cut as a template to copy the cut again on the second piece onto which you’d cut a circle. If you’re making two of these cards, as I am, separate the two panels of each portion and mark one set in pencil so that you know which backing goes with which front. Choose the panel that you like best to be the front of each of the two cards, and set the backing portions aside for now.

The next item to be die cut is the Die-namics Abstract Cover-Up steel die from My Favorite Things. Like all of their “Cover-Up” series dies, it’s the perfect size for a standard A2-size card; however, since it won’t be a stand-alone focal point of this card, we’ll be able to get not one, but actually three cards from this cutting. Don’t you love being able to stretch your supplies and your card-making time? I know that I do! Cut the die from black paper. Carefully place a sheet of Glad Press’N Seal, a slightly sticky wrap that was originally designed for kitchen use, over the front of the die so that you retain all of the pieces in their original positions. Remove the die, then use a stylus to lift the framework piece away from the interior pieces.

I used the interior pieces for a masculine card by using the framework as a template and gluing the pieces onto piece of designer paper from Tim Holtz’s Paper Stash, Lost and Found paper pad using Scotch Quick-Dry. I had precut the designer paper to 4-1/4″x5-1/2″ using the largest of the Large Stitched Rectangle Stackables dies from Lawn Fawn, and inked the edges with Old Paper Distress Ink. When placing these, you want to be sure tomascthx lift the framework from time to time as you go to ensure that it isn’t being glued down along with the interior pieces. I then used a gold pen to color a piece of cardstock from which we’ll die-cut a sentiment using the Hero Arts Stamp & Cut “Thanks” die, as well as a few embellishments using the Mama Elephant Confetti die, which I place on a band of black so that they don’t become lost on the card. Apply it to a card base, and our masculine card is ready to use.

The framework piece of the Abstract Cover-Up will act as the solder-work of the stained glass. By turning it to a landscape orientation, while our card panel is portrait, we can get two windows from it, each 4″ tall; so, fold the framework in half in the landscape mode, pinch it to obtain a crease, then cut it into two portions. Fit these onto the back of your window panel. You’ll get a better appearance using tiny drops of a matte adhesive, like Ranger Multi-Medium Matte.

I decided that I’d prefer some of the “stained glass” segments to be smaller, based on the size of the card, so I cut some additional strips of black cardstock to the same width as the divider lines of the die and experiment with their placement. I feel that this is the fun of crafting, and how you get the most from your supplies–by asking yourself, “What else can I do with this? How could I change it?” As an example, you’d get an entirely different look for this card by dabbing bottled alcohol inks onto acrylic, then piecing the panels in. Go a little wild with one idea, and get many vastly different cards from a sitting; you just might amaze yourself!

I join the two pieces to some clean pieces of clear acrylic sheet, also known as crafting plastic, or acetate. Many crafters keep the clear, plastic packing from product purchases to have on hand for project such as this. For now, attach the framework to the acrylic from behind at the top of the circle using micro-pore tape; this will allow you to see the effect of your coloring while still allowing you to remove it and clean it off should you make an error or change your mind.

To color your stained glass, you can use any alcohol-based marker, including Copics, Sharpies, Pro Markers, Spectrum Noirs, or the like. You’ll want to test the colors on a scrap of the acrylic material; I was very surprised by the difference between how a Copic R46, which I had thought would be a perfect Christmas red based on how it colors on paper, appeared when applied to clear acetate. It was quite pink! Lovely, but not at all what I had in mind. If you have limited quantities of acetate, you can test a few colors, note your choices, then clean the sheet off with some alcohol and use it again. My first thought had been that one could test on an acrylic stamping block; however, perhaps because of the thickness, I found the impression given to be less than accurate compared to testing on the actual material to be used, even if placed over white paper. Color will be applied to the back of the acetate.

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If you want a vibrant rather than a muted look, you’ll also want to choose more saturated colors–for Copic users, that means markers with the 2nd number at the higher end of the scale. I’ll show one vibrant and one muted version, so that you can see the difference and choose for yourself before you start. Whatever your preference, I’ve found that 2nd number, or saturation level indicator figures, of Copics of three or lower barely show up when used on acrylic, so they aren’t really worth the use of ink for this application. Using the wide tip of the marker will reduce streaking.

As I mentioned, I’ll be using vibrant colors for one version, so those will be Copic markers B29, R39, G29, and Y38. For the more subdued card, I’ll use B16, R46, G16 and Y17. I think that a really pretty card could be made using a monochromatic palette, as well, since I’ve seen some stunning pieces of stained glass made that way.

In choosing your color placement, you can just wing it, if that’s what you enjoy, or you can incorporate a few design principles, such as these:

  1. Try to have an odd number of instances of each color, as we humans have a tendency to want to mentally count and pair off even-numbered items, and so we find odd numbers more visually soothing.
  2. For those of us in a Western culture, having one of your strongest/darkest colors at the bottom right corner “feels” correct to most viewers, as that falls into place with how we’re taught to read.
  3. If you’ll be including a sentiment or other additional element, consider what color it will be and whether that color needs to be included in your thinking of how to balance your number of color occurrences.

Once you’re happy with your coloring and the ink is dry–which doesn’t take long for alcohol inks–you can remove the micro-pore tape and adhere the acrylic to the back of the panel with some multi medium matte. Cover the back of the panel with the backing panel you’d cut out and set aside and glue it over the “workings” of the reverse of your card panel for a polished look. You may notice that you didn’t get a perfectly smooth look from your alcohol markers–that’s actually ideal for this project! Stained glass, especially older, leaded glass, is full of ripples and variations within any given segment. It’s part of its intrinsic beauty, and you’ve just captured it nearly effortlessly.

I want the sentiment to keep with the clean, classic lines we’ve been using so far, but I also want to add something eye catching. I decide to make some glitter paper using Versamark embossing ink and Wow Metallic Gold Sparkle Embossing Glitter. From that, I’ll use the Tim Holtz “Typeset” alphabet die to cut out the word “believe” in all lower case letters, which will be spaced out evenly beneath the window. Once the sentiment is applied, the card front need only be added to a card base; but, of course, we didn’t go to all this trouble making a “window” and making the back look nice only to glue it down onto a card base; we want the recipient to enjoy the window effect. So, we’ll take a standard A2 card base, side folding, and cut a 2-1/4″ wide by 4″ long window into the front, starting 1/2″ from the top, which will allow our card front to be transparent, and to cast colors onto the card’s interior when light hits it.

Align the stained glass panel to the card and glue down. Add some additional visual interest and use up some leftover materials at the same time by applying a thin strip of the black cardstock, followed by a thin strip of the handmade glitter paper, to the right of the fold on the front. Our cards are now complete. Thanks so much for making them with me!

Posted in Die Cutting, Heat Embossing, My Favorite Things, Stamping, Tim Holtz, Winter Holidays: Christmas

Abstract Christmas Tree Three Ways

Welcome back to the holiday card series. We’re revisiting the versatile clear stamp set from My Favorite Things called Abstract Art, previously used on the card “Spreading Holiday Cheer.” Today, we’ll use its components to build and decorate a Christmas tree as the focal point of our card front. I love when I can get so much use from a stamp set!

Another fun aspect of this card concept is that you can vary the ink colors, the embossing powders, or the sentiment you place on top, and have a large variety of cards, all using redwhiteitems you’re likely to have on hand. The card could be somewhat traditional, or avant-garde, all depending on your personal creative choices.

Since we’re looking at versatility, let’s consider a few examples. Each will have a card front panel that’s made to fit onto a standard A2 card with a small border, so the panel will be 4″x5-1/4″ in the portrait orientation. We’ll do one onto standard white, Kraft, and a medium blue, and then just have fun playing with the possibilities.

First, let’s talk about shaping the tree. One option is to take one of the large stamps and ink it selectively, wiping off ink from the stamp to lesser degrees as you work down the tree so that the image becomes a larger triangle with each stamping as you go down the tree. Of course, it’s easier to add ink than to take it away; that’s why it makes sense to work from smaller to larger for this approach, so you don’t have to be so meticulousbluesil about cleaning the stamp with each use. Building the tree’s shape up from larger stamps to smaller is another. Yet another is to stamp many of them using various stamps, them cut them into a tree shape. Freehand it if you’re bold and really into the abstract look; I was more comfortable making a triangle template and using it to choose what segment I wanted.

The options for decorating the tree with this set are wonderful, too. Look at how one stamp resembles an ornament! Another one could be a strand of lights, popcorn, cranberries–anything that strikes your imagination. The circles of assorted sizes are obvious enough, but, think how much your artistic friends will enjoy receiving a card with paint splatters as ornaments on a tree. The possibilities are so much fun! And, looking at what you own with fresh eyes really increases the mileage you can get from it.

Adding a sentiment is all that this really needs. We’ll use the word “Noel” from the Tim Holtz “Holiday Words Script” die set and emboss it to match our ornaments. It sets off the ikraftgreenmage nicely and makes this an easily mass-produced card. As always, though, I say, “Go for it!” if you want to let loose your inner diva at holiday time. A dash of Stickles glitter glue across the boughs of the trees or highlighting the ornaments can be fun. Or, maybe a Stardust Glitter Pen. Flat-backed pearls or gems? Why not? As card makers, isn’t this truly the most wonderful time of the year?

Posted in My Favorite Things, Stamping, Tim Holtz, Winter Holidays: Non-Denominational

Holiday Cheer, and Fixing Stamping Mistakes

Today we’re making a non-traditional holiday card with an artsy feel, non-denominational and colorful.

We’ll start by using the Tim Holtz “Typeset” alphabet die to cut out the letters for the words “Holiday Cheer” from Neenah 80-pound white cardstock–& black, to use as shadow–using the Big Shot. I had to run parts through more than once to get all the letters needed for my sentiment. I also run through the Big Shot with cardstock using the Mama Elephant Confetti die, giving me some options to use as embellishments later. When the pieces are cut, placing them onto some Post-It notes makes them manageable–and keeps me from losing them!

I’ve chosen a group of colorful inks–these are Shadow Inks by Hero Arts in Red Royal, Cornflower, Orange Soda, Bubblegum, Soft Lilac, and Tide Pool–with which to ink up the letters using finger daubers. You could also use cosmetic sponges, if that’s what you have handy. I want to keep track of which ink I’ve used on which letter, because I have this fun stamp set, Abstract Art from My Favorite Things, that I want to use to make ink appear to be spreading from each letter of the greeting. I think that my crafty friends will appreciate the pun of “Spreading Holiday Cheer,” with the visual of spreading ink–even though they’ll probably groan (grin).

The card’s front panel will be a black, standard A2 size, or 4-1/4″ by 5-1/2″ onto which I’ll create a white panel that’s 1/8″ smaller on each side, leaving a border. I generally prefer to make a front panel and attach it to a base, rather than make a single-layer card, as it gives me more creative flexibility, and it hasn’t yet wound up costing me more in postage. I take a piece of Post It tape and put it across a card the same width as my card front, then fold it over and adhere it together with my ATG, making sure that a small piece of the tape is visible over the top edge of the cardstock. This will provide me with a panel to use to test my spacing for those small, die-cut letters.

Since the black letters that I’ve cut out will be the shadow, or background letters, I’ll use them to test the spacing. This also gives me an opportunity to clean up any less-than-perfect areas, or “fuzzies,” on the die cuts. I’ll use a QuickStik to place the letters partially onto the tape, so that I can remove them, all lined up, later.

For the moment, I’ll set those aside and prepare another strip of Post It tape on a piece of scrap. By, the way, I’m only using orange paper for the scrap because it’s easy to see on camera, and I’m trying to use it up from my stash. On this strip, we’ll be using the Hero Arts Shadow inks we selected earlier to color the white versions of our die-cut letters, using finger daubers to avoid fraying the edges of the paper. If you’re a hands-on sort of crafter, you could just pick up each letter and push it into the ink pad, then place it onto scrap paper to dry, but I’ve really been wanting to use these daubers. I love new toys–I mean, tools.

Looks like gibberish, doesn’t it? Or, am I wishing you a happy “Hyoclhie, dear”? There’s a method to it, though; I’ve got 6 colors of ink and 12 letters, so, alternating them, I’ve placed the 2 letters that will have the same color of ink next to each other to save some time. We’ll turn it back into English after they dry, when we arrange them on the card.

Time to apply the inked letters onto their black paper shadows. Scotch Quick-Dry Adhesive, along with a good pair of tweezers, help make this close work come together. Since these are tiny items, use only the smallest dots of glue on the letters.

Our layered letters have had time to dry. I move the letters to sight-line for reference,holiday-cheer-b-002 then choose a paint-smear style stamp from the MFT Abstract Art set and use the MISTI to stamp it in the same color order as the letters. Because I want a straight line on which my letters will sit, and the smear is longer than I want, I cut the stamp with my Tim Holtz scissors. No need to worry; it will piece together perfectly for future uses. And, look at this stamp–wouldn’t it work beautifully as a candle, too?

Well, darn; even using the MISTI, I’ve managed to stamp imperfectly. Time to break out my secret weapon duo–Copic Opaque White and an Eyelash Applicator brush. Nobody will be the wiser.

I’ve also spread some of the star and sequin shapes cut from the white cardstock onto some of the Post It tape so that we can ink them with our chosen colors when we continue our stamping.

Now I’ll work on the rest of the sentiment, the word “spreading,” which I’ll form using Lawn Fawn’s Milo’s ABCs stamp set. There are 2 ways to potentially approach this–continue the pun by “spreading” the word “spreading” itself across the width of the sentiment that will be below it, or minimize it, and let the colors and the artistic stamp set take center stage. At first, I don’t think I can decide without seeing how each will look; then, I realize that having the word elongated across that amount of space will likely render it illegible. That kind of design decision is easy! Versafine Tuxedo Black ink will echo the black paper behind the die-cut letters, while giving a crisp image for such detailed stamps.

Some people can stamp sentiments nicely one letter at a time. I can’t, even if I draw a line. The best way I’ve found to stamp with tiny letters like these is to use a lined clear block that has etched lines on it and a repositionable adhesive such as you’d use with your un-mounted stamps (I use Aleen’s Tack It Over & Over), and work from the opposite direction from the hand with which you write. Otherwise, you’ll be likely to keep bumping the stamps you’ve just lined up, and you’ll be frustrated before you’re half finished. As you apply any letter that has a “wrong way,” turn over your block and make sure that the letters read correctly. It’s easy to place a “D” facing the wrong direction, for example, especially if you’re crafting late at night or in a hurry. And, please, when you’re finished, wipe off the ink over your desk–those small stamps can go missing in the swipe of a wipe! And, of course, it will be one of those imperative vowels, won’t it?

Let’s place our die-cut letters over our ink streaks. Again, we’ll use Scotch Quick-Dry and some tweezers, and place each letter over its corresponding location. You might notice that I keep the lid of my Quick-Dry upside down on my work surface. That allows me to place the glue right into the lid, capping it while I work, without having to stop and use 2 hands, and also serves to hold it in conveniently nearby. As with layering the letters, tiny dabs of glue and tweezers are key. To pick up the tiny dot over the letter “i” I switch from tweezers to a craft knife. The one I like is the Fiskars fingertip model–I’ve only recently tried it, and I’m absolutely a convert! The design worked to provide me a level surface on which to place my die-cut sentiment, as I’d hoped, yay!

I’m thinking this card is going to need some glitz, but I don’t want to go with glitter; there’ll be plenty of that on future cards, and I have a gentleman in mind to receive this one. So, mirror gold cardstock for the flash seems a better choice. I cut a slice to use as an embellishment strip, and one to use as a banner behind the word “spreading.” I choose glue dots as the adhesive for the gold, since any liquid glue that got on it would leave a visible smudge. And, this desktop glue dots dispenser is so much easier than unrolling them from the box!

Here’s how I make banner ends; I turn the paper over and mark where I want the tails to end and how deep I want them to be. Then, I use a ruler to mark a line down the middle and down, indicating where to cut. Many people just eyeball this, but when I try it, it’s like trying to freehand cut a circle–it just gets smaller, and smaller, and smaller! After cutting the first one, I take the cut piece and use it as a template for the other end, thereby ensuring that they are exactly equal. A little over-the-top, maybe. But seeing one side off just a teensy bit would bother me more than a teensy bit!

Placing the panel over the black cardstock panel, it still seems to need something. I enlist the confetti die cuts we inked earlier, along with some flat gold star sequins from Pretty Pink Posh. Scattering them randomly around the edge where they’ll peak out beneath the white panel gives just the touch of festivity I wanted. I deliberately leave some hanging off the edge, to be trimmed later, to give a feeling of expansiveness and continuity. Once I have an arrangement that I like–and yes, I used every one of those confetti pieces–I’ll coat them with Glossy Accents. This will give them shine and keep me from having to disturb the arrangement I’ve already made.

Once the Glossy Accents have dried, I flip the panel to trim off any over-hanging pieces, adhere the two panels together, then adhere them to a card base, and that finishes the card for today. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you had fun.