• Clean and simple

    Wednesday, 22 October, 2014

    If you asked anyone I work with to describe me, the word 'simple' may crop up quite a bit although the word 'clean' would be conspicuous by it's absence (I'm a bit messy when I'm working!). Having said that, when it comes to card making Clean & Simple is what I prefer nine times out of ten. 

    A few weeks back I made some cards using hexagons which I have taken with me to various shows and demo's recently and they always seem to be popular which I why I want to revisit the idea but with a festive twist.

    I will be using a couple of the new Texture Fades embossing folder sets from Tim Holtz namely the Beaded Garland & Snowflake set and the Greeting & Greens set together with the Framelits Hexagons set.

    I will also be using a selection of Distress inks to bring the embossing to life.

    I started by using a 44 mm wide hexagon to die-cut an aperture in my base card behind which I placed a printed sentiment attached using adhesive foam pads to add a little dimension. I used the same hexagon to die-cut 4 shapes each of which I embossed using my 'Greens' folder.

    I inked over the embossed detail using Ripe Persimmon and Spiced Marmalade before adding a little depth to the edges with Fired Brick. Next, I coloured the berries white using a gel pen (Uni-ball Signo by the way, Good white pens are hard to find!) You may need to repeat the white colour up to three times.

     All that was left to do was attach the separate hexagons around the aperture using adhesive foam pads trimming the bottom one to fit the card.

    For the second card, I repeated the first three steps moving the aperture to the right and debossing with the 'Snowflakes' pattern.

    I used Shabby Shutters, Peacock Feathers and Dusty Concord Distress Inks to add the colour. Once dry, I added tiny 2 mm adhesive gems to the centre of each snowflake and sprayed them with silver 'Spray & Sparkle' to enhance the colours and add a bit off 'Bling'.

    I attached the hexagons as before and that, as they say, is that!

    This is the sort of card I would be more than happy to send or receive and I'm sure that there are endless colour and embossing combinations that you could play about with to equally good effect.

  • Frozen fractals all around!

    Wednesday, 15 October, 2014

    What on earth is a fractal I hear you cry and you are not alone? If you really want to know the answer, ask any little girl from the age of three upwards. The title of this blog itself is in fact a fractal of a lyric from the song 'Let it go' which comes from the Disney movie 'Frozen' and if you have a young daughter or granddaughter you will no doubt be familiar with both the tune and the lyrics.

    My own daughter dressed up as the character Elsa for a Frozen themed lunch at her school last week complete with regulation blond plait so I thought I would use this weeks blog to create a frozen themed card featuring some of the new Tim Holtz collection.

    The dies I used are:

    You can see the different dies/folders by clicking on the links above.

    OK! so it's Disney, it's one of the biggest grossing movies of all time, and my daughter will never speak to me if I get it wrong.... no pressure!

    I took a 10.5 x 14 cm rectangle of white card and applied Broken China Distress Ink across the surface. Next, I applied the darker Chipped Sapphire working closer to the corners before going around the edges with Black Soot.

    I next applied Perfect Pearls (Biscotti) which comes in a mister bottle. This serves to add a lovely pearl sheen and it also gives the inked surface a lovely mottled look if you spray enough on. After embossing with my snowflakes folder I used a little white gesso applied with my brayer working from the corners inward. I wanted the effect to be quite random and it brings out the embossed detail beautifully.

    I die-cut the gorgeous layered snowflake and inked using Broken China and Chipped Sapphire and embossed with its corresponding Texture Fades folder (they come packaged together). Next, Iused my brayer to apply some white gesso in a thin layer.

    Once the gesso had dried I used My Fingertips to apply PVA glue to the arms of the snowflake before sprinkling on a little Clear Rock Candy Distress Glitter. Next I die-cut a couple of the smaller snowflakes using the Stacked Snowflakes die (LOVE this die!!!) before embossing both with the same folder. You can use this folder with snowflake die you may already have because they all conform to the same symmetrical six sided shape. I inked, applied the gesso and glitter as before and mounted all three snowflake together using adhesive foam pads to build up a little dimension before mounting toward the top of my embossed rectangle.

    I took the final and most famous line from the song 'Let it go' and printed it onto white cardusing several fonts in different shades of the same blue colour. Next, I used scissors to cut them into asymmetric rectangles before lightly inking the edges

    I attached the separate words using a combination of glue and foam pads before nervously crossing the room to seek the approval of Nichola and Natalie, our resident 'Frozenologists'
    for there stamp of approval which I'm happy to say it received...PHEW!!

    Now all I have to do is run it by my daughter (Jorja and Jessica too!!!) like I said, no pressure! 

    I hope you like it though?

  • Father.... Christmas!

    Wednesday, 8 October, 2014

    Today I want to share an idea which I used as a demo at Sprinkle Twinkle in Kings Lynn recently. The one thing I hear more than any other is that It's not easy finding an original idea for a man's card, they seem to follow the same old worn-out clichés and Christmas time it seems is no exception.

    As I said last week, I'm very fond of the new collection designed by Tim Holtz amongst which are some fab new Texture Fades embossing folders. Today I will be using the Holiday Knit Set together with the ubiquitous Framelits Tags Collection 

    I started by embossing a rectangle of ivory card using one of the holiday knit folders. Next, I used a scrap piece of card as a mask before applying Ripe Persimmon Distress Ink, for the red bands I blended this with the aptly named Festive Berries Ink.

    Next, I coloured the other bands using a combination of Shabby Shutters and Crushed olive ink pads. The coverage doesn't have to be perfect, in fact slight imperfection is preferred in this case!

    NOW! it's time to brake out the scissors because we are going  to cut the embossed/inked rectangle into a jumper shape together with a separate collar. If you prefer you can mark this out with a pencil on the back of the rectangle of card prior to embossing. Once your jumper is cut to size its time to ink around the edges using Vintage Photo to add a little contrast.
     I used my PC to print the 'Merry Christmas DAD' sentiment onto kraft card before die-cutting my tag with one of the Framelits tags set I cut the circle for the top at the same time. To complete the look I used my tracing wheel to add the stitched effect around the perimeter and joined the dots using a fine marker before gently inking the edges.
    I covered a blank A6 card with wood effect paper from the Dovecraft 'Krafty Christmas' paper set. Next, I curled the tag slightly so that it stands proud of the base card before threading it with string. Finally, I attached the jumper using adhesive foam pads.

    I might just send it to myself but knowing my luck I'll get the Jumper itself!!

  • Snowflake Alchemy!

    Wednesday, 1 October, 2014

    Firstly, Hello to all the gang at Sprinkle Twinkle in Kings Lynn where I was giving a demo day and workshop at the weekend, we had lots of fun looking at some of the new Christmas dies and sharing a few techniques.

    At the start of the day, a lovely lady named Tina brought me some Welsh cakes to make me feel at home so 'Diolch yn fawr iawn'. Next time I'm down that way I'm going to take them a few mountains, we've got plenty to spare in North Wales and they could do with a couple dotted about the place. I've never seen so much sky?

    One of my demos on the day involved a new set of Thinlits snowflakes from that man Tim Holtz who has hit a winner again with his gorgeous new collection of seasonal dies, click on this link to see what I mean!

    I am also using a set of Thinlits Tags which everyone should make some room for in their die-cutting stash. Two other sets which proved very popular on the day and which I couldn't resist using are the Thinlits Holiday words collection and the Thinlits Labels collection. The embossing folder used is from a set of two namely Beaded Garland & Snowflakes. All of the products named are designed by Tim for Sizzix and I will be featuring more in the coming weeks because they are fab!

    I use the word alchemy in the title which was. of course, the pseudoscientific vain pursuit of turning base metals into gold. With Sizzix and a few Distress Inks however we can hopefully turn plain ivory and kraft card into crafting gold..... I hope!!!

    I die-cut the tag and word 'joy' from stiff ivory card and I die-cut three of the five snowflakes and the rosette label from kraft card. I then embossed or to be more precise, debossed the beaded garland onto the ivory tag before blending some of my favourite Distress Ink colours (Broken China, Shabby Shutters, Dusty Concord and Vintage Photo) over the top.

    I used a brayer to apply a thin coat of gesso to the label and snowflakes before strategically inking with the green, blue and purple. I then delicately spritzed the die-cuts with clean water to add a subtle mottling effect. Finally, I applied a little Vintage Photo inks to the edges. 
    Do you use Distress Glitter.... If not why not? It's super fine and adds a wonderful sparkle to whatever it touches, you can apply as much or as little as you want and it always allows the underlying colour to shine through. I applied a blob of PVA glue to my craft sheet and used my fingertips to apply some to the edges of the die-cut shapes in a random fashion before dipping it into the glitter. Next, I used 3D foam pads to mount the three snowflakes together before decorating with a few adhesive gems.

    I applied the glitter to the word 'Joy' which I attached to the label before adding an adhesive pearl in place of the die-cut dot over the letter 'j'. Next, I used a pokey tool to pop a hole through the top of the label and added a couple of jump rings.

    I used my Distress Inks to colour some Crinkle Ribbon and attached it around the base of my tag tied into a bow.

    And here is the finished tag, I added some paper string through the hole in the top from which I hung my label and mounted the snowflake with some more 3D foam pads. It may not be alchemy, but it's certainly very different from the raw materials with which we started our journey... More from Tim's new collection next week!

  • Mad as a Hatter!

    Wednesday, 24 September, 2014

    Opinions vary but I'm not mad... not yet! nor am I a hatter (or milliner to be more precise). This week however I find myself strangely drawn back towards Stephanie Ackerman's range of dies. You may remember that I featured some of her beautiful embossing folders a couple of weeks back.

    The flower dies in the collection are big, bold and contemporary in style. I could make a card or a layout but these dies are perfect for fabrics, more specifically felt.

    The Bigz die I used is called Flower #5 and is one of several dies in the collection which work equally as well with paper as it does with felt, cotton, denim, hessian, voile.... you get the picture!

    I popped down to the shops and bought myself a cute pink ladies bowler style hat to decorate which is where the title comes in (I don't just make it up as I go along you know!)

    I started by die-cutting 3 pink felt flowers, all in one pass through the machine, don't you just love Bigz dies. Next, I folded the flower in half and then half again. At this point you can secure it with a stitch or hot glue gun. I did this with all three flowers.
    I picked up a bunch of stamen used in the creation of artificial flowers, please don't ask where I got them as I can't remember but I'm sure a quick web search will turn up a whole host of similar products! I took one from the bunch and threaded it through the centre of the flower and twisted the wire at the base before snipping it to size.
    I next cut a 10 cm square of green felt, You could do this with a die but it doesn't have to be too accurate. I next cut the square in half on the diagonal which gave me two triangles. I folded them as shown below to create dimensional leaves which you could either tack at on end with a needle and thread or use a hot glue gun. I also made a smaller ivory leaf.
    I inserted two of the flower into the hat brim and added the third in the centre before arranging the felt leaves as shown. Again, how you want to attach them I will leave up to you.

    Now, a hat ain't a hat unless it's perched on someones head so last night I coerced my daughter Poppy into posing for the camera. It was wasn't really hard work, Anyone who has either been a 4 year old girl or has had a daughter will know that!

    And here it is, If I made this from start to finish without having to stop to take pictures and using the glue gun instead of stitches, I could make it in about two minutes flat. 

    Ah! the power of die-cutting!

    I was working at Alexander Palace or Ali Pali a it is affectionately known last weekend and I had the opportunity to catch up with lots of people I haven't seen for for a while. I also got to go out for a Pizza on Saturday night with two of my favourite people in the world, Ms Paula Pascual and Ms Patricia Villas Boas who is the distributor for Sizzix in Portugal both of whom are dear friends, it was so nice to catch up.

    When I got into the show at 8am Saturday morning after a four hour drive from North Wales one of the first people I bumped into was Paul Reeve. Many of you will know his better half Ali who is a regular on Create & Craft she is a clever lady full of inspirational ideas, tips and techniques.

     I was handed a packet which I have been looking forward to receiving for some time. One of the areas of Paul's business is creating a range of dimensional MDF kits, they are nothing short of fabulous and If you follow this link you will see what I mean.

    The kit in question is a rack to house my Distress Inks which rose from the jumble of pre-cut pieces to the magnificent display rack you see before you on the right in about ten minutes, no tools, no glue and really easy to follow instructions too.

    The kit also comes with a set of 48 Stickers which can be inked and labelled before attaching to your individual ink pads. I'm a happy bunny! thanks again to Ali and Paul.

    Where have you been all my life!!!

  • Scraptastic!

    Wednesday, 17 September, 2014

    I know I don't often feature Scrapbook layouts on this blog mainly due to time constraints, but I do love scrapbooking, especially as it is responsible for so many great products to play with and innumerable cool techniques to learn, all of which filters into my other crafty interests.

    I was going to make a card with the magnificent Thinlits Die Set Winter Borders and Rosette designed by my good buddy Paula Pascual. this is one set from Paula's new Everyday Collection released this month, I implore you to check it out (if you love delicate butterflies then look no further!!!)

    When I say I was going to make a card, I promised Barbara at a show in Manchester that I would do just that, however I couldn't resist doing a little layout, I hope you will forgive me?

    Below you will see the die set mentioned previously, an 8" x 8" square of card (all the card is from the My Mind's Eye Lost & Found 3 Collection) and three photo's of my daughter Poppy taken in the heavy snow we had in the UK a couple of years back.

    At this point I have no idea what I am going to do!

    OK! I now have a rough plan/idea so I'm going to start by die cutting a circle from Kraft card using the largest Circle Framelits die. I have combined both sets of Circle Framelits and between them I have every size I need ( 657551 and 658604). After die-cutting the first circle I place the die which is the next sized down onto the die-cut circle slightly offset. I repeat this twice more until I have three thin kraft card rings. Next, I use a brayer to apply a thin layer of gesso.

    I cut a rectangle of the pale blue dotty paper and trimmed away one edge using the snowflake border die. I applied some rows of faux stitching using a pattern makers wheel and a white gel pen before attaching all the separate elements to the layout together with a die-cut silver snowflake border.
    From the same dotty card I cut two halves of the snowflake rosette and proceeded to lighten the tips by dry brushing with gesso. Next, I concertina folded the two halves before attaching end to end to form a crown before folding in toward the centre to create the rosette. I usually secure this at the rear with a piece of scrap card attached with a hot glue gun to get a solid bond. I next die-cut a deep blue circle, a silver snowflake and a deep blue border strip whose edges I gently sanded to add a little contrast.

    I attached all the elements to the layout together with the photos and a rectangle of green patterned card which has been lightly distressed. I covered a piece of mount board with the deep blue card and used the Block Talk Lowercase Alphabet Die to cut the letters and printed the word 'Princess' onto the green card using my PC. I have a set of similar alphabet stamps which would work equally as well. After attaching the words to my layout I started to add a little bling in the form of assorted adhesive pearls and gems.

    Finally, I die cut a circle from card and used it as a template around which I attached a row of clear adhesive gems using my trusty tweezers before removing the card circle.

    Here is the finished article, lots of fun to do as always, I think the green really lifts it especially as I could use pearl gems of a similar colour. I love the way the circles give it a sense of movement. 

    So many little time!

  • Just emboss!

    Wednesday, 10 September, 2014

    The title sounds like an order, but I would never do such a thing. My very Britishness prevents it!

    What I am trying to say is that embossing alone can carry a simple handmade card without any fancy die-cuts (although I slipped a couple of hearts into the second cards) The techniques I have used are so simple and achievable, even for a beginner. 

    I know that many of you make batches of cards for charities or even to sell. When you are making batches of the same design, time is a very important factor and embossing is a great way to get where you want to go in a hurry!

    There is a new range of Sizzix dies created by the very talented Stephanie Ackerman. They are ultra contemporary and will work equally well with textiles as they will with paper and card. This week however, I am focusing on the embossing folders in the collection which are quite possibly my favourites of the year so far, although Tim Holtz October collection is going to give them a run for their money.

    I am using the Borders & Flowers Set for the following projects along with some Distress Inks and gilding wax.

    You can use either stamps or die-cut letters for your card greetings, I however chose to print them directly onto the cards with my PC (Stereo and Candlescript for all you font fanatics!)

    I cut a rectangle of white card and rounded off the corners before die-cutting 5 hexagons from the same card using my ever presents Hexagon Framelits die set. Next, I embossed everything using the flowers folder.

    I wanted to add a splash of colour using some distress inks, namely: Mustard Seed, Ripe Persimmon and Broken china. I chose them for their ability to blend and create secondary colours as you can see below. I always start with the lightest colour and remember, less is more!

    Here are the two cards, I hope you agree that they don't need anything else?

    Next up, the borders folder. I created another couple of card blanks and cut two rectangles of black card before embossing in my Big Shot. I used some Treasure Pewter gilding wax to enhance the detail and create a metallic effect.

    For the second card, I embossed a rectangle of dark brown card and used gold gilding wax before cutting it into random strips, this gives an almost tribal pattern look to proceedings. 

    As I mentioned before, I added a couple of die-cut hearts, also from The Stephanie Ackerman collection. On the 'DAD' card I decorated the perimeter of the heart with 2mm adhesive pearls before applying the pewter wax and I decorated the brown heart with a length of twine tied into a bow.

     I love their simplicity. I hope that you do too?

  • 116 Days....

    Wednesday, 3 September, 2014

    .... 'til Christmas! you heard it here first folks! I know, I know, it's a bit early to be talking about Christmas although from conversations on my travels many of you have already made your cards or are about to start.

    Believe me when I tell you I am the last person who needs reminding as I will turn 30 on Christmas Day...or was it 50, I can never remember!

    This is the time of year when all the major Craft manufactures launch their festive ranges onto an unsuspecting public and we here at Sizzix are no different.

    The range I want to talk about is Festive Arts designed by the prolific Ms. Potter. If you remember I introduced her woodland range to you last week. The range has a contemporary Nordic feel to it, and coincidentally I was demonstrating it among others in Norway a couple of weeks ago!

    The set I used is a Thinlits Die Set called Christmas Trims #2 (659913) which is one of 6 sets in the range. I decided to make some simple mini card using the Christmas tree and robin/mistletoe dies. I started by die-cutting them from kraft card before die-cutting all the extra bits and bobs from green, red and gold card, trimming away the parts I needed with a craft knife and mounting them in place.

    I attached rectangles of ivory corrugated card behind each assembled die-cut which are now ready to mount. I created a couple of small cards out of kraft card before cutting a couple of rectangles of patterned paper from Carta Bella's Merry & Bright 6 x 6 paper pad before gently sanding the edges to add a little definition. I attached both rectangles to their base cards using staples and stamped them using postage frank marks from one of my favourite Christmas stamp collections from the guys at Darkroom Door
    Here are the finished cards, as you can see I replaced the adhesive pearl gem on the mistletoe with a wooden button threaded with natural twine. I love the way the dies dictate the style of card, a style which I am very happy to follow.

  • Christmas Tri

    Wednesday, 27 August, 2014

    Now I know what you are thinking, " Silly old Pete has spelt Tree wrong!" well, I wasn't actually trying to spell 'tree'. I have made three different cards using the new Triplits dies from Stephanie Barnard and the word 'three' in Welsh is Tri so it turns out that I knew what I was doing all along...... for once!

    Triplits are wafer thin die sets representing staggering value in the sense that they are incredibly versatile and offer multiple options for those wishing to flex their creative muscles.

     I'm concentrating on the Christmas Trees set which includes no less than 14 separate elements as you can see below.

    Sticking with the 'three' theme I'm want to demonstrate how easy they are to use by showing the cards from start to finish in a series of three pictures, so without further ado.......

    I used my PC to print my 'Merry Christmas' Greeting onto 3 separate A6 blank white cards, Next, I die-cut the base tree from corrugated card and the other elements from matt gold card which I then lightly distressed with a sanding pad.

    I then assembled the tree and attached it to the base card using 3D foam pads. I also tied a length of natural twine around the base.
    Add caption
    For the next card I die-cut the base tree from deep red card and the other elements from patterned paper from a Hobbycraft 6 x 6 paper pad that goes by the name of 'Love Collection'. I attached these separate elements to the base tree using 3D foam pads.

    I die-cut the star and attached everything to the base card again using 3D foam pads before decorating the base of the tree using a length of knotted pink ribbon tied in a bow.

    For our third card I used the large tree die to cut an aperture through the front of the base card before die-cutting a smaller white tree and a selection of assorted circles from silver mirror card.

    I attached a folded rectangle of turquoise card into the base card as my insert and mounted my die-cut white tree onto it through the aperture. I then decorated the tree using the silver die-cut circles and added the die-cut star.

    Here are the finished cards seen all together, given time (a luxury in my line of work!) I'm sure I could have gone on to create dozens more even in this restrictive format. I love these clever little die sets and they are one of the first items on my creative Christmas list.

    Last week I was in Norway, or to be more exact, the beautiful city of Oslo where I was representing Sizzix as the guests of Global Hobby who are based in Bergen (Stunning place!). They were fabulous hosts and I would like to thank Alf Christian and his team for making me feel so welcome. 

    While I was there I thought that I would create few cards with a Norwegian flavour using some of the wicked Papicolor card which they distribute. It folds, cuts, tears and creases so beautifully... I think I'm in love!

    The first thing I made was the gift box using the Tim Holtz Pillow Box die which I decorated with torn strips of card replicating the Norwegian national flag. I  then added some die-cut floral elements from the Big Shot Starter Kit.

    With the card and tag I took a slightly different approach. I used the flag motif as before but I also wanted to celebrate Norway's proud history for exploration by using a Tim Holtz Texture Fades embossing folder from the Airmail & Compass Set and a few butterfly's die-cut using the Butterfly Frenzy decorative strip die

    I really love the colours and it was so much fun to do I hope you like them to?

  • Fantastic Mr. Fox

    Wednesday, 20 August, 2014

    The title of this blog refers to one of Roald Dahl's fabulous collection of children's books illustrated by the genius that is Quentin Blake. I am particularly partial to children's book illustration as is my good buddy and fellow designer Debi Potter.

    Debi and I trained as illustrators at the same time, in the same college where I specialised in cartoons and she specialised in children's book illustration which brings us neatly to my point.

    Debi has designed a range of woodland themed dies which are just adorable so if you like Die-cutting, foxes and owls you need look no further. Luckily for us Europeans it is exclusive to our region too.

    For today's post I chose the Sizzix Bigz Die - Fox Face (659910) which I have used quite a bit recently for both paper and textile based projects. I began by die-cutting the face from ivory corrugated card and some Orange patterned paper from the My Mind's Eye Collectable range. I inked the edges of the die-cut shapes and attached the corrugated card shapes in position.

    Next, I employed one of my favourite paper craft cheats by using a pattern makers wheel and marker pen to create a faux stitched effect around the perimeter of the die-cut shapes. Sometimes, life's to short to pull out your sewing machine and change the bobbin! I die-cut the nose from brown card and attached it with a 3D foam pad. I used adhesive black pearls for eyes although you can die-cut them if you prefer.
    I folded an 8 x 11 cm base card before trimming to my desired shape. Next, I applied Distress Ink to the edges to add definition and added my faux stitching.

    I wanted to make a tail, so I die-cut the fox's cheek from orange patterned card and ivory corrugated card. I trimmed off the top of the ivory card and attached it to the orange die-cut before adding the stitching.

    The next bit is all scissor work, I decided to smarten up Mr. fox by adding a collar and tie. The collar is cut from stiff ivory card and the tie from patterned paper from the Collectable range. I inked the edges and crumpled the tie before attaching both to the base card along with the assembled tail.

    And here is the finished card, Quite dapper I think?

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