• Tag Team 2

    Wednesday, 16 April, 2014
    In my last blog I said how much I had enjoyed working within the tag format again, I also said that I might create another one in a different style, well, that's exactly what I did as soon as I finished blogging.... Couldn't help myself!

    I wanted to go for a rusty look, but not the full on industrial rusty which is a bit too extreme for some folks. There are so many ways of using inks, paints, stains and powders to create surface effects and textures including many types of corroded and tarnished metal finishes as well as weathered stone and wood, some of which we will look at in the coming months.

    I love these techniques because they transform die cuts and embossed surfaces into something previously unimagined and make you look at them in a different light opening up new creative possibilities at the same time. I am always amazed and inspired by the ingenuity of the papercrafting projects that I've seen at shows, trade fares, online and in blogs it really is food for the creative soul.

    For today's blog I used the Movers & Shapers Tag and Bookplates die, the Tattered Garland and Spring Greenery Decorative strip dies and the Trellis Frameworks die as well as the embossing folder from the new Big Shot starter kit. All the dies are designed by none other than Mr Tim Holtz.

    I started by die cutting all the elements that I needed from smooth ivory card, I cut more flowers than I thought I might need just in case! Next I stamped the Mustard Seed distress ink pad onto my craft sheet before spritzing with water and passing the die cuts through the wet ink and drying with my heat tool. Next, I attached part of the trellis die cut to the tag and stamped over the surface with a clear embossing ink pad and sprinkled on a pinch of Fired Brick and Vintage Photo distress embossing powder before fixing with my heat tool. this adds a lovely texture to the tag.

    Rusty metal isn't just about oranges, reds and browns so I added some blue and green distress ink before going in with the orange followed by the Vintage Photo ink. To help blend and mottle the colours I lightly spritzed with water and dried with my heat tool.

    The next step is to emboss the lower half of the tag and gently rubbing with the Vintage Photo ink pad to bring out the detail. I gave the bookplate, leaves and flowers the same treatment and layered some of the flowers together curling and twisting the petals where necessary to create extra dimension. In the centre of the bookplate I added a printed strip of card bearing the legend 'Treasure' attached with a stapler. Now all that is left to do is to mount the various bits and pieces onto my tag.

    And here is the final tag, the ribbon and the string were stained using some of the same colours I hope you like it, I've really had fun with these tags, Maybe I will return to them at some point but next week we will look at a great die which is part of the quilting/appliqué range which all you papercrafters may not have seen, Why should the textile fraternity have all the fun?

  • Tag team

    Wednesday, 9 April, 2014

    I made some tags for the excellent Dutch magazine HobbyHandig  this week and I had forgotten what a fun format it is to work in. The large Movers & Shapers Tag & Bookplates by Tim Holtz is about 8 x16cm and the restricted size seems to stretch your creativity which is no bad thing if you ask me, and let's face it, Tim doesn't seem to struggle does he?

    I thought I would play around with a few inks and acrylics on the bookplates which come with this most excellent die. I had so much fun that I may turn this into a mini-series so look out for 'Return of the Tag'.

    This die is a Bigz L which means it cuts super thick materials like the mount board I have used today. It's a great investment and something you will return to time and again.

    I started by die cutting the bookplate from a scrap of old mount board and painting it with gesso which for those of you who don't know is a super thick paint used to prime art canvases, it's also great for creating a variety of textured effects. 

    Once I had applied a nice thick layer I dabbed it with my brush to add random texture, I'm going for the flaky plaster look. Once the gesso is dry, (you can use a heat tool to speed this up) I painted a thin layer of  pale blue acrylic onto the surface before removing most of it with some cotton wool. This will give you a lovely subtle distressed look.

    Next, I die cut two sizes of flower and a couple of leaves using the Tattered Garland Decorative Strip Die by Tim Holtz to create a couple of 3D roses. I didn't post the step by step instructions for this as I covered this a few months back (New Blooms part 1, January 8th) using the Tattered Florals flowers, obviously this is done on a much smaller scale.

     I then added a layer of the gesso don't worry if it is a bit gloopy, it all adds to the effect. once the gesso was dry I applied the pale blue paint using a dry brush effect. I used the same techniques to distress an angel made from resin which is part of a set from those clever people at Prima Marketing

    It's time to cut my tags, I cut one with a subtle damask pattern and one from wood grain paper both from My Mind's Eye collections. I trimmed away part of the base of the damask tag and applied distress inks to the edges of both in a very subtle fashion. Next, I used a paper distressing tool to rough up the edges of the damask tag a little and scrunched up the bottom. I'm going for a tattered, peeling wallpaper look! Finally, I attached the two tags together.

    And here is the finished Tag, the bookplate has a piece of inked card behind it with a couple of word stickers from the Chitchat idea-ology pad by Tim Holtz added. I mounted the bookplate with a length of pale blue organza ribbon before attaching the matching cherub and roses. Finally, I threaded some stained lace and organza ribbon through the hole at the top of the tag.

    I hope you can tell from the photo but the resemblance to plaster is quite uncanny, Maybe we'll go for rusty metal next week?

  • Say it with....

    Wednesday, 26 March, 2014

    ....Framelits. Mum's all over the country would like nothing better this Sunday morning than a set of Framelits...... or Flowers or even chocolates..... if in doubt, all three!

    I wanted to do something bright and fun for a Mother's Day card for my wife from our 3 year old daughter Poppy so I went for lots of white space and 'less is more' design style.

    I started with a handful of Framelits dies, a couple of circles, a scalloped circle and a ticket. The paper I used is from a 6 x 6 paper pad by Doodlebug Design called Sugar & Spice.

    I used my PC to print a photo of my daughter Poppy and cut it out with a Framelits circle before mounting it into the centre of a pink Scalloped circle. Next, I die cut four pieces of coloured card using the larger Framelits circle. 

    To create the leaves I folded each circle in half and placed the circle die in such a way that when I re-cut the folded circle it created the double leaf effect. Next I drew a pencil line as a guide on the white base card and moved the separate leaves around until I felt that the balance was right, I then gently curled the leaves and attached them to the card. I again used my PC to print out the phrase 'World's Best Mummy' and cut it using the small ticket Framelits die before punching a hole in one end and attaching an eyelet tied with string.

    Here is the finished card, as you can see, I have added a strip of green card as the stalk and attached the ticket/tag using a 3D foam pad. Simple!

  • A Good Vintage!

    Wednesday, 19 March, 2014

    Just to clear up one thing before we start.....I'm not referring to my Mum in the title of this blog, but to the style of card so if you are reading this Mum I'm sorry for any confusion!

    Last week I had the absolute pleasure to be invited to a wonderful event in the beautiful city of Maribor in Slovenia. I was one of several workshop instructors from around Europe and the US teaching a wide range of skills including card making, jewellery, Painting, felt work and much more. It was so well run and attended, the customers and staff were so friendly and helpful and the organisers Primoz and Mihaela were such gracious and attentive hosts.

    If you ever find yourself in that (very beautiful) part of the world drop in and see what they are all about, you won't be disappointed. To find out more, follow this link.

    This week I am featuring a card which was very similar to one of the workshops I did in Maribor with a few minor tweaks.

    I used My Mind's Eye paper from the Lost & Found 2 collection, an assortment of Distress Inks and thats pretty much it with the exception of my dies and folders.

    I used the butterfly Sizzlit and Tab Framelits die from the Big Shot starter Kit I'm sorry if you don't have these dies but there a dozens of similar dies which you could substitute achieving equally stunning results. The Embossing folder I used is the Circle Frame & Rosemary Set which is currently on sale so click on the link and grab yourselves a real bargain. I also used some tiny flowers from the Susan's Garden Yarrow, you could also use the Black-eyed Susan, the Sunflower or the Forsythia to create a similar effect.

    I started by debossing a 13 x 13cm piece of the spotty card and I then used my craft knife to trim around the pattern in the centre to create an aperture. I then used an Old Paper Distress Ink pad to enhance the debossed motif by gently rubbing over the pattern in a circular motion with my foam applicator.I also took special care to ink around the outer part of the square.

    Old Paper is quite a light shade and I always work gradually starting with the lightest colour and working through. The other colours I used were Mustard Seed, Wild Honey and Vintage Photo the last of which I use very sparingly and with great care. As I add the colours I do so in a random fashion working heavier in some areas than others, I concentrate mainly on the pattern and edges.

    Once the inks are dry I scrunched the corners and sanded lightly over the creases before distressing the edges for which there is a fabulous little tool designed to do the job, failing that you can use the blade of your scissors.

    The photograph I found on the Internet and printed it out onto matt white photo paper before trimming to size and adding a little colour with my inks to age it further and help it to blend with the rest of the card.

    I die cut two butterflies from the spotty card and trimmed away the right hand wing from both before inking. I then attached them together at the body and curled the edges of the top wing to add dimension prior to attaching them to the rear of my photo.

    I die cut several tiny flowers and inked the edges prior to shaping them using a stylus and foam mat from the Susan's Garden Tool Kit . Next, I attached a row of flowers to the fairies head forming a garland and added a tiny pearl gem to the centre of each, I used the rest to decorate the aperture card.

    Finally, I used my PC to create the Mother's Day phrase (Muffaroo for all you font fans)  and printed it onto the spotty paper before die cutting with my Framelits die and attaching to the card after inking of course!

    And here is the finished card, I attached the assembled aperture and fairy to a 15 x 15cm base card at a slight angle using 3D foam pads and added a vintage looking bow to give a softening effect.

    I do hope you like it (I hope my mum does too!)

  • Flights of fancy

    Wednesday, 12 March, 2014

    After a couple of weeks of fun with framelits I want to take a look at one of the new dies from Mr Tim Holtz, I have been lucky enough to work with all of these dies in preparation for our recent round of trade shows.

    The Butterfly Frenzy decorative strip is one of my favourite dies in what is a very strong collection from Tim with lots more yet to be released in the coming year.

    This is one of those dies which are a 'must have' because it represents great value for money and it's something you will reach for all year round. The die in question cuts 58 separate butterfly shapes...... yes! 58, in a variety of styles and sizes too.

    all you need to get started is an A4 sheet of Kraft card, a couple of Distress Ink Pads (I used Wild Honey and Vintage Photo) A small glass bottle (got mine from the craft section in 'The Works' if you are lucky enough to have one near you?) and some text patterned paper (I think I used one from a My Mind's Eye Lost & Found collection).

    I started by cutting a rectangle of Kraft card measuring 18 x 9cm before cutting two slits about 4cm from the base (accuracy isn't that important), I also cut a thin strip of the same card to fit through the slits. Next, I inked around the edges before completing the distressed effect by scuffing said edges using the blade of my scissors or you could use a distressing tool designed specifically for this purpose.

    I distressed the thin strip of card in the same way and wrapped it around my little glass vial before threading each end through the slits on the card and securing to the back with a glue gun or adhesive tape. 
    I used my PC to print the legend 'WITH LOVE' onto a piece of Kraft card which I then trimmed to size and punched a hole through the end before attaching to my vial with thin parcel string. Next, I mounted the rectangle onto my base card measuring 11 x 20cm.

    To make the butterflies, I took a strip of text patterned paper and placed it face down onto the die before passing through my machine. I selected the butterfly shapes I wanted to work with and went about inking the edges before placing my tweezers down the centre of each one and bending back the wings to add dimension. I then set about adding the butterflies to the card starting with the smallest and working upwards. I find the best way to attach them is with a good old fashioned glue gun, tweezers, a steady hand and a bit of patience.

    And here is the finished card, I hope my patience paid off?

  • And on and on......

    Wednesday, 5 March, 2014

    Last weeks blog was entitled 'My Heart Will go on' I had a lot of fun creating animals from simple Framelits heart dies, so much fun that I couldn't help myself and set about creating a few more ideas to share with you.

    I again used  the Framelits Hearts die set 657561 for all the projects, this consists of 5 identical heart shapes in a range of sizes. 

    For all you font fans the font I used on this and last weeks post is free (and easy) to download. It's called 'no color' and is available at and many other free font sites.

    The first card features a cute piggy, I die cut the 3 hearts and cut one down the centre using a craft knife. I folded the two halves as shown and attached them to the head forming the ears, the nostrils are simply circles cut using a standard office hole punch, the eyes are adhesive pearl gems.

    I created the phrase using my PC, trimmed it to size and matted it onto a rectangle of magenta card, the piggy's hands and bottom where die cut from pink card and the tail was simply a strip of pink card which was wound around a dowel in a spiral.

    Next up a panda card. As you can see I cut a variety of black and white hearts, four of which I strategically snipped the edges with my scissors to give the illusion of fur.before mounting them together as shown below.

    Next, I attached two black hearts to which I added adhesive pearls for the eyes. Finally, I die cut one small white and one pink heart and overlapped them as shown.

    I attached the overlapped hearts beneath the panda's chin using 3D foam pads and mounted the finished panda to my base card together with the phrase 'Thank You'

    Here is one of my personal favourites from this collection, it turned it so much better than I hoped it would and I love the cheese idea too! I started by die cutting a selection of grey, pink and yellow hearts. The large heart I cut down the centre, one half for the face and the other for the body. Next, I assembled and mounted the ears.

    To create the cheese, I die cut two small hearts in slightly different shades of yellow card, the lighter of the two I attacked with my Crop-A-Dile punching a random pattern of holes before mounting onto the other heart using 3D foam pads. Next, I trimmed a small grey heart in half to use for the hands/arms and attached them to the cheese/body together with the assembled head, I also used two adhesive pearls for eyes and a black pearl at the tip of the nose.

    The base card was printed with the legend 'Miss You' the assembled mouse was attached with 3D foam pads before adding a curly tail made from a thin strip of the grey card wound in a spiral around a dowel.

    Last but not least, the chicken. This was one of those ideas which popped into my head after reading a story book to my 3 year old daughter. I came into work the next day and had the card fully formed in my head. I wish it always happened like that!

    I die cut two hearts from different shades of yellow before using a smaller heart die to trim the deep yellow heart as shown before attaching it to the pale yellow heart, this forms the main body/head of the bird.

    Next, I die cut a selection of sizes/shades of hearts and trimmed some in half with a craft knife before adding to the body of the chicken as shown. I then wound a strip of the deep yellow card around a dowel in a spiral as shown.

    I printed the  greeting onto my card using my PC and attached the main body of the chicken using 3D foam pads before adding the feet and the spiral or 'spring' as the title suggests.

    I do hope you have all enjoyed these cards, my intention was to only make a couple but I was on a roll so I couldn't allow a good idea to wither on the vine could I?

  • My Heart will go on....

    Wednesday, 26 February, 2014

    A couple of weeks ago I said that I would feature some more ideas using basic shapes in a funky, creative way. I stumbled across a sight called (great site for kids craft ideas, big kids too!) which featured a great way of using heart shapes to create a wonderful lion so I played around with the idea until I came up with this weeks blog.

    It seems like a good time to use all those heart dies left over from the Valentines frenzy so I dug out my favourite, and ever popular Framelits die set set namely Hearts 657561 and got to work.

    For the Lion I started by die cutting all the separate hearts, before cutting little nicks in the edges at strategic points. Next I assembled the face before attaching to the mane using 3D foam pads, the eyes are black adhesive pearl gems, how easy is that?

    I attached the assembled lion to a square card measuring 13 x 13cm  withe the legend 'You're Grrrrrrreat' printed on the base using my PC ( the font is called 'no color' and you can download it for free at

    I couldn't stop at one (I'm up to 6 so far!) so here's another animal using the same Hearts die set. This time a bunny rabbit.

    I die cut all the parts to make the head and cut two of the hearts down the centre to form the ears.

    Next, I attached the nose and teeth with 3D foam pads before attaching the ears. the eyes are black pearl gems.

    I die cut all the parts of the body and cut all but the small white heart in half using a craft knife. Next I started to assemble the body using 3D foam pads to add depth.

    Finally, to make the carrot, I used half an orange heart with some trimmed green card attached to the top before attaching to the body together with the paws.

    I assembled the bunny on the front of a 15 x 15cm base card onto which is printed the legend '24 Carat Birthday Wishes'.

    I hope you like these ideas as I have more to share next week?

  • Animal Magic!

    Thursday, 20 February, 2014

    If you are both British and of a certain age you will no doubt remember the show from the title, featuring jovial zoo keeper Jonny Morris. Cute animals are everywhere at the moment in surface design, cards, gift wrapping, fabrics and yes, you guessed it, in Sizzix dies too (this is where the magic comes in!)

    When I saw these designs I was so excited because of their simplistic beauty. they lend themselves perfectly to children's projects and rather than create one card I thought I'd make 4. They are designed by Eileen Hull, a very smart lady who always comes up with the goods! Thanks Eileen for making my job a whole lot easier.

    There is nothing clever to see here today, no fancy techniques or patterned papers just great dies doing what great dies should! The dies featured are in two sets, Thinlits Die Set 7PK Elephant & Giraffe 658976 and Thinlits Die Set 8PK Lion & Monkey 658973.

    To create the base card (each measuring 8 x 12cm) I started by printing the greetings using my computer using my Publisher software. If you have ever used Word then this is really easy to use. All the fonts are free to download (Try the website, its really easy to find what you need).

     printing your own greeting is a great way of making a handmade card even more personal and you can adjust the sizes to accommodate your design elements too. For those font obsessives amongst you, here are the fonts that I used:

    • Blackjack
    • Stereo 
    • Hoedown
    • Showguide
    • Saddlebag
    • Bebas Neue
    • BigNoodle Titling
    Here are the cards that I printed off onto heavy weight white card trimmed to size and ready to go.

    I deliberately used simple bold colour combinations for each of the animals in question and cut them out before sticking the pieces together using PVA glue.

    Next I added some tiny 2mm pearls for eyes and attached to the card using 3D foam pads.

    Same again for the giraffe.......

    The Lion..........

    And of course, the elephant who also features a length of string tied around his trunk.

    I think I can afford to say without sounding too boastful that these are pretty cool cards because all the magic comes from the great dies. Sometimes all you have to do is just cut and stick!

  • In Living Colour

    Wednesday, 12 February, 2014

    Last week I used an old idea from about twelve months ago and this week I am using the same idea, but in a different way. The idea struck me when I was writing my blog last week; it doesn't always work that easily..... I wish!

    Valentines is only a couple of days away so this could be a great quick make idea if you are stuck for inspiration. Failing that, you could resurrect it for Father's day or any other occasion where a masculine themed card is required.

    I used one die set to make this card namely the Tags, Rounded Framelits set, one of my personal favourites and it's on sale as we speak so don't delay! I also used striped paper from the Lovebirds collection by Doodlebug Design.

    Those of you who read last weeks blog will be familiar with the first three steps, I started by cutting a rectangle of striped card measuring about  9 x 6cm before using my craft knife to trim between each stripe along half the length of the rectangle. Next, I used my tweezers to grip the end of each stripe before curling them into different lengths.

    I chose two of the rounded tag Framelits dies and cut shapes with the larger one from wood effect card, corrugated card and silver card ( all of which came from the good folks at Inspire Me Papers. Click on the link, the wood effect card in particular is stunning!). with the smaller of the two dies I cut only the wood effect card.

    I took the large wood effect and silver die cuts and trimmed each to size, attached them together and secured with eyelets. With the smaller wood effect die cut, I punched a hole near the end and added a large eyelet. Next, I attached them all together using my trusty glue gun and a large 3D foam pad to attach the corrugated card (bristles!). Finally, I laced a length of cord through the handle.

    My base card is cut from Kraft card and measures 17 x 10.5cm, onto which I printed the legend 'You bring colour to my life' before adding the striped paper at a jaunty angle. You will notice I have trimmed away one corner where I'm attaching the assembled brush.

    And here it is, the finished card with the brush attached using 3D foam pads. All this leaves is for me to wish you a happy Valentines Day! I'm off to the Stitches trade show in Birmingham with the rest of the gang on Saturday, I'll let you know how we got on next week.

  • Every cloud.....

    Wednesday, 5 February, 2014

    ...... has a silver lining or so the saying goes. I want to share an idea with you which I used last year around this time, it made me smile back then and I has been trying to think of an excuse to resurrect it.

    Love is in the air, which must mean that Valentines Day is on the horizon, I made a card for my wife while demonstrating at the recent Creativeworld trade show in Frankfurt,as I have done for the last three years, I'm sure that you will forgive me if I don't share it on my blog (although hundreds of people from all over the globe have watched it being made!).

    I have used the Framelits die set Circles, Scallop (657552) for this card and you know how I like messing around with basic Framelits dies. apart from that I also used stiff white card and stripped paper from the Lovebirds Collection by Doodlebug Design.

    I started by cutting a rectangle of the striped paper (11 x 6cm approximately) and I used my craft knife to trim between each line about half way down the rectangle. Next, I used my tweezers to grip the end of each strip before curling them to different lengths.

    I cut a thin strip of silver mirror card and attached it down the centre for reasons which will become apparent at the end! Next I die cut two scalloped circles (the die is about 5cm wide) one of which I cut in two before attaching them together using 3D foam pads and I attached the third at the rear again using the foam pads to add dimension.

    My card is now ready to assemble, I printed the legend 'You are my silver lining' on the base of a card measuring 18 x 10.5cm before attaching the stripped paper and finally my cloud was attached once more using 3D foam pads. I hope you like it, because I have just had an even better idea for next week!!!

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