• 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?

  • Perfect 10

    Wednesday, 13 August, 2014

    It is ten years to the day since my wonderful girlfriend became my wonderful wife. She is probably the only woman in the UK who gets dragged into craft shops by her husband so I thank her for her patience and understanding.

    She does get a special handmade card every birthday/Christmas/Valentines/anniversary and she has amassed quite a collection thus far. I have made her a special card this time but I also wanted to commemorate the occasion with a little piece of framed art, the making of which I would like to share with you today.

    Once again I reached for the new Jillibean Soup collection of dies and folders because I LOVE IT! but more importantly because I think she will too. I haven't itemised the dies used but if you follow the link above you will get to see them all together as it should be.

    I also used the new Block Talk Lowercase alphabet die by Tim Holtz and the Decorative Strip die Antiqua Numbers by Brenda Walton which is one of my favourite go-to dies for birthday cards because it has what I like to think of as a contemporary vintage vibe! which is an oxymoron which makes perfect sense to me (and me alone probably!).

    I attached a square of pure white card to a 7 inch (just over 17 cm) square of mount board before die-cutting the number 10 from thin white paper and attaching to the board with low tack spray adhesive. I then proceeded to apply Distress Ink with an applicator, this was built up gradually blending the blue and the green (Broken China and Shabby Shutters) and the orange and red in the top right (Wild Honey and Worn Lipstick). Next, I took two Distress Paint daubers  and watered the colours to a milky consistency.

    After strategically splattering the paint onto the square with the paint brush I pealed off the die-cut numbers and traced around the masked area with a fine black marker pen, it doesn't have to be too accurate. 

    All the decorative paper used comes from a 6" x 6" paper pad from Basic Grey featuring the fab Hipster collection and I used a sheet of pale green patterned paper to cover some scrap mount board before using it to die-cut the letters for the word 'perfect' which I then attached to the square above the numbers. That extra dimension really makes all the difference for me.
    Now, this is where things get a bit crazy, random, scatter shot... take your pick!!

     I knew what I wanted to do with the photo which I printed from my PC before trimming into a Polaroid style shape before adding a few stamped sentiments using my Dear Lizzy roller stamp. After that it was just a question of cutting, stamping, sanding, inking and folding a seemingly disparate collection of designs in the vain hope that they might work together on the page... I'll let you be the judge.
    Here is the finished frame, you can see that I mounted the square into the centre of a box frame bought from IKEA (I think?) I spent a long time moving the various die cut elements around the page before I found a pleasing composition which for me is all part of the fun!

    Every thing is attached using double sided tape or 3D foam pads adding a sense of depth and dimension, you will also notice a random smattering of adhesive pearls/gems in a selection of hues and sizes.

    I hope you like it but more importantly, I hope my wife does too!

    Here is a bit of close-up detail.

  • Bon Voyage!

    Wednesday, 6 August, 2014

    Last week, here at Sizzix Central, we bid farewell to the lovely Helen Young who has left to have a little baby and we all wish her well. As is the custom, I made a card signed by the crew to send her on her way.

    I couldn't resist using the new Jillibean Soup and KI Memories for Hampton Art collection. A collection so good that it took the collective minds of three excellent companies to create.

    I LOVE THIS COLLECTION!!! sorry to shout but I really do love it! it's so fresh and contemporary and I'm sure it will be equally well received by both card makers and their scrapbooking cousins.

    I dipped into a few of the die/embossing folder sets to make the card which is easy because they work so harmoniously together. the sets I used are:

    I started by debossing the front of a square ivory base card whose corners I had rounded with a punch. I placed the folder at an angle so as to only partially emboss the card. Next, I gently applied Seedless Preserves and Crushed Olive Distress inks using foam blending tools over the debossed image. Not only are these two of my favourite colours, they also blend beautifully well together.

    Next, I set about  die-cutting and embossing all the elements I want to use. I must tell you, at this point I haven't got a clue how this is all going to fit together which is all part of the fun with this style of card making.
    I stamped the phrase using the Crushed Olive Distress Ink and die-cut it with the corresponding die before mounting it onto a die-cut speech balloon using 3-D foam pads. I die-cut the button and star from gold card which I then distressed with a sanding block. 
    Next, I cut an asymmetric rectangle of ivory card and embossed it with the 'smile' folder before inking over the raised surface. I die-cut the mini banner and butterfly from the ivory card and inked the butterfly using the same two colours before threading the button with twine
    Finally I was ready to assemble all the elements on the base card. I did this by placing them in position and moving them around until I found a pleasing composition. I used a combination of double sided tape and 3D foam pads to add a little dimension before adding a crystal gem in the centre of the star. I will be using these dies/folders quite a bit in the coming month as there is so much creative scope. They represent such great value as there are so many elements in each set. I hope you like them as much as I do?

  • Dearly Beloved

    Wednesday, 30 July, 2014

    Whenever I have been naughty, my wife always starts by saying "You know what you've done don't you?" to which I almost always reply " What now my beloved?" in the vain hope that one little endearment will help to calm the waters.

    I'm not that naughty really, just minor day-to-day irritants like forgetting to fill the water filter jug or forgetting to pick up milk or..... it's usually forgetting something or other!..... MEN!!!

     This week I'm going to make her birthday card (21 again!) and I thought I would use some of the new dies/folders from Lori Whitlock and Prima listed below.

    I started by cutting a 10 x 12 cm rectangle of ivory card and die-cutting a flourish from the same card. I used the flourish as a template and traced around the edge on the base of the rectangle with a pencil before trimming around the pencil line and rounding off the upper corners with a suitable punch.

    I embossed the floral pattern onto the card and gently inked over the embossed image using the Weathered Wood Distress Ink pad applied with a blending tool followed by the Shabby Shutters ink pad. I also applied a little Mustard Seed ink which is a very strong yellow so use with caution, it adds a little freshness where needed. I used the same colours on the flourish.
     Remember the beginning of the blog? well this is where the 'Beloved' part comes in. I measured the tab die from the Ornate Labels set and created the word 'Beloved' on my PC before printing onto ivory card. Next I cropped the word with the die and die-cut the ornate label from gold card which I then distressed with a sanding pad. I also cut the label background onto which I matted the ornate label followed by the die-cut phrase. This is a seriously useful set of dies and I urge you to check them out. 
    For the finishing touch I wanted to add a pretty little flower and who better to design such a set of dies but Prima. This is one of five different flowers in the same set and they are a die-cut essential in my opinion. I inked the edges of the petals using the same inks as before and set about applying a little texture and dimension to the petals using my trusty tool kit by Susan Tierney-Cockburn. I added a Crystal to the centre as the finishing touch and......

    .....Here's the finished card.

    I had so much fun I decided to make another one using the same elements but changing the colours slightly. I also used a different ornate label and flower, both from the same sets though.

    And here they are together, now all I've got to do is choose which one I think she will like..... and then give her the other one as I'm bound to get it wrong!!!

  • No Rust for the wicked!

    Wednesday, 23 July, 2014

    If I am wicked then my worst crime is the use of terrible puns in the title of my blogs as I'm sure you will all agree?

    A little while back I gave a beautiful die cut 1950's car the 'rusty' treatment and I said at the time that I will use it at some point in the future. I have scrapped the car idea but I want to use the rust technique which was featured in Tim Holtz' Creative Chemistry 102 online classes...Hey! if your gonna steal, steal from the best I say!!! 

    Seriously though, follow the link and sign up, it's jam packed with inspirational ideas showing how to get the best out of all your favourite inks, stains and acrylics and there's plenty of Sizzix inspiration to feast your eyes on too.

    The dies I'm using this week are:

    As last week, it's another mash-up of designs from different collections which work particularly well together. This week I am again using dies from Prima and Lori Whitlock with one of my old favourites namely the big ol' tag die from Tim Holtz.

    I started by die-cutting four cogs two heart locks (for layering), a key (which didn't make the final project) and a delicious butterfly from ivory card. Next I lightly applied some embossing ink before sprinkling with Vintage Photo Distress Embossing Powder which is great for adding a gritty texture and works in a different way to conventional embossing powders in that it gives random coverage, ideal for distress applications.

    I fixed the powder with a heat tool and inked the die-cuts with a combination of Distress inks to achieve the rusty iron look. Next I die-cut the beautiful flourish from ivory card and gave it the same rusty treatment.
    I applied a rectangle of patterned paper (My Mind's Eye Nostalgia Collection) to a piece of mount board before die-cutting the tag before selectively inking around the perimeter. Next I stamped onto the top right-hand edge using various Distress inks and my trusty Dear Lizzy Lucky Charm rotary phrase stamp before stamping onto ivory card, trimming to size and distressing the edges. Finally, I attached the phrase to the tag using tiny staples.

    Now all I need to do is attach the cogs and flourish to the tag, I have used screw head brads in the centre of some of the cogs. I attached the layered padlock using a couple of tiny jump rings and then I lightly inked the butterfly before curling back the wings and dousing with Clear Rock Candy Distress Glitter followed by a little strategically placed crushed glass glitter around the edges, I had to add a bit of bling with all that rust, and I love the contrast it gives.

    And that, as they that! except for a bit of Crinkle Ribbon dyed to match the rust colours for a finishing touch. I love the flourish so next week I'm going to put it to good use on my wife's birthday card. 

  • Owl Mash Up!!

    Wednesday, 16 July, 2014

    A'mash up' started as a musical term which describes the blending of two songs very often in very different styles/genres, think ABBA and Black Sabbath...... you get the idea!

    This month we are releasing three new collections from Tim Holtz, Prima and Lori Whitlock. I love them all and I want to share as much as I can but time is against us my friends, so I got thinking and.......

    Here is a gift box made using the Bigz XL owl bag. It's a really lovely die perfect for party favours and the like and I'm sure you will be seeing it in many magazine projects and in many different colour combinations and materials.

    This is a fabulous and super-useful die and as I said above, you will see oodles of pretty owl boxes so I wanted to shake it up a bit and throw in a die from the Prima (Flora Grande) collection. When I say die I am actually referring to a set of dies (nine to be exact) named Rondeaux which are basically, gears with hearts between the spokes in various sizes (I LOVE!!!!!).

    I also want to use only one colour, (What!!!) and that colour is black, (Gasp!!!) so I will need a little help from my silver gilding wax (Phew!!!)

    I started by die-cutting the four parts to make up the main body of the box from graphite sparkle which is a black heavy weight card with holes drilled through it and is made by Inspire Me Papers, check out the link above. Next, I set about putting the box together which is surprisingly simple as these things can often be quite fiddly! Once it was ready I gently rubbed the edge using the gilding wax, the one I used is called Treasure Pewter you can use a soft cloth but I prefer to use my finger tips which gives you more control but mainly because it smells like boot polish Mmmmmm! 

    I Die-cut all the elements to finish the owl and embossed the main body using the Sweet Dots folder from the new Lori Whitlock collection. Next I strategically applied the wax to all the die-cuts except the eyes. and gently curled the three rows of feathers before assembling the owl.

    There was still one bit missing, this is where the gears come in. I die-cut two sets to create the eyes and gave them the pewter treatment.

    And here is the finished 'Steampunk' owl. For the finishing touches I used screw head brads in the centre of the eyes and mounted both sets of gears with 3D foam pads. I embossed the owls nose using the folder from the new Big Shot starter kit, don't worry if you don't have it there are plenty that will do the job just as well.

    Just a reminder, if you want to see a little more of the Prima dies I featured as a guest designer on their blog last week and here is the link. the image below is one of two projects featured.

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