• The Magnificent Seven

    Wednesday, 17 December, 2014

    I loved that film when I was a kid! It was always to be found in the festive TV schedule usually on a Sunday afternoon between Christmas and New Year. In this context however it is the most spurious title I have used this year and as regular readers will know, it has some stiff competition.

    I wanted to set myself a challenge again this week. The challenge was to create a number of different 'Quick Make' cards for last minute emergencies (we always forget someone!). I also wanted to use the same set of dies namely the marvellous Paper Snowflakes Thinlits set from Tim Holtz winter collection. I also used a couple of stamp sets the Christmas Reindeer set from Darkroom Door (DRD). The 'Let it Snow' stamp is from my stamp stash and I'm afraid I can't remember where it comes from!

    The reason that the title of this blog falls a little short is that ....... I only made six cards, OOOOPS!!

    .....and they are not that magnificent really, but I like 'em!

    They are as I said quick makes and it is pretty self evident how they were created so I did away with my usual step-by-step images and just added a few simple instructions to each picture, I hope they show a little bit of versatility for such a simple die set, I could have kept going for ages.... maybe one more would have been nice?

  • Christmas with a twist!

    Wednesday, 10 December, 2014

    At this time of year everyone is in full-on festive mode, myself included. Most craft company's release their Christmas products around September/October time and we here at Sizzix are no exception. I will be blogging Christmas ideas right up until the day itself but there are some great dies being released right now which it would be a crime not to feature so I decided to set myself a little challenge.

    I wanted to create Christmas cards with a contemporary feel using non-traditional colour palettes alongside non-traditional dies. Only you can judge if I managed to pull it off.... No pressure then?

     The dies I used come from a great collection by the designer Lori Whitlock and I should point out that I've cheated already by adding some of the Tim Holtz festive word dies, I knew it wouldn't last long!

    I took the various colours from bits and pieces in my stash and I couldn't resist reaching for my good old Dymo label maker, remember when they were cutting edge tech in the 70's and kids of all ages plastered the house with sticky labels?

    I started by die-cutting one silver, one gold and one ivory flower. I used a ball end stylus tool and foam mat from the Susan's Garden tool kit to form the flowers and add dimension, I took the eight pieces from the flower detail of the silver die-cut and gently curled each one with my stylus

    I attached each curled piece to the centre of the gold flower at the narrow end using PVA glue, tweezers and a steady hand! Next, I took my ivory flower and giving it a light coating of spray adhesive, I then sprinkled the flower with Distress Glitter and shook off the excess before mounting the two flowers together.

    I die-cut two leaves from silver card before adding the embossed detail with my Impressions Pad and Silicone Mat I next die cut the rounded corner rectangle before adding the 'PEACE' aperture with one of the holiday words dies. Next I die- cut the tabbed rectangle from gold card adding the arrow aperture. It is gold honestly, I know it looks mustard yellow! you just can't get the photographers these days!!!

    All that remains is to mount all the bits together adding the Dymo part of the phrase held on by a paper clip and a sparkly gem to the centre of the flower before attaching it to the face of an A6 ivory card blank. I love mixing different metallics and I really like the effect. I liked it so much I couldn't stop at one card so there are a few more below for good measure, I hope you like them?

    This card also has a very minimalistic modern vibe and I have taken Scandinavian winter interiors as my influence on the colour palette.

    I do love these aqua blues with white and silver but I think it is the black strip which sets it off.

    I know what I said at the start of this blog but I couldn't resist a bit of red either!!!

  • Snow Princess

    Wednesday, 3 December, 2014

    At Christmas we observe all those time honoured traditions and clichés which is one of the many things I love about the season.  

    I love to cook and fiddle about with recipes and ingredients, my kitchen can resemble a mad scientists lab at times and some experiments are more successful than others as I'm sure my long-suffering family will confirm. Christmas day however, is not a time to go messing about with a successful formula although I'm still striving to create the perfect roast potato (any hints/tips are welcome!).

    The Christmas gift is another part of the season steeped in tradition..... socks for Dad, smellies and deodorant for the teenage boys, school photo for Mum/Gran etc.

    One tradition which I started myself (and as my birthday falls on Christmas day I have special dispensation to do as I please!) is to create an embellished photo frame for my Mum featuring a photo of my daughter Poppy. This year will be no exception so I'm using this blog to work through a couple of ideas.

    I wanted to use a slightly less predictable colour palette than the usual Christmas/winter combinations and I threw in a little mustard (the colour not the condiment....that would just be silly!)

    The dies I used are listed below, click on each one to bring up a link for more information.
    I also used a little gesso and Distress Glitter, a combination which I am trying to wean myself off but it just seems to work so well with the current Christmas collections.

    I started by choosing my photo and colour palette assembling a collection of plain and pattern card and paper from my ever growing stash. I die-cut two pieces of the foliage and applied a thin layer of gesso to subdue the colour intensity, using gesso in this way helps everything blend together in the final piece. 

    I die-cut two snowflakes giving them the same gesso treatment before die-cutting the 3D flowers. I used a sanding pad on the edges of the flower die-cuts to give a little distressed contrast although I used a light brown Distress Ink (Old Paper) on the ivory flower. Next, I assembled the flowers and matted the snowflakes together adding an adhesive gem to the snowflakes' centre. I also added a little Distress Glitter to the tips of the foliage and snowflakes.

    I chose my photograph and printed three copies in black and white. I carefully cut around two of the figures and used one as a mask which I placed directly over the main photo before applying spray glue. After removing the mask I sprinkled the photo with Distress Glitter giving the entire background a magical frosting. It's quite hard to pick up in the images but it is quite spectacular (Honest!!!). Next I attached the other pre-cut figure in place using adhesive foam pads this gives a wonderful sense of dimension, especially when combined with the contrasting frosty background.

    I took a wood effect picture frame and lightly distressed the edges using a fine sanding block  before inserting the spotty background and the assembled photo. Next I attached the foliage die-cuts together with some assorted flower stamen.

    All that remains is to attach the snowflakes with adhesive foam pads before applying the flowers with my trusty glue gun.

    Hopefully this will turn into a nice little collection of as the years go by, I have even bigger ideas for the final gift which sadly I can't share just now as my Mum reads this blog from time to time!

    Why not start a creative Christmas tradition of your own.... you have my permission!

  • Owl be home for Christmas!

    Wednesday, 26 November, 2014

    Oooh! that's a bad pun, even by my standards which are pretty low!
    Last week when I was making the Santa/Rudolph gift boxes I mentioned in passing that people are doing some amazing things with owls. Owls seem to be one of the things to hang on your tree this year so I thought why not?

    The dies I used are;
     I started by die-cutting, folding and gluing my box from heavyweight ivory card. Next I die-cut a selection of festive greenery from the same card before delicately inking the tips using 'Antique Linen' Distress Ink. Next I applied a little glue to the tips with my fingers and added some Distress glitter and a strategic smattering of sand coloured glitter before using them to cover the box as shown below.
    I die-cut two of the smaller paper rosettes and inked the edges before assembling each one and placing a large pearl brad in the centre. Next, I used my finger to apply a little PVA glue around the edges before dipping them in Stampendous Glass Glitter.

    To make the owl's beak I die-cut a small heart using one of the Framelits Heart dies before inking and applying more glass glitter.
    All that was left to do was to attach the eyes and beak with a glue gun before inserting a loop of string through the hole in the top. The beauty of this decoration is that it can also contain a few goodies or a small gift. I hope you enjoyed it, I know I had fun?

  • Boxing Clever

    Wednesday, 19 November, 2014

    Boxing Clever is an interesting idiom which I have hijacked for another of my cringe worthy little word plays. Pillow boxes it seems are a favourite amongst the paper crafting community when it comes to customisation (there are some stunning owls out there!) so I decided to create some festive themed custom jobs just for you.

    the ideas are not completely original however I will show you a few little tricks of how to give them a little extra spice by using your favourite Sizzix dies.

    Here is a list of dies used, click on each link to see the products:

    I wanted to make a couple of festive gift boxes which will compliment each other and what better double act than Santa and Rudolph.

    I started by die cutting and assembling the box from red patterned paper (My Mind's Eye Collectable Collection) 
    Next, I die cut a scalloped square from gold matt card and a square of black card. I then cut a strip of black card long enough to wrap around the box and trimmed one end to a point. I scrunched the strip and black square into a ball to add a little texture before lightly applying a little pewter coloured gilding wax with my fingertip.

     The rest was easy, I wrapped the 'belt' around the box and matted the black square onto the scalloped buckle before attaching to the belt. For the finishing touch I threaded a couple of small wooden buttons with raffia and attached to the box using a glue gun.

    Isn't it amazing how a few simple shapes and colours combine to leave you in no doubt as to who or what the image represents?

    Rudolph is a little more challenging and even though you can find some ideas on the internet, I made this without seeing any of them as I had a few ideas I wanted to try out.

    I wanted to start with Rudolph's eyes. He may be the baby of the reindeer team but he's been pulling that sleigh for centuries now so I wanted to give him a Sagacious, world weary disposition and the best way to convey a characters emotion is through the eyes which after all are the windows to the soul!

    I folded a piece of white card in half and placed a circle die so that it slightly overlapped the crease, I ran this through my trusty Big Shot and ended up with two linked circles. I then repeated these steps using a slightly larger circle and corrugated card.

    I folded the two corrugated circles back together and trimmed at an angle to make Rudolph's eyelids. Next, I die-cut two small black circles and carefully snipped away a couple of triangles before attaching to the whites of the eyes, This adds the illusion of highlights (Check out early Mickey Mouse cartoons). Finally, I gently inked the edges of the eyelids to add contrast using Vintage Photo Distress Ink and attached them in place with adhesive foam pads to add a little dimension.

    I die-cut and assembled the pillow box from corrugated card and gently inked the edges before mounting the eyes. The nose was cut from red glitter card, after all, as the song says, it was 'very shiny' 
    To create the ears I die-cut a circle from corrugated card and folded it in half before placing my circle die back onto the folded card in such a way that I ended up with two leaf shapes which I then inked around the edges.

    The ears were attached with a glue gun and the last thing to do was brave the elements and collect a few suitable twigs to use as antlers. I sealed the top of the box and used a craft knife to make a couple of slits at the corners into which I inserted the trimmed twigs.

    I think they make a lovely couple, I hope you agree?

  • Christmas Krafting (Part 2)

    Wednesday, 12 November, 2014

    I'm back with part two of my kraft card/Sizzix Extravaganza. If you remember, I created two cards last week to add to my display at the Hobbycrafts show in Birmingham. In truth, I started with one card and another one quickly followed at which point I was having so much fun..... you know the story!!

    To complete my little vignette I decided to design a couple of Christmas packaging ideas using dies from the new Tim Holtz Christmas range.

    Here is a list of the dies that I used, all of which are designed by Tim, and you can see each set by clicking on the links.

    I started by die-cutting a pillow box from craft card before using one of the Holiday Words dies to create the aperture cut. I applied a little acrylic gesso to my craft sheet before spreading with my brayer, it's important not to have too much gesso on the roller when you apply it to the gift box as we are looking for a random effect rather than a total white-out! Before assembling the boxI attached a rectangle of clear acetate film to the inside of the box behind the aperture word. At this point you can insert your gift (diamonds are always a safe bet in my experience!)

    It's time to create our pine cone. I die- cut the pine cone together with some Christmas foliage from kraft card. the pine cone starts off as a spiral of card and the first thing I wanted to do was apply the gesso as above. I used a scrap piece of card as a mask and once complete I applied a little Walnut Stain Distress Ink to the edges. As I said last week, Walnut Stain is a very dark dye so be very careful!!

    The next task is to flip the pine cone over and grip the edge between a pair of straight tweezers. Start to roll the tweezers towards the centre until you have gathered up all the separate 'petals' and secure with a glue gun 

    Apply a little gesso to the foliage and ink the tips. Once they are dry you can gently curl the edges to add a little more dimension. Cut a strip of hessian/burlap and wrap it around the pillow box secured with a length of knotted raffia.
    Use a glue gun to attach the foliage followed by the pine cone. For the finishing touches, add a couple of frosted berries and a raffia bow. The berries can be found in many good craft shops or garden centres this time of year. 
    The end result is so effective and those berries set it off perfectly.

    I wanted to add just one more thing to give a little visual balance once all the projects were placed together. The box I used has a 7.5 cm square base and is 15 cm tall. I started by wrapping it in parcel paper before adding a band of hessian followed by a length of knotted raffia. Next, I die-cut a small tag and aperture cut the word believe before following up with a little gesso.

    I Die-cut three of the four snowflakes from the magnificent Stacked Snowflakes die before applying a little gesso and Walnut Stain ink to the tips of each die-cut. I layered the snowflakes together using adhesive foam pads before adding a sparky crystal to the centre.
    I attached the tag with a length of raffia before adding the assembled snowflake with a glue gun.... Simple!!!

    Here is the gang all together at last, I think I may use this style/theme for my own Christmas cards/gifts this year because it is a quick and easy style but is also very effective.

    I would like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to everyone who stopped by the Sizzix workshop area at the Hobbycrafts show in Birmingham last week. The classes were very well attended and we had lots of fun getting messy using inks and gesso to bring the wonderful die-cuts and embossing folders to life. Everyone did a great job and even though  it was four days hard work it never seemed like a chore, I can't wait for the next one! In total, and including my own we made 297 cards and I'm sure I can say without fear of contradiction that they all turned out fabulous!

    Below is a picture of me back at Sizzix Central with some of the 27 cards which I made.

  • Christmas Krafting!!

    Thursday, 6 November, 2014

    I know what your all thinking, "C'mon Pete, get your spell check sorted!" 

    Actually, the spelling of 'Krafting' is deliberate as I am using kraft card pretty much exclusively to create these projects. Incidentally, where does the kraft in kraft card come from? someone was asking in the office the other day and I had no idea! (answers on a post card as they say)

    As you are reading this I will be at the NEC in Birmingham teaching mini workshops at the Hobbycrafts show and I hope to see some of you there.

    For the following projects I will be using dies from the Tim Holtz Alterations Christmas range, Follow the links below to view the products:
    I also used plenty of kraft card and gesso!

    I took a 9 x 9 cm square of kraft card and used two of the dies from the Holiday Words Framelits set to die-cut the legend 'Christmas Wishes'. Next, I die-cut a medium and a small snowflake (paper snowflakes set) from kraft card. I took a small blob of white acrylic gesso and spread it onto my crafting mat using a brayer. The trick is not to use too much gesso, as always, you can always add more. I then used my brayer to apply the gesso to the snowflakes after which there isn't much left on the roller which is a good time to apply some to my die-cut square in a random fashion.

    I next die-cut a large snowflake from the same Thinlits set and inked the edges using Walnut Stain Distress Ink. This is a very strong colour so gently does it! At the same time I inked the tips of the other snowflakes and the edges of the square. I used adhesive foam pads to layer the snowflakes and attached a threaded wooden button to the centre which I lightly distressed by adding a little gesso with my fingertips.

    After mounting the layered snowflakes onto the square I attached it to the centre of a 10 x 10 cm ivory base card. This is my favourite kind of card, maximum impact for minimum effort!

    I enjoyed making this card so much that I created created another similar card so it wouldn't feel lonely. I die-cut the words around the edge of a 12 x 12 cm square of kraft card before die-cutting and embossing the layered snowflake (the embossing folder comes with the die).
     Next I applied the gesso and Distress Ink before attaching a wooden button threaded with twine which I twisted into a loop before adding a touch of gesso and attaching to the centre of the snowflake with a glue gun.

    I cut a 7cm square of hessian (Burlap) and applied a little gesso and ink  before mounting everything onto a 13 x 13cm kraft base card.

    I think they make a lovely couple, I hope you agree?

    I wanted to have a bit more fun with the kraft card/gesso combination so I decided to create a couple more projects...... tune in next week for part 2!

  • More Circles Fun!

    Wednesday, 29 October, 2014

    Yes that's right, I am once again using my blog to broadcast my ongoing obsession with the humble circle, In truth, I've had a pretty good response from you all in the past so I hope you will indulge me just a little more?

    I'm also bringing my old friend the Decorative Strip Paper Rosettes Die along for the ride together with the Bigz XL Alphabet Die, Block Talk Capital which is never far from my grasp.

    I have used two sets of Framelits circles dies imaginatively titled Circles and Circles#2. I combined the two sets as between them they offer me every size I will ever need. Just click on the highlighted links above to see the dies in question.

    Materials wise I just dragged out scraps of decorative paper from my ever growing stash so I'm afraid that I can't provide anyone with descriptions or codes, it will be fine as long as you have a few festive papers dotted about the place.

    The first thing I did was to die-cut the larger paper rosette from the blue patterned paper before sanding the edge to expose the white core of the card beneath after which I assembled my rosette by concertina folding it along the perforations.

    Next, I die-cut a circle and folded it in half before placing the die back onto the folded circle in such a way that it forms a moustache shape when cut in my Big Shot. I then sanded the edges of the paper moustache before gently curling the tips.

    Next, I die-cut a circle of cream card and a slightly larger circle of blue patterned card together with a tiny cream circle to form the nose. I then applied ink to create rosy cheeks and add some colour to the nose, I'm sure that we would all have a bit of colour in our cheeks if we got through a couple of billion glasses of sherry on Christmas eve?
    I mounted the circle together with the rosette to form the face,hood trim, nose, beard and moustache. 
    Next I die-cut a circle from patterned red card and used the same die to cut the circle in half, I then used the half in the shape of a crescent moon as the hood before adding a small blue die-cut bobble on the end.

    With Santa sorted, it's time to create my sentiment. I die-cut the letter 'M' from green tartan card and I used the negative rather than the die-cut letter itself. I trimmed it to shape using scissors and repeated the process using a variety of shades of paper to create the word 'MERRY'. Finally, I die-cut the word 'Christmas' from gold card using one of the 17 different dies from the Thinlits Holiday Words: Script set which is new from Tim Holtz.

    And here its is , the finished card. The stamps I used come from a festive set by the clever people at Darkroom Door  entitled 'Christmas Reindeer'

    I do hope you like it?

    If you are anywhere near Birmingham between 9-12th of November why not pop-along the the Hobbycrafts show at the NEC where I will be teaching Christmas themed mini workshops all day, everyday!!! I look forward to seeing you!

  • 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?

View Older Posts