• More than meets the eye!

    Wednesday, 7 October, 2015

    Many thanks to Brenda Walton for cheering up an otherwise grey and rain swept day in my little corner of Wales. She only went and designed another fabulous set of dies for us all to play with!

    The title of this weeks blog refers to the set in question which is a Thinlits die set named Lanterns and is made up of 23 separate dies.

    The reason I titled the post 'more than meets the eye' is because the first time I saw it as a set of line drawings I was somewhat less than enthusiastic. That all changed when I received a sample and realised what a wonderfully versatile set this is with bags of creative potential.

    I set out to make a card using only the lanterns but I thought 'No! that doesn't tell the whole story' so I couldn't resist making another couple of cards to show off some of the other dies too.

    For this card I have assembled a selection of shades of grey Bazzill card together with some ivory and metallic silver card. I chose a floral stamp from one of Tim Holtz' Stampers Anonymous sets and stamped two rectangles of card using grey ink before die-cutting my two lanterns.... two of six I might add!

    Next, I used a Hougie Board to add embossed stripes to the lanterns. you can also use a ribbler if you have one (wish I could find mine!)

    I die-cut two tassels and two of the lantern centres before attaching them to the rear of the lantern using adhesive foam pads.

    Next, I cut the three separate elements needed to create the flower from silver and two shades of grey before using a stylus to give them a little dimension.

    I cut a rectangle of light grey card and embossed it using the trellis folder (one of my faves!). I used the same floral stamp to add detail to the face of my base card and attached the embossed card along with a strip of mid grey card and a rectangle of ivory card. I stamped the word 'enjoy' onto card and cropped it using one of my beloved circle dies before attaching a strip of darker grey card to the rear using an adhesive foam pad. Finally,I die-cut the tiny butterfly from silver card.

    Here is the finished card assembled using a combination of PVA glue, double-sided tape and adhesive foam pads. As you can see I also attached loops of natural twine to the top of the lanterns and added a smattering of adhesive gems and pearls.

    There is so much more that you can do with the lanterns alone as I will probably prove in the coming weeks (I've just sent for some Chinese calligraphy stamps!)

    As well as all those cool lanterns there is a three tier cake and stand in the set, not to mention the lovely heart. I used quite a contemporary colour palette for this card 

     Last but not least there is a gorgeous little cupcake frosting and case die. A suitable stamp and a hand full of diamante gems later........

    It IS okay to be different! I have to remind myself every morning when I wake up!

  • Up, Up and away!

    Wednesday, 30 September, 2015

    The title comes from a 1967 song from a band called Fifth Dimension which was part of the soundtrack of my early childhood. The second half of that line is, of course.....'in my beautiful balloon' which is where we start today's post.

    Why 'Beautiful' balloon? Well, it has been designed by none other than Brenda Walton and it is one of several beautiful Thinlits dies sets in her new collection. This set also comes with a set of gorgeous text stamps which compliment the dies perfectly.I will probably showcase some of the others in the coming weeks but for now we are looking at Framelits Die Set 9PK w/Stamps - Hot Air Balloon which will be in shops from the beginning of October.

    I'm also using my old favourite Mixed Media die set which always comes in very handy for mixed media and shabby chic style projects.

    I am using a lovely paper pad from Studio Light which is perfect for the style that I want together with the die/stamp set. Apart from a few Distress Ink pads and some white card, that's pretty much it!

    I cut a rectangle of blue patterned card and applied a few shades of brown Distress Ink around the edges before distressing and scrunching the edges concentrating on the corners. I used a fine sanding pad over the creases to add further contrast. Next I added the stamped sentiment in dark brown ink.

     I used a couple of my Mixed Media die set to add detail, I don't know what happened to the exposure on the second photo but they are the same, honest!

    Time to cut the separate parts of the balloon which I then inked before putting together.

    For my cloud (one of two in the set) I wanted to give the impression of sunset so I applied some Distress Inks to the base of the die-cut shape.

    I took the bunting die and cut half a dozen triangles before inking the edges and gently curling up the tips. I attached them to the assembled balloon following a gentle curve.

    Using double sided tape, I applied some short lengths of cotton to join the main body of the balloon to the basket.

    I attached the cloud and the balloon to the background using adhesive foam pads before mounting onto a white base card.

    If you like this card, and I hope you do then I must give 90% of the credit to Brenda Walton for creating such a beautiful and well thought through set of dies.

  • Cool for cats

    Wednesday, 23 September, 2015

    Cats are everywhere you look these days.... cat stamps, cat papers, cat buttons and trinkets and of course cat dies. if you are a cat lover or just a lover of beautiful dies then do yourself a favour and pop the words 'Debi Potter' into the search bar on the Sizzix.co.uk website and check out her latest collection.

    One die in particular has filled me with inspiration, and that is the Bigz Kitten which I am going to share with you today. I was going to make one card and ended up making two but I'm now left with ideas for a dozen more which will have to wait for another day and that, my friends is the definition of a good die.

    For the first card I used a paper pack from Lily of the Valley and a right old mish-mash of stamps from my ever growing stash.

    I began by cutting two heads from contrasting papers. I used scissors to trim away part of the blue stripped paper and inked the edges with Weathered Wood Distress Ink before attaching to the pink face after which I inked around the edges and added detail with a black fine line marker pen

     Next, I die-cut two bodies and repeated the stages above before die-cutting the rest of the elements together with the eyes and nose.

    I applied the stamps to the right of a 15 x 15 cm white base card using grey and black ink and mounted all of the elements together before attaching to the card. Told you it was a great die!

     I attached watercolour paper to mount board to prevent warping and die-cut all the elements to create my cat before applying two shades of Distress ink to the cat's head. To help the colours blend and give the appearance of watercolour I applied water with a mister.

    I used a stamp with a typewriter letter pattern but feel free to use any suitable text design stamp. I applied the ink to one corner as shown in the first photograph before stamping onto the head with the orange Distress Ink.

    I die-cut the eyes, nose and collar and coloured with Weathered Wood Distress Ink before die-cutting the heart charm and colouring with two shades of red. I coloured the tail and body in the same way as I did with the head. Next, I cut a rectangle of pink spotty paper and distressed the edges using a sanding block.

    I scrunched around the perimeter of the pink paper and mounted it onto a white base card before adding the stamped detail (if only it said Feline Groovy!!!). I attached the cat using PVA and adhesive foam pads. 

    Hope you love this die as much as I do... can't wait to use it with textiles!

  • More than words

    Wednesday, 16 September, 2015

    I love typography and graphic design, sometimes it borders on the obsessive like taking pictures of bottles in the supermarket or tearing an advert out of a magazine in a doctors waiting room. As you can imagine it has been the source of great embarrassment for my long suffering wife down the years particularly my soap-boxing rants when I am offended by BAD design in the high street!

    Naturally, I think that I have good taste as do we all, but we can't all have good taste, if that were the case then there would be no bad taste and as a consequence 'taste', whether it be good or bad would simply not exist!

    Let's just say that I know what I like and leave it at that. 

    This is a long-winded way of telling you that I am very fond of all the new dies designed by Jen Long. A great designer and a lovely lady too. Also in the collection is a fabulous pillow box/poinsettia combo which I will feature in the coming weeks no doubt but today is all about festive phrases.

    The dies I am using are very detailed so I chose a simple approach because they literally speak for themselves.

    I started by die-cutting the 'Merry Christmas & Happy New Year' phrase from red card. Click on the highlighted text to see the die.

     I turned the die-cut phrase over and place strips of double sided tape onto the rear as shown. Next, I die-cut the phrase from white card and removed the individual letters before placing them into the red die-cut secured by the tape. I created a base card from sand coloured card and added a Christmas stamp in the bottom right hand corner.

     I attached the assembled phrase using adhesive foam pads and rounded off the corners of the base card using a corner punch. I love the simplicity of the card, it allows the die to take centre stage without any need for fancy techniques or papers.

    The 'Winter Wishes' die is a particular favourite of mine. I started by die-cutting it from white card before adding the double sided tape to the rear and inserting the red die-cut letters as before.

    Next, I placed a strip of turquoise card behind the phrase and die-cut some snowflakes using the accompanying die.

    I stamped my base card and attached the assembled phrase before adding my chosen snowflake decorated using a single gem in the centre. I think they make a very handsome couple?

    This card is an after thought but I was desperate to see how the phrase looked cut from metallic card. I was not disappointed with the results so I had to build a card around it! I also roped in the Framelits Fancy Labels Set and a few tiny gems.

  • Evergreen

    Wednesday, 9 September, 2015

    The tree is not only the centre piece of many living rooms in the UK at Christmas time but it is also a favourite motif of crafters everywhere. It's another one of those wonderfully versatile shapes to which you can apply countless techniques and create from a range of materials.

    As we count down to Christmas I will be making a number of  creations using this fabulous new die from Tim Holtz, namely Bigz Evergreen.

    This project is perfect if like me you have scraps of paper left from those beloved paper packs which you can't find anywhere for love nor money, but want to hang on to the bits that you have left even though they are taking up space in your craft stash.

    I am using a lovely 6.5 x 6,5 pad from Kaisercraft called Yuletide. Let's begin..... 

    I am going to create a collage on a 10 x 13 cm rectangle of mount board using strips from the aforementioned paper pad before cutting a few thin strips of text pattern paper. I have used a couple of Distress Ink pads (Old Paper and Vintage Photo) to deepen the colour around the edges of all the strips.

     Once the strips were attached I used some postmark stamps to add further detail. Once satisfied with the effect I placed the collaged mount board face down onto the Bigz die and cut my shape.

     After inking around the outside of the tree it's time to put the card together. I wound a length of twine into different sized loops before securing with a small staple which will be covered later. I then sprayed the string with adhesive before sprinkling with Distress Glitter, I know that it hasn't picked up in the picture but the effect is wicked. Next, I used a large ornate stamp together with the Old Paper ink pad to add detail to the front of a white A6 base card.

     I cut a 7 x 11 cm rectangle of paper covered in a very subtle vintage pattern which is perfect for the background, any more detail and it would start to clash with the tree. I inked around the edges before strategically scrunching the paper.

    Here is the finished card. I attached the distressed paper using double sided tape before mounting the tree using adhesive foam pads. the string and the diamanté gem were  both mounted using a hot glue gun. The gem by the way, was liberated from a piece of old costume jewellery.

    More of these on the way between now and Christmas.... Bye for now!

  • "Never Give Up" by Gerry van Gent

    Sunday, 6 September, 2015

    Happy Sunday friends!
    Hope you are all doing well!

    For my blog post today I am sharing a pillow box I created with 
    a coordinating quote card. It's one of those small, hand-made things you
    can give to a friend for encouragement and to show you care.
    660515 Sizzix Big Shot Plus Starter Kit
    660844 Sizzix Thinlits Plus Die Set Box, Pillow
    660094 Sizzix Thinlits Die Delicate Wings
    660500 Sizzix Thinlits Die Set Intricate Tribal Florals 
    660220 Sizzix Thinlits Die Set Mixed Media
    660159 Sizzix Paper Punch Large Butterfly
    *        *        *

    After die cutting the Pillow Box I began decorating it by adding
     different embellishments including die-cut flowers and flourish.

    The coordinating card was cut to sizes fitting the pillow itself.

    I added a pearl in the centers of the die-cut Intricate flowers.

    As usual, I punched the butterfly multiple times and adhered
    on top of one another in order to give more dimension.

    Thank you for visiting us today!
    Have a creative week ahead!

  • Quick Knits!

    Wednesday, 2 September, 2015

    Don't worry, I'm not getting my knitting needles out. In fact the last time I used knitting needles was to drum along to the song 'Born to Hand jive' by Sha-na-na which was featured in the movie 'Grease' as I'm sure you all know? I remember it like it was yesterday but it was actually some time around Christmas 1978!!!

    It is September already which means the kids are back in school and it's time to turn our attention to Christmas and all our new festive collections.

    Tim Holtz never disappoints at this time of year and he has come along with another classic collection which dovetails nicely with last years collection too. Do you remember the lovely Nordic knitting pattern embossing folders? well now we can enjoy them in die form too.

    I know that the title says Quick Knits and that is because I came into the office today thinking that it was a Tuesday! my mental calendar is a bit out of sync thanks to the recent bank holiday here in the UK so I had to come up with a quick yet effective blog idea, I hope you approve?

    The Thinlits Holiday Knit set is one that you will be seeing an awful lot of in the coming months I'm sure as it is super versatile. I measured the length and width of the die I wanted to use, added the two measurements together and cut a square of kraft card in that size.

    As you can see the level of detail is fabulous and this might be a good time to invest in the Sizzix Die Brush which removes all those pesky bits of card from your dies in the twinkling of an eye.

    Once I had made my first cut the rest was easy, it makes a great festive frame! The magnetic platform was a great help too as it held the die in place while cutting.

    I measured the square in the centre of the frame and cut another square of kraft card slightly smaller. Next I die-cut the large star from the Festive Scribbles Thinlits Set (It's Fab!) and the word 'Joyful' from the Holiday Words Script 2 Thinlits Set.

    Time to add a bit of colour. I'm Using 'Broken China' Distress Paint applied with a brayer.

    If you don't load too much paint onto the brayer you can add it gradually to achieve a more random effect.

    Finally a bit of white chalky paint added in the same way before matting them together.

    Phew! That was a quick turn around thanks to my trusty Big Shot. I promise to spend a little more time and care next week although I'd be more than happy if this card dropped through my letter box come December.

  • Let it Faux!

    Wednesday, 26 August, 2015

    That's right folks, the terrible title puns are back! This week we are going to look at one of my favourite die-cutting techniques which is the art of faux embossing.

    Faux is of course a French word meaning false or fake but there is nothing fake about the quality of the embossed effect on show today.

    I am using dies from the Winter Wonderland range and as we stand on the cusp of September I can already detect a slight autumnal bite to the early morning air so I don't think it's too early to talk about Christmas cards?

    The dies I have used today are.....

    I started by die-cutting around a dozen snowflakes from card before attaching them to a piece of mount board using spray adhesive. Next I cut my deer using the Bigz die and primed it with white gesso, this forms a barrier to stop the acrylic paint being absorbed by the mount board.

    I chose three different shades of red Distress Paint and painted my deer. Once the paint was dry ( I used a heat tool to speed this up) 

    I put a little dark brown paint onto my craft sheet before diluting it with water, I then painted this wash over the deer so that the paint settled in the cracks before dabbing the deer with kitchen paper to remove excess wash. The idea of the wash is to just leave it in and around the die-cut detail to add contrast. 

    The final step is to very delicately apply white chalky paint using a dry brush technique. Always start off with less than you think you will need and build it up slowly.

    Before adding to the face of a simple white base card I wanted to create a craft card background. I applied Distress Inks around the edges before adding a couple of Christmas postmark stamps from Lily of the Valley. I scrunched up the card concentrating on the edges and attached a length of twine around one side finishing with a bow.

    Here's the finished card, as I promised the embossed effect is pretty cool!

    Next up is the bear, as you can see I used one of the Framelits Christmas tree dies to add the detail before applying them to the mount board.

     I used two shades of grey and one of blue to get a little subtle contrast adding a dark wash before lifting it all with the dry brush work.

    Again, here is the finished card, I DO love this die!

     A slightly different spin, I am using both positive and negative die-cuts this time.

    I chose a couple of shades of pink before using a deep red wash finishing off with the dry brush technique.

    And last but not least.....

  • All time faves!

    Wednesday, 19 August, 2015

    Hearts like flowers and butterflies are universal favourites for most creative people from card makers to quilters. Hearts come in a variety of shapes and sizes and we all have our favourites and the Bigz Hearts, Primitive die is mine!

    Not only are they my favourite hearts but it is also one of my all time favourite dies too!

     This autumn I am scheduled to attend quite a few events and shows and one of the things I always like to have with me is a materials swatch which is in the form of die-cut flowers cut from several materials attached to a large jump ring the purpose of which is to show what can be cut using a Bigz die. I was thinking the other day that it is time to retire my old swatch as, much like myself it is getting a little tatty around the edges.

    Today's post will show the start of what is quite a long process. I have created three separate die-cut hearts in gingham, marquetry wood and card and attached each to a die-cut tag. When finished they will all be loaded onto a big ol' jump ring and taken out on the road.

    Card is always a good place to start so I cut the medium heart and applied a little Old Paper Distress Ink before adding the stamped detail. once dry I scuffed the edges using the blade of my scissors to add to the care worn appearance.

    The tag used is from another of my favourite die sets namely the Framelits Tag Collection By Tim Holtz very handy and versatile indeed.

    Gingham fabric has a lovely texture and is great for use in mixed media projects. I started by attaching a strip of the fabric to a piece of kraft card and die-cutting my heart shape and next, I applied a little white gesso with my brayer.

    After inking the edges using Pumice Stone Distress Ink I stencilled the number 2 using grey acrylic. Once the paint had dried I used another stencil to apply white spots in a random fashion, it's far more controllable than the splatter effect for this project.

    I also used the blade of my scissors to gently lift the edges before attaching to the tag.

    Marquetry wood is great to use but it is very brittle. I always advise backing it with card or tape to hold it together and add a little strength. I cut a few strips into 'planks' and used Distress Paints to add the colours. Distress Paints are great for this particular project because if you use the sponge applicator on the end of the bottle it's really easy to vary the amount of paint applied giving a distressed appearance without having to lift a finger!

    I attached the strips to a piece of dark card beore die-cutting the shape and I also applied a typewriter text stamp using a light grey ink, the effect is very subtle as intended and it all looks pretty cool!

    More of these on the way, I'm off to dig out some quirky materials to have fun with... Suggestions welcome!!

  • Talking Bigz

    Wednesday, 12 August, 2015

    When we mention the Sizzix brand what springs to mind, The Big Shot machine closely followed by Bigz dies perhaps? 

    Sizzix kicked off the die-cutting revolution some 15 years ago and as many of you remember, all the dies were steel rule (deep steel blade). We have come a long way since then but the Bigz dies are still as popular as ever.

    I have used this blog to highlight the versatility of Bigz days many times down the years, not just the vast range of materials that they cope with but the amount of different applications they can be used for.

    Today I want to share with you a few pieces made with one such Bigz die and old favourite of mine namely Flower Layers & Leaves (657690). This die contains seven separate elements and as well as being incredibly gorgeous it's also very, very versatile.

    Cardmaking is as good a place to start as any, not only can cut card up to and including mount board but you can cut multiples in one pass through the Big Shot, up to 100 layers of tissue paper!!!

    Die-cutting was developed for the scrapbooking market originally and it's still a must have tool for any serious scrapbooker.

    Fashion applications are many and varied. The Big Shot has a growing fanbase all over Europe amongst the textile fraternity. Some people use it for textiles exclusively!

    I cut dozens of small flowers from gold lame  (I knew it would come in handy one day!!) and folded each one into quarters before attaching them to this plain white t-shirt in the shape of a heart.

    Here I have die-cut the flowers from craft foam backed onto mount board to make our very own disposable stamps.

    Alternatively, you could use the negative shapes as stencils as shown below.

    The quality of cut that you get using felt is fabulous, here's a little layered embellishment added to a beanie hat which just happens to be the right size for my daughter!

    The flowers on this hair band were cut from voile, up to 10 layers at a time. the flowers were folded and stapled before the edge was run over the flame of a candle (this takes a little practise!)

    this brooch is die-cut from very thick felt and the edges are finished with blanket stitch which I find very therapeutic!

    Shrink plastic is an amazing material for creating jewellery, charms, bespoke buttons etc. I die-cut all the elements before punching a hole in the top of each. After inking and stamping I shrank them to size using a heat tool.

    For the 3-D flowers Simply die-cut the large flower in several shades of red/pink felt and cut from the edge to the centre in a spiral before rolling them into shape with my tweezers.

    This is a work in progress and I have another half dozen ideas to go but I thought I would share the story so far. Why not take out your Big Shot and stretch your creative muscles too?

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