• A little more Elegance

    Wednesday, 21 January, 2015

    Today we are taking another look at the Elegance die range, but this week we are hoping to achieve that elusive elegant touch using a very basic colour palette. They say simple is beautiful well I like to think it can also be elegant too!

    The die that I used is a dove named Delicate Wings together with some great stamps from the good people at Darkroom Door. The colours of card are a couple of warm greys together with some pale cream and the Distress Inks are Old Paper and Pumice Stone.

    I started by die-cutting the dove from cream card before applying the text stamp inked up with Pumice Stone Distress ink; these inks are not really designed for rubber stamping but they do give a lovely soft, subtle image.Next, I gently applied Old Paper ink around the edges.

    I cut a rectangle of grey card measuring 95 x 140 mm and rounded off the corners with a punch before stamping the legend 'thank you' onto a strip of darker card before gently inking the edges. I gave the dove a very light spritz of spray adhesive before applying a little Clear Rock Candy Distress Glitter which creates a very subtle effect on the right side of bling!

    Here's the finished card piece mounted onto a standard sized cream base card. Hope you like it! 
    Next Wednesday I will be blogging as usual but I will be on my way to Frankfurt to attend the Creativeworld fair, It's always a very exciting time and I promise to tell you all about it when I return.

  • A touch of Elegance

    Wednesday, 14 January, 2015

    The Elegance in the title belongs to a new collection of dies which shares the same name. The dies in question are very ornate Framelits dies using a Damask style which ties all these dies together thematically allowing us to mix and match.... how thoughtful!

    I created this card with Valentines day in mind and I chose a colour palette which has a more masculine feel, Having said that, I'm probably one of very few men who would appreciate the care and effort involved in it's creation, we're such ungrateful creatures!

    I have used two of the dies from the collection namely Regal Owl and Graceful Flourish. I also used my trusty Framelits Circles and Scallop Circles of which I am very fond as anyone who reads this blog from time to time will be very aware! Click on the words to follow the link.

    I started by dipping into my metallic card box and pulling out some dull gold metallic and some lovely copper coloured card. I die-cut both owls removing the inbetweeny (technical term alert!!) bits from the gold owl. Next, I die-cut the flourish from gold card before gently buffing both gold die-cuts using a fine sanding pad to lightly tarnish the surface. I then took the copper owl and attached it to the rear of the gold owl and I used strips of thin tape to ensure that the tiny bits remain in place.

    I printed the legend 'Happiness is being married to your best friend' onto cream card as shown so that it fits within my chosen circle. Next, I die-cut around the phrase with a Framelits circle die before gently inking the edge and matting onto a larger copper coloured die-cut scallop circle. I then attached the flourish as shown. 
    To make the base card I cut a 35 x 190 mm strip of music pattern paper and snipped one end into a chevron with my scissors. Next, I attached a 70 x 210 mm strip of brown patterned card near the left hand edge of a 130 x 210 mm cream base card. The paper is from my stash and comes from My Minds Eye first Lost & Found collection

     Once the base card was assembled I attached all the other elements using foam pads to create a sense of depth and here it is. I do hope you like it?

  • Ring in the New Year

    Wednesday, 7 January, 2015

    The title is a popular idiom in the English language, the meaning of which is lost to me, however when a good friend becomes engaged at this time then it forms the basis for a blog.

    Before we spend the year showcasing  our new die collections which are many and varied, I want to go right back to basics and visit some old friends. Anyone who regularly reads this blog will know that I am rather fond of my Framelits circles, in fact I have placed every circle from every die set I own in one place so that I have just about every size imaginable at my fingertips.

    I wanted to create a very simple card using very few elements so I started with the ring. I die-cut an aperture in a piece of gold card before placing a slightly larger circle die over the aperture so that it fits perfectly as in the third picture.

    I know what you are thinking..... ' by the time I put this onto my cutting plate and then on my platform and then place my other cutting plate over the top and then run it through my machine, the die will have shifted and I wont get an accurate cut!'

    This is a problem that we have all encountered at some point when we need to produce a really accurate cut. It could be that we want to crop a photograph or a stamped image or maybe we only have one small scrap of card over which the die only just fits only to find that either die or paper have shifted going through the machine.

    Fear not my friends, help is on the way in the shape of the Sizzix magnetic platform for wafer thin dies which keeps the die/card exactly where you want it. I use it all the time and it never lets me down. Once my ring is die-cut I printed the sentiment onto kraft card and trimmed it to size before attaching the die-cut ring, a bow made from thin satin ribbon and a large adhesive gemstone.

    I attached the assembled ring over a piece of patterned pink card onto a simple ivory base card using a stapler. It's quite simple and understated which is what I like especially as I am creating a series of over-the-top show stopping projects for our upcoming trade fairs.

    Hope you like it?

  • New Year (Old Dies)

    Wednesday, 31 December, 2014

    WOW! Where did 2014 go to? One minute we are complaining that the Christmas chocolates are in the shop next to the the barbecue things and the next thing you know it's NEW YEARS EVE!!!

    There have been some terrific die collections in the last 12 months and I am happy to report that there are lots on the way too! 

    Some dies and folders are irreplaceable and will remain in my collection forever and a day. When I was trying to think of an idea for today's blog I found myself wishing that we had a champagne glass/bottle in one of our collections, (I know it's a New Years cliché but there is a good reason for that so I'm not going to fight against it!) That's when the Ovals Framelits set popped into my head.

    I chose three suitable ovals and set about my task by die cutting two ivory ovals and one from gold glitter card before adding a tapered strip of ivory card. I trimmed the top off the large ivory oval along with the gold oval before punching a few holes in the gold ovals with a Crop-a-Dile leaving the resulting glitter circles for later.

    I attached all the bits together to form my champagne glass using adhesive foam pads to add dimension. next I stamped the legend '2015' onto ivory card before trimming to size to form a tint tag, I also punched a hole in one end. Finally, I cut an asymmetric rectangle of pale gold card and embossed it using my trellis folder.
    Here's the finished card. I added a satin bow and attached the tag with a jump ring. Simple yet effective I hope?

    I hope you all have a wonderful 2015 and that you will continue to join me every Wednesday at 2pm for more adventures in Sizzix Land!!!

    ...That champagne looks very appealing, Don't worry, I always stop at two... maybe three but never more....

    ..... Honest!

  • Priceless!

    Wednesday, 24 December, 2014

    Strange title for my blog given the fact that the frame cost £2.99. That's the thing about handmade gifts, they are priceless because of the time, and loving care poured into each one.

    I drew my inspiration for the colour palette from some festive gift bags which I bought at Aldi last week (along with a luxury stollen thank you very much!). As soon as I saw the bags I knew what I was going to do as soon as I got into work.

    Today is Christmas Eve, and tomorrow I will give this frame to my wife amongst other things but I know which gift will be most cherished.

    I used a selection of dies to get what I wanted, The poinsettias come from the Bigz L Wreath, Banner, Holly & Poinsettia die, the snowflakes from the Calendar Months Thinlits set which contains no less than 54 separate elements. The foliage is from Tim Holtz Holiday Greens Thinlits set and finally the pink flower comes from the Bigz Flower Layers & Leaves die. Just click on the highlighted text to see the different dies.

    I chose the colours from my ever growing stash and die-cut all the elements before decorating with some strategic pearl gems. the berries on the holly were die-cut using the wreath die.

    Next, I set about laying all the separate elements onto the frame until I found a balance that I was happy with. At this point I usually take a photo to use as reference before removing all the die-cuts and attaching them one by one with a combination of adhesive foam pads and a hot glue gun.

    I hope you like the finished frame, I'm sure my wife will.

    Have a wonderful Christmas, I'm off to start cutting the veggies for tomorrow!

  • 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?

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