"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it."
It's easy to pass by the pearls in our path, mistaking them for stones impeding our way. I want to be aware of all the pearls placed in my day, seeing beyond the layer of grit to the beauty within. I'm convinced we share in part of God's nature when we create beauty and find pleasure in what might otherwise be mundane.
I had some time this morning to play around, so I thought I'd try my hand at the latest Muse Challenge. Here's my take:
Muse Challenge #109
Here's the original challenge image:
I loved the yellow background contrasting with the bright blue, the placement of the stamped image, and the Polaroid-style frame. Such a cheerful card!
I started with a piece of smooth white cardstock and blended Distress Inks in Squeezed Lemonade and Mustard Seed over the surface. Then I misted a little water over that and blotted it off. I also like the darker specks of color in the inspiration card, so I put a little Lemon Zest Dylusions spray on my craft sheet and diluted it with water. Then I picked up the color with a small paintbrush and flicked it over my paper. Since I ended up trimming the paper down quite a bit, all that detail doesn't show up in the finished card, but I enjoyed doing it anyway.
I chose an old stamp from a Stampin' Up! set called Nice & Easy Notes and stamped it in black Archival ink on a scrap of watercolor paper. I used Distress Markers in Spun Sugar, Picked Raspberry, Spiced Marmalade, Mowed Lawn, Broken China, and Stormy Ocean to add color to my stamped image. Then, with a wet brush, I blended the colors and dried everything with a heat tool. I added some splashes of yellow over the top, using the same method described above. I used a square punch and a paper trimmer to create my pink "Polaroid" frame, and glued the watercolored image behind it. Then I mounted that onto my yellow paper and trimmed it down. I pulled out a fun printed paper I had in my scrap bin - I wish you could touch it, as the pink flowers are flocked. That was trimmed a little smaller than the turquoise card base and everything was mounted with a tape adhesive.
I had a scrap of blue glitter cardstock that I punched with my favorite Martha Stewart butterfly punch. That has to be one of the best purchases I've made - I've used that same punch so many times, and I never get tired of it! I decided that I wanted the blue flowerpot to match the butterfly and turquoise cardstock a little better, so I used a Stampin' Up! marker in Tempting Turquoise to add some additional color, blending with a wet brush. At first I was wasn't sure about the green color that it created when blended with the Distress Inks I'd used earlier, but I really like the finished result. I think it has more depth and interest than before - glad that one turned out okay!!!
For one final touch, I added some Glossy Accents to the flowers - here's a closeup:
In honor of the first day of spring, I made a small mixed media canvas today.
I started off with a small, 4 x 4 blank canvas. The first step is always the hardest, so I find it's best to dive in and get something - anything - onto that blank surface. I thought I'd try some stamping and embossing to create a resist. I used Hero Arts Paint a Flower, and stamped with Versamark, embossing with white powder. It's difficult to stamp well on a canvas because of the give in the middle, so I had to fill in with a Versamark marker.
Then I started messing around with some Distress paints, spreading them on the canvas and misting with water to move them around. I first used Spun Sugar and Wild Honey. I liked it, but the Spun Sugar is so pale that the white embossing really didn't show up as well as I wanted. I decided the background needed to be darker, so I brought in Picked Raspberry Distress paint and added more Wild Honey.
To make a long story short, I ended up with a hot mess. When that happens, I think the thing to do is start layering things on top and start anew. I glued down a couple of strips of printed tissue tape using a matte gel medium. I went over the surface again with the Distress Paints and water. To add some additional color, I sprayed the canvas with Heidi Swapp's Primrose Color Shine.
By this point, I liked the background, but the mess of my embossing was still there. I thought I would try stamping the flower on tissue paper and gluing it over the embossing. I ended up stamping it three times, cutting closely around each flower, and using the matte medium again. I allowed the stems of the flowers to continue over the bottom edge of the canvas, and the left-most flower goes over the left edge.
I pulled out an old Stampin' Up! scripture stamp, using tissue paper again and waterproof ink (Ranger Archival Black). I cut around the words, and glued that to the top right of the canvas. I played around with trying to add some green twine towards the bottom, but couldn't figure out a way to repeat that color anywhere else. So, I gave that idea up. After digging around, I pulled out some clear, colored "gems" and glued them on, trying to keep things balanced. As a final touch, I also added some teeny tiny pink and purple sprinkles and a little clear glitter. Since this is the last day for the Hero Arts Nature Challenge, I promise this is the last post connected to it!
Sometimes it's nice to upgrade a tool. I use a heat tool often in my stamping, as I enjoy heat embossing. It's also handy to speed up the drying process when using wet media. For years I've used the Ranger Heat it Craft Tool; it worked well and I didn't think about replacing it. I began seeing another heat tool used fairly often as I watched video tutorials. This one is made by Milwaukee and is the 1400 model. I noticed as I watched others do heat embossing that it seemed to go so much faster than I was used to. I finally decided to take the plunge and get one.
It came in the mail today, so I quickly got it out and decided to see if it was as good as I hoped.
Ranger Heat it Craft Tool
I had a scrap of an old manila file on my work surface, and a brand new Hero Arts stamp (Paint a Flower) I'd just scored on clearance. I inked the stamp with Versamark and stamped the image in the center. I coated it with white embossing powder, then stamped and coated the same flower twice more. (Sprinkling the embossing powder on the first image makes it easier to see where to stamp again, since Versamark ink is clear.) I turned on the heat gun and was thrilled at how quickly the embossing powder melted! I also like that the nozzle is much smaller than my other heat gun, which allowed me to keep the heat focused where I wanted it. It is slightly louder than the Ranger tool, but not enough to be a nuisance. I was glad that I had glanced at the instruction booklet before using it, since it smoked a little at first. I knew that was okay, since I'd read that it might do that - just as the booklet said, it quit doing that after a few moments.
I got out some Distress Stains in Spiced Marmalade and Peeled Paint and squeezed the color onto my craft sheet. I dragged the stamped paper through the wet stain, then dried it and repeated the process. The white embossed flowers resisted the stain, and I love the way it looks.
I thought it would look a little more interesting if I cropped the image tightly around the flowers, so I trimmed the panel down and rubbed some Brushed Corduroy Distress Ink around the edges.
I had a scrap of the stained manila file left, so I stamped a greeting from Hero Arts Trees, Birds, & Messages, using Ancient Page Close to Cocoa and clear embossing powder. I layered my stamped pieces with some patterned paper and some textured brown paper and mounted everything on green cardstock.
I love Pinterest for collecting ideas! Recently, I stumbled across an image that led me to this post. I couldn't wait to try the technique described there!
Here is the first card I made:
I simply followed the directions I'd read on the blog post, using a couple of colors of alcohol ink and blending with Ranger's blending solution and a blending tool with a felt applicator. Next I stamped the flower from Hero Arts (I hope you can see the faint flower images) with Ranger's Archival ink - I used Potting Soil but it doesn't really matter what color you use. After letting it sit for a minute or two, I rubbed the surface with a paper towel. That removed the color of the ink I'd stamped, but left a "ghost" image behind.
I kept everything else very plain - a die cut "stitched" rectangle (Simon Says Stamp) to frame it, a die cut branch with leaves (Sizzix) and a simple sentiment (Hero Arts Friends) on a banner shape with black marker in a dashed line around the edges.
Here is the second card I made with this technique:
The technique is exactly the same. I used different colors of alcohol ink and a script stamp (Inkadinkado) this time. The butterflies are cut from vellum using a die (Sizzix) and stitched down with a couple of machine made stitches per butterfly. I used the same stitched rectangle die and the same sentiment as before. I think this card is my favorite of the two - the ghost image shows up better.
I have such a hard time cleaning my studio because One Thing Leads to Another! Today's project is a result.
I have been trying to sort through things and either get rid of or find a use for some of the random "stuff" I've accumulated over the years. One of those things was a result of a craft I'd tried years ago - scherenschnitte. If you've never heard of it, it's an old German paper craft than involves lots of teeny, tiny, detailed fussy cutting. It was all the rage back when rustic country decorating was hot. I bought some paper patterns and tiny scissors, but quickly discovered that I did not enjoy it. I don't have the patience to do something that requires such slow, careful attention to minute details. Because I hate to throw things away, though, I'd hung on to a rooster that I'd cut out (mind you, this was back in the 80's! Do you think I have a problem???)
I pulled it out the other day, determined to throw it out, but I just couldn't do it. It occurred to me that I could use it to decorate one of the gift bags that I sell at a local shop. I call them "junque" bags because "junque" seems better than "junk" and because I use up odds and ends to decorate them. I had a lightweight piece of paper sitting on my work surface that had been sprayed with red ink. I thought it would look nice behind the rooster, but it wasn't quite big enough. I decided that a little red & blue collage would look good with the rooster (which was a plain, cream colored paper).
I tore a page from an old dictionary and rubbed a blue ink pad on it, then added some spray ink on top of that. I layered the two papers together, using a little washi tape to hold it together temporarily. I stitched the two pieces together with my sewing machine, then added some additional pieces of torn washi tape as well as some leaves I'd previously die cut that were also sitting on my work surface. Hey - maybe I'm doing a better job of cleaning than I thought - I've managed to get rid of a couple of things that were cluttering up the place!
The rooster was looking a little plain now against the collage background, so I decided to pull out an old Stampin' Up! background stamp to add some detail to it. I randomly covered the stamp with Distress Pumice Stone & Black Soot. Then I sprayed a little water on the stamp before pressing the rooster over it. I really like the way it turned out, and it seemed to work better with the background now.
I used acrylic matte medium to glue down the greenery and the rooster and put everything under a telephone book to dry for a while. Then I spread some adhesive all over the back of the completed collage and glued it to a plain brown kraft bag. That also went under the phone book for a while until completely dry.
I'm excited to say that my Celebration card was chosen as one of the top 3 cards from the Muse #106 challenge! (If you'd like to read the post about this card, click here.)
Each week, a new challenge is posted. Participants must comment on at least three of the entries and vote on their choice. I don't always have time to join in, but it's fun to see what everyone makes based on the challenge card. Here is what I've done for this week after looking at the challenge card:
I selected some papers from a 6x6 pad called Vintage Bliss from Simple Stories. This makes it much easier to combine patterns, since the designers have done all the work for you - everything coordinates. I layered my paper strips on a dark gray background and stitched them in place with my sewing machine.
The sentiment is from Altenew (Label Love). I first tried it on white cardstock, but didn't like how it looked so I stamped again on a scrap of the pink polka dot. (I used my favorite ink for stamping sentiments - Versafine Onyx Black.) I trimmed the left edge with pinking shears and cut a notch on the right hand side. This is also stitched down using the sewing machine.
I had a skinny little strip left over from trimming the gray panel, so I experimented with placing it to the left of the main panel with a sliver of my card base showing through. I used tiny little dots of Glossy Accents to glue it down.
Here's the challenge card:
I was inspired not only by the patterned papers, but also the space left for the sentiment. My color scheme is brighter, but I went with a neutral for the background. This card is definitely more about the paper than the stamping. I had fun making it - hope you enjoy seeing it!
Here's the second card I made today (to see the first, click here).
This card uses the same background stamp - Hero Arts Dot Flower. This time, I stamped with Versamark on white cardstock and embossed with white powder. Then, I used Barn Door, Ripe Persimmon, and Wild Honey Distress inks, applied with blending tools. The embossing resists the ink and stays white - I really like this look! (Here is a link to the image that inspired me.) This was adhered to a white cardstock base.
Next I cut a couple of tags using Tag Collection dies from Alterations. I edged them with some Distress Ink in Peacock Feathers. I also used a couple of vellum die cuts from the Spring Greenery die from Alterations. The blue flourish behind the tags is cut from glitter paper from Die Cuts With a View, using a file that I downloaded to cut with my Silhouette Cameo.
The sentiment is from a small set (I don't remember the name), and is stamped with Versafine Black Onyx and embossed with clear powder.
The glitter flourish and tag were glued down to the background with dots of Glossy Adhesive. (Before gluing the tag down, I tied a little bit of twine through the hole at the top.) I used a little Matte Medium from Ranger to attach the vellum leaves just at the base of the stem, and also used the same medium to glue down some colorful sequins. Everything was then weighted down under a book for a little while to be sure it dried in place.
I had an unexpected day off due to bad road conditions, so I enjoyed some cardmaking time today. I have been experimenting with some dies I recently bought and thought I'd put the die cuts to use in a couple of cards. Here's one of them:
I started with a piece of watercolor paper cut to 4.25 x 5.5. I inked up a Hero Arts background stamp called Dot Flower with several shades of pink and purple Distress inks. After misting the stamp with water, I set the stamp face up on my work surface and placed the paper on top. To ensure that the ink got into the paper, I carefully held in in place while rubbing over the entire surface and also giving it a few seconds to sink into the paper's texture. This made a pretty, multicolored background that is so easy to achieve. I used Extreme Adhesive to attach it to a green cardstock base.
I cut a scrap of lightweight pink paper I had and rounded the corners. Next I cut a piece of white cardstock a little smaller than the pink piece and also rounded the corners. I rubbed Peeled Paint Distress Stain on my craft sheet and swiped the white paper through the stain to give it that green color. After setting it with my heat tool, I swiped it through the stain still left on the craft sheet. I really like the illusion of depth this creates. I also used the stain to color some white leaves I'd die cut from a Tim Holtz Alterations die called Spring Greenery. I tucked them behind both the green and pink papers and stitched around the edge of the green panel.
The sentiment and flowers are from Hero Arts Trees, Birds, & Messages. They are stamped with Black Onyx Versafine and embossed with clear powder. This layered panel and leaves were attached to the background using dots of Glossy Accents. I also put it under a book for a while to make sure everything stuck well.
I had some fun trying out a new stamp set from Unity . I particularly like the designs of Phyllis Harris - they are sweet and whimsical. They are also great for coloring techniques. I am such a beginner at coloring of any type; some artists are quite skilled!
I stamped my image on some watercolor paper, using Archival Gray ink which does not bleed when wet. It also provides more softness than stark black. Using several shades of Distress Inks, I would rub the ink pad onto my Ranger craft sheet, then apply to the paper with a wet brush.When I had all the coloring done, I mounted the panel onto a blue patterned cardstock, leaving a wider margin on the right hand side. I tied some thin brown twine twice around both papers and tied it in a simple knot.
Before mounting this panel onto the striped paper, I added several strips of 3M foam tape to the back to help even things out since the twine added some bulk. Then I stamped my sentiment directly onto the striped paper with Hero Arts Black ink. Everything was mounted onto a kraft cardstock base.
Below is the inspirational image from the Unity website; I chose to try to follow this color scheme and will like this up to the current Unity challenge.